No-Rehearsals Dog

Often we train via repetition- drill, as it were. My personal favorite drill is the recall. I want my dog to have no other thought in its’ head when it hears come other than ‘ooh, go to mom now!’, so I train for that endlessly and brook no failures. But often on the agility course the dog will do an obstacle perfectly… and when you ask for it again the dog will seem to sigh and slouch through the weaves, tail down and ears sulking. This dog loses motivation with repetition!

There are plenty of ways to combat your prima donna (or prim don)’s attitude.

Don’t repeat! If your dog does an obstacle the way you want them to, move on don’t practice it more for a little bit.

Reward for the second… or third… repetition Keep your dog guessing on when he’ll be rewarded.

Reward more! If your dog is only rewarded the first time, of course they don’t want to do it again!

Try a different angle. Okay, you aced the weaves from my left… let’s go through this tunnel from the other side, on the right! And let’s come from the side a little, and maybe faster.

Speed it up. If your dog was walking before, ask for speed.

Add another obstacle to the sequence- go jump-weave-jump-weave-tunnel instead of weave, weave, weave. Wouldn’t you get bored, too?

Drills should never be boring Keep things upbeat! Keep things fun! If your dog gets bored, do something else. Nothing needs to be learned in one day. If something needs to be learned in one day, then you’ve waited too long to teach it!

4 Comments on “No-Rehearsals Dog

  1. This article was helpful for me & my puggle Gunny. We’re back yard fun & the training has helped him follow comands. We don’t have much room & we do not compete, & yes he does get board with repitition. I set up the Afordability Agility Kit, showed him I had chicken treats,& was able to get a nice video of him running the course the first run. You don’t need a lot of room, or be a pro to enjoy your dog. Thank you, Afordable Agiltiy.

  2. my dog has the opposite problem. he’s the star of his agility class – fast and focused and always right on. get him to a trial and he’s distracted. he spends so much time sniffing his way through the course that we end up with time faults and have even not q’ed because of it. and because of the difference in his speed, i have to handle him differently in class than i would in a trial. i can’t keep up with him in class, but in competetion it’s like i’m trying to drag him along. but on his good days he not only q’s, he gets first place.

  3. I agree w/the column and Lucy. My Standard Poodle can get bored quickly and then she gets the “zoomies”. My trainer decided last year not to run a sequence more than twice and then move on to the next training sequence. It works very well to keep her brain entertained and more focused on me. And, as above, varying when you give the reward works well to keep your dog guessing and looking to you. Now we are focused on distance training, and asking even more of her in thinking and making decisions.
    We ran our first trial recently and she performed way better than the fun match back in the summer. Mom needs more training though, I still get in her way sometimes!!

  4. This advice is SO important! Overtraining can be worse sometimes than undertraining, especially with a smart, sensitive dog…or horse, or child, for that matter. I showed horses for years and my best trail class horse, who won class after class for about 15 years, was at his best when I schooled him on obstacles no more than twice a week. Otherwise, he got sick of it. I saw more people in a variety of equestrian pursuits leave their best performances in the training ring and end up with sour, miserable horses. I belive dogs need days away from practice, to go on nice, long walks or play ball and have no stress days. Some dogs will want to practice more, of course, others may find it stressful…my sheltie does. The final comment is so important…you cannot teach something new the day before a trial…or even worse, at the event itself! Great column everyone should read.