“Oh you just”
When you set out to train your first dog for Working Trials there are many exercises to be
trained and most of these exercises have several component parts, such as, the desire to do
the exercise, the skill, (knowing how to do it) the control, required at start and finish of the
exercise. At different times different components will require attention from you as the
trainer. If you simply practice the exercises the quality of the dogs’ response is likely to be
mixed and unreliable.
When you ask questions of a lot of trialists the answers often begins with “oh you just”
for instance questions about training the Search Square the answers are often. “Oh you just
throw your toys into long grass they soon get the hang of it” Lets quickly look at the search
square. The components are the ability to locate the article, the knowledge that there is
another one to be located, the skill to pick up and retrieve the article to hand without
mouthing or dropping and very important the desire to work the exercise (motivation).
There is a lot of difference between a dog gaily leaping into long grass after his favourite
ball, and a dog working its heart out looking for tiny articles after a TD track. The transition
between the two is enormous. We must always be aware of the goal we have set ourselves.
When we first start a CDex seems an enormous task but once you’ve achieved that the goals
get somehow bigger.
When you start Search Square training by throwing your ball (Or whatever toy you are
using) into long grass, the effect will be to build the dogs excitement, interest and motivation
really well, very necessary and tremendously important. The problems start occurring when
you try to begin putting some formality into you ‘square’ the excitement you have built up
will cause the dog to mouth the articles, this will often create the habit of the dog swallowing
small articles, this can be a great problem as dogs have died of swallowing articles. What
tends to bring things to a head is a judge saying “ and I docked 3 points from 2 articles for
mouthing and dropping and your dog swallowed the 3rd so as you cannot present me with it
you can’t have the points, I’ve only given you 2 for style and control because that’s all its
worth. (Oh well you didn’t want to qualify anyway)
From this point on you are likely to start telling the dog to hold probably getting quite
annoyed and until your annoyance reduces the dog’s excitement very little effect will occur.
Reducing the dog’s excitement will badly effect its motivation to do the square
You will be very likely to spend most of the dogs working life struggling to control the
mouthing and keeping the dog motivated.
A better way in my opinion is before you get the dog retrieve crazy teach a formal hold and
retrieve to hand I usually do this in the house there are at least a million ways of doing this
and I’m not going into it now.
The number of handlers who attempt to start Sendaway training without a down or static
position on command, another “oh you just” “Oh you just get somebody to hold your dog
while you walk out and hang you ball in a tree” you walk back set up you dog and release
to do the ‘Sendaway’ then stand there smiling while the dog rushes up the field to do his
own accompanied by smug smiles, after a few times the smiles fade as you get gradually
annoyed while the dog rushes up and down the hedge looking for his ball without listening
to a command to stop.(Which you haven’t taught anyway).
When the dog eventually stops ‘mostly’ you as a beginner say to a trialists my dog won’t go
down at the end of the sendaway. The answer is often “oh you just tell the dog to wait then
the judge can’t mark you for the wrong position, However what normally happens is the
dog stands or sits randomly, then stands, then starts to wander, then one day wanders back to
you without stopping after a perfect outrun, the judge says and nothing for your sendaway
(“I know you didn’t want to qualify anyway”)
“ Oh you just get the dog happy to do the scale and return don’t worry about the wait on
the other side You’ll always get 8 its not worth training the position as it will reduce the
dogs keenness” The day your dog knocks the clear or long and you finish with 13 for your
jumps? (Oh well you weren’t bothered about qualifying anyway.)
“Oh just tell your dog to wait on the other side of the clear or long ‘he doesn’t like going
down anyway” What happens next is the down decays to the sit then the stand then the
wander about. The day the judge says and nothing for the long because the dog wandered
back past the last element of the long jump “Its OK we got 15 of the jumps unless of course
you only got 8 for the scale?”
I suppose the Moral of these ramblings is Train your component parts of your exercises
thoroughly and well so when you start training the major parts of the exercises your
foundations are in place, and if someone says “Oh you just” walk away and find somebody
that will give you real advice not Glib answers.