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Hello, Im just starting agility and Im not sure how to train my dog to drive ahead of me. She is happy to leave me if we are working sheep or she chasing a ball. During agility she sticks with me like glue, waiting for commands. It means I cant really send her to do certain obstacles.

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i use the "go" command. i taught it by throwing a treat over a jump and telling the dog "go jump" while i stood still. worked up to this of course after teaching basic agility skills. then moved on to trotting while giving the "go" command. also trained the "get out" in a similar manner.

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With some dogs you can play racing games to a target. You can have food on a target, release your dog to run to it, and whoever gets there first gets the treat. Some dogs enjoy this game, others don't, to I only use it with dogs who do.

 

Once the dog will beat you to the treat, you can add a "go" or something to it to teach the dog to drive ahead.

 

Something that we do in our Agility classes is "clockwork". You start close to a piece of equipment and send your dog to it, reinforce for correct performance. As your dog gains fluency, start to move away from it to send. We are supposed to work up to a send of 30 feet, but I'll admit I've never actually taken it that far. Tessa is at 6 feet right now for a jump, and Dean is at close to 15.

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I have done a little bit of target training. If I put a ball in place of the target she moves faster, but is more interested in retrieving the ball than doing the obstacle correctly. Im getting to the point where I can send her ahead of me for a jump, but she stops driving forward once shes over it. I will try using the target more intensely and see how it goes. I keep getting the feeling that its all going to click for her at some point down the road, and she will start moving faster and driving ahead of me on her own. Id love to speed up the progress!

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I have done a little bit of target training. If I put a ball in place of the target she moves faster, but is more interested in retrieving the ball than doing the obstacle correctly. Im getting to the point where I can send her ahead of me for a jump, but she stops driving forward once shes over it. I will try using the target more intensely and see how it goes. I keep getting the feeling that its all going to click for her at some point down the road, and she will start moving faster and driving ahead of me on her own. Id love to speed up the progress!

 

In that case, you might want to work some speed circles, if you can. If you have access, set two curved tunnels at each "end" and a jump in between each, so the two jumps and two tunnels form a large oval. Then you can run the inside circle and cue her to go on to each piece ahead of her as you drive forward.

 

It may be that your body language is actually cueing her to stop driving once she is over the first jump. Working speed circles might give you an idea of what you need to do to keep her in motion.

 

Take care not to create a driving monster, though. When I first started with him, I taught Dean to drive ahead and he never paid any mind to where I was or what my body language was telling him!

 

Now I try to balance out exercises where the dog is driving forward with exercises where the dog will turn.

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Hello, Im just starting agility and Im not sure how to train my dog to drive ahead of me. She is happy to leave me if we are working sheep or she chasing a ball. During agility she sticks with me like glue, waiting for commands. It means I cant really send her to do certain obstacles.

 

Do you have areas of 2-3 acres or more where you can walk your dog off-leash, just informally letting him/her run, sniff and explore? Perhaps unhurried casual walks of that sort would get your agility dog more accustomed to feeling comfortable out-away from his/her handler.

 

As I recall, we started with one low hurdle in the backyard, gradually increasing distance, using some such command as "out jump", said in a very upbeat voice. Quite early-on in training, began remaining near back door, as I sent her out to a single jump. As dog committed to jump, gave lots of applause (literally), laughter/smiles, and fun-sounding words. Didn't over-do repetitions, just a few, never making it work. Moved the hurdle around the yard, and once she became consistent with one jump, added second one not too far from the first. Seems like I encouraged second jump with another "out jump", or something like that. You no doubt see the pattern -- steadily/slowly lengthen distances and add jumps. For us, lots of praise, always retaining the game-like atmosphere, was the key.

 

Now our walks incorporate reasonable opportunities we encounter, such as: sending her out to a park bench with "out table"; weaving figure-eights through goal posts, with changes of direction on-the-fly; "out jumps" over low fence-lines and streams. Imagination is your only limit.

 

In your backyard, living room or field, you can add excitement and interest with 3-4 orange construction cones, arranged in various patterns. The dog can be weaved through them with simple commands such as "here" or "out", gradually increasing difficulty and dog-handler distance.

