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Old 01-20-2013, 03:50 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Competitive obedience - words of wisdom for a novice

If you could go back in time, knowing what you know now, what key things would you do (or not do) when training your first competitive obedience dog? I know in agility it's the tiny things that seem inconsequential that can really make a diference. I might try Envy in AKC obedience and if I'm that brave, I'll try Flirt also. I have HUGE mistakes to fix with Flirt but Envy and I are just starting. My priority in anything I do is FUN. If it's not fun, we won't do it (doesn't matter what it is).
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Old 01-20-2013, 05:12 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adara View Post
If you could go back in time, knowing what you know now, what key things would you do (or not do) when training your first competitive obedience dog? I know in agility it's the tiny things that seem inconsequential that can really make a diference. I might try Envy in AKC obedience and if I'm that brave, I'll try Flirt also. I have HUGE mistakes to fix with Flirt but Envy and I are just starting. My priority in anything I do is FUN. If it's not fun, we won't do it (doesn't matter what it is).
Don't have an Ilka! Seriously, I did have fun with Ilka, but I had a lot of frustrations, too.

Seeing as how I'm a novice, too, that is all the advise I feel qualified to give at the moment.
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Old 01-20-2013, 05:27 PM   #3 (permalink)
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a) starting heal training, I never-ever let my dog lower its head to begin sniffing the ground
- a light correction with perfect timing, is preplanned if needed / soon the unwanted behavior, is never tempted (or all eye & brain focus, is lost)
b) I talk much, make kissy sounds, to encourage the dogs eyes fix on mine
(when we stop walking and the dog sits, I touch the dogs nose and make kissy/good praise sounds...so fun continues, in training)

Use Handler Exaggeration's, in Practice:
c) I stomp my feet (sound aid), changing speed when I walk, and use baby steps for example (visual aid) when traveling very slow
d) I tip one shoulder when we make a turn (left shoulder tilted, to move left / tip right to turn right)
e) once the dog knows heal from a sit (and I leading off with my left leg) - I practice stay with a hand signal only (and lead off with my right leg)
- sometimes we practice OB drills, without commands / I proof the work on visual only clues
f) I snap my fingers behind my back, getting dog to move around me...like follow the sound buddy
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Old 01-20-2013, 06:16 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I am a stay fanatic. Do nose to knees for sit and down and then return when babies, then go around dog, then add distance. I do not let them near a dog who breaks stays! Can ruin your dog if jumped on, sniffed etc.

I drag out my older dogs and they have a long stay, then bring out older puppy and do baby stays in the line up. This is once baby dog understands what stay is and you can be 10' away. Older dogs have to endure distractions down the line from crazed baby dog- but all learn that stay means stay until I tell them "okay." I return baby dog to house, then release each dog in turn. They were clicker trained on this so usually there is a puddle of drool in front of each dog.
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Old 01-20-2013, 07:13 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I'm still learning but a lot of what I hear from very experienced handlers, is not to go in the ring until you're sure your dog is ready.

And what EllenM described happened to us today at a trial. The dog next to us broke the sit stay and before he could be excused from the ring, he walked up to Sabrina and sniffed her!
Then Sabrina stood up so we NQ'd. I was livid!
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Old 01-20-2013, 08:22 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by txsaphire View Post

And what EllenM described happened to us today at a trial. The dog next to us broke the sit stay and before he could be excused from the ring, he walked up to Sabrina and sniffed her!
Then Sabrina stood up so we NQ'd. I was livid!
Oh no! I'd be so mad. It's a big reason I haven't run Havoc myself in his Senior Hunter test. You can really screw another dog up and make them fail!
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Old 01-20-2013, 08:40 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beaumont67 View Post
a) starting heal training, I never-ever let my dog lower its head to begin sniffing the ground
- a light correction with perfect timing, is preplanned if needed / soon the unwanted behavior, is never tempted (or all eye & brain focus, is lost)
b) I talk much, make kissy sounds, to encourage the dogs eyes fix on mine
(when we stop walking and the dog sits, I touch the dogs nose and make kissy/good praise sounds...so fun continues, in training)

