Instructor: Laura Waudby
This class is all about foundations! Start a new dog on the right foot or discover missing pieces in your training. This class is designed to cover all the exercises in TEAM level 2. The TEAM program lays out the building blocks for developing very solid behaviors that the dog can perform in a variety of unique presentations!
The skill areas assessed in this TEAM course include: Engagement and Focus, Heeling, Fronts & Finishes, Distance work, Targeting, Jumping, Retrieving, Scent Work, and Impulse Control. The individual pieces of exercises are broken down for you in manageable steps! Introducing all these core areas from the start makes sure that obedience remains fun for both the dog and the handler!
This class builds on the foundation skills taught in TEAM 1. Whether you are new to competitive obedience training or you have discovered a need to revisit skills with advanced dogs, this course will help you prepare to title by video in TEAM or simply give you an excellent set of foundation skills for any dog sport or competition venue such as AKC or FCI obedience, freestyle, etc.
For more information on the TEAM titling program, please visit www.fenziteamtitles.com
There are no scheduled sessions for this class at this time. We update our schedule frequently, so please subscribe to our mailing list for notifications.
Registration will begin at 12:00 Noon Pacific Time.
For answers to commonly asked questions see our FAQ page.
Enrollment limits: Gold: 12 students, Silver: 10 students, Bronze: unlimited.
Silver level for this class is offered as "Working Silver". In addition to asking GENERAL clarification questions about the class lecture materials, silver students will now have the opportunity to submit two short videos, one minute each, for critique and review. You may submit two questions. Each question MUST have a one minute video attached so the instructor can actually answer a question that they can see. The question must relate to a topic in the class and the video must be a demo of the question. Please see the discussion forum for a detailed explanation - feel free to sign up at bronze, read the explanation, and then come back here to upgrade to silver if that interests you, and if space is available.
If you are interested in a bronze level subscription, you can sign up at any time during the registration period.
Because of the wide range of skills, students are not expected to master all 10 areas of focus in roughly 15 skills. About 3 skills will be introduced per week and gold students will have the option of working on any of the skills discussed from the current week or previous weeks. All lectures will be released in the first 4 weeks of class in order to give students enough time to focus on their desired areas.
Exact order is still being worked out before December 1st! However the skills taught will be:
- Moving Engagement/ Personal Play
- Pivoting Skills: Fading the perch with left pivots and Pivoting to the right
- Finishes: 3 styles of finishes, fading props, proofing heel position
- Fronts: Fading the prop
- Position Changes (sit, down, stand): Working in heel position, building in pauses, building greater distance, adding handler distractions
- Mark: Teaching a cued look straight ahead (towards an object), watch me vs look away
- Jumping: Teaching the broad jump (jumping without handler movement)
- Retrieve: Beginning steps to picking it off the floor and delivery to hand
- Scent articles: Fading food lure in finding your scent, switching to a retrieve alert
- Stay: duration, distance, and back turned
Tentative plan for December:
Week 1: Pivoting left and right in heel, Position changes (heel position and pauses), Marking
Week 2: Retrieve, Fronts, Position Changes (distance and distractions)
Week 3: Scent articles, Finishes, Play/engagement
Week 4: Stays, Jumping
Remember each student can pick what they want to work on each week from any of the topics a lecture has been released on. Students will likely not be able to master all 10 areas in the 6 weeks and will focus on topics they need the most guidance in.
The exercises in this class build off of those in TEAM 1.
Gold students must have either taken TEAM 1 (or the old TEAM 1/2 combined class) with either instructor, OR have passed the TEAM 1 test. Note passing the TEAM 1 test is not necessary unless you haven't taken the class prerequisite. Many of the gold teams will likely still be working on polishing level 1 behaviors while ready to start level 2 work with other behaviors!
Equipment needed is dependant on which skills each team wants to focus on. Ideally, teams will have access to:
- Platform for fronts and finishes (approximate size just barely longer than the dog is wide and long enough for the dog to stand on). A PVC box or chute is also fine!
- Perch for pivoting (round bowl, phone book...)
- Dumbbell or other formal retrieve object (something the dog does not see as a "toy"
- Foot target for position changes (PVC box, larger platform, front foot target...)
- Altoid tins, flat metal electrical plates, canning lids, or any other type of article for continuing to work on scent discrimination. Teams who have been working on a nose touch indication may continue that, or we can talk about switching to a retrieve alert if they are ready. Retrievable articles might be canning rings, leather bracelets, or traditional dumbbell shaped articles.
- Jump. Any jump will work but the lectures will specifically start talking about training a broad jump
Marking* is the act of a dog looking forward out towards another object. The dog can watch a thrown retrieve item and mark the location of the landing (especially useful if thrown into long grass!) or the dog can be given a mark by the handler which tells the dog when and where to look. This second part will be the focus of this lecture as it is not a natural behavior for the dog. Dogs have to be trained to follow a point and while they readily pick up on it (compared to wolves!) their first instinct is still to stare at your hand vs following the invisible line you are pointing out to the object.
Teaching a mark is a useful skill for directing your dog to retrieve something they didn't see thrown and for directing your dog to a specific item/cone when there are multiple choices for the dog to pick from. It can also be used to point out the next task your dog is to do such as looking ahead to mark their go out location in utility, or the first obstacle in agility.
Here is an eventual goal behavior of Vito working in utility. I mark him to look forward to his go out location so he knows what to expect, and then stand up straight waiting for the judge to start the exercise and tell me to send my dog. I want my dog to continue to look where they should be going next:
*Note that the term Mark is also used in dog training to refer to the reward cue we use to bridge the time between the dog doing the behavior and getting their reward. The clicker is just one example of a marker in the reward cue context.
