People who are training with their first dog often say they just want to take one class at a time and train details and exercises in the order found in the competition program. Many will say that they will deal with the more difficult exercises later IF they ever make it that far. I believe that this way of thinking puts too many limits to their training. The most important belief expressed amongst experienced obedience enthusiasts may be: start training elite when you start training class 1. And above all, learn at an early stage how the exercises of the higher classes look like. “What is the reason for this?” you might wonder, “it is already difficult enough.” But I can assure you there is a lot to be gained by this:
- Training becomes a lot more fun for both the handler and the dog, because you have many more exercises to train, which are a little more challenging. No matter what your goal in training might be!
- You have a clear image of how the exercises should be developed in training in order to progress. And rather than train the same things, over and over again, you become more eager to go a step further.
- Some of the elite class exercises take a long time to train and it is a good idea to start working on those as early as possible. This will make you save time between competition levels and, when you climb in the different classes, your dog already has solid grounds for the exercises. Otherwise there is a risk that training becomes sloppy because it takes very long before all the parts are ready, and the waiting becomes tedious. Distance control, the scent exercise and the box are good examples of exercises that need quite a bit of training before they are really ready.
- Distance control and the scent exercise are perfect parts to train indoors on dark and cold evenings, since they require very little space.
- Early on you can start chaining the exercises as in a competition program. Prepare your ring for a high-level training session, even though you are in class 1. Go through the exercises/parts that you can and use help where needed. As an example, some targets, the dog facing you, you do a backwards walk in Z, the recall but without the “stand” and the “down”. I think you understand what I mean.
If you want to know more about the exercises, click on the picture: