Shut UP!

How important are your verbal commands? We confuse our dogs: Our body language says one thing, we shout out lots of other things.
"Right, Out, LEFT, me me me, out RIGHT, out, To ME, LEFT, me me me" Complicated run? No. The first two jumps in a serpentine! But one student did give these commands to their dog in a class last year.

The Aim of the Game.
To determine whether your dog responses best to your voice comands, or your body language. You will be able to see what your dog knows and therefore start to learn to predict how you dog will perform, and once you know the level of your dogs knowlegde you can adjust your training program to strenghten you dogs' existing knowldge and to introduce new skills.

This game is beginner level for dogs that will happily take all obstacles in his path without additional commands, unless called off.

The Game:
Set a course of jumps and tunnels.

Course 1 - 8: Resticted Body Language: The Rules
Your hands must be either folded in front of you or behind your back. You must not bend forward or backwards or lean from side to side. (if you cheat by giving body langauge cues you will not truely discover the level of understanding your dog has for verbal commands.)
You can use your voice as much as you like, to give any commands you wish, quietly, loudly, whistle etc.

Course 9 - 16: No Verbal Commands: The Rules
You must not say anything to your dog
You can make any movements you like. Arms and shoulders, legs and feet, leaning in towards your dog, turning way etc

Which run was best for you and your dog? It is interesting to realise how few verbal commands we really need to get our dog round a course. Where possible try to use your body, not your mouth, to guide your dog.
Think about how you use your voice other than the obvious commands, such as to encourge you dog to go faster, or to try to steady him: do these commands work, or does cheerleading him to go faster simply worry or confuse him? What happens if you don't say anything?

© Ridinghood Pet Dog Agility Club 2003