I wrote this for the TEAM Player Facebook group but thought I’d throw it out here as well since it applies to all dog sports.
When you’re struggling to get a behavior, try this:
“Thoughts on problem-solving for TEAM:
Are you “Stuck” on a behavior at Level 2 or above? Try this:
If there is a corresponding behavior at Level 1, go back to working on it for a few days and leave the higher level behavior alone! Then “add complexity” to the lower level behavior.
For example, let’s say you’re struggling with pivots at Level 2 – your dog can’t keep his rear end in.
Go back to pivoting on the disc – a Level 1 behavior. Spend one day doing it exactly as is stated for level I competition.
Now, can you make it a little harder? For example, instead of doing 180°, can you make it 360°? Excellent! Can you do it with no cookie on your body? Super! Can you do it without the hand target above your dog’s head? You’re on your way! Can you do it when there’s a cookie on the ground nearby? Awesome!
This is proofing. Making it a little bit harder in manageable pieces so your dog becomes stronger at the base behavior.
Now, after you have mastered the above, go back to doing it off the disc – the Level 2 behavior. What happens?
Off the disc is just another form of complexity. You might discover that your dog is now a pivoting pro with no additional training 🙂
The levels were designed specifically to make this approach to problem-solving work well. That’s why we call it a training program; it will make you a better trainer.”
While the above statement was targeted at TEAM trainers, it applies to all sports and skills.
Struggling with your fronts? Work on them with a platform but add distractions nearby or place your hands behind your back or stare at the sky or or or…. Then try it without the platform or the distraction – and see what happens!
Struggling with a full set of weave poles? Go back to a much smaller number, and add guides if you used them in the initial training. Now add complexity! Hop like a bunny, or run backward, or hold your arms at weird angles. After a few days, try a full set of weave poles again, but this time remove the proofing elements. Did it help?
How about nose work? Is your dog struggling with endurance? Stop working on endurance! Instead, try some super easy hides, but add complexity. Maybe a distraction nearby like food in a box. Or work outdoors if you normally work indoors. Or leave your other dog loose in the house if you have one. Or sit on a chair! Remember though, the base behavior should be easier than the one you are trying to work towards. And when you are ready? Remove the proofing, make the challenge more difficult, and see what you have.
It’s amazingly effective . Give it a try!
On another note, next week is Fenzi Frenzy Webinar Week at Fenzi Dog Sports Academy! Starting on Monday, we’ll have a full week of Webinars to cover lots of topics that may interest you! I’ll kick it off on Monday with Engagement, so I hope I’ll “meet” some of you there. For more information, Check out our webinar schedule.
Remember, you can watch the webinar for at least one year from your “webinar library” even if you can’t participate live, but you have to purchase it before it runs! Each one is $19.95, and will give you a chance to get to know our FDSA instructors. I look forward to seeing some of you there, and answering your questions about Engagement!