I was very happy with her send and going straight until I asked her for a second “go out” send in the ring. After she did her first go out to a treat in a cap, a ball or dowell, she either took one of the Utility jumps or looked back at me confused as to what she was suppose to do.
I gave a lot of thought to her behavior… Myst is an honest worker; she seemed confused at what she was suppose to do. I read her taking the jumps as offering an alternative behavior which she frequently does when we shape tricks or behaviors. I then realized that she was confused as to the behavior I wanted since the going out to a ball, treat or other object was a clearly defined behavior. I needed to make her “Go Out” involve a motivational behavior as were the balls and treats.
I remember going to a Laura Romanik semainar a few years ago and watching her teach the go out using a touch to the stantion; she called the behavior a “bop.” After finding her handouts from the seminar and reading her excellent handout on “Steps to Teach the Go Outs” I found that I was correct in analyzing Myst’s problem with the second “Go Out.” Laura wrote, “ You must teach a job for the dog to do at the go out location (GOL)… Typical jobs fall into one of two categories:
· Retrieve based jobs (e.g a dowell or toy, each cheese of the stations or a target)
· Touch based jobs (e.g. wall bop, nose touch, shoulder touch).”
I had clearly taught the retrieve based job and Myst was doing well with these but since she is so end behavior oriented I needed to re-think my “go outs” to involve a job.
I had tried to use the touch the stantion when I first started work on the Utility “Go Outs” but this put Myst over the top with barking and other excited noises when I would mention her “go go” or when she was sent. In fact when I was training Kaffee and told him that he was going to do his “go go” she would bark with excitement from her crate in the car.” However, since I have trained her that she is NOT to bark doing ANY work or behavior in the obedience ring, I knew I had to try this again and she is older. I also knew that I had to give this new behavior a new name that I have not used in any of her go out work. This is very important when you are retraining a behavior and it has already been given one name.
I started with Laura’s step 1 first.
STEP 1: You must teach a “job” for the dog to do at the go out location (GOL).
Teach him to do this job from your LEFT side, with you standing immediately in front of the wall or gating. Make sure it is on a VERBAL CUE only.
Always reward at the wall or gate (hold the treat physically against the barrier) and the dog must reach it to get it.
I started this in the house in our training room where I could better control her excitement and barking. I only rewarded the touch to the stantion when she was quite. Since she had done this behavior in the past, this “touch of the stantion” went very quickly and we were ready to go out doors.
The following day we tried this in our obedience ring and I reminded her “quite” and just let her offer the behavior, not putting a verbal with it yet. All went well. Onto the next steps.
Since my first post I have been in communication with Laura Romanik who just sent me her updated "Steps to Teach Go Outs". It is with her permission that this information is reprinted below. There are a few important changes based on her experience.
Laura Romanik's "Steps to Teach Go Outs"
Excellent for those who have used or like to use a clicker.
1. You must teach a “job” for the dog to do at the go out location (GOL). Teach him to do it from your left side with you standing immediately in front of the wall or gating. Make sure it is on a verbal cue only, without any dependencies on physical body motions on your part. Always reward at the wall or gating. By this I mean that you hold the treat physically against the barrier and the dog has to reach there to get it. Typical jobs fall into one of two categories:
- Retrieve/target based jobs (e.g. retrieve a dowel or toy, eat cheese off the stanchion or a target, sit on a platform, sit in a box)
- Touch based jobs (e.g. wall bop, nose touch, shoulder touch)
My preference is a touch based job and I teach the Wall Bop or Stanchion Swat initially. I will use “Bop” for the remainder of this document, but if you have another word and/or skill just substitute it for “Bop” in these instructions.
2. You are still standing directly in front of the barrier. Cue the dog to “Bop” and give him a click or “yes” or other conditioned reinforcer as he does so, then command him to “Sit” immediately after.
Reward by holding the food on the wall or stanchion. Practice this until he will do each immediately on one command. If he anticipates the sit after the “Bop” that is OK. If he starts cheating on the bop in order to sit sooner, then reward a few times after the bop without asking for a sit. Make sure you are continuing to give a click, “yes”, or other conditioned reinforce as the dog’s paw makes contact with the stanchion.
