1. Yes. I usually warm up prior to trial, ask my dog's if they're ready, we play with the ball, do a few drive building exercises, I might smack the dog on the side a couple of times (that usually makes them excited) and we're off. We start just like we do in training. I usually hand my ball off to someone before we go on the field.
I think it has to do more with body language than equipment for me in obedience. I train with a bunch of different collars, sometimes no collar, and most of the time no leash. I have certain ways I move when we are working, my voice is usually higher and happier, and of course if I've done my job training then all the commands are habitually full of drive and enthusiasm because it's a conditioned response
2. It *sounds* like she's forging/crabbing a little since she's at an angle. Which isn't unusual at all. If you consider that a dog's body follows it's head, and her head is turned in towards you, consequently the butt must be out a little. Unless you've done the foundation work that teaches them how to turn their head and keep their body moving straight.
Generally a couple of things you can do, is go back and make sure she understands how she's supposed to be sitting next to you. When she finishes is she straight or does she crook out there also? How does she finish? Around the back and crooked out means she's coming around too far, flip turn and crooked out and she's not going far enough. That can be a place to start so she understands the position. Another good thing to do is work the position and the heeling on a fence. This way there is a physical barrier that prevents her from swinging out, and if you do it enough times it will build muscle memory.
A lot of straightening her out can be done with the hind end awareness exercises like perch work, spins, pivoting, lateral movement and so on.
Other things that work on less of a foundational level are left turns. Left turns automatically put the dog off of you because you are turning into the dog, oppositely right turns bring a dog forward because they have to move quicker to be next to you. Lots of left turns and minimal right turns will help the forging/crabbing dog to be more straight. Also lots of quick halts on larger left circles...Like 2 steps...halt Sit!. The instant you get a straight one reward.
Bianka vom Eisernen Loewen IPO3, CGC, TC 1-3-08
Cade vom Eisernen Loewen IPO1, CGC 3-25-09
D'Artagnan (Tag) vom Eisernen Loewen BH 2-2-10
G Aiko von Burkndeiros SchH 3, IPO3, FH, TC, KKL2 9-17-02 (Retired)
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Last edited by JKlatsky; 08-10-2010 at 03:38 PM.