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Discussion Starter #1
Alright Rally people, I've trained my Aussie for Rally -- he was a breeze; Virgil, not so much :/ We're doing decently, however, even after weeks of hind end awareness training he's having trouble with the U turn. We did a left about turn and he was awesome, but the U turn sucks.

Any tips? Is this a situation where we just need to work on heel position again... and again... and again.. or are there a few tips out there?

Virgil's a 4yr old shepherd who's only been training for the past 3 months.

Video would be awesome (btw)
 

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You can try to use you head turn as a cue, ie, going straight, turn head 90 degrees and then turn body. Teach the dog that his reaction to your head turn brings the reward. Once dog understands that you control his butt by your head position, then you reduce the degree of head turn cue.
 

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Sorry, I don't have any video at the moment, but a few ideas...

You said you worked on teaching rear awareness, how? Did you do "brick" or "perch" work? (currently I am at work, or I'd post an example) I found this extremely helpful.

How is Virgil on the 360 degree left circles?

If you have good attention straight-line heeling, try doing large circles to the left with attention and then spiraling smaller...

Earlier cues (like the head turn) can be helpful.

Do you have a left pivot? Try doing a 4-6 foot diameter heeling with attention and doing left pivots at the corners...

Lots of options :)
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Some times I think Virgil just doesn't know how to think :p We have been doing brick work for hind end awareness, I think we need to go back to it... he was doing ok, but not great with his 360 degree left circles -- he never really has much 'spunk' to anything he does. It took me a month just to build a tiny bit of food drive!

I had him on a book tonight, and was taking the treat and holding it by my head to focus him upwards; I used the treat as I turned my head to get him to turn and that was helping. So teaching him the head turn as a cue might just work with him.

A 4yr old GSD is a world different than an Aussie or a BC! Teaching a dog that's all over the place spazzing out trying to get the reward is simple! Virgil can be compared to molasses :p Also, it's easier to help people along with training roadblocks, but actually hitting one is a completely different feeling.

His attention with straight line heeling is good, he generally keeps parallel though I've been working on his forging ahead. He just can't make that connection with his rear end on turns!
 

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Another technique that might help is heeling around an object. Say you have a tree or a bush or traffic cones, heel in tight left circles around it. Every now and then the object will touch the dog's rear end if he is out of position. Keep heeling and reward the instant you see the dog move his butt in so as not to make contact with the object. Once he starts offering this behavior, tighten the criteria and only reward when he moves his butt in + focus on you. Keep talking to him and now add positioning (no forging), butt in and focus to reward criteria. Repeat, repeat and repeat.
 

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Have you considered walking with a dowel rod in your hand, just a light tap to the rear quarter with a GET IT IN, command, might help. I haven't had trouble with left u-turns, I just say back, and they know to slow up and follow because I am turning into them. I am going to try the dowel rod for the three steps back, excellent level.

Also, can you speed up your pace, not just around the turns, but it seems like my dogs tend to do better when I am going at a good clip.

Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
I'll need to find a tree to work around; we've been using traffic cones but he could totally care less about knocking them over (and his big butt can knock pretty much anything over :p)

Will also be heeling him in bigger/wider circles and work on getting smaller.

I just uploaded a video of his left pivot on a book. It took us quite some time to get to this point, but using it in real life is a whole 'nother story! I guess I will need to work on using different objects until we can get down to a piece of paper and then transition the object out all together. Teaching him to back up at this point also seems like it might help in all of this! I typically hold off on that, but I think, with him, it will be beneficial to start sooner rather than later.

I've actually tried a dowel, he could care less. I swear, he's a special dog sometimes :p My bf loves Virgil, he calls Virgil a goofy big dog. I keep threatening to get my high drive shepherd puppy earlier and earlier :p

Left pivot on book video: Left Pivot - YouTube
 

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I had several instructors tell me to tell my dog "back" as I make the left turn. This wasn't helping me at all since my dog had no clue what "back" was. So, I taught my dog to walk backwards first. Hallways are a great place to teach because your dogs response is to turn around and walk instead of just backing up. I walked towards my dog and he'd start to back up and I rewarded that behavior.

I also did the rear end awareness exercises. I liked this video

After that, teaching the left pivot was easy.

Good luck! (Don't you just love rally?)
 

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I also have a "Get In" command to get my dog to swing his butt to the right. Sometimes I combine that with a hand signal. I move my right hand towards him, palm open facing him. He prefers hand signals because he thinks I talk too much.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I'm happy to say we've made a lot of progress :) He's doing the turns now off the book, just not super fast. Still, it's progress!
 
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