Tuesday, September 13, 2011


If you haven't already read my post of part one, read it now so you'll be up to speed as we detail the second part of this not-so-simple process.  The lines in italics are my comments, interspersed with Sandy's instructions.

Now put Bowser on a flexi leash.  The first bar (we'll add a second bar later) is about eight feet in front of where you sit the dog.  You are at the other end of the flexi.  You will call Bowser from beyond the bar.

I use these recalls as an opportunity to reinforce a solid sit.  As I walk away from the dog to take up my recall position, with my back turned I engage the stop mechanism on the flexi, trying to pull the dog out of the sit.  At the same time I say, "Sit!"  The dog's opposition reflex will cause him to pull back into a more committed sit.  I do this randomly, at various distances.

Now we're going to do a series of seven recalls, seven "reps."

First rep:  Begin with a straight recall.  Say, "Come!" and pop him off the sit with the flexi. When he gets to you say, "Through!" throw a toy between your legs and let him get it.  So on this first rep he comes right over the bar.

First your dog has to know "through."  He should have learned that as you taught a brisk Novice recall.  If not, teach him now.

Second rep:  Pop him off the sit.  If you're lucky, he'll come at 100 mph.  When he's three feet from the bar, give a verbal and a hand signal to drop -- at this stage he'll need both.

If he continues over the bar, and he's likely to do that a lot early in his learning curve, walk back to him, back him over the bar -- both hands in the collar if necessary, but he must walk backwards -- then tell him, "Down!' and give him a light bonk on the head. (Anger has no place here.)  Then tap his feet with the bar three times, saying:  "Down, good boy! Down, good boy! Down, good boy!"  Finally, throw a toy or a cookie into his chest or behind him.  At this stage, however, whether the dog drops correctly or not, walk back to him and tap his feet with the bar.  It's important to make a fun game out of this correction sequence.

Third rep:  Drop him behind the bar again.  Only in the early stages of learning, while the dog is getting the idea to drop or showing signs of figuring it out, does Sandy advise dropping him twice in a row.

Once he has the idea that he's supposed to drop behind the bar, but only on your signal, start alternating the straight recall and drop for reps four through seven.  If at any point he looks like he's going to anticipate the drop, don't drop him; pop him on through and throw a toy between your legs.

"Pop him on through," is easy for me to write here, but not so easy to execute.  If you have a fast dog, his forward speed is likely to be greater than the speed at which the flexi is retracting.  Which means that when you see him about to drop on his own you find you have slack in the line and your second pop has all the impact of punching a pillow.  I offset this by giving a second verbal, "Come!" as I flail around trying to execute the second pop.  Pretty soon the dog gets the message.

When Bowser has begun to do all this well with one bar on the ground, add a second bar eight feet beyond the first bar. 

Here's Sandy's sequence with two bars.

First rep:  Pop him off the sit.  Pop again at the first bar and throw a toy between your legs.

Second rep:  Drop him at the first bar.  Timing is everything here.  The signal and verbal must be given when he's three feet from the bar.  This means you pop him off the sit and immediately give the signal/verbal to drop.  If he comes over the bar instead of dropping, follow the correction sequence spelled out above.

A few words of encouragement:  "Timing is everything here."  Very daunting for neophytes -- especially if you have a fast dog and everything is happening at warp speed.  I've found timing to be the toughest challenge.  Ah, to have a slow motion control.  But there isn't any.  And timing is crucial.  You get Rev-like drops by tightening the tolerances.  But remember, the dog isn't the only one who's learning, you are too.  I've gotten much better at the timing part of this.  So will you.

Third rep:  Straight recall, with pop off the sit.

Fourth rep:  Pop him off the sit.  Pop again at the first bar.  Drop him behind the second bar.

Fifth rep:  Straight recall . Pop him off the sit.  Pop again at the second bar.  Throw toy between your legs.

Sixth rep:  Drop him behind the second bar.

Seventh rep:  Straight recall.

This sequence does wonders for both the quick drop and drop anticipation.  And it's guaranteed not to bore you or your dog.  


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