What am I Teaching?

Several years ago I watched a person train a dog is a sport I'm very familiar with.  For the life of me, I could not figure out what the human wanted the dog to do - that's pretty bad when it's my own sport.  The dog was paying the price with every type of correction imaginable, from emotional abuse to very hard physical corrections.  Poor dog.

Since that time, I've given a lot of thought to communicating as clearly as possible with our dogs.

In the following video I'm working on several behaviors with Raika.  These behaviors come from the Ringsports, so it's very likely that most of you will have no idea what I'm looking for.

Here's a game for you to play.

Can you figure out what I'm teaching?  In fairness to me, this dog has had many many lessons in some of the base behaviors, so she has an advantage over you.

I entered the training yard with one main goal - can you see what it is?  (here's a hint; I focus on it for the first five minutes.  here's another hint; to succeed she must perform two behaviors at once).

I'm working to reinforce two skills she's already mastered - can you see which ones?  (Hint; there are two of them)

Can you see where I changed my training focus in the last minutes of the video?  Do you know why I did that?

Do you know what "transport" means?  If you don't, then I wouldn't expect the dog to know.

Do you know what the whistle means?

Do you know why I frequently put the whistle in my mouth even when I don't use it?

This is an extremely difficult challenge for several reasons, the primary one being that you haven't watched her training over the last few months where she has built her base behaviors.  For those of you who play in the ringsports, if you cannot identify my training interests, then I'm doing a poor job.

Have a ball.  I'll give the answers in a few days.


Peggy Robinson

I agree with most of what Kathy said.. but most importantly (to me) is that you showed me where the huge gaping hole is in my training of the transport, so thanks!


Main goal—-she guards you until it’s appropriate to get the decoy.
two skills she’s already mastered – can you see which ones?Guarding you, she must touch your side, watching the decoy, she must keep her eye on the ball.
changed focus in the last minutes of the video? why? You began releasing her to the ball without the transport. You did that so she will know it is appropriate to get the decoy when the proper cue presents itself.
“transport” means? Transport means we’re moving, you (the dog) are guarding me from the evil decoy so you, my dog, must keep your eye on him while touching me.
Do you know what the whistle means?
The whistle means return immediately to my side—-do not engage the decoy, go around him.
Do you know why I frequently put the whistle in my mouth even when I don’t use it?
I think because you will have it in your mouth in a trial, she needs to see that picture, and you will need to use it upon cue from the judge?
Now I can read everyone elses answers. I am doing exactly the same thing in back transport with Kaleb for IPO, he has to touch and keep eye on decoy. Haven’t done it backwards though. :) Very fun Denise. I can go from watching Lyra do Nosework to Raika doing Ringsport and just may dig up some Cisu heeling before the night is over!


Writing this without reading the other comments first.

Looks like your main goal is teaching her to always face the toy. I do know that part of ringsport is watching the “bad guy” and being ready to run out and bite him, so I’m assuming that this will transfer to that exercise. The first five minutes focus on teaching Raika to stare at and face the toy while staying in contact with your body, even if that means leaving heel position. It took about 4-5 reps for me to recognize that when you were going past the toy and slowing down, you were waiting for her to shift forward across your body and rewarding for that. I already knew that dogs are trained to heel in direct contact with the handler, but I wouldn’t have been able to see that detail on the video just because it’s small.

The whistle means two things, based on context. If she’s at your side, it means to run out and around the white thing, counter-clockwise, and then do a right finish around you, ending in the down which you are currently cuing but will become automatic. If she’s in a down facing her toy, it means to come to heel without turning away from the toy/decoy. You raise the whistle without blowing it to proof the cue/prevent anticipatory action from the dog.

I don’t know why you changed from working on one skill to another, other than to not be drilling the same behaviors for too long. She was doing well on learning to face the toy while staying in contact with you, so might as well move on to another skill.


I remember your earlier post about teaching Raika to circle the post to stand in for running to you and doing a finish, when you were having trouble getting her to disengage from the decoy. I find it odd that you taught her to circle it in a counter-clockwise direction when the right finish goes in a clockwise direction…?

Also realized that the reason you are putting her in a down and then whistling her back to your side is that it’s another part of teaching her to disengage from the decoy. You release her to get the toy more often to keep up her focus on watching the “decoy”, and more closely mimic the issue you were having (having too much fun biting the decoy to come back to you).


I LOVE it! Will you post a video so we can see how these exercises transfer when you throw an appetizing decoy into the mix? What a great example of how much you can do on your own!!

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