Rally-O

Getting started!

 

Things you will need:

A perch of some type.  You can use some books duct taped together, a balance disk, a ceramic dish turned over (but only if you’re working on carpet – it will be too slide-y on ceramic tile or vinyl tile).  Best perch ever?  Rubber feed pans, the 1 or 2 qt sizes are best.  You can buy them from TSC stores or on amazon.ca   

Platform.  I use a platform I bought from The Poodle Farm but you can easily make one.  Here is a link to make one from foam mats you buy at Canadian Tire.  If you have insulation board, cover it with duct tape and use that. Size is important – it should be long enough to allow your dog to stand naturally with weight evenly distributed on all 4 paws.

Clicker.  I use a clicker for much of the training.  You don’t have to, but it is an invaluable tool for precision work and shaping.

Posting Your Homework:  Post your homework on Google Drive and send me the link.  I ask that videos be 3 minutes or less in length.  If you haven’t video taped your training before you may wish to purchase a tripod (best place is amazon.ca – there is a Kobra Tech tripod and mount kit for $20.  If you want to get really fancy you can also purchase a wide angle lens.  I bought an Aukley lens kit for under $20.  

Lesson 1 for Building Play

Different dogs like different types of play.  Take the time to figure out what toys your dog likes best and what type of play he likes best.  Toys (and play) are at some level rehearsals for hunting.  Torin likes to jump up on me, and his fave toy is a tennis ball with a bungee.  Gabby likes any tug, and is crazy for the squeeky ones.  She likes play best when I’m on the ground.  Emma liked any type of play and her fave toy was a water bottle with some kibble in it.

Grab a bunch of toys and present each one to your dog in a crouched down “game on” stance.  Does one seem more interesting to him than the others?  Does he like to tug, or go chase the toy?  Pull out the two that seem most interesting to your dog and put them aside for now.  Don’t let your dog have access to them until you start your toy training.

Get an old sweat sweat sock – the longer they are, the better.  Put it aside for now.

I will post videos in the next week, or so.  I’ll email you to let you know if there’s anything uploaded. 🙂

  • Lesson One

    There are two governing bodies in Rally Obedience – the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) and Canadian Association of Rally Obedience (CARO).  The Novice signs between the two clubs are very similar, but there are some differences in rules.  For example, in CARO you are allowed to carry food in your off side pocket (right side) and feed your dog when you complete stationary signs.

    Heeling is required in Rally Obedience but CKC does not judge heeling as critically as CARO does.  In CKC, there are 36 Novice signs, and of those 36 signs, the Judge will select 10 – 15 to create the Rally test.

    Both clubs have on-line rule books available so download them and read through them before you trial.

    Formal Heel Work

    There are two challenges with formal, competitive heel work – communicating to the dog what we need him to do, and creating a dog who loves to heel.

    Clearly defining heel for a dog is critical because it’s a complex behaviour for dogs to understand.  We will train heel work in a way that creates the fewest possible questions for the dog.

    A dog who loves to heel rarely loves it because of the behaviour itself – we need to train heel work so that there is an association between heel work and fun.  To the dog, heel work will always have the possibility that something fun is about to happen. 

    Defining “Heel”

    The formal definition of “heel” is that the space between a dog’s head to shoulder should line up with the handler’s left hip.  The dog should heel close to the handler but not touching the left leg.  In rally, the rules encourage a “sense of teamwork” and perfect heel position is not required.

    Exercise One:  Counter Clockwise Pivot

    This is the basis of your heel work, an also a really fun skill to train, but it will take some time since most dogs have very little rear end awareness.

    You will need a perch for the dog’s front paws and then train your dog to put his front paws on the perch.  I would recommend shaping your dog to put his front paws on the perch.

    Reward your dog for having his front paws on the perch and then test if you have “magnetized” your dog to put his front paws on the perch by tossing a cookie a short distance away.  If your dog eats the cookie and then immediately comes back to the perch and puts his paws up on it, click and reward.

    Alternate between tossing a cookie away (testing) and rewarding for movement on the back paws.

    When your dog is happily putting his paws on the perch, you are going to click any movement of the back paws in a counter clockwise direction.  Reward the dog from his left side to encourage movement to the right.  If you have a small dog, you might want to train this while kneeling down.

    Where should you stand?  It doesn’t matter, as long as your dog doesn’t have to get off the perch in order to be rewarded, and you aren’t obstructing your dog when he moves around the perch in a counter clockwise direction.

    Video link here.

    Exercise Two:  Hand Target

    Do you have an enthusiastic hand target?  Yay!  No move the hand target so that your dog is jumping up to target your hand.  Not too high – just a bit of a BOOP! and maybe his front paws come an inch or two off the ground. 

    Build this behaviour as follows:

    Step One:  Upwards hand target with food in your hand – 10 times.

