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Connie Cleveland Training Tips

Connie's Corner

Utility and Beyond If you aspire to earning obedience titles beyond your UD, do yourself a favor and turn your dog into a Utility machine. All the advanced titles, the Obedience Trial Championship, the Obedience Master Titles, and the UDX, are simpler when your dog can consistently qualify in the Utility class.
Utility or Bust Pursuing a Utility title marks a critical time in your dog's obedience career. I'd like to offer you an important strategy that I believe will help you achieve this goal. The Troublesome Top Three technique is particularly useful when pursuing advanced titles but can be adopted at any time in your dog's obedience career.
Understanding Direct and Indirect Paths to Problems SolvingWhen you approach a problem directly, your dog's understanding of the required behavior should be the same as yours. When you approach a problem indirectly, you solve a problem by causing the correct behavior to happen. Here are a few examples to further explain direct and indirect approaches to solving problems.
Perfecting the Dumbbell Pick-up, Part 2I hope you enjoyed my message and video about Perfecting the Dumbbell Pickup. I provided you with the first three steps I use to teach dogs that it matters how they pick up a dumbbell. The steps are intended to explain to a dog that he simply does not have time to hit the dumbbell with his feet. Watch this video for the next steps in the technique I use to teach a dog that it matters how he picks up a dumbbell.
Perfecting the Dumbbell Pickup One of the most frequently asked questions I receive is about dogs that have poor dumbbell pick-ups. Some dogs hit the dumbbell with their feet, some push it with their nose, but in either case, they lose points for a poor pick-up. Teaching a dog that it matters how he picks a dumbbell up is tricky. The technique I use includes several steps. The first three steps are demonstrated in the following video.
Wrong in the Ring Webinar - April 18thThanks for your responses to my video series about mistakes that only happen in the ring. So many of you have contacted me with questions and comments. I am creating a list of your questions about "mistakes that only happen in the ring" such as the dog that brings back more than one glove, freezes on the drop signal, wanders around on his finishes, fails to sit at go-out or takes steps after giving him the stand signal.

