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I am trying to start Cullen in AKC obedience, and I am looking for a site that will be as specific as possible about every rule or requirement, as well as details about how fast they have to perform, how exact they must be, how much I can do in commands or reward/praise.

My biggest concern is his recall. It is the same thing I am working on before I could get his BH. He is great about quick commands with reward and we are speeding it up progressively without. His 'hier' though is horrid. He cones to the front, but either sits kinda sideways, or he is in the least, crooked. Anyone have tips for fixing this? Our old schutzhund trainer would snatch them by the prong and drag them into position, and I see it in his face that he is anticipating that, but that is not mythic style, and I wonder if that is why he sits with some caution.

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I am trying to start Cullen in AKC obedience, and I am looking for a site that will be as specific as possible about every rule or requirement, as well as details about how fast they have to perform, how exact they must be, how much I can do in commands or reward/praise.

My biggest concern is his recall. It is the same thing I am working on before I could get his BH. He is great about quick commands with reward and we are speeding it up progressively without. His 'hier' though is horrid. He cones to the front, but either sits kinda sideways, or he is in the least, crooked. Anyone have tips for fixing this? Our old schutzhund trainer would snatch them by the prong and drag them into position, and I see it in his face that he is anticipating that, but that is not mythic style, and I wonder if that is why he sits with some caution.
No doubt that is why he sits with caution. Harshly correcting a dog for poor position when he doesn't know what the correct position is will only add to the dog's confusion and create more issues. I would go back and retrain the front with a different word.

Some people use platforms just big enough for the dog to sit on to teach a straight front. First teaching the dog to get on the platform, then sit then do that with in all different positions around the platform. It teaches the dog to have body awareness in regards to the sit position and works as a target. I have never done this but have seen others do it. A common practice is to use boards to form a V shaped chute, wider away from you, narrow at your feet. Use this every time your practice fronts for awhile and it can help your dog learn to come in straight. Also one I haven't used but see people use often. I personally don't like having to fade such large props but a lot of people are really successful using these methods.

Probably my favorite way to teach a straight front is to train the dog to hit a duct tape target, then stick to to me so that the dog has to reach up slightly to hit it. Practicing very closely at first cue the target, then sit until it becomes almost automatic at which point I start calling it front and then find I can quickly fade the target and start working from more and more of a distance. You will get some left over nose bumps but if you start to mark (using a marker word) early, you can fade those too. The advantage of this over luring them into position is that your hands are out of the picture, which prevents them from keying in on them while performing. Also the targeting totally encourages them to come in very straight every time.

AKC has all the rules available on their website. And this book can be an extremely useful guide for people new to AKC obedience.
 

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I'd train the recall and front separately. Run backwards as the dog runs to you and reward for the speed, don't have the dog formally front. So a few feet away mark speed and turn sideways at the last moment with a ball reward.

Train the formal front and then put them together(Using your hands as a chute in front can work to keep the dog straight coming in)
 

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Some people use platforms just big enough for the dog to sit on to teach a straight front. First teaching the dog to get on the platform, then sit then do that with in all different positions around the platform. It teaches the dog to have body awareness in regards to the sit position and works as a target.
Yep, this is how I did it. :)

I started Pongu's training without any knowledge of dog competitions, so he was originally taught a rock-back Sit. In order to fix it and get a Sit that wouldn't push him out of Heel position, I had to re-teach it using platforms and foot targets.

Here's a video from when I was re-teaching Sit-Stand on the platforms last August. At this stage I was just trying to build up Pongu's coordination and get him more comfortable with doing position changes on the platforms. It's not a great demo for the actual position shifts, as he keeps going out of Heel on the Stands and I'm rewarding out of position for that (because at this stage I just wanted a Stand without Pongu falling off the platform and wasn't too fussed about getting them in perfect Heel), but it's okay for showing intermediate platform work.


If your dog really has bad associations with coming into a straight Front because of the previous training method, it might be helpful to work around and back to that position by training something else on the platforms first, then using the platforms to re-teach Front once your dog is comfortable with seeing those props.

Otherwise, the lure-reward technique that Mrs. K demonstrated in her first video is faster and more reliable for getting a straight, close Front from most dogs. Pongu's Front is okay at this point but even now, almost a year later, we're still trying to tighten it up, all because he learned how to Sit wrong as a puppy.
 

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Merciel, I would LOVE Some info on how to START the platform training. That would be great not only for him, but also for the new pup we have coming!
 

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Mrs. K, I am going to try that with Cullen AND Panzer. Cullen is really good at the straight front if I have a Frisbee against my chest ;)
 

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Merciel, I would LOVE Some info on how to START the platform training. That would be great not only for him, but also for the new pup we have coming!
Sure. :)

The first step is to decide what you want to use for a platform. What you use depends to some extent on what your goals are. There are a million different things you can do with platforms -- increased body awareness, core conditioning for strength, position training, orientation training, targeting -- and while you can do all of them with a basic raised platform, you can also use specialized platforms to enhance specific goals.

I usually find it easiest to begin with a bath mat. It's soft, comfortable, portable, easy to wash, and has a non-slip bottom. I introduce the mat by clicking and rewarding the dog for putting one foot on it, then both front feet, then all four feet. Sometimes I will lure the dog onto the mat with treats in the beginning, or use hand targets to achieve the same effect, to get the concept across.

Once the dog understands the concept of being on the mat, I'll ask for different positions on the mat. At this stage, the mat is flat on the ground, so there's nothing scary about being off the floor. However, the mat has clear visual and textural boundaries, which is handy for very broad positioning.

Here's Dog Mob proofing Sit-Stays on bathmats:



Once the dog is reasonably proficient with flat platforms (i.e., matwork), I introduce raised ones to get more precise positioning and better balance.

Pongu's platforms took a while to make because they have to be custom-fitted for your dog (you could make your own at home, but I'm real bad at handicrafts so I just ordered my set), so while I was waiting for those to come in, I taped together two board games and had him use those.



That wasn't a very good long-term solution because his weight eventually caused the boxes to buckle, but it was funny while it lasted.

At the time I was initially playing with platforms, we were mostly doing canine freestyle. In freestyle, you want your dog to be able to do very fluid transitions between orientations (heel side, right side, front and behind the handler) and a wide variety of positions. It's different from a lot of other sports in that the dog is not always working on your left or in front of you; the dog has to be able to work in all 360 degrees around the handler and precisely enough to keep in time to music for up to four minutes. One mistake, and you're out of sync and the routine is ruined. Freestyle can admittedly look pretty goofy, but as a training challenge, it's actually quite formidable. It's not easy to train something on the level of the Grease or Gladiator routines!

So platform training caught on like wildfire there, because it's really helpful to accomplish a lot of freestyle goals, and the two youtubes I'm linking here are geared for that sport. However, the techniques are easily adapted to other sports.

This video from Michelle Pouliot introduces basic platform positioning


and this one from kikopup introduces foot targeting and pivots


If you're training for competition obedience, those aren't exactly the exercises you're likely to be perfecting for trials, but I personally like to cross-train my dogs in a little bit of everything. ymmv, it depends what your goals are and what your dog enjoys. :)
 
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