 

What an opportunity for fun you have. Be sure your dog understands how genuinely happy you are when he/she does something that pleases you. For us it worked well. -- Best wishes, TEC

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See my intended post, directly above. In editing process somehow did something incorrectly. -- TEC

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You've got good advice already. Just wanted to add, in our training, we never put the reward (treat, ball, whatever) on the target until after the dog has completed the task/obstacle correctly. This way they aren't rewarded for doing it incorrectly or bypassing it all together.

 

To do it this way, you first have to teach the dog that touching the target gets him a reward and then put a command to it ('touch' or 'target' or whatever). If your dog is familiar with clicker training, it makes teaching them to touch a target very easy becaus you can mark the exact moment when they touch it and they know that is what got them the treat. If not, you may have to start with the target in your hand (this just confused Meg, but helped Bear) and/or rub food smell on it to get them interested in it.

 

Then start simple with no obstacle, just distance. Cue dog. Dog touches target when its right in front of you. You place treat on target as a reward. Once he understand you want him to touch the target, move the target out a short distance, gradually increasing the distance until you can send him to the target across the room/yard.

 

Once he fully understands that touching the target, regardless of where it is gets him a reward, you can start placing it after obstacles and sending your dog over a jump ahead of you, ending with them touching the target. Most dogs will wait at the target for you to put the treat on it. The good thing about that is the dog is driving ahead, yet still focused on you because they have you place the treat on the target. Add more jumps, other obstacles, and then once the dog is more comfortable, discontinue use of the target.

 

For a target, make sure whatever you use is clearly visible when on the floor of your training area. We just used the lid of a container. A mouse pad can work. Another alternative is to use an actual container (small) with the treat inside. The dog touches it, then waits for you to open it so they can have their reward.

 

Either way, make sure that you are not treating out of your hand. You want the dog to associate the target with the reward in this case.

 

Targeting really helped teach Meg to 'go on'. We still need to work on distance in several areas, but if there are 3-4 jumps all lined up and I say 'go on', she knows to take them and not wait for me. :)

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Those are really good points about target training. Ive got lots of things to try and I will let you know how it goes.

Today, at practice, we did obstacles in succession for the first time. Tunnel, weaves, and platform. We had never done a curved tunnel before. When we got to it Rocket jumped over it. When I called her back over to the entrance she jumped over it again! Hope that doesnt become a bad habit. " When in doubt...Jump over it!" <---Dog Mantra.

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Those are really good points about target training. Ive got lots of things to try and I will let you know how it goes.

Today, at practice, we did obstacles in succession for the first time. Tunnel, weaves, and platform. We had never done a curved tunnel before. When we got to it Rocket jumped over it. When I called her back over to the entrance she jumped over it again! Hope that doesnt become a bad habit. " When in doubt...Jump over it!" <---Dog Mantra.

If

 

In a situation like this, I would take a step backwards since the dog is being challenged with too much change at one time. Make the change more gradual so the dog hardly knows that his obstacle performance is changing. For this example, the tunnel was probably too curved. Go back to a straight tunnel, then gradually curve it - keep the front end straight and gradually curve the exit end until you have the curve you want.

 

Jovi

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Do not know if the book "Agility Right from the Start" was suggested to you, but it is a really good foundation source and should help you answer lots of the questions you are going to have.

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Do not know if the book "Agility Right from the Start" was suggested to you, but it is a really good foundation source and should help you answer lots of the questions you are going to have.

 

I second and third that. It's an excellent, excellent resource.

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Thanks for all the advice! I don't have enough time to write about everything, but ALL of the tips you guys gave me make a lot of sense. I'm incorporating them as I can.

 

I've started working more intensively with a target; for starters. I've gotten to the point where I can send her over a jump from a fair distance (10 ft). She stops right after she's over the jump and looks at me. So, I've started employing the target; telling her "Go Touch!" as soon as she's going over the jump. I want to get her driving to the target rather than coming back to me. We also did our first non-angled weaves today! I was so proud.

 

For now, I think I need to start training each obstacle from a distance. Start close, and slowly send her from further and further away. The weaves, so far, are the most challenging. Though, I don't think I'll ever be THAT far away from her during weaves.

 

I think what arf said about targets and reinforcement is really good point. In my beginner class, the treats are left on the targets so we end up reinforcing mistakes frequently. As an old hand at trick training; it makes me cringe a little whenever I see it. But what are you going to do in a big class with various skill levels?

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But what are you going to do in a big class with various skill levels?