Use Handler Exaggeration's, in Practice:
c) I stomp my feet (sound aid), changing speed when I walk, and use baby steps for example (visual aid) when traveling very slow
d) I tip one shoulder when we make a turn (left shoulder tilted, to move left / tip right to turn right)
e) once the dog knows heal from a sit (and I leading off with my left leg) - I practice stay with a hand signal only (and lead off with my right leg)
- sometimes we practice OB drills, without commands / I proof the work on visual only clues
f) I snap my fingers behind my back, getting dog to move around me...like follow the sound buddy
IMO, for my dogs and how i train, some of these would be very bad to start out my puppies doing. all your handler exaggerations are scorable to NQ's and i wnt my dogs to learn the cues and behaviors from the start. i never want to start out teaching them bad behaviors. and i never personally want to practice incorrect or scorable behaviors because when people become stressed, that is what they revert to. i always want to be as spot on as possible because then i prepare my dog (and myself) for what we will see. its not fair to train one thing and then change the picture in the ring.
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Old 01-20-2013, 08:58 PM   #8 (permalink)
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i want to make my puppies as right as possible and reward as much as possible. above all, i want to build attitude and desire to work, while maintaining criterion.

for me, i strive to make the picture look as much like the ring as possible - i want to expose them to ring type experiences. i want them to start doing fronts like in the ring. downs like in the ring. i want them to do heeling like in the ring. i never start teaching something less than what i want - in the beginning im shaping with food like crazy and making sure they are right. we go to matches even as little babies and work lke its a show, do a ring entrance, play with strangers in the ring, etc.

i teach baby steps for many things - they learn baby go outs, baby jumps, baby gloves, baby db - just for exposure. then it goes away.

but what i want is building muscle memory for tuck sit. muscle memory for drop back down. LOTS Of muscle memory for getting into heel and getting into front. TONS Of cookies.

i reward every time they look up. i build desire for having heel position be the best thing.

theres no one thing that is most important except building these things as second nature. i know some people rush a dog to novice at 8 months and push things - thats a shoddy foundation though and theres no need to rush it - at 8 months even if my dogs could qualify, i want more than that - i want them to be mentally prepared to handle the stresses.

cherry is nearing 2, chill is 1 -as much as i want to get back in the ring, im not showing them on the advice of my trainer - both can do a full novice run. now we are introducing distraction and stressors - learning to work with attention when people throw balls, have dogs retrieving, judges talking and putting pressure. i never want my dogs to experience pressure for the first time in the ring if at all possible. i want them to be like "whatever, we did this in training. i can work through this".
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Old 01-20-2013, 09:02 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by txsaphire View Post
I'm still learning but a lot of what I hear from very experienced handlers, is not to go in the ring until you're sure your dog is ready.
this times 10!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

when are you entered next kim? i didnt see you at princeton, were you entered at k9?
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Old 01-21-2013, 07:36 AM   #10 (permalink)
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To add more to this conversation- as Adara first mentioned- FUN is what a young dog should think obedience is. As you train many dogs you learn how to shape things to keep it fun. Basically keep it short in duration before the dog tunes out and mix up the tug toy/ball/food with skills you are asking.

As Kim mentioned, the young dogs do baby things they will need later. Jules at 7 months races after a dumbbell and brings it back to me. He won't need a formal retrieve for 2 more years probably. He does baby go outs to a target...started with baby go outs to a fluffy toy. He RUNS out. He won't need that skill for 2-3 more years.
The more advanced things that you need later can be very fun games for a young dog and are introduced with no pressure and no long duration of training time. I'm talking 5 min of dumbbell fun or 2-3 running go outs...then done for the day or week on that.

