Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Ultra-Senstive, Ultra-Clear

People have asked me what I think has been successful in fixing a very stubborn trial only contact issues with Wyatt.

What I found was that I needed to go back to square 1 and retrain our 2 on, 2 off and then do a lot of show and go’s and NADAC where I could go back and redo obstacles.

I saw improvement but not as much as I had hoped. Then I really studied video of us worked and wondered if I was cueing a release inadvertently.

1. Do exactly what I do in practice – no extra cues or changes in the trial setting.

2. Do NADAC where I could establish that expectations were the same. Right now, he seems to need that initial correction to know the rules are the same. So he has tended to blow contacts on the first run of the day. I can go back in NADAC and in certain CPE games (fullhouse and Jackpot) which are usually first luckily.

3. I saw that he was jumping off early almost as if on cue. I think that I was inadvertently cueing him to release high up by using our spot command and/or having jerky body movements. I dropped the “spot” command since he may have thought it was a release word in the trial settings. I really made sure I was 100% consistent in using my release word EVERY TIME. (I tended to forget sometimes or use “good dog” or the name of the next obstacle.) I also proofing against body movement. I found that I could get him to release by moving my body so I went back and made sure there was no release until he hears “OK” and NOTHING ELSE. I had been so focused on getting him to 2 on, 2 off that I had neglected the release phase.

4. I do tons of obedience proofing at trials and other settings with lots of dogs to get him used to working even when he is nervous or distracted.

I believe #3 was the biggest issue once I retrained the basic 2 on, 2 off. He seems a lot calmer now at trials. I wonder how much of this was due to my confused contact signals to him in the trial setting.

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