Clean Run - March 2013 - (Page 52)

So, you have a new puppy. He is cute, smart, athletic, and your next agility star. Where to begin? In addition to the basics of good manners, recalls, and body awareness, this article describes games to play with your puppy that teach him some of the most important aspects of our sport without using any agility equipment. The games tap into your puppy’s love of food and his natural prey and chase drive to build focus for you and value for interacting with “obstacles.” Then you can put that focus for you and interaction with the “obstacles” together to teach your puppy brilliant response to your handling maneuvers as well as love for and drive to obstacles. Puppy Agility Games, Part 1 By Anne Stocum, photos by Dianne Spring This two-part series describes games that can be worked with dogs of any age, including young puppies. The only things you need are yourself, a willing and eager puppy, a variety of rewards that your puppy loves and that you control, and your nonagility obstacles—several mediumsize traffic cones or other upright, stable objects, and a soft crate or dog bed. Before getting started, let’s discuss some tips for building a great reward system for your puppy. Building a Reward System Building value for a variety of rewards like toys or soft tasty treats, and associating 52 those rewards with you, is the most important “work” you and your puppy will do in his first year. Use games like restrained recalls, hide ‘n seek, chase games, hand targeting, sit-tug-sit, and others to teach your puppy that you are fun and worth spending time with. It’s good practice, even at home, to use a clear start to your play/work session so that your puppy knows the fun is beginning. This can be a happy voice, or a “game-on” stance that your puppy recognizes. Then when your play/work session is over, clearly end the session and either put your puppy in his crate or signal that the puppy is on his own time to explore with a Go see or Off you go. Your ultimate goal is a puppy that finds a variety of food, a variety of toys, praise, and simply interacting with you greatly rewarding to the exclusion of all other distractions. This ideal state takes time to develop, so don’t expect it to happen overnight and don’t get discouraged. Most of all have fun with your puppy and remember that any failures are just a moment in your long journey together. Know what your puppy finds rewarding, taking into account the distractions in your environment. Avoid offering a puppy a reward that he doesn’t want in that moment. A puppy who will enthusiastically tug at home may not tug in dis- tracting environments like puppy class. Most of these games can be started in your living room or kitchen so that you can minimize distractions at first. But be sure to add appropriate distractions as your puppy gets better at the games. Tips for Using Food Rewards Use soft, easily chewable food that won’t crumble or stick to your fingers. Deliver one piece of food at a time. If both hands are free, hold a small number of treats in the hand opposite the puppy, then take one treat out and deliver to your puppy. If you switch sides, just move the treats from one hand to another. You can also have a bowl of treats on a counter or Clean Run | March 13

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Clean Run - March 2013

Clean Run - March 2013
Editorializing: Would You Treat a Dog Like That?
Tip of the Month
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Agility…
Backyard Dogs
Knowledge Equals Speed! Teaching Verbal Directional Commands, Part 1
Power Paws Drills: Gnarly Rears
Ultimate Instructors: What Makes a Really Good Instructor?
Can You Handle It?
Head-Turning Turns, Part 3
The 10-Minute Trainer
Busting the Myths: Set Goals? Or Just Enjoy the Moment?
Out Spot Out! Five Required Skills for Successful Distance Work
Living Room Agility: Front & Rear Crosses
Nutrition for the Canine Athlete, Part 2
Puppy Agility Games, Part 1
Training with the Stars: Greg Derrett
The Judge’s Debriefing
Foundation Jumping, Part 1

Clean Run - March 2013