    Step Two:  Upwards hand target alternating one hand target with food, followed by one hand target without food.  Total of 5 “two-fers”

    Step Three:  Use your clicker in Step Three. 

    • Upwards hand target with no food in your hand.  Click and roll food on the floor. 
    • Hold out your hand (no food in it) so as soon as he finishes eating, your dog charges into the palm on your hand.  Click. 
    • Upwards hand target with no food in your hand.  Click and roll food on the floor.
    • Continue to alternate.

    Step Four:  Ask for hand targets and see if your dog enjoys doing them even when food isn’t present.

    What are we doing here?  We’re building a secondary reinforcer that we can take into the ring.  We’re also creating a way to get our dogs to speed up which will help us in future training.

    Video link here.

    Exercise Three:  Shape the Platform

    Shape your dog to stand with all four paws on the platform.  If you are using a travel plank or exercise step, don’t worry about whether your dog stands in the middle, top end or bottom end of the plank.  The goal is to have the dog standing on the platform.

    Once your dog is confidently leaving the platform and coming back onto it, the handler should stand in heel position, with their arm held in the position they will use when competing.  The intention is to show your dog the picture he will see when heeling.

    Video link here.

    Troubleshooting Exercise Three:

    The dog sometimes has one foot off of the platform.  The solution depends on when you are seeing this.  If you are still shaping the dog to stand on the platform, you will click any movement of the paw that is not on the platform to isolate it.  Continue to shape that paw movement until it is on the platform.

    If you are “testing” the behaviour – ie. you are sending the dog off the platform and he is coming back onto the platform but sometimes not getting all four paws on – wait 3 or 4 seconds to see what your dog offers.  If you have shaped the platform then your dog may figure out the problem himself.  If he doesn’t, go back to shaping “four paws on the platform.”

    The dog sits, rather than stands, on the platform.  Feed rewards low so that your dog has to stand up to get the cookie.  Repeat feeding low until your dog chooses standing over sitting.

    Exercise Four:  Leg Wraps

    Leg wraps are a way to build value into heel work.  It’s easy to train if you have a decent hand target.  You can put it on cue so that your dog leaves heel position, does a leg wrap and comes back into heel position. 

    Video link here.

    Exercise Five:  Front and “Come Front”

    In CKC Rally Novice, the handler may take a few steps backwards for any front exercises, so that it is easier for your dog to get into good position.

    The first step is to define “front” for your dog using your platform.  You can also use a chute, or a perch for the front paws.  (Note:  If you use a perch, it should not be the same one you use for your counter clockwise pivots.)

    You can also train Fronts without a prop (see instructions below) but I find it doesn’t give you Fronts that are as clearly defined.

    Video link here.

    Step One:  Shape your dog to sit on the platform when you are standing at the end of it.  Step Two:  Toss a treat a short distance away so that your dog has to get off the platform to go get it, and then cue him to “Front.”

    Step Three:  See what you’ve got.  Start with dog sitting in front on the platform.  Toss a cookie away and take a few steps to the left or right and cue your dog to “Front.”  Does he come into position?  Does he sit?

    Troubleshooting:

    • The dog doesn’t sit when he comes onto the platform:  Give him a verbal cue while he’s standing in front.
    • The dog takes a step backwards when he goes into the sit:  It won’t matter so much in Rally Obedience but if you want to perfect it, train your dog to do a tuck sit.  That means his front paws are stationary and he tucks his back legs into a sit.
    • When you test what you’ve got and step away from the platform, the dog goes to the platform instead of in front of you.  Your dog needs clarification that the clickable behaviour is sitting in front of you, not getting on the platform.  Lure him into position, click and reward 3 or 4 times and then test again.

    Exercise Five:  Left and Right Finishes

    I lure this behaviour because that’s the fastest way to train it.  If you plan on doing competitive obedience, use a platform or chute to make sure your dog learns to give you nice, tight finishes.

    Video link here.

  • Here’s content for Lesson Two!  Have fun!  Let me know if you have any questions 🙂

    Rally – Lesson Two Final pdf

     

     

  • Lesson 1 for Building Play

    Different dogs like different types of play.  Take the time to figure out what toys your dog likes best and what type of play he likes best.  Toys (and play) are at some level rehearsals for hunting.  Torin likes to jump up on me, and his fave toy is a tennis ball with a bungee.  Gabby likes any tug, and is crazy for the squeeky ones.  She likes play best when I’m on the ground.  Emma liked any type of play and her fave toy was a water bottle with some kibble in it.

    Grab a bunch of toys and present each one to your dog in a crouched down “game on” stance.  Does one seem more interesting to him than the others?  Does he like to tug, or go chase the toy?  Pull out the two that seem most interesting to your dog and put them aside for now.  Don’t let your dog have access to them until you start your toy training.

    Get an old sweat sweat sock – the longer they are, the better.  Put it aside for now.