I am planning a one-hour webinar on Wednesday, April 18 at 7:00 p.m. to answer these questions and as many others as I possibly can - so keep sending them to me! To participate in this FREE webinar, you must own a copy of Wrong in the Ring (as a digital obedience guide or E-Book). If you do not own Wrong in the Ring, there is still time to purchase it before the webinar.
Communicating About MistakesDogs are situational. If we allow mistakes in the ring, we risk teaching our dogs that they can perform differently in the ring than they do in training. You can plan better than that!
Make the Exercise StrongerLast week I began a discussion about mistakes that only seem to happen in the ring. I first suggested that you spend time "training like you show." I then asked you to try to cause the error your dog is making in the ring while you are training. Did you discover that it was easy to cause the error? If so, watch this video for information about how to prevent the error from happening in the ring by making the exercise stronger.
Fixing Problems that ONLY Occur in the RingSpring is a busy time of year for us. We have new goals for our dogs and are ready to start pursuing them in the ring. With all of our training and planning, however, we are reminded of the frustrating problems we may encounter. These are the problems that only seem to happen in the ring. Do you have problems that only happen in the ring? If so, watch this video for some ideas that might help you fix them.
Command Discrimination: Training TipsOur New Year started with a two-hour workshop to discuss and practice the Command Discrimination exercise. At the conclusion of the workshop, a few points become clear to me. I've loaded a video from the workshop. It's available free on your "My Products" page. I've also created list of training tips to help you teach your dog the new exercises.
Command Discrimination: Goals and Techniques Our biggest challenge will be increasing the distance that we stand from our dog while giving commands. We do not want our dogs to be penalized for what the rule refers to as "walking forward." Our goal should be to teach our dogs to perform the change of positions with minimal or no forward movement.
Command Discrimination: Goals and Techniques 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!
Teaching the New Command Discrimination ExerciseIt's final, the rule changes have been approved and it is time to start training. The most significant change is replacement of the Open Stay exercise with a new Command Discrimination exercise. Just like any other exercise you've taught your dog, the place to start is by understanding what skills your dog will need to learn.
Training Partners at Their Best - Why I love Dog Sports!I went to bed on September 22nd, excited that early the next morning I would be leaving for the first fall field trial of the season. However, instead of being awakened by my alarm clock, I woke up much earlier, too sick to go. Wildly disappointed, I contacted my friend and training partner, Donna Brocht, who was also headed to the trial, "Will you pick up Nate and take him to the field trial? I'm too sick to go." For most obedience competitors, this may seem like a strange request, but the field trial season is short, and with so few competitions available in my area, I didn't want Nate to miss this one.
Teaching the New Command Discrimination ExerciseWe want our dogs to enjoy performing the obedience exercises and we want to have fun training them. It is a goal we share. There are obedience exercises that your dog will naturally enjoy. Some dogs naturally love to jump, others love retrieving, and some love to heel. However, few dogs find any fun in performing fronts, finishes, and pivots.
Teaching Tricks to Improve Advanced ExercisesReview the instructions and videos provided in Tricks that Transition to Obedience Exercises, and have some fun teaching your dog some "tricks" that will make it easier for him to learn more advanced exercises.
Never Waste a Failure that You Can Learn FromNick Saban, the revered coach of the University of Alabama football team was asked how he felt about a loss to the Clemson Tigers. His reply was, I never want to waste a failure."
Home Study for Your New Puppy: Teaching the Basics I have just finished my second E-book, Home-Study for Your New Puppy: Teaching the Basics. My goal for this book is to create an affordable online training opportunity for new puppy owners. I want to help them get a good start with training their puppy so he will become a treasured member of their family. This is a goal we all share. Too often we see puppies dragging their new family around on a tight leash, jumping on visitors, running away instead of coming when called and relieving themselves in all the wrong places!
Directed Jumping + Flat Retrieve = Retrieve Over the High JumpThe typical approach for teaching the obedience exercises is linear. First, we teach the Novice skills, next the Open skills, and finally the Utility skills. This approach ignores the fact that all the exercises are related.
Are you heading out to train today?A dog that is working on a Utility title has the easiest training session to plan. You know exactly what to work on: Signals, Articles, Gloves, Moving Stand, and Directed Jumping. However, knowing what to work on when you are training a young or inexperienced dog is much harder. Most new handlers spend their time working solely on the skills they will need in the Novice ring - skills that many dogs find tedious and boring when repeated often.
Are you heading out to train today?You've taught your dog the exercises, practiced them in a variety of locations, added distractions and challenged your dog with common sense proofing. You've learned how to best to warm him up and have planned the choreography of your performance. But, even after doing all of this, your dog makes a mistake in the ring. Purchase "Wrong in the Ring" for $24.95, less than the cost of one entry fee.
The Rules that Confuse Us: Open & UtilityI reviewed the list of rules that new Novice competitors need to understand before stepping into the ring last week. A very astute judge sent me a note asking me to remind Novice competitors that they must leave from and return to heel position on the Stand for Exam and the Stay exercises. Let's turn to the Open and Utility classes.
AKC Obedience Rules: Hard to Understand and Easy to ForgetI received a message from a new competitor expressing her frustration about how the obedience rules are incomprehensible. Anyone that has ever tried to study the AKC Obedience Regulations has read a document that seems more like a complicated legal contract.
Wrong in the Ring: Improving a SkillProofing can be used to try to cause the same errors in training that are occurring in the ring. If I set up situations that might cause the error to occur and my dog performs with improved focus, even if he doesn't make the error, I consider my point made.
Wrong in the Ring: Errors on the Signal Exercise Shaking Off the Pitch!
If you've ever been in the Utility ring, your dog has failed signals in one of the following ways: