Teaching the Directional Come, Go, and Back Cues for Your Agility Dog!
There are actually three pre-requisites for this training:
1) You have read and taught the feature article on this site “Operant Conditioning a/k/a
2) He was taught Go to your Place (see article on this site to learn “Go to your Place”)
3) He was taught Directional Left/Right turns (see article on this site “Directional Left/Right)
When you are in the middle of that course doesn’t it sometimes look big enough to be the back forty of some ranch in Wyoming? So obviously we need a way to communicate our intentions regarding direction to Rex, whether it is by voice or body signals.
These five are a nice starting point.
Come – Go – Back – Right – Left
Come – Easy enough for Rex. You want Rex to move in your direction toward you.
At this stage he certainly should know the “come” command. If not,
go to the article “Training the Come Command Using a Clicker” on this site.
Go – Just like the AKC Obedience Utility exercise, (and many other dog sports) you and Rex are facing the same direction, and you want Rex to move out ahead of you and keep running until you tell him differently.
Back – Not as easily identifiable as the other four – Rex Turns away from you – doesn’t matter if he is running and facing you or if he is at either side. He is still turning away from you.
Left/Right – Not real tough to train (unless you’re dyslesic. If you are, wear a watch) but if anyone ever tells you that under the fire of competition they have never wanted to yell, “NO, I MEANT THE OTHER LEFT!” don’t believe them.
I am not going to go into the left/right, because it was already covered under a separate article in the Agility Section of this site. See Teaching the Directional Right and Left Cues for Your Agility Dog.
Now since Rex already knows how to go to his place, we are going raise the bar just a bit and work in some distance. What we need is for him to go to his place on cue from wherever his or your location is in the ring. Now I know you are going to say, “but Rex already knows this.” Maybe so, but we are working at a new location and place, so even if he does perfectly, warm him up a bit. It can’t hurt, it can only help.
Training Back – so now we are standing facing Rex. He is a couple of yards in front of his place which of course is behind him (dog training is so logical). Say, “back, place.” If you did your homework, he should just turn around and merrily go to his place, (what a nice time for a click/treat). If for whatever reason he stalls, whether through confusion or defiance, help him out. Use your arm as direction, or do whatever you need to do to get him there, and when he gets there, ding-ding! He gets a click/treat.
Now that that part is covered and he knows place, it’s time to start giving some direction while sending him to his place using your left arm, and then your right arm. (This should be easy-peasy because you already taught the left/right turn directional.) When he has that down cold, from this up-close spot, start working on distance.
Training Go – This is a cake walk. Both you and Rex are standing, a yard or two in front of his place. Then you say, “go place.” After all of this, there should be absolutely no reason he does not happily just trot over to his place. If not, help him out again. Go there with him if need be, just get him there, then click/treat.
As with the all the rest of the direction cues, he should be comfortable no matter which side he is on. If he is on your left side, use your left arm. And if he is on your right side use…never mind. I think you have this figured out. Keep working on your distance so you can send him from anyplace that you are standing.
Knowing these five will give you a real heat start in your agility training, just like the other famous five… “come,” “sit,” “stay,” “down,” and “heel” are paramount to all of obedience training.