Get in the Rally Ring - How to Enter a Rally Trial and What to Expect When You Get There

If you've never entered a rally trial before, it can be a bit overwhelming! In this blog I'll lay out the steps for entering a trial and knowing what to expect when you walk in the door.

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548 Hits

Delightful Downs for Rally and Obedience

The down seems like such a simple behavior, but your dog's ability to be able to swiftly and smoothly down will save you points in the rally or obedience ring. You'll want to make sure your dog knows how to down from a sit and from a stand on a verbal cue only.

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779 Hits

Discover the Fun of the Master Rally Class!

Are you a little intimidated by the master signs, with all those spins and sends?

There's no reason to be! Although some of the signs seem intimidating, most of the master signs are just building off skills that you already know from advanced and excellent. Many signs are simply chaining multiple advanced or excellent signs together, or adding some distance or speed. 

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491 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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2176 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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1110 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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3149 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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7463 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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2463 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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3357 Hits

Two Left Feet: An Alternative Approach to Footwork When Heeling

I have been teaching handling to obedience students for a long time. Some students have no issue incorporating and even changing their handling to use specific footwork. But most students have a lot of trouble keeping their footwork consistent. 

It might be easier without the dog and without a judge calling the heeling pattern. But insert the dog or the judge into the picture and you can get a stressed and paralyzed handler that get tied up into foot placement thoughts when there is a lot more handling to think about. These handlers worked many days, weeks, months, and some had worked years perfecting the footwork without the dog. 

Why does this happen?

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2006 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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4416 Hits

Training Smart: Adding Fun To Your Obedience Training

This is an excerpt from one of Julie Symons' Obedience Games lectures along with a few other thoughts about dog training!

When it comes to dog training, everything we need to train and prepare for trialing can be overwhelming. Skills, precision, ring confidence, OUR confidence, weaning off primary and secondary reinforcers, etc. We all have goals and ambitions and want to do well.

We start that journey by building a strong emotional foundation when training our dogs. First and foremost we want a happy, motivated, secure, and engaged dog!! I don't worry about a lot of precision early on. The key is to prepare your dog by training smart and reinforce improvement on the way to perfection. The path to perfection or as close as we can get is the journey you take with your dog, not something you achieve all at once early in their career.

What does "training smart" mean?

It means being present when training and having a plan. It's not training when you don't feel well or in a bad mood. It means to make what training you can get to count and make a difference toward progressing.

If you don't have a lot of time to train, then make the most of the time you do have to make it productive and effective. Don't rush or get sloppy.

Make it your goal to rehearse correct behavior and be consistent with criteria as much as you can. And remember, no dog trainer trains perfectly. You constantly have to make quick decisions. To paraphrase Bob Bailey … you need to make a decision as the next one is right around the corner!

So you have to decide what/when to mark, when to release (ie., to avoid a crooked front), when to ask for more, etc. Don't fret over missed decisions, just get ready for the next one. Make it your goal to grow and expand as a trainer by experimenting and approaching it like an art form!

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2023 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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2447 Hits

Teaching Better Greetings: What to do if Your Dog is Jumping on People

Let's talk about jumping up on people.

First, let's consider the dog's point of view. If your dog does manage to keep four feet on the floor, they might not be noticed! They cannot express their excitement at your presence! In contrast, if they jump on you, they will get noticed, whether you appreciate that or not. Sometimes any attention is better than no attention at all, so let this be a generic piece of advice: train your eye (and your response) to notice what goes right with your dog rather than focusing on what goes wrong.

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7334 Hits

Is Silence Disconnect? Introducing Silence to Obedience Work

 A student recently asked how to introduce silence into her obedience work without her dog feeling punished. As a long-time obedience competitor, I do not consider silence to be punishing, but it does appear that some people see it that way. Where is the confusion coming from?

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3084 Hits

E102: Hannah Branigan - "Awesome Obedience"

 Hannah Branigan is on the podcast to talk about her new things - a new book on Awesome Obedience and her new series of classes on heeling!! Transcription Melissa Breau: This is Melissa Breau and you're listening to the Fenzi Dog Sports Podcast brought to you by the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy, an online school dedicated to providing high-qu...
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3294 Hits

Unintended Consequences: Understanding Poisoned Cues

In positive reinforcement training, a cue is something that indicates to the learner (your dog) that you would like her to do a certain behavior.

Most cues in dog training are verbal or visual. But cues can be olfactory (a dog training in scent work sniffs the odor and sits) or auditory (a click in clicker training), or environmental (you take your dog out of the car at the trailhead, and she knows she is going for a walk). A touch can also be a cue.

The dog learns that when she hears, sees, smells, or feels the cue, and performs the correct behavior, she will earn a reward.

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3468 Hits

Defining “Perfect” Heel Position

When I first got started competing in obedience, I really had no idea what heel position meant. I mean, I vaguely knew the dog should walk at your left side and sit when you stopped walking. I could tell that much from watching other teams heeling, even with my uneducated eye.

It turns out that perfect heeling is a somewhat subjective thing. Everyone has their own aesthetic sense of what "perfect" means - their own picture in their mind of what perfect heeling should look like. Heeling was one of those things where I knew it when I saw it but I couldn't really tell you how to define it. Like art, music, fancy food, and other complex things, I could tell you when I liked what I saw, but I had no idea how to identify what made it great... and worse, I had no idea how to reproduce it. 

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9302 Hits

3 Steps To Solve Your Dog Training Problem

So, you have a training problem….

You are training your dog for obedience or agility competition and a problem erupts. How do you go about solving it?

Let's say you have been training your dog in obedience and all the Open exercises have been progressing smoothly. But now your dog has started to miss the drop cue on the drop on recall exercise. Or you have a dog competing in agility at the Open level. He had good performances in Novice. But recently your dog has been missing weave entries, after having nice weaves in Novice and in practice. How do you go about solving these problems?

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3859 Hits