Re: "Scratched" training and how you fixed it
This isn't schutzhund but it's an interesting training mistake that took me a while to figure out.
I was trialing my chow, Kylee, in AKC utility level competition (this involves signal work, scent discrimination, moving stand for exam, directed jumping, directed retrieves) and I kept running into a problem on the directed jumping. This is an exercise where you stand at one end of the ring and you send your dog away from you to the other end of the ring, where you then tell the dog to sit and the dog is to turn and sit facing you. There are jumps on either side, at mid-ring (the dog went between them on the go-out) and once the dog is sitting, the judge tells you which of the two jumps to send your dog over. One is a high jump (solid panel) and one is a bar jump (and either jump can be on either side). You then can give both a verbal command and arm signal to indicate which jump, and the dog is to angle to that jump, take it and while the dog is jumping you turn your body to face the dog and the dog comes and sits in front of you. You do this twice, once for each jump.
My problem is that when I would raise my right arm to indicate the right-hand jump, Kylee would veer to the left and take the wrong jump - and vice versa. It was making no sense to me. I was clearly indicating which jump, both by signal and by turning my head to look at the jump, and she was a fairly responsive dog overall. But she consistently was taking the wrong jump - and I couldn't really get away with indicating the wrong jump so she'd take the right one (judges kind of frown on that sort of thing .. *L*).
So one day I was at a picnic and I swung my arm out to point at the truck, saying "in the truck" and Kylee went away from my arm and circled the truck instead. I realized that my arm was pushing her AWAY from me. And then it clicked. We'd been doing herding (for fun, since I couldn't title her due to her breed), and in herding I used my arm or the stock stick to block her path (mostly mentally as she wasn't close to me) and send her the other way. She loved the herding and took to it very naturally, and moving away from the arm became the dominant behavior when I raised my arm. Of course that carried right over into the obedience ring. It was 100% my fault (and I felt bad for any frustration I had, because I know she knew I was unhappy with what she was doing).
I was able to change it fairly easily, though. I modified my arm signals. In herding I would raise my arm high, from the shoulder. In utility, I kept my elbow against my body and indicated mostly with just my hand at waist level. It worked really well and she started taking the correct jump.
We never did earn that utility title, though, and I think a good part of it was due to my inability to see the mistakes I was making at the time. She was my first chow and they think differently from herding dogs (I'd put UDs on a GSD and an Australian shepherd). I found that she was feeling really stressed in the utility ring, so we took a break and then (when she was 9 1/2) went into agility instead and she earned four agility titles. I was having fun into agility and chose not to try for the UD after that.
But I'll never forget the lesson I learned in how signals/commands from different venues can cross over and create problems that shouldn't be there. I'm really cautious now when I choose a command and/or signal - I make sure it's not something that can be easily confused with another command/signal I'm using.
Melanie and the gang in Alaska
Positive 1ST! More reward, less correction makes a GREAT trainer.
Chows: Khana CD RE SD & Dora NA NAJ GSD: Tazer SDIT
Total of 2UDs 3CDXs 12CDs 2REs 8AgilityTitles 1BH Chow!
20 Yrs Training/Teaching Experience