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Testing the Training Levels by Sue Ailsby


Testing the Training Levels
Sue Ailsby

This DVD was professionally shot at the Sue Ailsby Clicker Training Seminar in Langley, BC on April 20, 2007. Included are almost three hours of seminar attendees working on the Levels exercises with Sue's expert help and advice.



In order to compete in obedience trials, a dog must learn to reliably sit, stand, down, stay in all those positions for varying lengths of time, heel, and come. In order to compete in agility, a dog must learn to weave, jump, go through tunnels, walk the dogwalk and the teeter. Herding, tracking, drafting, Rally-O, schutzhund, conformation, water trials, flyball and scent hurdle races, retriever trials, sledding, freestyle - every dogsport has its own set of required skills. Yet as I attend competitions, training sessions and practice matches, I see again and again that the true failures trainers and dogs have in these competitions is NOT so much in the skills written down in the rules for that sport, but in the unspoken skills.

Dogs arrive at the competition already exhausted from the car ride. They go all weekend without relieving themselves. They lunge and snap at other dogs. They cower from loud and unusual noises. They whine and fuss in their crates. They wander off in the middle of their performance to visit other dogs, people or bushes. They mat dive for lost treats. They pretend to do the work but without any thought of teamwork. Or they perform brilliantly outside the ring and lose their minds completely once they cross the threshold. Trainers and dogs go home frustrated and annoyed.

The "secret information" these trainers are lacking is this: a great competition dog requires THE SAME skills as a great pet. How far a trainer goes toward perfecting those behaviors is entirely up to him. Obviously a household pet doesn't require the same degree of training as a Service Dog. Getting a first-level obedience title will not require the same amount of training as making the National Finals in agility. The BASIC skills, however, are exactly the same, and that's what this book is about.

When you've completed Level One, you are starting to see that you can communicate with your dog.

A Level Three dog has most of the skills he'll need to make a great pet. More to the point, you'll have the skills you need to teach him any further skills specific to your own household.

By Level Five, you and your dog are really communicating and already have most of your traveling and public skills as well as many of the behaviors which lead directly into specific skills required for specific sports. You've done a lot of work on attention, teamwork, and duration of behaviors.

Level Six and Seven well, now you're getting into elite competition and public access dogs. I'm confident that a Level Six dog is a month away from ANY first-level competition title, because she has ALL the unwritten behaviors and many of the written ones down pat. That month is for teaching skills specific to the competition, but the important skills of concentration, teamwork, willingness and ability to learn, looking for results, and understanding that to get what she wants she must figure out what you want and give it to you these skills are already firmly installed.



Sue Ailsby is a well-known and highly accomplished clicker trainer who has competed successfully with her dogs in just about every possible competition venue. She now gives clicker training seminars across Canada and the US.











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