Thursday, August 16, 2012

BRINGING UP PRESTO! Box Work: Sit/Down/Stand

Sometimes I think there should be background music while the Utility class is in session . . . a little traveling music.

Entering the cardiac arrest phase of the signal exercise, Hortense stands Fluffy and heads toward the other end of the ring.  Fluffy creeps forward while Hortense's back is turned.

Hortense gives the drop signal.  In the process of going down (assuming, of course, that she doesn't go into a sit and blow the whole thing) Fluffy moves two steps closer to Hortense. 

Now the sit.  Fluffy's conversion from the down to the sit involves moving everything forward.  By the time Hortense gets ready to signal Fluffy to come, Fluffy is probably two or three points closer to the other end of the ring than she was when Hortense left her on a stand.

A few minutes later it's time for the directed jumping exercise.  Fluffy goes flying out there, executes a turn that doubles as a tour of the far end of the ring, walks about three steps forward and sits.  Then repeats the whole performance on the second go-out.

All of which explains why I teach the sit, the down, the stand and the go-outs in a PVC box.  And why Presto! began his "box work" when he was nine weeks old.

See my post of August 22, 2011, "The Many Uses of the PVC Box," for more on how the box is constructed and used.  Note that the box should be only slightly wider than the dog.  But that only matters when teaching a tight turn and sit. In the photo that accompanies this post -- taken several weeks ago when Presto! was slightly more than nine weeks old -- he's working in a much larger box, one I had from earlier dogs.  By the time we incorporate the turn and sit, many months hence, he will have grown to fit the box.

The first step was to teach Presto! to love his box.  That took one brief session.  I put the box on the ground, said, "Get in your box,"  lured him into it with a treat, said, "Good box!"  and gave him the treat.  Pretty soon, whenever the box hit the ground he ran into it, looked at me, expected and received his treat.  Now, several weeks later, I say, "Should we do box work?"  and he runs to where the box is leaning against the wall on the back porch.  Everything about him says, "Hurry up!"

Unquestionably my strongest motivation for starting box work almost as soon as I got the puppy was to teach the "concertina" (foldback) down at the dawn of his experience.  Let a dog get into the habit of going through a sit enroute to his down and you're flirting with multiple NQ's when Rover gets to the sit, stops there and thinks he's completed the exercise.

All the sit/stand/down execises are taught at the closed end of the box, up close to the raised bar.  (The one in the picture is raised 3.4 inches.) That bar effectively inhibits Presto! from traveling forward as we practice these exercises.  So he has never even thought of creeping forward on any of these position changes.

At a very early age he's forming habits I'm confident will reduce unnecessary loss of points during his competition obedience career.  And he loves it.

Let's leave discussion of box work's role in teaching go-outs until my next post, "Box Work:  Go-Outs."


1 comment:

  1. Hortense??? Lol!

    Very good post. I've used the box to teach straight and close fronts but haven't used it for the many other uses - but now I will :)