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Obedience Components in Schutzhund


by Allison Kollenburg the "source" of her information is Jerry Bradshaw.Consistancy in heeling with a schutzhund dog. I think its fairly safe to say that dogs that do not show consistency in heeling both on and off leash lack adequate fundamental obedience work. Maintaining position is a number one consideration in obedience and if the dog can't maintain the correct position (in sits, heeling and fore sits) then the handler needs to go back to basics. Many people "think" their dog is obedient, but take away the props and the little extra "helps" and the dogs fall apart in front of their eyes. A good test of how obedient your dog really is, is to take it out on the training field, let your dog off lead and free, stand in the start position with your eyes facing skyward and, not looking at your dog, give it the command to come to heel. The three points to consider fundamental in this exercise should be Sit, Position (automatically straight), Full Attention. Try it out and find out how many of these three fundamental requirements for an obedient dog it completes successfully. What I have learnt is that obedience can be taught in 3 steps; motivational induced behavior, proofing through distraction and securing through repetition. Eight basic components make up every exercise and each component is taught separately and only after all of the components from each exercise are successfully and securely demonstrated by the dog can they be combined into an exercise. Most practical is to teach from the end back to the beginning. For example, teaching the front position before the "here" exercise, and the "here" and "front" position are the first components in retrieving. As mentioned earlier, the start position and/or the finish position have 3 components. Sit, automatically straight and absolute attention. These 3 components also make up the front position. By establishing a very correct start position the handler has effectively completed 40% of the components necessary for obedience. When the hold and out are taught in the prey work there is major portion of the fundamentals completed and not one step from the start position has been taken. A good tip is to concentrate on the basics and return to the basics when there are problems developing. The start position must be a comfortable position and crooked or not paying attention are to be made uncomfortable for the dog. The dog should correct itself without any additional commands and any obvious body language aká "help", such as twisting the shoulder to get the dog to straighten up in the start position. Expect the dog to fully understand the start position before beginning heeling and for the dog to remain attentive regardless of the distraction. Another tip. After early motivational conditioning to learn the meaning of commands, do not use the actions of the handler or balls and kongs for rewards to attract the dog into the heeling position but make the wrong position uncomfortable and the correct position comfortable. No prizes for which one the dog will choose.

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