Wallace's feedback for us was that I was the only one that trained, but only 75% of the time. I was one of two people that used food. Why weren't there more? Wallace told me I do not reward very consistently, nor very fast, and I need to do so more often when Kane gives me good reason to.
He recommends that I do not train out of sequence - meaning in trial the walking down comes immediately after the walking sit, with no turns in between. This is also how I should train, some would call this "pattern training" and it's a personal choice. "Let your dog know what is coming." He also in general recommends that you master something before you go on to the next thing.
Wallace says he understands what I am trying to do with the dumbell retrieve training. He thinks it's going to take me a long(er) time to do it this way. He uses forced retrieves. He also recommends that I use the clicker for rewarding the bring and hold of dumbell training.
Wallace advocates precision, accuracy and attention for a short period of time in the beginning, and he uses the clicker as a "non-emotional" marker for correct behavior. He says other schutzhund trainers are astonished to hear of him using clickers, but he says it works well for him. Here are the top 5 things I learned in obedience:
- Corners in obedience should be 5 step corners. This is fine for trials as long as there is a distinct change of direction.
- Use clicker to mark correct behavior
- Kane should be able to handle distractions during heeling now.
- Use leash for corrections, not hands
- Rewards can be playing (no ball) or ball. Stay in one spot
Since Kane has a long body, 5 step corners will be better for us than 90 degree turns. Wallace feels that I will not loose points for this at trial, but I will definitely loose points for loss of attention which is happening now. Corners are trial must have a distinct change of direction.
Kane knows heeling well enough now that he should be able to handle distractions during basic position (sit in heel position) and also during the heeling. To increase difficulty, you increase the length. We tried this with me messing with my hair, calling out to Sean, Wallace touching his ear and other things. If Kane moves his head or does not look at me, he gets a leash correction.
The leash is held with both hands fisted at or slightly below chest level. No tightness in leash, but short enough to be able to give a correction. Wallace used the clicker for me to mark good behavior. I think this worked very well, and I will ask my friends at practice and my trainer to help me with this. They can see if he is forged or lost attention and help me reward more consistently. I really like this idea.
When I'm by myself, I can hold the clicker with my right hand with the leash, click as a marker and then reward with my left hand - ALWAYS with the left hand.
Wallace advocates using the ball as a reward, not to just play. For this, he holds the ball up in front of the dog, or on the side (arm straight out) and tells the dog to "get it." Tug lightly on the ball to get the dog to pull back - that's what you want. Not you pulling but your dog pulling you. Use the OUT command and train again.
I think these obedience sessions gave us some great pointers on how to sharpen our performance and how to focus Kane's attention on the field. I will start to increase distance and distraction as we get better and then add in the about turns, walking sits and walking downs again. Group would be a form of distraction so we'll add that now as well.Nice heeling, Kane!