Clean Run - August 2012 - (Page 62)

© Clean run , But He s Perfect at Home! By Tracy Sklenar One of the most common refrains in agility is, “But he is perfect at home!” I hear it frequently at classes and trials, when the dog has failed to maintain focus or to execute a behavior properly. Similar comments include “he was blowing me off” or “he knows how to do it.” I believe the handler when she tells me that her dog is brilliant at home or in his training class, but I do not believe that dogs “blow us off.” As trainers we need to bridge the gap between the “sterile” environments of home turf and the constantly changing environments of new places so we produce behaviors that are repeatable and reliable in any environment. Then, theoretically, all we need to do is cue the behaviors properly in competition! Here are some ideas to bridge the gap between backyard brilliance and the competition ring. fluency. Does the dog truly understand how to respond to the cue in the face of all the distractions in a new environment? Distractions can include a wide range of sights and smells, as well as his own level of arousal. Dogs are notoriously poor at generalizing behavior, so it should come as no surprise if they fail in new environments unless the behavior has been “road tested.” After teaching a behavior, I road test the behavior in several ways: ing environment and tempt the dog to fail. This requires that you have taught the dog how to choose selfcontrol so he has a chance of being successful. Adding distractions will let you know how well you have trained the behavior, and how well the dog understands it. Begin by making a list of distractions that might tempt your dog to fail; be sure to include the simple, low level ones and work your way up to wild and crazy distractions. At first, add the simple distractions. Then gradually increase the level and intensity of distractions until your dog can execute the behaviors regardless of what distractions you present. Be sure to reward the dog when he chooses correctly, and interrupt the dog if he makes a mistake, as outlined in the ItsYerChoice games. Raise the dog’s arousal before asking for the behavior, and see if he can respond when he is wilder and more excited. For example, get your dog tugging or barking and then cue a behavior. Your dog’s response (or lack thereof) will tell you how well he knows the behavior. Watching other dogs run agility is also a great way to raise your dog’s arousal while presenting distractions that you might encounter at a trial. · · Add distractions to the normal train- Does He Really Know It? The first thing you need to determine is if you have taught the behavior to 62 Train in as many different locations as possible and reinforce correct choices with high-value reinforcement. You should look for fun matches, classes, seminars, and other ways you can work with the dog in exciting new places. Clean Run | August 12

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Clean Run - August 2012

Clean Run - August 2012
Editorializing: On Insanity
Tip of the Month
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Agility…
Backyard Dogs
The Information Highway of Agility
Analyze This!
Footwork for Agility: Rear Crosses
Control Unleashed Solutions and Answers: The Bark Stops Here
Knowledge Equals Speed: Start-line Positioning & Lead-outs
Waiting for Your Turn in Agility Class
Agility Mind Gym: The Competition Mindset—Creating Power and Flow
Building Blocks: Weave Entries at Speed
From Hoof to Woof: What Riders Can Teach Handlers
Seesaw Training: The Bang Game and the Pre-Bang Game
But He’s Perfect at Home

Clean Run - August 2012