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Command Discrimination: Goals and Techniques
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The new Command Discrimination exercise requires our dogs to perform Sit, Stand and Down positions in different sequences. In this message, I will provide you with some ideas for teaching your dog to perform the three positions in the sequences required by the new rule. This exercise is new to me too, but I am convinced that with a little experience and some feedback from you, we will discover a preferred technique. We will later refine our technique to address problems that occur during the pressure of competition. It is time to get started! 

The following is a list of the four sequences our dogs will need to learn: 

  1. Open B, Order I, and Open A (Stand, Down, Sit)
    This is the same order used in the Utility Signals exercise. 

  2. Open B, Order II (Down, Sit, Stand)
    The movement from a “Down to Sit” is the same as the Utility Signals exercise. The movement from a “Sit to a Stand” is new. 

  3. Open B, Orders III, and V (Stand, Sit, Down)
    This is an entirely new sequence. Although the rules allow us to use a verbal command and a signal, I have decided to use only a verbal command for the “Stand to Sit” because I don't want my dog to confuse it with the "Stand, Down, Sit" sequence used in the Utility Signal exercise.

    I want to make it very clear that when my dog is standing that: a verbal command means for him to Sit; and a signal always means for him to go Down.

    Knowing that dogs are situational, I expect that our dogs will pick up on the new sequence by using only a verbal command on the "Stand to Sit."

    The new “Sit to Down” change of position should not be an issue. By giving a verbal command and a signal to Down when your dog is sitting, he will be reminded how important lying down is. 

  4. Open B Orders IV. & VI (Down, Stand, Sit)
    The “Down to Stand” change of position is new. The “Stand to Sit” is a repeat of the first part of the sequence used in Orders III and V and can be taught by using only a verbal command. 

Once your dog learns to change position in the four different sequences, he needs to learn to do it from the following distances:

  • From 15 feet: (“Stand to Down” and “Down to Stand”) 
  • From 30 feet: (“Sit to Stand” and “Sit to Down”) 
  • From 15 and 30 feet: (“Down to Sit” and “Stand to Sit)

In the following video, I am teaching my dog to Stand without moving forward. Nate is five years old and I’ve never asked him to perform this change of position before. When I teach a dog a new skill, I use information he knows from other skills he’s learned. Watch as I experiment with different techniques for moving from a “Stand to Sit” without moving forward. Command Discrimination: An Introduction 

Experiment with these techniques – hopefully, you will discover one that works for your dog. Keep watching, I have included video exploring other issues that may arise while training the new Command Discrimination exercise. 

If your dog does not know how to perform the Utility signals, review the second video in the tab titled “Stand on a Platform” in the Digital Obedience Guide, Tricks that Transition to Obedience Exercises. I enjoy hearing from this community of dog trainers. If you have questions or reactions to this message, do not hesitate to email them to me. 

As always, your feedback is welcome