When this pandemic ended life as we knew it, I was blessed to have recently created an online community of obedience enthusiasts at www.obedienceroad.com. What perfect timing to have started teaching and coaching online.
Providing content about training the obedience exercises, answering member’s questions and giving monthly webinars, has kept me busy. However, by the beginning of June, it was clear that we were all struggling with pandemic fatigue. The Obedience Road community was getting tired of staying home with no shows in sight.
So, June was dubbed Virtual Match Month. Afterall, with no training classes or matches to attend, we need a way to test our progress. Members were invited and encouraged to video a performance for my review.
I decided to go first and submit my video to the Obedience Road community. So, on a very windy May 31, I went to the elementary school parking lot that has served as my...
Part II: The Directed Signal Retrieve
The Directed Signal Retrieve epitomizes the importance of breaking down an exercise and teaching your dog the individual pieces before you try the complete exercise. You need to think about this exercise in three parts,
1. Your dog's ability to go where sent as taught in the Directed Marked Retrieve,
2. Your dog's ability to take a cast to a glove, and,
3. Teaching your dog that sometimes he will stop and sit in the middle of the ring and sometimes he will go all the way to glove 2.
You need to be sure that you keep these three skills separate and spend plenty of time practicing them separately.
Step 1: Learning to Cast to the Gloves: Teach the Back Cast First!
While you are teaching the Directed Marked Retrieve, there is no reason that you cannot introduce your dog to the casting necessary to perform the Directed Signal Retrieve. It is important to start with the "back" cast that will ultimately send your dog from the center of the...
The UKC Utility degree contains two glove exercises.
The first, the Directed Marked Retrieve, requires the dog go directly to one of three gloves. The handler stands in the middle of the short end of the ring with his dog in heel position and the gloves are placed in the middle of the remaining three sides of the ring. This exercise is done prior to the jumps being set up (Diagram 1).
The second exercise, the Directed Signal Retrieve, is similar to a baseball or casting drill that you might do with your retriever when field training. The dog is sent toward glove two and then stopped in the middle of the ring with a sit command. Then the judge tells the handler to retrieve glove 1, 2, or 3, and the handler casts the dog to one of the gloves.
There are two pre-requisites for these exercises. First, your dog must understand a correction for failing to retrieve and secondly, a good foundation of the Go-out exercise.
Part I: The Directed Marked Retrieve
My first dog, a tennis ball fanatic, taught herself to do scent articles. I noticed that when we were playing ball, and there were other balls present, she always brought back the same ball I had thrown. Excited, and fascinated, I had her retrieve the tennis ball can (in those days they were metal) instead of the ball, and sure enough, in a pile of tennis ball cans, she would retrieve the can I had scented. This made obtaining the Utility title a breeze, but didn’t teach me anything about teaching the Scent Article exercise.
Teaching my first Shih-tzu to do articles was fairly simple. She really didn’t like to retrieve, but did it because she knew it was required. However, on this exercise she was very careful to find the right article. I always felt as if she was saying, “I don’t want to pick up any of them, I’m certainly not going to pick up a wrong one!”
Teaching my field bred retrievers to do scent articles has always been a...
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