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.



I’m not 100% certain, and I don’t do ring sports, but here are my thoughts.

1. I believe that the skill(s) that you are reinforcing in the beginning are impulse control while maintaining eye contact with the toy and enthusiasm (drive). Raika is to wait until released to go for the toy.

2. I believe that transport is like a modified heel. Raika is to return immediately to your left side, curled slightly in front of you, and maintain direct eye contact on the toy (I suspect that this is likely prep for when there is a decoy there). She is to reorient her body towards the toy as you move.

3. The whistle appears to mean two things in this video. In the earlier part, it seemed to mean to run around the small section of ring gates and then return to you. In the later part, it appears to mean to return to your left side. Clearly Raika understood the difference, I however did not see what differentiated the two. I wonder if running around the ring gate is simply a way to create distance so that she can race back into that left side position? If she were far away from you and you blew the whistle, I wonder if she would simply return to the left side as she already has the distance.

4. I suspect that you put the whistle in your mouth without using it frequently so that the cue to execute that behavior remains the sound of the whistle, and not the visual of it going into your mouth. As dogs tend to be much more attuned to visual cues, this seems that it would be a real consideration.


Okay, you were training the dog to stay in position relative to the person being transported for a couple of steps. The whistle tells him to drop what he’s doing and check the nearest ‘blind’ and then return to the reward?


I’ll be the first to stick my neck out. I know zip about ringsport; have never seen it, nor read much. I’m guessing that ’’’’’transport" means move with your handler in the presence of something the dog REALLY wants, & that the tuggy is standing in for someone inside a bite suit. The whistle is probably a cue to disengage & return to handler, with a right-hand finish. The post is standing in for the trainer, who needs to be closer to the dog at this stage of training, & is used to build distance into the equation. You put the whistle into your mouth without always blowing it so that the act of putting it in does not itself become the cue. The focus seemed to change when tthe dog dashed off to the left of the screen on the whistle instead of circling the post. I don’t quite get the “out & down” that followed, but I resisted the temptation to rewatch the video, since I wanted to see if I could get it in one, & the two behaviors I thought you were working were moving with handler, & recalling on the whistle.

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