- Parent Category: Training Articles
Many people seem to get worried about teaching the redirect, and I have often heard it said that when training the redirect, the sendaway has fallen apart, resulting in the dog becoming totally confused and not going at all. If you have heard these stories and are frightened to teach it – stress no more! I teach the redirect as a separate exercise: you do not and in my opinion, should not, send the dog away from you, and then ask him to go somewhere else – not until he fully understands all components of each exercise. So many dogs are confused because owners try to do an exercise in its entirety before the dog understands the requirements of each component. I teach three separate exercises;
The sendaway – to go in a straight line until told to stop (or reach the boundary).
The wait – to remain in either stand, sit, or down at a distance and pay attention to me no matter how far away I happen to be.
The redirect – to run to either the left, or right as commanded by me, until told to wait.
The redirect is possibly the easiest of these three exercises to teach, especially if you have already done parts one and two (but if not it does not matter, you could teach this first – just teach the dog to get the reward off the pole as at the beginning of sendaway training and commence from there). The sendaway is not a prerequisite. You will of course need the sendaway earlier in competition, so I guess that is why we tend to teach it first.
When teaching the redirect, I look for a straight fence, or hedge which is ideally has defined right angled corners and no trees or bushes overhanging so that my dog can learn to run along it without having to deviate around obstacles and pull away from the fence: I want him to run along the boundary. I fix my pole loaded with his reward (see WTM July & August 2013) in a corner allowing my dog to see it, and I pull him along the fence some 10 – 15 paces away and release him to run back along the fence to claim his reward, just as we did when training the sendaway. The only difference being he is now running at a right angle to me instead of straight from me. (For our example, I am teaching him to go to my right.)
He already knows the ‘reward-on-the-pole’ routine and he should very quickly get the idea to run to along the fence to claim his reward: remember to use his release word, "Get-it" just before he reaches the pole. He should not look back at you, nor should he have any reason to come away from the fence. He can claim his reward and you will make your way back to the pole and praise him there, then reload the pole ready to start again.
Repeat this exercise, gradually increasing the distance that he has to run to his pole.
If you taught the sendaway first your dog will understand the concept, and should pick this up fairly quickly: Therefore you will be able to increase the distance fairly quickly. If you are training in the same field you taught his original sendaway, build up the distance he runs along the fence so that you can send him from his original sendaway point (without sending him there just taking him along the boundary away from the pole in the corner). Then send him from beyond his sendaway point, and continue to build up to sending him the entire width of the field. See fig 2 Build his confidence to run in this way without any control (which could cause hesitation to creep in). You want him to run freely and uninhibited, without any confusion in his little brain. There is plenty of time to add control later when he wants to go. Do not dampen his drive and enthusiasm by trying to stop him, or making him wait, not at least until he understands the new direction and wants to go!
When I am using the same field I used for my base sendaway training, I will want him to run past the original sendaway point without hesitating to arrive at his reward loaded pole in the corner of the field.
Progress this exercise to teach him to run in the same direction in different locations, each time starting with the loaded pole in a corner of the field. This could be another corner of the same field or a different field – use what you have available to your best advantage (see figs 3 and 3a). At each new location, place your loaded pole in the corner, take him a few paces away, and send him back to it on your command just as before. As he gets more confident, build the distance that he goes. As ever in dog training, it is your job to read your dog. You should not repeat this exercise so much that your dog becomes tired or bored, nor should you expect him to learn the requirements in a set number of repetitions, or days.
How did you do at school? Were you the whiz kid who always put their hand up first and knew all the right answers? Or were you the one who was always last to understand, the one who did not get it, the one with the lowest marks? Most likely you were somewhere in between. My point being - not all dogs are born equal, no more so than kids. It is your job as your dog’s teacher to make the lesson interesting and stimulating, and not to over tax your pupil so that he loses interest, or gives up. Make it fun, make it rewarding. Train your dog to want to do it by keeping the lessons achievable for your dog – not set by some goal on the calendar or fixed number of repetitions. One of the best things about training a dog, I think, is the thrill you get when the dog does well. That wonderful moment when the dog seems to say, ‘I know, – I can do it!’ your job is to ‘listen’ to your dog and to help him to succeed.
Using the Wait
When my dog responds well to my ‘go right’ command as I release him at the fence, it is time to introduce a ‘wait’ on the fence, before sending him. If you use the same wait command that you use to stop him at the end of his sendaway, it will be easy to knit these two exercises together later on. Please note, I am simply teaching the dog to wait at the fence before redirecting him – I do not do a sendaway and then tell him to wait!
I want to build the distance between me and the dog before I direct him, just as there would be a distance after doing a sendaway, except that I tell him to ‘wait’ as I leave him at the fence and I back away (just as we did in our earlier ‘wait’ training WTM October 2013 ) before directing him.
see fig 4
So now you can leave him at any point along the boundary and tell him to wait; you can walk any reasonable distance (think trials, think 75 – 150 paces) and he will maintain his position and keep his attention on you. You have captured his attention by being unpredictable, he pays attention because your training is fun and he never knows what you are going to do next – but he is ready!
Remember to reward him for waiting sometimes, or he will lose the inclination to wait: this will mean walking back to him and rewarding him where you left him. Or you might tell him to wait on the boundary, back a few paces away from him and then praise him for waiting and release him with his ‘get-it’ command and pull the reward from your pocket. You could on the other hand, tell him to wait, back off and then send him on to his reward on the far corner of the boundary. The secret, as ever, is to ensure the dog listens and does what you ask, rather than going self employed.
Training essentials – always have a second, identical reward in your pocket so that you can recall and reward at any time
Enthusiasm is great, but enthusiasm with control is what you want. Do not fall into the pit of correction – instead use your superior brain to orchestrate appropriate rewards. That means think ahead! If your aim is to work on his wait before sending him, allow your dog to think you have loaded his pole in the corner of the field, but secretly pop the reward back into your pocket. Take him along the boundary as usual, and he will be expecting you to send him to your right to get his reward. Instead of sending him, tell him ‘wait’ (he does of course know exactly what that means at this stage). If he does as you ask praise him immediately and then release him to collect the reward which you produce from your pocket. If however he says ‘I don’t think so – my reward is on the pole on the corner,’ just allow him to go. He will not be rewarded because it is not there! You can smugly think to yourself, ‘Ha that will teach you to listen to me!’ There is no need for you to shout at him, or tell him off. Simply allow him to learn the consequences of his behaviour. You should always plan ahead in this way so that he will be rewarded if he obeys your commands - but not if he does his own thing.