 

As long as you don't take up an excessive amount of time, I'd just explain that you'd like to do things a bit different to see if it helps your dog. Don't be afraid to disagree with the instructors on what is the best way to train your dog or to question why they do things the way they do. A good trainer learns from their students too.

 

I've had to change things up for Meg a few times because the way the trainer had us doing things wasn't working for her. There is another border collie in our class who sometimes has to do things differently too. Our trainer encourages us to do what works best for our dogs and as an outside observer can offer suggestions on whats working and what isn't. All the handlers benefit from seeing another way to do things.

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I think no one would mind if I didnt put treats on my target. Most of the dogs arent truly target trained, so they still need the treats.

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I've started working more intensively with a target; for starters. I've gotten to the point where I can send her over a jump from a fair distance (10 ft). She stops right after she's over the jump and looks at me. So, I've started employing the target; telling her "Go Touch!" as soon as she's going over the jump. I want to get her driving to the target rather than coming back to me. We also did our first non-angled weaves today! I was so proud.

 

When you do this, are you moving past the plane of the jump and continuing your forward motion, or are you standing stationary from where you sent her?

 

If you are standing stationary, your body language is cueing her to turn back to you after the jump. Be sure you continue forward, past the plane of the jump, if she is to continue to drive forward.

 

Eventually you will want her to be able to distinguish between when to drive forward and when to take the obstacle and turn back toward you. I'm learning this in reverse right now. I keep inadvertently crossing the plane of the jump when I want Tessa to turn back toward me and I keep sending her on to equipment ahead of us when I want her to turn back. But I appreciate that she understands my body language that well and that she actually is doing what I am unintentionally telling her to do!! When I get the handling right, she is going to nail it!!

 

For now, I think I need to start training each obstacle from a distance. Start close, and slowly send her from further and further away. The weaves, so far, are the most challenging. Though, I don't think I'll ever be THAT far away from her during weaves.

 

You may not be, but it's cool to be able to send to weaves!!

 

I think what arf said about targets and reinforcement is really good point. In my beginner class, the treats are left on the targets so we end up reinforcing mistakes frequently. As an old hand at trick training; it makes me cringe a little whenever I see it. But what are you going to do in a big class with various skill levels?

 

I often use baited targets and sometimes the dog gets the food when he or she didn't perform correctly. I find it all comes out in the wash. It's not much different from the occasional mis-click, or dropped treat, etc. When that happens, I back up, make the criteria clearer and reinforce heavily when the dog gets it right.

 

I like having many options when it comes to targets. Sometimes an unbaited target is best for a given dog and scenario, sometimes a target with food inside is most appropriate, sometimes a baited target is the tool that I'm looking for, and sometimes a baited target with food inside is the way to go. It's like having different sizes and types of brushes to paint with.

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The weaves, so far, are the most challenging. Though, I don't think I'll ever be THAT far away from her during weaves.

 

The weaves are challenging for pretty much all teams starting out. They are by far the most unnatural thing we ask our dogs to do in agility.

 

But with enough work and consistency, any dog can learn to weave independently of our position. It comes in handy -- such as when you have a dog that needs to have his dog walk contact babysat, so you have to leave him in the weaves to get into position for that. lol (video evidence below)

 

 

Great advice given here for driving ahead -- but again, it's another one of those things that tends to get better with time, especially if you have a naturally "drivey" dog. They figure it out, to the point where you sometimes get a dog which is TOO obstacle focused and just keeps on blasting down the line when you've cued for a turn. :P

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The weaves are challenging for pretty much all teams starting out. They are by far the most unnatural thing we ask our dogs to do in agility.

 

But with enough work and consistency, any dog can learn to weave independently of our position. It comes in handy -- such as when you have a dog that needs to have his dog walk contact babysat, so you have to leave him in the weaves to get into position for that. lol (video evidence below)

 

 

Great advice given here for driving ahead -- but again, it's another one of those things that tends to get better with time, especially if you have a naturally "drivey" dog. They figure it out, to the point where you sometimes get a dog which is TOO obstacle focused and just keeps on blasting down the line when you've cued for a turn. :P

 

 

Nice video; I see what you mean about getting ready for the dog walk. We have a couple "drivey" dogs in class. If they get loose from their handler they start running all over the room doing random obstacles.

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......

If you are standing stationary, your body language is cueing her to turn back to you after the jump. Be sure you continue forward, past the plane of the jump, if she is to continue to drive forward.

