Obedience Front Guides

The object of both the Front and the Finish (see the following section) is to teach the dog a position, and you can practice both exercises inside in the form of a game. The Front is similar to the Automatic Sit at Heel (see Chapter 13) in that the dog is supposed to come to you and sit in front without a command to sit. We like to use a chute to teach the dog exactly where we want him to sit when he comes to us. For a chute, we use plastic rain gutters, commensurate to the size of the dog. They should be about as long as your dog. Place them on the ground, just far enough apart so your dog can sit comfortably in between.

When practicing the Front, keep the upper part of your body erect. If you lean over or toward your dog, he won't come in close enough. If you need to get down to his level, bend at the knees.

Getting Buddy used to the chute

Sequence 1's goal is to get Buddy used to the chute:

1. Place the chute on the ground.

2. Walk your dog through the chute a few times.

3. Heel your dog into the chute and have him sit in it.

4. Repeat Steps 1 through 3 until he readily sits in the chute.

Teaching Buddy to come into the chute

Yep, Sequence 2's goal is indeed to teach your dog to come into the chute:

1. Heel your dog up to the chute, and tell him to stay.

2. Walk through the chute and face your dog.

3. Hold a treat in both hands below your waist.

4. Call your dog and, as he comes, bring your hands to your waist — using the treat to make him sit.

5. Give him the treat, praise, and release backward.

(See the section "Come with distractions" earlier in this chapter for info on the release backward.)

6. Practice Steps 1 through 5 about five times.

7. When your dog understands this part, leave him on a Stay three feet from the entrance of the chute and call him.

8. Increase in 2-foot increments the distance that you leave him facing the entrance of the chute, until he is 35 feet from the entrance.

You want to teach Buddy to sit as close as possible in front of you without touching you. Using treats, you can practice this sequence inside without the chute. Call him to you and use your treat to make him sit. Only give him the treat when he sits straight. If he doesn't, try again.

In the ring, you're not allowed to carry food or give second commands. You can give either a command or a signal but not both. The exception is the "Stay" command, which can be accompanied by the "Stay" signal.

Ultimately, Buddy has to sit in front of you with your hands hanging naturally at your side, so you need to wean him from seeing you with your hands in front of you. You can still reward him in practice when he does the exercise correctly.

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