Sunday, June 19, 2011

"HERE" Command

"HERE" is a command I use to mean, "Veer off to where my finger is pointing, right now".  It differs from the "COME" command in that HERE always implies a "moving come", mainly used on the agility course.  It's a type of "CALL OFF".  You and the dog are running a course, you need D to make a sharp turn around a jump post (as in a threadle), or out of a tunnel, or to avoid taking a wrong course.  You are essentially asking them to look for you, collect (slow down), and change course a bit from where they logically think they should go.  It is somewhat similar to Steve Schwarz's Verbal Leash

The hand motion is unique -- an outstretched arm with index finger pointing to the ground while the body bends down and forward.  D is trained to respond immediately to that index finger pointing towards the ground.  I've seen handlers on video actually snap their fingers as they point.

You see this command being used at high level competitions, but nobody ever taught it to me.  So I made it up myself, and it works great.

I've drawn up a few simple example sequences where the HERE command is useful.  Notice, neither of these examples call for a front or rear cross, but both call for a slight change of direction.

The HERE Command is easy to master and highly intuitive.  In fact, it is so intuitive I have seen experienced handlers, as their dogs take a wrong course, yelling "Come here, come here, you goofball idiot dog."  and they fall to their knees and begin pounding the ground where they wanted the dog to come to."  And their dogs come right over to see what the new game is!

I presented HERE in last Wednesday night's classes, to 5 students, and once practiced a bit, both dogs' and handlers' performance became more fluid.

TRAINING: I train the HERE command with large visible tasty treats, 3 in each hand (kibble won't do, cubes of white bread works great because it shows up in the grass). Sit D. * Walk 10' away. Begin running sideways to D, call HERE, point to the ground with the hand closest to D, look intently at that spot with your whole focus, and when D reaches where your finger is pointing, drop a treat on the ground. Sit D again. Repeat from * on both sides, going both ways. Interject a jump. Send D over a jump, then run backwards a few steps, HERE, point to ground, D makes a b-line for your pointed finger. D becomes convinced that treats are falling out of your finger and he quickly learns to pay close attention and get there very quickly.
Begin dropping treats intermittently, about half the time. When you don't drop a treat, continue running just as D's nose drops towards the ground looking for that treat. He will forget the treat and follow you, hoping for another chance to score a treat.  End the sequence with another HERE, and be sure to treat this one.

Upwards and onward!

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