Lyra - Beginning Ring Prep

A few people asked for more ideas for ring preparation.

In this video, Lyra is working through some early steps of ring preparation - I'm beginning to take the toys off of my body. Prerequisite skills for this work include: 1) Your dog can work with distractions in the training yard, (since your toy will be visible and accessable to the dog).   2) Your dog can work with multiple toys - some on your body and others on the ground.  When working in this manner, the reward could come from either place (body or training area).3)  Your dog can be called away from a distraction for at least a few seconds.

With these skills in place, you are going to teach your dog that she can work even when there are no toys on your body, and toys are visible in the training area.  She will be rewarded for good work with the toy in the area.

This video shows Lyra's second session working with no toys on my body - and toys visible in the training area.

To begin, make sure your dog sees that the toy is not on your body - place it on the table in front of the dog.  Call your dog away from the table and ask for the beginnings of work.  In this video I'm using both heeling and a retrieve of a novel object.

You can see Lyra struggling.  There are a few reasons for this.  First, I had already worked her a few minutes earlier, but the video camera didn't work properly, so she is working twice in a very short period of time and she is somewhat out of drive. Second, the distraction index is rather high - there are deer outside the gate and she can smell them, along with a variety of new objects in the training area.  Finally, she does not yet understand that she will be rewarded when there is no toy on my body.  She thinks she is working "for free".

To get her through this, I use a combination of patience (waiting when she leaves me), mild harassment (note my tone of voice when she leaves or looks away; there is a note of expectation there), and genuine enthusiasm when she succeeds.  Remember, she thinks she is working for interaction only, so I really am pleased when she gives me a happy attitude with a wagging tail and ears up.

I hold my expectations for high quality work, but I ask for reasonably short spans of it.  When she works well, I continue no more than a few seconds before rewarding.

Throughout the video, you see her struggling to heel without looking at the table or becoming distracted.  Because of her foundation, I feel comfortable pushing through it but with some dogs, it would make more sense to lower the criteria.  Note that if she struggles, I still attempt to successfully complete whatever maneuver I had tried in the first place. I don't avoid distractions or distracting areas.

We'll work at this until she can comfortably work towards or away from the table with toys.  The next step would be to occasionally put toys back on my body, so she's never absolutely sure which location will yield a toy.  Finally, I'd want to get her to a much greater level of concentration and drive before I asked for more.

Note that this training is only for work she already knows; anytime I teach her a new concept or one she is still mastering, the toys will return to my body so that I can be timely with the rewards, and also reward more accurately for position.


Whewwweeeee! First show completed!!

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Mufaasa's Mum

Hi, I just wanted to post a big fat thank you for this tip. I started training my own version of this shortly after I read this and the difference in my dog is like night and day. We are one week away from our first agility show and for about the past month for at least one meal a day, I put it down in front of him while he does a sit stay, but instead of just releasing him to it like I used to I call him away, we run to the other end of my home, spend about 30 seconds training (doesn’t really matter what, sometimes specific agility related things, other times just random tricks) and then I send him to his dinner. We had a funshow yesterday and I brought his food dish and some raw dog food fried in bacon fat (his special “we’re in a highly distracting environment please pay attention to me” treat) and put it at the back of the ring. I didn’t have a treat bag on me (but had a few lower value treats in my pocket that he didn’t see me put there) and no toy, and this was our response. He often gets nervous and starts sniffing the ground, especially if I stop to go back and correct something, so I was caught off guard with my new crazy enthusiastic pooch. He’s only been to this barn about four times, and the last time was in May, so I’m pretty please with this. Now I just have to remember to get my queues out early so I can keep up!!! You can see us here ( We did three classes that day and he just got more and more into it.
So, thank you thank you thank you!


Incredible to see this broken down into such straightforward steps!

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