And YES to not showing until the dog is READY and confident. You will not get 100% from your dog in the competition venue most likely, so you want to be sure that 80% for example is still a great performance. There is no prize for the youngest dog to achieve anything! Most Dobermans I have trained are 2-2.5 before they are ring ready and proofed for CD. Probably could do Rally Novice or the BN with a younger dog now. (Weren't options years ago.)
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Old 01-21-2013, 09:27 AM   #11 (permalink)
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In addition to all of the excellent inputs so far, this time around I will definitely put more emphasis on training in different environments (both indoor and outdoor). Lucy grew up always training indoors in matted rings with baby gates and never really trained in outdoor rings where there are squirrels, birds, etc. other than the occasional training in the yard or park. That has been tough for her since we now train in outdoor rings and most shows are outdoors, with distractions far worse (or at least different) than indoor shows.

Another thing that was emphasized by our trainer when Lucy and I started puppy competition training was to never take a single heel step without having her attention. I really did not follow that consistently and it shows with Lucy's heeling now and not always having consistent attention.

And probably the third thing, which has already been stated, is make it fun, fun, fun! I don't think Lucy thinks obedience is fun... With Gidget I will work a lot harder to be more animated and energetic and hopefully make it more fun for her.
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Old 01-21-2013, 11:20 AM   #12 (permalink)
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this times 10!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

when are you entered next kim? i didnt see you at princeton, were you entered at k9?
I wasn't at princeton or k9, the next trial we entered is SOTC in Bayshore, NY. on Feb. 10. We're doing 2 matches before the trial. I might enter Port Chester too.
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Old 01-21-2013, 01:15 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I wasn't at princeton or k9, the next trial we entered is SOTC in Bayshore, NY. on Feb. 10. We're doing 2 matches before the trial. I might enter Port Chester too.
i hate the drive out to bayshore... im so lazy! all those tolls. i have my guys entered in the lower camden match but its a drive for ME so i doubt you'd even go. the all novice port chester trial, right? where are you entered for matches? i need to get my guys out more so i keep varying, which means ive done everything close. at some point i will do SIDTC because they aren't THAT far over the bridge
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Old 01-21-2013, 01:49 PM   #14 (permalink)
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This is a cool thread. I've never done competitive obedience, but it's something I'm really considering when I finally settle down and get a dog.

Doberkim, your motto is hilarious! It reminds me of those pirate stickers, "the beatings will continue until morale improves".
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Old 01-21-2013, 02:14 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I have yet to get Dart into the ring, and in all fairness to him I've let him get away with waaaaay too much. He would have probably been ready to CD at 6-7 months but now he has problems that I need to fix because I got lazy lol. He's 20 months old now, and I'm gonna get back to working him more for competitive OB. The one thing that I learned that always stuck with me that I tell my clients now, is to picture your perfect dog in your head, and don't accept anything less. What do you want him to look like during heeling? How fast do you want sits, downs, recalls, etc. Make that mental image before you ever start training, and shape him into that picture. Of course over the last several months I haven't done that lol. I also agree, don't take the dog in before he's ready. I'm a perfectionist too, so if I don't think he's ready to take HIT, he won't go into the ring.
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Old 01-21-2013, 02:41 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I'm a perfectionist too, so if I don't think he's ready to take HIT, he won't go into the ring.
Hey, I've always been of the opinion that Ilka could go HIT. All it would take is her having a Q, and every other dog in the trial to have a lower score (yes, it's always possible), an NQ, be excused, or absent.
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Old 01-21-2013, 05:25 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doberkim View Post
i hate the drive out to bayshore... im so lazy! all those tolls. i have my guys entered in the lower camden match but its a drive for ME so i doubt you'd even go. the all novice port chester trial, right? where are you entered for matches? i need to get my guys out more so i keep varying, which means ive done everything close. at some point i will do SIDTC because they aren't THAT far over the bridge
Yep, the all novice PCOTC trial. And we're doing one of our matches this Saturday at SIDTC. The other one is in Bayshore on the 3rd.
We were also at the Top Dog match the first week in January.

