Virtual Titling in Rally: A Fun Opportunity!

The days of cancelled dog shows due to COVID-19 have led to several opportunities for virtual titling in various sports, including Rally.

Virtual trials can have so many advantages, so this is a really exciting opportunity! Some dogs can't compete at normal dog shows, and this is a great way to show off their skills. For dogs that struggle with reactivity, or severe ring stress, or ones who find the dog show atmosphere too distracting or scary, the virtual titling program is perfect. 

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180 Hits

Want To Do Better in Rally? 5 Tips to Improve Your Score!

Everyone would like to get better scores in the ring! It might be surprising to learn that many points are lost to preventable things, like completing the sign incorrectly. Handler errors are by far the most common reason for deductions in rally. Read on to learn five of the most common handler errors that I see in AKC Rally.

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1317 Hits

Disconnection is a Two Way Street: Why Dogs Disconnect From Training (And What to Do About It)

A student is taking a private agility lesson at my facility. She finishes a particularly challenging sequence and turns toward me to talk about it. Meanwhile, her dog runs off and starts exploring the agility area on her own. While we chat, the dog circles the area, running through random tunnels or searching for treats. The handler finally calls her dog, but the dog is busy having fun.

Eventually, she collects her dog and puts her on leash, frustrated.

I am watching an online training video from one of my classes. The dog finishes a sequence of behaviors, and the handler hands him a treat and turns away, walking back to the area where she started. The dog eats the treat, looks at the handler, and seeing no connection, starts sniffing the ground. After a few seconds of this, the handler notices that her dog is not with her and scolds the dog, saying "get over here!"

As an instructor of both online and in-person classes, I regularly see my students disengage from their dogs while training. This disengagement does not usually occur while training the behaviors, but rather during the resets in between repetitions. I work very hard to maintain connection with my dog throughout our entire training session, and I don't want him to practice the cycle of disengaging and me having to get him back. I want my dog to be working with me the entire time that we are training, rather than possibly self-reinforcing by sniffing the ground or scavenging for treats, or building in other undesirable behaviors.

So how can we fix these all-too-common scenarios?

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1287 Hits

Are You Really Ready? Three Boxes to Check Before You Step in the Ring!

Thinking about stepping into the ring can be overwhelming and scary, but knowing that you and your dog are prepared will ease your nerves. Read on to find out if you are really ready to get in the ring!

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957 Hits

Want Straighter Fronts? Here’s How!

If you compete in obedience or rally (or both), you've probably spent a fair amount of time training fronts. As you progress through the levels, the number of fronts increases, and with it the potential for lost points. If your fronts could use some straightening, or if you're training a young dog, keep reading to get some tips for perfecting those...
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2786 Hits

Want a Relaxed Down Stay? Stop Rewarding It!

My young golden Excel was super quick to learn stay. He'd lay down on his station or on the ground at my feet and stay there – all while staring at me intensely. 

If I ignored him, he'd sigh loudly or flip onto his hip or put his chin on the ground. I remember how he would purposely look away from me, with his eyes rolled toward me to see if I was going to give him a treat. Or he'd look away and snap his head back toward me in anticipation of the reward. He was offering all the relaxation behaviors I spent months rewarding him for in an attempt to train a relaxed down stay. 

Instead of a calm dog I had a dog that was constantly working, offering behaviors, and seeking reinforcement. Not the picture I wanted.

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6691 Hits

The tiny change that can make all the difference: Strategic reward placement

Picture a training session. Your dog does the correct behavior, and you reward them. You did your job, right?

If your dog listened to your cue, and you gave the dog a treat, then all the important parts were taken care of... because marking and rewarding the behavior is the important part, right? Or is it? 

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2284 Hits

Planning Ahead: Getting Reinforcers Off Your Body

The process of getting reinforcers (treats or toys) off your body in preparation for entering an obedience or rally ring is something it's easy to overlook and rush. Most dogs act very differently when their handler has treats versus when the handler does not have treats, yet many people go straight from training with treats in their pockets to leaving treats on their crate and going into the ring.

When the dog starts off doing well in the ring, but then his or her performance degrades as the dog realizes that s/he is not going to get a reward, it can be very frustrating.

As the dog's performance gets worse, the handler tends to get confused and upset, emotions the dog can feel, leading to a further decline in behavior. As you can imagine, this can become a vicious cycle, and leaves the handler wondering why his/her dog shuts down in the ring.

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2757 Hits

Have a Rally Dog that Disconnects in the Ring? Here are 5 Tips to Stay Connected!

It's not easy to navigate a rally course while staying connected to your dog. Many dogs need a lot of connection from their handlers, and if we don't give it to them they will often disconnect and their attention will wander. When there are a whole bunch of distractions nearby, we don't want our dogs disconnecting!

I've put together a few tips for saying connected to your dog while navigating a Rally course.

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4094 Hits

Rally – A Great Intro to the Ring and to Obedience!

Are you looking for a nice gentle way to get in the competition ring? Or maybe you want to do some obedience, but would like to get your feet wet before jumping right in. Perhaps you've been playing around in TEAM and are ready to see what you can do with your newly learned skills. Do you have an older dog that wants to keep doing stuff, but maybe obedience is too much?

Rally can be the perfect answer for you!

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2316 Hits