3. Put up broad jump boards on their sides to form a chute against the wall or gate. Start with the dog in the chute directly in front of the barrier. You are standing next to the dog immediately to the right of the chute. Make sure he will “Bop” then “Sit” within the chute.
4. Gradually setup further and further back from the barrier. This means that the dog has to get up and go to the barrier when told to “bop”. As the dog bops, tell him “Yes” or “Good”, then tell him to sit. Reward at the barrier while he is still sitting. As the distance gets longer, make sure the dog is patiently waiting for you to bring him the food at the barrier. If he bops, then turns and steps towards you, then build distance more slowly and/or follow him in more closely so that you are right there when telling him to sit. You could also tell him “ah ah” as he steps toward you and ask for another “Bop”.
If the dog goes to one side of the chute or the other, stop him with a verbal “ah ah” as soon as you realize he is not headed for the chute. Take him back to the point where he left the imaginary line of “straight”. Get him sitting calmly next to you, then send him again. Shorten the distance on the next go out.
5. Build up to 50 feet distance from the barrier. It is often helpful to “ping-pong” the distance meaning to make it longer one time, and shorter then next, then longer, etc. This helps the dog to not feel like it just keeps getting harder. As soon as you get to 25 feet from the barrier the jumps should be in the sight picture most of the time.
6. Have a chute at either end of the ring and practice sending the dog back and forth between the two chutes. After rewarding at one end, release the dog, turn him around, and send him to the other end.
7. Reduce the size of your chute. Use something that is still a contrasting color to the matting but that is smaller, such as a white bar or wood sticks. You may have to shorten the distance at first. If he does not go between these new guides, use the correction described in step 4. You could also try propping one end of each guide on gating (or some small object if working to a wall) to make it a bit more noticeable at first. Once he gets the idea, go back to putting them flat on the floor. Work this until he can go the full 50 feet on the first go out in a familiar location. He should still be bopping every time without an additional command.
8. Use something darker in color (similar to the matting color) and about 1 inch in diameter or square. Ideally it will be something that the dog cannot see when he starts the go out, but which comes into view when he is partway there. If he chooses to go to one side or the other of them, correct as before with the larger chutes. Ideally you will see him start to self correct a crooked go out on his own as he adjusts to head for the chute when it comes into view.
At this point you should be able to do go outs without chutes in familiar places or after having done several reps with the chutes in place.
9. Put this new chute into your training bag or back of your vehicle. Whenever your dog is having problems with going straight on his go outs, consider putting the guides out for a few reps to help him. You can also put the guides out during difficult proofing sessions involving go outs, or glove/go out confusion.
Rules of Thumb
Bop is the DEFAULT. After you send your dog to go, if you say nothing else, he should go to the barrier and bop. This is important. It is this built in default that helps to prevent short go outs. No matter how close he gets, any time he does not bop automatically and make physical contact with the barrier, you must not reward it. Deal with the error as described in step 2.
Always start a new training session a few steps earlier in the progression or at least from a shorter distance than where you ended the last training session.
If you are training in a place where you have not done go outs before, back up a few more steps yet.
If the dog is having a brain dead day, back up a few steps. Don’t be surprised by brain dead days.
They happen most often the day after you first reached a new step.
Copyright © 2012 by Radiant Competitive Obedience www.lauraromanik.com
I still do the earlier work we did with the long sends in the field, but not with the baby gates. Yesterday I put the ball out about 100 feet before Myst came out to work. Then sat her on my left, marked the ball and sent her…. She was perfectly straight to the ball that was not clearly visible in the grass. I think this is still important to do as a game to help reinforce the concept of “GO” and “STRAIGHT” plus it is fun and she loves to do it.
I try to mix up all my fun games and work into the obedience as we transition from agility to obedience work. Myst is 3 ½ years old and seems quite happy to do our obedience work since it is FUN, HAS HIGH VALUE REINFORCEMENT, and INVOLVES A LOT OF PLAY.