Reinforcement Zone (RZ): Text Instruction
Goal:This game builds value for “Reinforcement Zone” which is the position by your hip/knee building value you for you the handler. Reinforcement zone training helps your dog to learn to follow you, create tight turns, prevents your dog from flanking away from you. Reinforcement zone is important in later lessons on deceleration and bypassing equipment on course.
Equipment: Food rewards and a toy.
Suggested Training Area Size: 12’ x 12’ (4m x 4m)
Step 1: Working on the right side of your body first, cue your dog to sit at your side, (if need be, cue the dog to sit and you the handler moves into the correct position beside the dog), reward with food at your “pant seam.” As you deliver your reward touch your hip to bring the focus for your dog to this area.
Note: Small dogs tap your hip then your knee then feed. Be mindful of your dogs front feet. You have cued “sit” so they should remain in a sit without coming “up” to receive the treat.
Step 2: Build up your training to the dog sitting at your side, step away and lead out one or two steps, release your dog and reward when dog drives to RZ at your side. At first you will bring the reward into position after the dog moves towards RZ. Work up to delaying the food reward to see if the dog finds RZ or chooses to swing out in front of you. Take your time building value this is an important foundation game.
In all our dog training you are either “Building Value/Confidence” Or “Testing. If you are testing value it is a test if they get it correct = reward. If not... no reward.
Note: We want you to reward your dog vs luring him into position. We want to build value for the position if the cookie comes first this blocks the transfer of value for your hip area. Work both sides after your dog has understanding on the right.
Test your dog’s understanding by delaying rewards and trying these quick evaluations.
1. Standing still...anytime around the house.
2. On walks with a leash.
3. Your dog moving into position from a stationary position.
In Step 1 when you step away your dog follows you. This means his understanding of “sit” until he is released is weak. Revisit Crate Games.
If when your dog drives into RZ he swings his back legs out, but keeps his head in RZ utilize your placement of reinforcement to help direct his back end into position. This may take a few repetitions but using a mirror will help you see how to steer your dogs back end back into position.