Keepa: increasing his options
THE NEXT Exercise I did is linked with handling at distance. I need Keepa’s left, right and back commands to be a lot more confident when at distance. I start by using a straight fence line. If you have a dog that is inclined to jump, make sure the fence is not barbed.
I begin by sitting him down with his back to the fence, looking at me. I walk out and place a dummy one side of him, which he sees. I then walk away approximately 40 yards away. I give him the stop whistle command to begin with, partly to make it seem as though I have just stopped him
“Keepa manages to hold the line without the fence”
at distance but also to get his attention. When he is totally focused on me I give him the “get out” command, which means go right. He willingly runs the correct direction, which will help give him confidence and reassure him exactly what the “get out” command means. I repeat this exercise but going the other direction, which is “away”.
I then do it again but put both dummies out at the same time, so he now has two options. The fence line encourages him to hold a straight line in each direction. As he begins to gain confidence with these I begin to move him away from the fence. This means he now has two options of retrieve but he also has to hold his line without the fence helping him. He found this relatively easy, so I decided to push him a little further. I brought him totally off the fence and introduced a third option.
I let him see me put all three dummies out, one left, one right and one straight behind him. I then sent him for the one straight back. It is important to make sure the dummies are a good distance away so he isn’t encouraged to “run over” a dummy. Also if he makes a mistake and tries to pick the incorrect dummy, I have plenty of time to stop him and start again. If he struggles with any of these I simply start again. If he continues to struggle I will break the exercise back down to make it easier and then build him back up as his confidence grows.
Keepa watches intently as Ellena places three dummies — one left, one right and one behind him