Prelude to Exercise Teaching the Ready Command

The first exercise in either the Pre-Novice or the Novice class is the Heel On Leash, and we like to teach our dogs a command that tells them that the two of us are going to heel together. The command we've chosen is "Ready!" Notice that the command includes an exclamation mark and not a question mark. You say it in a quiet and yet excited tone of voice — almost a whisper. The reason we've chosen this command is simple: In an obedience trial, the judge asks, "Are you ready?" before he or she gives the order "Forward."

When the judge asks you the question, naturally, you're expected to give some indication that the two of you are ready to go. We use the answer "Ready!" and Buddy snaps to attention and is all set to go. The judge then says "Forward," at which point you give Buddy the command, "Buddy, heel!" and start to move.

Dog show tidbits

To participate in a dog show, you need to enter about three weeks ahead of time. To participate in an AKC-licensed event, your dog must be a purebred and must be registered with the AKC.

If you have a dog that looks like a purebred, but you don't have papers for him, you may be able to get an Indefinite Listing Privilege (ILP)

number from the AKC that permits you to participate in obedience trials.

At a dog show, the dogs are exhibited in a clearly defined enclosure, often made of baby gates, called a ring, which is a rectangular area no less than 30 feet by 40 feet.

No doubt you're wondering why all this is necessary when Buddy is supposed to respond to the "Heel" command and move with you when you do. The reason is that when you give the "Heel" command, you want to make sure that Buddy's attention is on you and not something else that may have attracted his attention. Otherwise, he may just sit there like a bump on a log, totally engrossed in what's going on in the next ring, and when you start to walk, he has to play catch-up.

To avoid this scenario, teach Buddy the "Ready!" command. In addition, you need to decide on your leadoff leg — the one that tells the dog when he's expected to go with you. If you're right-handed, you'll be more comfortable making your leadoff leg your right one, but you can start on either leg as long as you're consistent. We suggest you experiment and make your leadoff leg the one that helps your dog stay in Heel position when you start.

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