Lower Camden is a bit too much of a hike for us.
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Old 01-21-2013, 06:00 PM   #18 (permalink)
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I would not change much of anything. Since starting in Schutzhund 9 years ago, I have had excellent guidance. The fact is even with the best guidance you cannot replace experience in handling. It just takes time and there are not many shortcuts. I think for new people, spend a lot of time securing the basic foundation work before moving on to the next thing. Too many people are in a rush. Too many people wrap their ego's around what they think the dog knows.
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Old 01-21-2013, 06:26 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Just like agility... Foundation foundation foundation!!!

It's hard though, when you don't enjoy it... I'm still absolutely a novice, but I am just starting to learn to enjoy obedience now, which in turn makes it more fun for Elsie. I wish I had started things differently, but we're going ok and both enjoying training now. I think I will enjoy the experience of learning to handle Elsie in working trials, then consider proper competitive obedience with the next dog
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Old 01-22-2013, 05:59 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Quote:
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IMO, for my dogs and how i train, some of these would be very bad to start out my puppies doing. all your handler exaggerations are scorable to NQ's and i wnt my dogs to learn the cues and behaviors from the start. i never want to start out teaching them bad behaviors. and i never personally want to practice incorrect or scorable behaviors because when people become stressed, that is what they revert to. i always want to be as spot on as possible because then i prepare my dog (and myself) for what we will see. its not fair to train one thing and then change the picture in the ring.
I am by no means experienced in the OB ring, like many others here, did it in 1978 briefly and one weekend in 2002.
Our last dog, never saw any group training classes, we privately worked together without even other dogs, to cause those top distractions.
- added distractions in our case, came from off-leash casual street walking plus training the pup to leave the squirrels alone (lol)
- using whatever we had available to us

By all accounts, the many handler exaggerations I listed, may seem very counter-productive:
But my girl clearly thrived on the fun procedural training changes I would make up (in my head) and implement to try and trick her into practice mistakes. Once I encorporated the handler NQ stuff in our day to day puppy training practice, I quickly saw a true sharpness in our dobes attention span & eye focus, by mixing it up and we always finished our practice drills, by the book, as best as I was capable of.

In the novice ring, she got her CD title over one Saturday & Sunday with a 3rd and 2nd place finish.
As the handler, it was up to this Dad to not disqualify my own dog, in the ring and I found the fun training exaggerations easy enough to leave at home while the dobe could still mean business and had a job to do, once the training leash was clipped on to the choke chain..."game on" light switch.
She wasn't confussed by various method I used, and always showed an eagerness and fun allertness, in our convoluted practice times.
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Old 01-22-2013, 10:25 AM   #21 (permalink)
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I am going to disagree (can you imagine?).

There were many trials I entered when we were "not ready". Face it many people would never think they are ready and therefore never enter a trial. With Hara I certainly was not ready the first 3 times we went for a Sch1 (obviously). We were not ready by the time she passed her Sch2 and were probably not ready the first 2 times she went for a Sch3. We ended up with 6 straight Sch3 titles. I would not change a thing. I got experience in the trial. Every single time I was cognitively more aware.

With Cairo I was no where near ready when we went for our IPO1, I gave ourselves less than a 50% chance of passing either tracking or obedience. We eked out a pass in both phases. I did not consider ourselves ready for the IOP2 either, though a little more so than when we went for the 2. For me entering a trial even though we are not there yet helps to get me off my ass and concentrate on what needs to be done rather than having fun doing what is already solid. Sure there can be a price to pay, but the only way to really know where we are at is to enter the damn trial. Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly.

I am not worried about reputation at this point. There are others I know at the top levels of competition that would not enter a trial until probably a year after their dog is ready. These are people generally that make a living off their reputation. I am grateful to train with amateurs.
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Old 01-22-2013, 10:44 AM   #22 (permalink)
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For AKC obedience you can go to matches and places that have run throughs to mimic a trial experience. Not sure SCH offers that opportunity or not.

