Proofing, the Benefits of Mistakes (all the exercises are related!)

proofing May 11, 2021
Proofing Part III:

A dog that is reliable on the sit stay, recall, and retrieve has the foundation needed for a successful obedience career.

This is Part III in a series of videos that I’ve produced for you about proofing. So let's do a quick review.

I believe there are three stages of development when you are teaching a dog an exercise,

  1. Shape the behavior with lots of repetition
  2. Practice the behavior in lots of different locations
  3. Teach the dog what you will not allow. You “proof” against mistakes that will cause your dog to fail

In this video, I want to explain to you how all the obedience exercises are related.

The three most important exercises are the sit stay, the recall, and the retrieve.

If I can get you to lay a foundation in those three exercises, to proof your dog so that he understands how to perform them as well as what you will not allow, then you will lay a foundation that enables you to successfully teach your dog every exercise.


Good news! The Digital Guide: Proofing: The Benefits of Mistakes has been updated and is now available on

The Guide covers how to proof all the exercises in Novice, Open, and Utility. Additionally, you will find information about how all the exercises are related. 

For example, the following chart lists mistakes a dog can make on a retrieve. There are five common mistakes that can be made on any retrieve exercise. As you can see, there is one additional mistake (go to incorrect glove) that a dog can only make on the Directed Retrieve and two additional mistakes (going around the jump on the way out or back) that he can only make on the Retrieve Over the High.

Finally, the videos in the guide show real training sessions with handlers responding to their dog's mistakes. Most of us are uncomfortable when our dogs make errors because we are unsure how to react. Dogs do not like to be wrong, and it is typically quite simple to explain to your dog what you like, as well as what you will not allow. 

Proofing: The Benefits of Mistakes includes:

  • Written material explaining the subject of proofing and how all the obedience exercises are related;
  • Video showing real dogs making errors and handlers responding to those errors;
  • Checklists for the Novice, Open, and Utility exercises to help you proof against mistakes your dog can make in the ring;
  • Bonus recorded webinar on proofing

I want to show you that it’s a simple process to cause mistakes, and then respond to them. It is a process that you and your dog will enjoy and one that will hopefully lead to more qualifying scores and fewer surprises in the ring.

For more information about this digital obedience guide, including how to purchase it, click here:


This post is part 3 of 3 on Proofing. You can find links to parts 1 and 2 below:

Proofing Part 1: What is Proofing?

Proofing Part 2: Proofing Isn't Just Adding Random Distractions

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