Help for Short Go-outs - The "Remote Send" Exercise
By Jim & Phyllis Dobbs and Alice Woodyard
In the last article, your dog learned to go away from your side to a low platform to turn off mild stimulation. In this article we will expand on the dog's understanding, with a goal of being able to correct short go-outs.
It is very useful to have a dog that understands how to move away from you to turn off mild stimulation. This is especially important when the dog is not in the heel position and he feels the collar turn on. For example, if he knows how to go away to turn off stimulation, it is easy to give perfectly timed corrections for errors such as short go-outs, slowing down between the utility jumps or slowing down on the way to make a retrieve. When a correction for these mistakes is perfectly timed, it is easy for the dog to learn what it is you don't want him to do, and very few corrections are needed. But the dog must be prepared ahead of time, or he could be confused by the correction, and try to return to you instead.
The "remote Send" Exercise
The exercise that prepares the dog to move away from you we call the "remote send." The name comes from the fact that the dog starts from a place that is remote from the heel position when you send him.
If you plan to seek the U.K.C. utility degree, there's a bonus in teaching the dog the "remote send" exercise. Your dog will already be familiar with turning and going straight back to the end of the ring from a starting position in the center of the ring. This action is required to pick up the No. 2 glove in the "directed signal retrieve" exercise as performed under the U.K.C. system.
To introduce the idea of the remote send, use the platform as the dog's target. He already knows about going to the platform from his lessons on the "second action." (See Part 7 in last month's Front & Finish). Now you'll introduce him to the idea of going to the platform even though he's not in heel position when you give the command.
If your dog is already doing the utility send-away, you may want to place your platform at the end of a utility ring for some of these lessons. This way, the dog will receive some of his practice in turning off the collar in the same place he would receive an actual correction for a short go-out.
Introduce the following set-up without stimulation. Leave the dog on a sit about five feet from the platform, with his side towards it. You stand about five feet in front of him, so he can see both you and the platform from his sitting position. Give him the command you've chosen that means "go to the platform." Take a step toward the platform if he needs help the first time, and praise and reward him when he's on the platform.
When he's accustomed to the new position of the platform, begin applying mild stimulation just as you give your command to go. Release the button as the dog gets on the platform.
Repeat, gradually increasing the difficulty by increasing the distance between the sitting dog and the platform. Now that you have added distance, you should release the button the moment the dog turns to go.
When the dog is going confidently, begin moving your own position--the position from which you give the command to go--so that you, the dog, and the platform gradually come to be in a straight line (see the illustration). Increase distance very gradually, so that the dog is never confused as to where to head when he feels the collar turn on.
As a final step, rotate the dog's starting position until he is sitting facing you with his back to the platform. When you give the command to go, you should see him wheel around confidently, and head briskly toward the platform.
When you see the dog moving quickly to obey, phase out the use of the collar with the first command. From now on, only press the button if the dog slows down on the way to the target or fails to go on the first command.
Although the exercise seems simple to us humans, expect it to take a few sessions to build up distance (sessions should be short, a few repetitions each, and end with play). Any time the dog seems confused, back up a step and simplify things for him.
Whenever you set up in a new location, make sure the dog knows where the platform is before you begin using stimulation. A good rule of thumb is to send him from the heel position a few times without stimulation. Send him at least once from up close. Then, once or twice, send him from the distance you plan to use when you start the lesson.
Using the Correction
Now your dog is prepared to understand your correction when he stops short on a go-out, or gives you one of those hesitant go-outs while looking back over his shoulder ("Is this far enough, Mom? Can I stop yet?"). Press the button the moment the dog errs, as you repeat your command to go.
The remote trainer is an excellent tool for correcting short go-outs because it allows you to have perfect timing. But if you don't go through the teaching sequence described in this article, dogs can initially be mystified by a collar correction for a short go-out. Besides being muddled by it, they may be reluctant to go through the area again where they received the "mystery correction."
If your dog has already acquired the habit of short go-outs, be sure you're ready with the transmitter in your hand every time you send the dog on the go-out during training. Be a pessimist--expect a short go-out and be ready for it! Consistency and good timing are essential to get rid of the short go-out habit.
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Dobbs Training Center