Disappointing Ring Performance? Utilize the Fix n’ Go!Jun 02, 2022
There is nothing more frustrating than a mistake your dog only makes in the ring.
The AKC recently amended the Obedience Regulations to include the Fix n’ Go.
Do you have the tools to address the most common ring errors and strategy to use the Fix n' Go to prevent mistakes from becoming bad habits?
Until recently, the AKC rules did not allow training in the ring, so we were required to continue after a failed signal, or helplessly watch the dog anticipate yet, another finish. That was painful, and because dogs are situational (See my article How Dogs Learn), bad habits were hard to avoid. If we allow a dog to perform poorly in competition, he will assume that in a show situation, you do not expect the same performance you require in training.
However, now our strategy can change. The AKC recently amended the Obedience Regulations to include the Fix n’ Go. This rule change gives the handler a chance to repeat a failed exercise.
You get a “do-over” - an opportunity to have your dog perform correctly. What a benefit! Or is it…?
Should you always use the Fix n’ Go when your dog performs poorly in the ring? Consider the following scenarios…
1. You did fail, but this was the first time, so didn’t think it was a big deal.
You may be right. However, promise me that the second time that mistake occurs, you will stop and use the Fix n’ Go. If a mistake happens twice, it can easily continue to occur.
2. You were disappointed and forgot.
It is hard to decide when you’re struggling with the disappointment of failing, but, getting a “do-over” makes the most of a bad situation! In the past, we trained between shows to attempt to “fix” a ring problem overnight. Now you can fix it immediately, and be better prepared for the next class.
Before the show, think about the exercises your dog will perform and how you could use the Fix n’ Go should a mistake occur. Enter the ring with a positive attitude, expecting to do well, but should something go wrong, it will be easier to shift into a training mindset if you have thought about it before the event.
3. You wanted to know how the rest of the performance would develop.
If a mistake happens that you can fix with a second command, for example a missed drop on the recall, or a second command to jump, you may have already fixed the mistake. It may be a better strategy to continue, especially if you have been working on a problem exercise that you have not yet performed. However, if the error is not the first time your dog has made the mistake in the ring, that is the problem that needs your attention. Take advantage of the Fix n’ Go!
4. You don’t know how to fix the mistake.
if you are unsure whether your dog will perform correctly if you repeat the exercise, skip the Fix n' Go! You certainly don’t want to practice the wrong behavior twice! However, the rule states that you do not have to perform the entire exercise. You can choose to perform just the piece of the exercise that your dog failed. So, in training, do you need to adjust your techniques to be sure that your dog will repeat the exercise correctly?
In the article, A Simple Rule to Train By, I suggest that in training, when your dog makes a mistake, you should:
- Tell him he's wrong
- Take him back to where he was last right,
- Simplify the task.
For example, if your dog comes to you on the incorrect path (i.e. he comes around the High Jump with the dumbbell), you can tell him “no,” take him back to where he picked up the dumbbell, leave him in a sit stay, and then return to the opposite side of the jump and give him a command or signal to jump.
You can use this approach whenever he is coming to you on the incorrect path. If he misses a jump on Directed Jumping, you can take him back and simplify the task. The same is true if he comes straight to you on the Broad Jump.
If any of these mistakes occur in the ring, you could easily respond to him exactly as you would in training. Now there is a huge chance that he will understand what you expect him to do!
What if your dog anticipates a retrieve? Starts for the wrong glove? Or runs around the jump on his way to the dumbbell? In training, if your dog leaves before you tell him, you can tell him he’s wrong (“no”), call him back to you, and remind him to sit or stay as you rethrow the dumbbell. You can certainly respond the same way in the ring should you choose to Fix n’ Go.
Some exercises are more difficult to fix. What about inattentive heeling?
There are many reasons a dog fails to heel in the ring as well as he heels in training.
- Have you changed your head and body position? If you watch your dog in training, but become rigid in the ring, your dog may not know how to perform because you are acting differently.
- How much help are you giving your dog in training? In the absence of talking, encouraging, frequent rewards, or second commands, your dog may not be prepared to heel as formally as the ring requires.
- Does your dog know how to recover? If you have been diligently teaching heel position, odds are your dog has never strayed far. However, in the event he finds himself out of position in the ring, you may need to teach him how to regain the correct position without your help.
Solving a heeling problem may require additional training. However, using the Fix n’ Go, and helping your dog through the heeling pattern will allow both of you to leave the ring feeling better about the experience.
How do you respond to an incorrect article in training? Or a crooked go-out? Be sure you are using techniques that will be useful if you need to fix a mistake in the ring.
Learn how to improve your problem exercise,
and how to respond to your dog's mistake in the ring!
👉 If you would like more information about how to effectively use the Fix n’ Go, check out my new digital course, Wrong in the Ring- Utilizing the Fix n’ Go. The purpose of this course is to give you the tools you need to effectively use the Fix n’ Go, to keep mistakes that occur in the ring from becoming bad habits.
PLUS you'll get access to the recording of the live webinar discussing the Fix n' Go.
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