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From the Ground Up: Agility Foundation Training for Puppies and Beginner Dogs - Part 3

The third of a multi-part series featuring a chapter from the book, "From the Ground Up: Agility Foundation Training for Puppies and Beginner Dogs."


Front

I use the "front" command to help the dogs to drive in to me.

Teach front by rewarding the dog for coming directly in front of you and close enough to touch his head. I use the basic recall to reinforce the front position. Call the dog and offer a cookie right between your knees.

Once the dog understands where "front" is, start to spin as you say, "Front." This encourages the dogs to run to find your front. As long as I keep moving, the dog should keep trying to find the "front" position. When the dog finds front, face him, and click and tug. You can occasionally ask for a sit before you reward.

Next, add a tunnel to the exercise. Send the dog into the tunnel and when he comes out, tell him, "Front!" As he comes in, click and play. Then you can start to spin to make the dog try to get to your front. Keep it fun and play a lot.

Go!

I want the word "go" to initiate an immediate response of "run out ahead of me as fast as you can!" I start teaching this command by just using the word when I know the pup or dog will likely run. For example when I open the door to let everyone out in the yard they each get released with their name and a "Go!" They all run straight out to the yard one after the other.

Then I say, "Go!" in a sharp and intense voice. They all take off running away from me, chasing each other. The chase drive helps associate the "Go!" with running fast.

I also use my toys to teach "go on." Hold the dog by the collar, throw the toy out in front and release them saying, "Go!" I also use the go command when I throw a Frisbee or anything my dog likes to chase. If I need to increase drive I will hold the dog that is learning the command, throw the Frisbee or toy for one of my experienced dogs and after the first dog takes off after the toy, I release the new dog with an encouraging, "Go!" They really start to drive out on the word.

When I take the dogs for a walk in a big open area, they all run around for the first little bit and then they come back for the "Go!" game. I say, "Ready" and they all freeze, then I say, "Go!" in a sharp and intense voice. They all take off running away from me, chasing each other. After they run a fair distance away, they circle back, then come and stand in front of me waiting to "go!" again. It is fun to watch them standing there, quivering and waiting for the word, then turning on a dime and bolting away as fast as they can. They love it and it is a game with purpose.

I am essentially doing backward restrained recalls using the other dogs as the lure. The drive to run away fast on the word "go!" becomes stronger and stronger because they have to work much harder to catch the other dogs than they do to catch me. Later, I use this drive I've created on obstacles with the dog chasing a toy.

To read additional parts in this series go to:

This chapter is reprinted with kind permission of Dogwise Publications. Dogwise has provided a discount code for USDAA! Use code USDAA for 10% of this book and others.

Kim Collins has lived with dogs all her life and has been training dogs professionally since 1992. After starting with competitive obedience, Kim quickly discovered the growing sport of agility in 1995. Kim went on to win the 2000 USDAA National Agility Championship with her Shetland Sheepdog, Piper, and three Canadian National Agility Championships, two with Piper and one with her Border Collie, Feyd. Kim has also won seven Regional Agility Championships with three different dogs. Kim and her two Border Collies, Bryn and Feyd, were members of the Agility Association of Canada's 2004 IFCS Canadian World Team and traveled to Valencia, Spain to compete.

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