 

Eventually you will want her to be able to distinguish between when to drive forward and when to take the obstacle and turn back toward you. I'm learning this in reverse right now. I keep inadvertently crossing the plane of the jump when I want Tessa to turn back toward me and I keep sending her on to equipment ahead of us when I want her to turn back. But I appreciate that she understands my body language that well and that she actually is doing what I am unintentionally telling her to do!! When I get the handling right, she is going to nail it!!

 

 

Talking about body cues is very timely for me. Last night, our agility instructor challenged us to 'silent agility'. We were prohibited from saying anything while we were running the course except for 'OK' or 'Break' to start our dog. We could not name any obstacle while running (no 'Tunnel' or 'Weave'), neither could we say 'Here' or 'Go on'. ALL handling had to rely on body cues.

 

All of us were rolling our eyes, imagining all the off courses that our dogs were going to do. What happened was the opposite. Our dogs had very nice runs - not perfect, but much, much better than we thought.

 

I really learned a lot from this exercise.

A. My dog did not drop a single bar all evening. I have trouble with timing since he is so fast. I seem to always be blurting out a command when he is in the air over a jump despite my best efforts not to talk while he is in the air. My late commands (while he is airborne) causes him to adjust and drop a bar. I really need to keep it zipped.

 

B.I concentrated much more on body handling cues - turning my shoulders, etc. when appropriate.

 

C. I hustled a lot more. Even though I thought I was hustling pretty fast, I realized that I was actually not as fast as I thought because I was relying on verbal cues. When I could not use verbals, I had to substitute more speed (which I didn't think I could do) to be where I needed to be to indicate my dog's path with body cues.

 

D. Without the human blabbing nonsense throughout the course, all the dogs were more atuned to their handler.

 

It was a very enlightening experience. I certainly hope that in the future I will "run silent". (or at least run quieter)

 

Jovi

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My instructor says I need to do the opposite...give more verbal cues.

 

I am a quiet person and I have to really work at the verbal stuff. I seem to have a 56k connection between my brain and mouth and I'm usually late when I do use verbal cues. :o Meg prefers to follow body signals anyway and isn't a great listener so overall we make a pretty good team, except when she can't see me very well (I think that's why she's not fond of tunnels) or when I give the wrong body signals. :P We have been improving though...slowly.

 

There area couple dogs in our class that do better when their person is too out of breath to talk. :D

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One of my trainers made the observation that when she was starting out that the admired trainers kept quiet, now it is about communicating with your dog and giving them as much input as possible. Which is very different from saying jump jump jump

:D which I am going to guess we were all guilty of starting out.

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Talking about body cues is very timely for me. Last night, our agility instructor challenged us to 'silent agility'. We were prohibited from saying anything while we were running the course except for 'OK' or 'Break' to start our dog. We could not name any obstacle while running (no 'Tunnel' or 'Weave'), neither could we say 'Here' or 'Go on'. ALL handling had to rely on body cues.

 

Try it with your hands behind your back as well as your mouth shut. It can be dione and it's a salutory lesson as to the importance of shoulders and feet.

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Try it with your hands behind your back as well as your mouth shut. It can be dione and it's a salutory lesson as to the importance of shoulders and feet.

 

OMG, Noooooooo! :D:D I don't think my instructor needs any more ways to torture us. :rolleyes:

 

 

Actually, that is a suggestion that I will bring up in a few weeks. Awesome idea.

 

Jovi

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Dave Munnings has some good exercises for teaching "go" on his DVD "Q-Me". I have used a like method and have really enjoyed the results as it creates drive as well as distance. This is part of the Dave Munnings seminar we had earlier in the year. Unfortunately the audio is sort of bad and only part of the demo was caught on video but this is Dave explaining "go" and how he trains it

 

 

 

I like this method as it can really assist in teaching independent behavior which, as mentioned previously, can be a huge asset for things like weave pole performance. I trained my last two dog's weave poles this way and am very pleased with the results (ideally, my tosses could have been a bit earlier as I don't want the dog looking back at me waiting for the toy to arrive-always a work in progress)

 

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So, Ive spent a few weeks on it, and Im getting wonderful driving forward from the dog at home, and at non-class practices. In class though...no driving. She is the definition of a velcro dog. So, I get to hear about that every class from my teachers.

 

On an up note... We are one of the few teams in our newbie class who can work off leash and do the big teeter. :-) I like to brag about that.

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