Obedience / Rally

There are two “Obedience” type sports these days and they’re fun to explore.

Obedience – the most traditional, dog and handler are expected to perform precision training tasks both on and off leash, including heeling, sitting, standing, and maintaining a stay. The judge is an active part of the experience, following you, telling you what to do in what order. A good deal of handling skill is important to the success of the dog team.Dual Ring Dog/Successful Training for Both Conformation and Obedience Competition
– an excellent resource for step-by-step trial obedience training.

Rally – a newcomer to the training arena, the emphasis is less on precision and the judge’s orders. You follow a set of signs throughout a course and are welcome to use supportive handling to help your dog through the course. It’s more laid back, but requires more flexiblity in training and execution. Conceived as a bridge to the more competitive obedience, it has become a sport in its own right. The Ultimate Guide to Rally-O

Regarding training:

Important message to beginners

Okay, while this site is geared toward experienced Aussie owners as well as beginners, I want to send a message to you beginners. If you are like me, your dad’s childhood dog ran loose in the neighborhood, had his “unsquelched personality,” and then got hit by a car. Call me crazy, but I’ve got a hunch that those three things are related. So my point is this:

1) Fence your dog! I get a million e-mails a year asking me what owners can do with an Aussie that tries to bite car tires as they roll out of the driveway, or how to stop them from nipping and scaring the UPS man. Easy! Get a fence! If you can’t do that, neighborhood zoning, etc, then at least get a radio collar, which sets up a border around your house and if the dog gets too close, it gets shocked. Don’t like the shocking? Then get a fence. Don’t have enough money for a fence? You shouldn’t have gotten a dog!

2) Training will not make your dog into a “robot” any more than sending your kid to a private school will make your kid the next Stephen Hawking. It takes work to make a dog look like a robot in the ring, you should meet the dogs outside the ring, I bet they are just like your dog, but the difference is, they come when you call. Even so, I don’t like robot dogs any more than I like push-button dogs in the conformation ring.

3)Fence your dog in! Okay, maybe I’m repeating myself, but I mean it. Unless you are lucky enough to live up in the hills on 300 acres, you need a fence.

Positive methods

Okay, I said it before, but what is this positive obedience stuff, and why are you so keen on it? Like many of you, I started out on the standard choke chain. I jerked and pulled my dog as instructed, and by-golly, he learned it. But you know what? My dog hated it! I’d take out the leash and he’d wag. . .”Walk??” and then I’d pick up the collar, and the familiar jingling sound would send him running. No matter what I did, Dusty hid at the sound of that collar. I also knew that that collar would not get me anywhere.

I went in search of something better, and for  a time, play training seemed nice, but Dusty didn’t respond well to it. And then I met a man named Mike in an AOL Pet Care forum chat room. He told me about Patty Ruzzo and her wonderful methods, he was so kind that he sent me some seminar tapes for free, on the grounds that I would spread the word. Thank you Mike, should you ever read this, and Patty, in the off chance that you stumble onto this, this page is my tribute to you and your work.

KPCT's training kits are a great way to learn the basics of clicker training.

Positive obedience is a great way to have fun with your dog, and to make you, and him, much more creative. Every link and article here has positive methods in it. Yes, you can go against my will and disobey the “Force” but do you really want to?