Thursday, January 28, 2010

I Had an Epiphany!

......or more accurately, a DUH! moment. I had Heffner out on his morning walk and we were working on some heeling at one of the local grade schools that we walk to. I've been a little daunted by his sits. He reads me just fine as I'm slowing down to a halt and he will stop with me. However, when I ask him to sit, he usually backs up a step or two and always ends up behind me so that I have to tork myself around in order to treat him (which I realize I shouldn't do because he's not in proper position). I couldn't figure out just how to go about getting him to stay right next to me where he stops. And then it hit me! I needed to actually fully take in and utilize some of the tips that I've been picking up from others' blogs!

The primary tip that I'm thinking of is quite simple. I need to pay some stinkin' attention to my body cues! Specifically how I'm dropping my shoulders or torking my body around. If I drop my left shoulder, it makes sense that I'm essentially pushing him back. If I drop my right shoulder, I'm pulling him in. The thing is, I've been holding the treats in my right hand and treating him while he's on my left. This causes me to twist around and DROP MY LEFT SHOULDER. In essence, Heffner is doing exactly what I'm asking him to do. And sure enough, I switched to treating him out of left hand and his sits were right square next to me! I seriously felt like smacking myself on the forehead!

My primary goal now with any obedience work that we're doing is to REALLY pay attention to my body position and what I'm saying to the dogs. I'm also going to over exaggerate my shoulder drops on my turns. I practiced a little with Bess this morning doing some weaving around a set of four chairs in the back yard. This morning was ball work morning for Bess (once Heffner's totally off restricted exercise, then he'll get to slowly go back to that), so I didn't do a whole lot of obedience related exercises with her.

I have a question for those of you working on obedience with your dog(s). How did you go about starting to train the finish left? I haven't touched finishes yet with either dog and I'm trying to get a feel for some good ideas on how to go about starting to train them. Any help is much appreciated!


M.T. said...

There are a variety of ways to teach finishes, and they all work well (or one is better over another) depending on the individual dog and handler!

For me i don't teach finishes (right or left) until my dogs have mastered what i call the "basic position", which essentially is sitting in the correct position by my side, ready to heel/carry out a command, straight and square. Then, to teach finishes, i found that both my dogs respond fairly well to the "follow the treat" method (since they are both quite food motivated), so i haven't tried any other fancier methods lol.

For the finish left, with my dog in front of me, i show them a treat in my left hand, and then move my hand backwards on my left in a "U" shape (hard to describe without a video). If the dog is interested in getting the treat, and you do it fast enough, the dog will follow the hand/treat in the same U pattern, and then once my hand stops by my side/waist, if he/she doesn't automatically go into a sit position/the basic position, i give the command sit or the basic position command to help them along. Eventually with repetition and the dog understanding what i want, i can just flick my hand quickly backwards and sideways to the left and they know to "finish left" and end automatically in a sit by my side.

Training my Mammoth said...

Our finish left was taught somewhat similarly, but it was pretty dragged out. With the dog in front of us and a treat in our left hand, we tell them "get it get it get it" while moving backward and we give them the treat when their head/shoulders pass the handler's left thigh. That goes on for awhile to build drive to get back behind the handler.

After awhile of them getting it behind the handler, when their head/shoulders pass your left thigh, you bring it back forward towards your hip and when they turn around you tell them to sit.

The reason that was explained to me to do it this way instead of using the u-shaped lure is to bring (hopefully) straighter and faster finishes.

We'll see how it goes though - still a work in progress.

Laura, Lance, and Vito said...

I taught Lance in the typical "U" luring method people are describing above. But Vito I taught via pivoting on a block and am now using that same method with lance to teach a get in on the right side. I love it! Once the dog knows how to pivot their rear end on a block, use your treat to kind've lure them to pivot to your left (or right!) side. It is extremely easy to teach with a dog who is used to being shaped.

With a bigger dog it wont look quite as tight and fancy, but it can still be done. I believe Honey the Great Dane did a post where she learned how to pivot on a block, so a great dane can do it!

Chris H-W said...

Lindsay, you need to throw obed questions out on FB, too... since I apparently only manage to read here every few months!

I agree w/teaching pivoting w/brickwork and transitioning to a left finish. The finished finish will also keep your dog's head at your hip (roughly) rather than facing behind you (as it would if you lure in a 'U'), which can be better for a dog apt to lose attention facing the crowd.

That said, I'm re-training one of mine with a big ol' clumsy leap into the air from front. It's not as precise, but it keeps 'em having fun. :-)