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Lyra – 5.5 months – verbal and visual discrimination skills

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Lyra has a pretty good understanding of the words and hand signals for a few behaviors, most notably “down”, “come” and” in” (return to heel position).  I have also added the verbal and hand signals for “sit”, but she is not fluent.

In today’s exercises I’m mixing them in together, so she has to watch or listen very carefully to perform correctly.  I’ve been working on these with down and come cues for several weeks.  I added the sit a few days ago.

In the Lyra (puppy) video, I’m working on her discrimination skills in two ways.  First, I have her jump up to my hand, and while she is in the air I give her a verbal signal to ether down or sit.  Ideally, she will process the command while she is still in the air and “land” in the correct position on the ground.  As you’ll see, we’re not there yet. It takes her longer to process than to land.  Her skill will improve with practice – verbal processing is often slow, especially in young dogs who haven’t come into their true drive yet.   Often, I ask her to jump up to my hand and simply reward the jump without asking for any position at all.  In the Raika (adult) video, I also include the “stand” command (I say “wait”).

In addition, I work on visual/verbal discrimination by tossing out a piece of food, and while the dog is eating it, I give a cue.  In Lyra’s case, the cue might be sit, down, or come, and I alternate verbal with visual commands.  With an adult or trained dog, I might also add “stand” and “back” to their repertoire.

The jump-up followed a by verbal cue exercise is very useful for teaching speedy “out of motion” exercises for Schutzhund.  The dog gets lots of practice selecting a correct verbal position quickly and accurately.  Using food allows many repetitions in a short period of time, and disassociating it from heeling prevents the problems caused by doing too much formal work with a novice dog.

The food toss exercises make the drop on recall for Open, the signal exercise/go-out for Utility, and the down portion of the send out in schutzhund much easier.  The dog gets practice offering positions and watching/listening at a distance, while playing entertaining games that allow for plenty of repetition.

In the first video, you can watch Raika perform at the “adult” level:

In the second video, you can watch Lyra perform at the “puppy” level:

About dfenzi

I'm a professional dog trainer who specializes in building relationship in dog handler teams who compete in dog sports. My personal passions are Competitive Obedience and no force (motivational) dog training. I travel throughout the world teaching seminars on topics related to Dog Obedience and Building Drives and Motivation. I own Fenzi Dog Sports Academy, a comprehensive online school for motivational training of performance sport dogs.

5 responses »

  1. OMG, i watch these and think poor Loki. He’s got that “fast brain” that work so well with that kind of fast training (command in the air mid jump). ok i’m going to try that one at home. he’ll love it!

  2. I noticed that you move around a lot during the training. Is it more effective to move around in an area while training rather than staying static?

  3. Lyra looks fluffier than Copper. Do I see calm emanating from her? She moves fast enough, but she still looks calm. I am honestly having such trouble with command discrimination. There is strong pressure in freestyle not to use any hand signals at all, and so I am trying to get to verbal faster with Copper than I’ve done before. Not going that well, so maybe you have the explanation here. I suppose I can always fade a signal later? My theory was that it woudl be harder to fade later.

    • calm is our biggest challenge; I am working on getting her more intense but it might be a long road. I think it’s easier for dogs to do signals; problem with early verbals is that I think it teaches a dog to guess and then you have dogs running through a repertoire rather than watching and listening. I want fluency of some type (hand or verbal) before I sweat getting the other)


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