Monday, September 19, 2011

Quick Notes on the "Drop on Recall" Exercise

I have not trained this for a million dogs.  Probably only about ten.  This is not a complete training guide.

Yesterday I was helping to judge a county 4-H dog show.  Afterwards, I was asked questions by some of the kids and parents. One parent really wanted to know how to train the Drop On Recall.

I paused....trying to figure out what to say that could make the biggest difference.  These are the few tips that I thought would be most key.  Note that a majority of the dogs were trained....very differently..... than things I would recommend to begin with.

1) I will come and help. Call, email, set up a clinic.  There are a LOT of steps to this behavior and for success.
2) We want the Down to be fluent, that means that the dog should lie down on just the word or signal, without the handler having to bend over, without the handler having to repeat it, the dog responds right away, and with immediacy.
3) Focus on distance, have a parent hold the dog on leash. The person is to not say or do anything but stand completely still.  Kid asks for a Down. Reinforce. Kid moves a step away. Down. Reinforce. Two steps away. Down. Reinforce.   Up to about twenty steps or so.  Teach the dog he can lie down far from the handler.
4) When you go to reinforce the dog, always toss the treat behind or throw the toy behind the dog. This will help to discourage the dog from keeping forward.
5) Consider teaching the dog to lie on a bed.  Then you can put the bed between the dog and handler. Ask for the down.  Reinforce.   Do a MILLION repetitions. Most people get rid of the mat before the behavior is strong enough.

I really hope I get to go do a clinic in this area. It was THE most enthusiastic group I've judged for.  A TON of kids. A TON in Novice!  Many kids showing in brace!  (which I had to judge!).  Many teams!   Many kids with multiple dogs. It was really really impressive.  And many of them do agility as well!

It was also interesting that while everywhere I judge 95% are not showing in buckle collars.... this was teh first time I felt I had to intervene (more than once) in the crating area when I saw things that got a bit too rough.  "Hi!  One of the really important things at dog shows is showing the public how we interact with animals.  They want to see everyone having a good time and good human-dog interactions.  It's really embarassing and hard when your dog does XYZ...  How about we don't give him a chance to practice that... lets (cover the crate, let him stand instead of down stay, walk him instead of standing here in the busy area).   Remember, the public is watching.  And if the judge thinks you are being too rough with your dog, it could impact your sportsmanship score as well.   Do you have any questions about that or how we can help your dog?"

Despite all that, I really really do like working with the kids.   It's going to be a long few months until we start up again in January/February!


Kirby @ Dog.Nerd.101 said...

Love all the opportunities for "teachable moments!" Is there no rule at these events that only buckle collars are allowed?

Kristen said...

For 4-H dog shows, every state has it's own rules and then every county has it's own variation. In most/all parts of the country, the program is based off of AKC rules, and as AKC rules allow for slip or buckle collars in obedience events.... the opportunity is there in 4H. Most kids in this state train with slip collars as that's what the volunteers teaching know how to use.