What kind of foundation work did you guys actually do, what you describe sounds interesting. The foundations class I took didn't include any exercise that would include looking for obstacles. We did targeting sticks, targeting discs, send away to a mat and lie down, rewarding the dogs for climbing up on blocks of wood, and weaving between our legs, then at the end of each class we would take the dogs through a course and encouraged the dogs to explore the equipment.
The thing that I think helped the most is called building value with the jump. You use uprights (bar or no bar depending on age of dog). You shape it. This teaches the dog to go to/over the jump without you and to look for the obstacles. They see jump, they go to jump, etc.
Our first session: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GcNT2N6J36s
Later session YouTube - value in jump.AVI
Eventually I can do this from 15 ft laterally and each side of the jump. It's silent. No command to go over.
The next drill we do is the 180 working towards a 270. We shape it. But I do use movement to get them started. The goal is to send from 15 ft away. I start about 4 ft away, Take one step I do say go and move arm foward. I keep my arm up and rotate shoulders as they go to help them go over the second jump back to me. Drop arm to bring them in. I start with jumps about 1 ft apart and work to 10-12 ft apart and then also move further back from the jump.
The third dril I do is with 3 jumps in a small pinwheel. It is totally shaped. I don't use MY movement to move the dog. Whereas in the 180 I helped with my shoulders. This time, I let the dog lead. The dog learns to search for the next jump. I reward after 1 jump a few times, then 2 jumps, then 3 jumps. Go both directions. slowly increase distance of jumps.
Almost all our equipment is shaped except maybe the chute. I find shaping teaches them to do it on their own and without you. With every step, we send, call over and run with from both sides.
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