3. Training Suggestions
Plan your dog's schooling so training for the OPEN CLASS will be a series of progressive lessons. Long, long before you start the OPEN work, condition your dog for advanced training by encouraging her, while she is young (yes, even as a puppy), to carry assorted articles, to retrieve thrown objects and to leap small hurdles. If your older dog is just starting her Obedience career, include carrying and jumping as part of her Novice work. Owners can pave the way for the OPEN and UTILITY Classes without affecting a dog's performance while still competing in the Novice Class.
Timing is important! When you teach voice commands, give the command. Follow with the correction and praise. When you teach hand signals, give the signal. Follow with the correction and praise. When you want your dog to heel or to come, use her name with the command. When you want the dog to perform at a distance, stress the command or give a signal without the name. Give a command or signal ONCE. Repeat when necessary but put a correction with it. Praise AFTER commands and signals and WITH corrections. The praise must be discontinued when exhibiting in Obedience Trials, but when used during the training period, your dog will be more responsive.
When you praise, BE SINCERE! Dogs respond to a cajoling tone of voice. Modify your method of training to the SIZE AND TEMPERAMENT of the dog. Not all dogs train alike!
When you correct, disguise corrections so you and your assistant will not appear responsible. If you inadvertently make a harsh correction or misjudge the timing, make up to your dog immediately; then be careful not to repeat the mistake. If you find that one of the suggested corrective methods has a bad effect on your dog, don't use it. Dogs react differently to corrections.
When problems come up, work backward. If your dog won't retrieve over the hurdle, lower the jump until she gains confidence. If she won't retrieve on flat, go back to the HOLDING and "TAKE IT!" exercises. Praise and a fresh start have a magical effect when a dog is temporarily confused. If you use your hand at any time to reprimand your dog (such as cuffing the dog's nose for creeping), pat her with the SAME hand you used to correct her. Your dog must think the hand correction was accidental.
Don't be surprised when you attempt to solve one problem if your dog slips back on some other part of the exercise. For instance, if you have been correcting your dog for NOT coming, she will undoubtedly come a few times TOO soon. The setback, while discouraging, is temporary, and in time you will balance the training.
A good trainer will never use food as the ONLY inducement for making a dog obedient, but if your slow performer peps up when you give food, use it to overcome problems.
If you are NOT successful in your training, BE MORE DEMANDING. Each time you correct for a REPEATED mistake, use a firmer tone of voice and jerk the leash harder.
Strive for perfection from the beginning. When you are careless about little things, they become problems later on.
The suggestions offered in The Complete Open Obedience Course will be more effective if your dog received the basic training outlined in The Complete Novice Obedience Course.
The instructions given in the succeeding sections of this book are for people who are right-handed. Those who are left-handed may follow the same instructions, simply substituting the left hand for the right, and the right hand for the left. However, in Obedience Trials a dog must heel on the handler's left side.
For the purpose of teaching, the OPEN class exercises are broken down to include:
- Drop In The Distance
- Drop On Recall
- Retrieve In Play
- Holding On Command
- Carrying On Command
- Jumping While Carrying
- The "Take it!"
- Reaching For The Dumbbell While Walking
- Picking Up The Dumbbell From The Ground
- Picking Up The Dumbbell On Command While Walking
- Retrieve On Flat
- Retrieve Over Hurdle
- The Broad Jump
- SIT- AND DOWN-STAYS (Handlers out of sight)
What may prove to be a difficult situation with one dog during training for the advanced work, will present no problem for another. By dividing the OPEN CLASS work into exercises, rather than weekly lessons, owners can select that part of the text instruction that applies to the needs of their dog.
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