A bad heeling pattern or NQ recall is not a big deal. However, a dog getting up on a stay for CD and jumping or sniffing another dog, causing dog #2 to break and get NQ'd or traumatized is just not fair to other competitors. At the Open level the entire line up of dogs is alone, as all the handlers leave the ring and just the judge and a steward are there. Dogs break, dogs go down on the sit, dogs may leave the ring, but I sure don't want to be the one to cause trouble to somebody else's dog. Have not seen a Sch trial so don't know if this is apples to oranges comparison.


Personally, yes, I might occasionally enter a trial to see "where are we" type thing but I know by now if my dog is ready for the pressure or not. I don't mind NQ'ing my own dog with a 2nd verbal command, etc if I don't see the experience is what I want.

This thread was intended for a Novice handler and the mistake I see is people who get in the ring without proofing their dogs and then have a disastrous experience. That makes them just want to quit. I guess I would say if doing AKC obedience, go into BN level or Rally Novice where your dog can be evaluated if ready for more challenges without interfering with other dogs (no group stays in these classes).
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Old 01-22-2013, 01:53 PM   #23 (permalink)
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My question is with the dumbbell and the retrieve. It is toward the bottom with the ******** if you don't want to read the rest. I'm reading this and finding it full of very good information. It has been many years since I trained a pup for competition and I had Sierra, dog extrodinare.

Enter new pup. He is 8 months now. I have only done play/reward with him so far. He heels perfectly and looks at me. He can still occasionally sit and lean out so I only heel him against walls right now. His come is progressing nicely. I play a lot with him because I don't want him to be bored or hate it like Eli, so far he loves obedience. Downs were the hardest and we still work on stay. Daily we work on stay. He gets distracted still and will break so I only do stay on leash and still am close to him so I can put him back down and start over. He will down from a distance and sit from a distance we do this when playing at the field. He is a collie so distance stuff comes easily for him. I do have Eli down stay with him because Eli is awesome at stays, he doesn't break which works well for his therapy visits.

****So...He fetches sometimes, likes it doesn't love it, in the field he is so/so about it. Sometimes he is into and sometimes he isn't. At home he is retrieves much better and will retrieve almost anything I throw for the most part but will tire of it after 15 minutes so I only do it for 5 or so, to stop with him still enjoying himself. He does love tug. I'm afraid to bring out a dumbbell at this point since he isn't a great retriever. Should I? I could probably do it in the hallway in the house to begin with because he will fetch all sorts of stuff in the hallway. I feel like I am screwing up the retrieve because he is already 8 months. Thoughts?

We are starting beginning agility Feb 9. He has been is classes all his little life, positive classes and for the most part he does very well. His meet and greet with other dogs is still a work in progress, he gets very excited.
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Old 01-22-2013, 01:55 PM   #24 (permalink)
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I have not the experience in AKC competitive experience to offer an opinion. In Schutzhund If a dog breaks a long down and disrupts the other dogs routine, the other dog is going to be allowed to continue. I had a dog actually break the down and attack Hara when we were going for a Sch1. The attacking dog was DQ'd, Hara was allowed to re-group and continue.

I am not going to enter a trial if my dog is out of control (I have seen that in other teams). But I have also seen the other side where people never enter an event because they do not think everything is perfect. This is what I am speaking to. There has been a considerable amount of training and proofing done before we are entering a trial however.
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Old 01-22-2013, 02:26 PM   #25 (permalink)
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In AKC, if your dog breaks the sit or down, they NQ. Doesn't matter if the dog next to them gets up and wanders over. Doesn't matter if something happens outside the ring to distract them. If they go from a sit to a down or stand, or from a down to a sit or stand, even if they don't move from the spot they are in, the have NQd. This applies to both the Novice stays with the handlers in the ring, and the Open stays, with the handlers out of sight.

An NQ can also be for a handler error. The Signal excercise in Utiltity is a good example. If you forget, and use a verbal command, you've just NQd. If in Open, you give a command and signal for the Drop on Recall, you've just NQ.
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