• Dexter Sim

Proofing of Dog Agility Skills


Proofing a Dog Agility Skills

Proofing in dog training is the final step in training your dog on any new behaviour. It entails practising behaviours in a variety of situations with different stages of distraction. And to me, it's an On-demand phase; whenever I call out the behaviour, it should be spontaneous and responsive from my dog.

In this blog, I will assume your Dog Agility Skill has been trained and managed to get 80% and more in term of success-rate. If you are not getting 80% and more, you should train this skill set in order to allow your dog to fully understand the command and the desired behaviours to complete that particular exercise.

I will focus on the Dog Agility Training Life Cycle to enlighten all of us in term of proofing a Dog Agility skill. Below are the Dog Agility Training Life Cycle Steps.

Dog Agility Training Life Cycle

Association/Acquisition This is the first step in dog training. I use Classical Conditioning to get my dog to associate the behaviour with a treat, toy or play.

Consistency In this stage, I focus on Physical cue and eventually move into Verbal cue. When my dog has a good understanding of the physical cue, I will progress onto the verbal cue. And at this juncture, I am focusing on consistency, my dog can perform the behaviour with both physical and verbal cues.

Repetition Repetition comes in when I want to strengthen the behaviour in whatever situation and at whatever time and venue. This stage I focus on training my dog to be proficient in both physical and verbal cues and eventually moving into simultaneous commands.

Reinforcement Reinforcement stage is when I work on various schedules of reinforcement. If I want good and constant behaviour, I can increase my rate of reinforcement...

If I want to extend my dog's attention and ability to keep his attention on the job at hand, I will work on a bridge, and it is the time to strengthen and manage the behaviours.

Maintenance In this last stage which is where proofing is all about. I work on the different schedules on reinforcement, switching in between my repertoire of reinforcements, be it food, toy, play, pet etc...

This is to ensure all the behaviours I want is always readily on-demand to call upon. This is only possible if you do proofing.

To make our discussion more meaningful, I have selected the Weave-poles (WP) as a Dog Agility Skillset to focus.

Proofing will ONLY mean independent Obstacle Skill. So how do I proof my dog in Weave-poles Skillset in Dog Agility?

I focus on this THREE, 3 aspects of Weave-poles ...

WP Entry I will focus on the WP Entry on both LEFT and RIGHT entry. The focus on the angle of approach to WP is necessary. Straight Approach, 90 Degree Approach, 180 Degree Approach, over a bar jump approaches etc

WP Exit I focus on WP Exit too. This is to ensure my dog understand the complete WP Exercise, require him to find the Correct Entry, Weaves thru 12 poles and exit. This stage is where we can allow and train our dog to do independent WP.

Complete WP Exercise In this stage of proofing, I demand my dog to perform complete WP exercise all the time. By now, his entry, his exit, should be very SOLID and CONFIDENT. This stage I only reward or reinforce COMPLETE WP Exercise. I want to build a complete picture for my dog, if you see WP, you are required to find the entry, weaves through 12 poles, find the exit to complete the WP Exercise and you will get a C/T.

Have fun & stay positive!

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