Obedience Exercises are composed of many movements by the dog. To attempt to train a complete exercise will confuse the dog, since he cannot learn more than one thing at a time. Therefore, each exercise must be broken down into as many small increments as possible.
Let's use the Recall exercise to illustrate this “breakdown” of exercises. To perform a Recall the dog must first be taught to sit and stay as until it hears the come command, then it must respond briskly and promptly sit in front of the trainer. The dog remains in this position until it is commanded or signaled to return to heel position, which it should smartly perform, ending in a straight sit at the trainer’s side.
In order to do a good recall, the dog must first learn to perform each part well. The individual movements are then combined and the total exercise results. Should a dog not preform each of these units satisfactorily, they then must be further broken down into yet smaller increments. is helps the trainer to more efficiently modify the behavior that is expected by the dog.
Many trainers get into difficulty once the parts have been taught and assembled. They practice the exercise only in a set order. If this is done, the dog will associate an action with the previous one and will begin to anticipate. For instance, the trainer who always calls the dog afer turning teaches the dog to come on the turning action instead of waiting for the command.
As exercises are taught in parts, so must they be remedied in parts if problems occur. Should a trainer attempt to correct a fault in a part of the exercise while the dog is performing the entire exercise, the dog is likely to become confused and associate the modification with the a part of the exercise it is performing correctly. This ofen causes a greater problem than the original one.
Again, using the Recall exercise as an example, suppose the dog anticipates and comes before the trainer gives the command. If the dog is on its way toward the trainer and receives a reprimand for breaking the stay, it will more than likely associate the penalty with coming to the trainer rather than breaking the stay command. Should this occur, the dog will not come willingly and quickly, but will slow down as it approaches the trainers because it expects to be corrected.
Good trainers practice the parts of an exercise more than they do the complete formal exercise. The problem in this example is the stay so a good strategy is to return to the dog after initially leaving it, and not call the dog every time it has been left. Good trainers mix it up! They do not require the dog to sit in front during every recall, but instead work on fronts separately. They don't do finishes every time, they don't call the dog every time, the mix it up.
Static and Dynamic Exercises
Everything is dog is trained to do can be classified in one of three areas. Dynamic Exercises (actions or exercises in which the dog must act), Static Exercises (those in which the dog remains stationary), and Combined Exercises (a combination of static and dynamic exercises). As these are basically two opposite actions, the techniques used to train the acts must also differ.
The obedience “stay” exercises are static. The dog is required to remain in one position, not moving for a period of time. This type of exercises is generally easy to teach, as it is taught by compulsion. The dog is compelled to stay by one means or another. He learns that his movement is followed by unpleasantness, and so it is to his advantage to remain stationary.
Dynamic exercises are those in which the dog is required to move under control. If the trainer cannot control the dog in a static situation, there is little hope of teaching a dynamic exercise. It is in these exercises that the dog must be under the trainer’s complete control while still giving the impression that it enjoys the experience.
A combination of static and dynamic can also be easily illustrated by the Novice Recall exercise. Here the dog is required to sit and stay (static) as the trainer walks about 30 feet, turns and hesitates. The trainer then calls the dog, whereupon it must come briskly and happily (dynamic) to the trainer, sitting promptly in front of him.
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