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Testing Your Training

Recently I read a training article that compared a beginner perspective (try something until you can get it right once or twice) to the perspective of someone more experienced (keep working until you don’t get it wrong). We’ve been talking about this in most of our training classes recently – especially when students are bored or think their dogs are bored or think their dogs “know” something.

With my own dogs, I rarely feel like they “know” something perfectly – there are usually ways I can test understanding to improve fluency and creating behaviors more resilient to distractions.  A few variables I can change:

  • Change location
  • Change handler position relative to handler
  • Alter distances between dog and handler
  • Discriminate between cues – add in handler distraction
  • Change excitement level (more or less) prior to the session
  • Tempting distractions
  • Behavior in sequence
  • Delayed rewards

And – combining some of these gives essentially endless opportunities!

Here’s a video we took for an online class – Griffin and I ran the same sequence and did a different handling option at jump 5. We could have tried variations at other places (especially the opening serpentine).

What’s something your dog knows? How can you test understanding? How can you add variation?