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Training to Trial | A Successful Transition
Week Six | Members Only

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Week Six | Chaining for Mental Endurance

Each individual exercise consists of many small pieces that form a chain.  Two exercises in a row are an even longer chain.  Needless to say, an entire class is a huge chain of behaviors.  In the ring, dogs are performing this chain without any information.  This lack of information causes dogs to lose confidence and become stressed.  Dogs think they are wrong because they are not getting any feedback.  We need to teach them that lack of feedback does NOT mean they are wrong.   My dogs have learned that, in the absence of feedback, everything is fine.  Just keep going and the reward will come.

I DO NOT start chaining until a dog knows the ENTIRE exercise perfectly and can perform the individual pieces consistently, including precues, transitions and ring entrances.  It is not fair to ask a dog to put together a longer chain if they have not mastered the pieces of the chain.

I start with a short chain.  For example, ring entrance, transition to drop on recall, drop on recall.  Or broad jump, transition to high jump, retrieve over the high.  When your dog  can reliably perform two exercises without information, with confidence and a good attitude, then I add a third exercise.  And so on.

First I work chaining in my yard (or building) without a “judge” and without any distractions.  When your dog can reliably and consistently complete an entire run through in your yard/building, then I add a judge.  When the dog can do that reliably and consistently I add distractions.

Be crystal clear on your criteria

Be EXACTLY like you would be in the ring.  No praising, no correcting fronts, finishes or speed, no treats, no helping with your hands, body,
or verbally.  The goal is to get through the chain.  HOWEVER, If the dog makes a major error, I mark it, then start the ENTIRE chain over.  When the dog is first learning this you may encounter a decline in attitude and performance.  However, when the dog gets through the chain, I have a Party!!!  I praise like crazy, give a jackpot reward and play.  That ends the session for that day.

When I am teaching a dog that no information means they are right, I work on chaining once a week.  When my dog fully understands chaining
and can do a full run through without losing confidence or attitude, I work on chaining once every 2-3 weeks.

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