Step 1: Teaching the Look Ahead
Since most dogs will readily stare at cookies or their favorite toy, we will begin by using their reward as a lure. For this exercise, I place my chosen reward in a bowl or on a target lid to make it clear to my dog that they might be getting released to it. Since I don't allow my dogs to be released to distractions on the ground, the bowl or target quickly becomes a cue to my dog that they will be able to get the item at some point. This bowl/target is often referred to as a Zen Bowl as the dog learns to develop impulse control before being released to it. If your dog does not already have a solid stay or auto leave it while you place a distraction on the floor you will still be able to start this particular marking exercise by simply holding your dog by the collar/harness for the early lessons.
Let the dog see you put their reward on the ground in front of them, anywhere from 1 ft to 5ft at the very most. Then encourage them to look forward it! When you see your dog looking ahead, use your release cue or another cue that means the dog can have the reward in the bowl. Gradually increase the time your dog has to look ahead from 1/2sec to 3 full seconds. When you have a solid 3 seconds of focus forward, you can add a verbal cue of your choice. I use the cue look.
In the video below I assume a track start with Zumi, look forward to where I want her to be looking (don't look at your dog directly!) and initially use a ready cue to get her excited. At this first lesson, I want the dog confidently looking ahead and not politely thinking this is a leave it exercise. In this last rep with Zumi you will see me chasing behind her, I do this to add more excitement to the exercise. Some dogs will love the race and try to beat you while other dogs may be put off by the thought that you may be trying to steal their reward. (*Note in this old video I mark with "yes", now I would use a different marker/release cue that made it clear I wasn't rewarding from hand but was allowing the dog to get the food):
If your dog struggles with this first step, switch to tossing the reward in front of them vs placing it. As your dog watches the throw you can release them before they have the opportunity to look back at you! You may also want to be out of heel position for this exercise as your dog likely has a strong foundation of keeping eye contact in heel! Move to the right side of your dog, a foot out in front of your dog, or even try having your dog between your legs!
Here is Yummy whose polite nature and auto leave it training made this difficult! I step out of heel position and try to send her as she watches the food fall into her bowl, before she looks up at me. I also experiment with grabbing her collar as many dogs will naturally lean forward with the opposition.
Here is Nala who also has a very strong foundation of giving eye contact with the zen bowl! I discover with her that she remains looking at the bowl while I'm setting food in it, it's the start of my standing up that makes it hard. So I quickly send her a few times wiht my hand lingering at the bowl. When I realize that this can start a hand signal I try switching to my other hand (the one closest to her) .
Step 2: Adding in the Hand SignalMost trainers will use a hand signal to tell their dog when/where to look ahead. Since your dog will be starting from heel position, the most common signal is lowering your left hand to your dog's head level. You may need to bend your knees with a small dog! Hold your signal still either directly above their head or in the space between your dog's head and your leg. Remember this hand signal is about giving a direction for your dog to look, it will not give your dog permission to actually run out! Hold your signal still and wait for your dog to stop staring at your hand and actually look ahead at the reward like you have been working on. Release your dog verbally and without moving your hand forward.
This is Candy's first time seeing me add a hand signal. You can see in the first rep she is already expectedly staring at the bowl, but as soon as I add my hand she mobs it thinking I have a cookie in it. I try to keep my hand still and wait for her to look at the bowl again. I am also purposefully doing an exaggerated extra low hand signal so that Candy can tackle her hand obsession head on. She figures it out quickly but if it were hard I could start with a less obvious signal.
Note that I mark the dog for looking forward and always reward them by letting them go to what they were looking at. While the technique of marking the look and feeding the dog from your hand can be successful, it is not one I recommend at this stage. Often a dog could inadvertently learn to face their nose forward but they are still thinking about what the handler has vs actually applying their full focus forward. The technique of rewarding from your hand would be best for a dog who already has very strong focus forward and needs to learn to relax a bit before being sent.
Build until you have 3-5 seconds of your dog looking forward to where you are directing with your hand and a minimum of 6 feet.
Step 3: Fading Duration of the Hand Cue
The goal of both the verbal cue to look and the hand signal is to give the dog a cue to look forward in a straight line for something to do. Like all other cues, you don't want to have to hold the cue constantly for the dog to do the behavior. It should be a quick action and then your hand should return to your side while the dog continues to do the behavior of looking forward.
Your hand being removed might be difficult for your dog to keep focus without looking back at you. Having a strong verbal cue can help with this! Don't hesitate to mark and re-mark. As your dog gets used to doing 2-3 marks before each send the desire to look back at you in between should decrease.
You may also consider stepping back out of heel position. Many dogs have a strong reinforcement history for looking at you and that makes duration without the hand signal harder! Try giving the mark then stepping out to the side of the dog, facing either the dog or forward, and then wait for the dog to look at the dish again. Your dog will learn to keep looking ahead regardless of what you do after the mark!
Here I first demonstrate with Zumi removing my hand and standing up before sending her. On the 2nd rep I re-mark her when she looks back at me. The next 3 reps I work on stepping out of heel. You can see I'm not asking for any duration yet of her mark, just releasing her as soon as she looks back at her reward.
Step 4: Focus First
Here is a clip of a youngish Zumi working on focus around her dumbbell. I've edited it down considerably to show just the ending of each rep. After setting her dumbbell on the ground I worked on heeling away from the dumbbell for several seconds in multiple directions with plenty of rewards to get her brain refocused on me vs the object (if you don't have heeling that's fine, work on just cookies for eye contact at a distance), the clip picks up with me re-approaching the object.