Clean Run - September 2011 - (Page 36)

TEACHING FOCUS AND IMPULSE-CONTROL CLASSES Week 5 By Deborah Jones, PhD Photos by author Once students have their stations set up and their dogs ready to go we instruct them to automatically begin working on offered focus as a warm-up exercise for the class. on them. We regularly remind trainers to wait for focus and not try to cause it. Every week we raise the level of challenge in this exercise. It is normal and expected that the dogs will look at the distraction. What we want to reinforce, however, is the moment they reorient to the trainer. Distraction levels at this point will include the instructors engaging in noisy and exciting play with our dogs in the center of the room. We will also have dogs and trainers move close together (unless we have a dog with “space” issues). The tighter quarters usually lead to more distraction and interest in the other dogs. Dogs should be kept just far enough away so that they cannot make physical contact with one another. If a dog is too distracted by this challenge we have the team move farther away until they reach a place where the dog is capable of offering focus. Restrained Recalls Everyone wants (and needs!) a fast, reliable recall. So far in our series of classes we have done a variety of foundation-level recall exercises (in your face, come and go, jackpot). Now we will add physical restraint to increase drive and enthusiasm. Typically, one of the instructors will restrain the dog while the trainer runs a short distance away, then turns and calls the dog in an exciting, inviting tone. The trainer may then continue running a short distance to encourage more speed and drive from the dog. THIS WEEK’S EXERCISES Offered Focus with High Distraction Levels The big challenge in teaching offered focus is helping the trainers to truly understand that asking for or compelling focus (or attention, or eye contact) is not the same as allowing focus to be the dog’s decision. We want the dogs to learn that focusing on the trainer/owner is powerful. When they choose to engage with their trainers they should be rewarded well in a variety of ways (including clicks, treats, play, praise, petting, and so on). Trainers are concerned with getting the specific action (looking at them) but they typically don’t understand how crucial it is for this to be “dog driven” rather than “trainer driven.” If focus is trainer driven, then it will only happen when the trainer cues it. We want it to be continually offered by the dog. We want our dogs to actively try to engage with us whenever possible. This will not happen if trainers try to make their dogs focus 36 We regularly remind trainers to wait for focus and not try to cause it. One thing to pay very close attention to is the way that the dog is restrained. We do not hold dogs back by the collar or leash. This will simply encourage pulling against tightness, which is not what we want at all for polite leash walking. We will restrain the dog with our hands on his chest or in front of his hips on either side. While restraining we are totally quiet and do not engage or interact with the dog in any way. And as soon as the trainer calls we release the dog. Clean Run | September 11 The students in your class can become higher level distractions for one other by moving closer together

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Clean Run - September 2011

Clean Run - September 2011
Editorializing: When a “Lifetime” Only Means Five Years
Tip of the Month
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Agility
Backyard Dogs
Who’s Premack and What Does He Have to Do with My Start Lines?
Power Paws Drills: Front Side, Back Side
Improving Your Sports Vision, Part 1
Choosing the Most Efficient Path for Your Dog: Decision Making
Dylan’s Story
Teaching FOCUS and Impulse-control Classes: Week 5
Ready, Set, Trial! Should You Move Up?
Agility Bloopers
Training to Your Weakness: Exercises for Dogs with a Straight Front
Building and Balancing Handler and Obstacle Focus, Part 6
Great Expectations
Agility Games to Play with Puppies
Challenges for Rising Stars: Snooker Expanded
Agility Defined by Me

Clean Run - September 2011