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: