Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Pretrial Routines

What is the best way to prepare your do for an obedience trial in the weeks and minutes before you go in?

I think it depends on the dog. Some need to be pumped up and some need
to be calmed down. For Wyatt, who needs the latter, I found the
following things seem to help.

Get there an hour before.
Cover the crate.
Keep him with another dog in the crate.
Walk him all around the rings and the place well before we go in.
Keep the warm up very short and sweet; take him out as late as possible.
Proof everywhere and as much as possible before entering.
Massage his face and ears when waiting to do in.
Do just few simple warm ups for attention. Don't panic if there is an issue! Just back up and keep it simple and fun.
Show him where the treat jackpot will be after he runs.

Being relaxed and confident is key as well. If you
aren't, fake it so the dog does not know! We tend to behave differently
in voice and body when stressed and dogs read our voice and body
language very well.

As the trial approaches, I gradually do more "run throughs" at home. I
will do the whole routine just like it happens at a trial including
taking leashes off, entering the ring, etc. At first, I treat between
every exercize and praise a lot like I would at the trial. Then I treat
every other exercize and build up to treating only at the beginning and
end. I fade out talking to Wyatt during the exercizes as well. If you
"cold turkey" stop treating and talking to you dog at a trial when they
are already stressed being in a new place, you will likely lose a lot.
They may be thinking they are doing something wrong because you are
acting so differently. As I mentioned before, I have Wyatt trained to
expect a nice jackpot at the end of routine. I show him the jackpot
before we go in and we go right to it after and he knows to expect it
and pulls on the leash to get the jackpot after we are done. I do the
same thing in agility.


Pacco de Mongrel said...

those are some really useful tips u have there... n it did match with some of what i've been doing..

n i usually like to make the fake motion of hiding the treats in my pocket..

John Heffernan said...

Thanks, Pacco! Glad you found some of the them useful and continued good wishes in your dog training.