Clarity is Kindness: Helping our dogs understand what we want

Lately, when I’m training Clover, Parvene Farhoody’s phrase, “clarity is kindness,” comes to mind. Parvene announced this phrase at a seminar I attended last year.* She instructed her audience to write it down.

When working on heel position with Clover, I need to find a way to provide clarity. I want Clover to remain standing when she pivots on the pivot platform and when we rotate around a cone. I want her to shift her weight to her rear but not sit. This will help Clover learn to drive the movement with her rear and allow for more powerful and accurate heeling. Clover is convinced sitting is better. How can I help Clover understand what I want without overly frustrating her? For clarity, I added a rear foot target behind the pivot platform. First, I reinforced a skill she is familiar with, rear foot targeting to a foot target, and then I added the pivot platform back in. We are still working on pivoting around the cone but Clover now remains standing on the pivot platform instead of sitting.

Focusing on providing clarity to Clover has greatly improved our training in the last few weeks. Clarity is not only kindness, it is essential to good training.

*Workshop mentioned: Out of the lab and into the field: performance dogs in the real world; Bob Bailey and Parvene Farhoody; 4/30/2016-5/1/2016.

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