Distance Control

By admin Posted in Advanced /

In this exercise the handler is placed at least ten paces in front of and facing his dog. The dog can be in the sit, down or stand position. On the order of the judge/steward, the handler will give the following six instructions to his dog in any sequence the judge may desire:

Stand“, “Sit“, “Down“, “Stand“, “Sit“, “Down“.

The handler may command his dog to follow these instructions either by spoken command or by signal and with or without the use of the dog’s name.  During the execution of this exercise the dog may not move more than his body length in any direction. This can be a very difficult exercise because the dog must remain on the same spot. Care must be taken that the dog does not develop bad habits that remained unchecked. The French place their dogs on a tree stump or small table to overcome this problem. Some trainers place objects in front of the dog or stand it on a landing or terrace edge. Standing in front of the dog when this exercise was first introduced is possibly the main reason for the forward movement of the dog.

The dog should have been trained to immediately obey the “Sit” and “Down” commands and must know the “Stand” command before distance control is attempted. Distance control is taught in different stages that need to be mastered before commencing to the next stage.

The “SIT” to the “STAND”

Start with the dog sitting correctly at heel. Turn left towards the dog and place the right hand, fully opened on the dog’s chest in order to stop any forward movement. If the dog moves forward when the “Staa-a-nd” command is given, correct the movement at once with a “No” and push the dog back to the original position. Place the left arm over the dog and with the left hand underneath the dog; gently lift the hindquarters into a standing position at the same time as the “Staa-a-nd” command is given.

It is very important to treat the dog gently and praise him for standing. I prefer to leave Coyote standing in a show stance for a few second while I stroke his hindquarters to get him to stand firmly while I repeat, “Good Staa-a-nd” etc.

Larger breed dogs find it more difficult to move their back legs backwards in order to raise themselves to a standing position at first. In the beginning it may be necessary to physically lift the hindquarters a number of times before Bozo gets the hang of it. Now, when I feed Coyote I first order him to sit and then, holding his food bowl close to his nose, order him to “Staa-a-nd”. He now has to move his back legs and stand to get his grub. Let the dog remain standing for about 10 seconds before giving the “Sit” command. The right hand must be kept against the dog’s chest to prevent him from moving forward. The left hand presses the hindquarters down while at the same time preventing the dog from swaying away from you. Better still, slide the left hand over the dog’s tail and with a gentle karate chop against he back legs you easily introduce a sitting position. Do NOT allow any forward movement of the front feet. At first you will find that the dog moves slightly backwards as he sits down. This will disappear later in training.

Repeat the above “Stand” exercise up to five times before you order, “Take a break.” Assist the dog each time he commences to rise. Do not be tempted to test the dog to see if he will stand on his own without help. You will soon find out when he begins to rise before you have applied any lift. Do not praise too enthusiastically because he may start moving his feet when he gets excited.

When your dog reacts promptly to the stand and sit commands, move yourself slightly forward to the dog’s neck area, but close enough to correct any forward movement or slow reaction. After five faultless responses, move forward again, but no more than a metre directly in front of the dog, still close enough to correct any forward movement. Increase the distance away from the dog ONLY when he is comfortable, confident and responds quickly and accurately, five times in succession. Do not be in a hurry; it may take weeks or months before you reach this stage.

Alternative method:
Another method of teaching the “Stand” from the “Sit” is to sit down in a chair and let the dog sit between your legs. Now, with the tastiest morsel in your right fist, move your hand past the dog’s head and say “Back’ or “Stand” as you extend your arm towards the dog’s tail. The dog will immediately try to turn round to get at the food, but your legs and knees will prevent him from turning. His only option then is to move backwards before turning, and to do so; he must move his legs back in order to be able to rise. The dog cannot move forward and is forced to use his back legs to get to a standing position.
Praise enthusiastically and repeat as often as needed.

The “Down” to the “Stand”:
After having mastered the “Sit to Stand,” it is easier to teach the dog to “Stand” from the “Down” position. Start by giving the “Down” command and ensure that the dog goes straight down with his legs tucked under his body so that he can rise easily. He must not be allowed to lie in the relaxed position used for the down stay exercise, i.e. rolling over on to his hindquarters. Dogs soon associate this new position with the distance control exercise.

Once again, take up position facing close to the side of the dog. The right hand is on the dog’s chest to prevent any forward movement and with the left hand the dog is again helped to rise. An alternative position for the right hand is under the dog’s chest just behind the front legs. Here again the idea is to prevent any forward movement and to help the dog into a sitting position. Give the command “Coyote…. Staa-a-nd” and apply slight backward and upward pressure when the dog’s name is called so that he can first rise into a sitting position at the call of his name and then on “Stand” be able to rise as before in the previous “Sit to Stand” exercise which he can by now do well. With practise the dog will first get up on the front legs and then move the back legs. Be patient while the dog finds his own comfortable way of doing the exercise. Take care not to allow any sideways movement in distance control. Some trainers have successfully taught their dogs to sit when they hear their names being called. On the command “Bozo” he sits and “Sta-and” requires only the back legs to be moved.


The “Stand” to the “Down”:

To return from the “Stand” to the “Down”, place the right hand on the chest just below the neck, (or above the dog’s shoulders) and the left hand on the hindquarters. Give the command “Coyote Down” and press downwards and slightly backwards with both hands. This will reduce any unnecessary forward movement and encourage the dog to simply “sink” into the original “Down” position. Much patience will be needed to ensure that the dog becomes comfortable with each of the positions.

When you are ready to begin with different combinations of these positions, it is very important to allow the dog enough time to think about the new position. Do not give your commands in rapid succession. At this stage you must be close to the dog and be in a position to help the dog when he makes a mistake. If you are too far away, the dog will be distracted by your movement towards him and will not realise that he has made a mistake. Vary the starting position during training. Start from the “Stand” or “Down” or “Sit” positions alternately.

Since dogs do not understand English it is very important that you use the same tone of voice for each different exercise. For example, a short, high-pitched “Sit”, a long “Staa-a-nd” and a deep “Down.” Give serious attention to start your training with a small breed dog on a tree stump or the large breed dog on a small table to prevent forward movement. The top of a landing or a terrace may also suffice.

Hand signals are very useful and may be preferred when dogs concentrate fully on the handler. Remember that you may use spoken commands (“Sit” or”Juno Sit”) or signals (“Juno” + sit sign). You can’t use both spoken commands and signals in competition.

When you reach the proofing stage when you want the dog to follow your commands no matter what happens around it, practice regularly in different places, in all weathers and on all surfaces while you add distractions. Standing behind the dog when giving commands may be an option. This exercise calls for much patience and an early start. The younger the dog is when you start, the better.

Comments are closed.

Copyright © 2002 - 2014 Jan Meyer (all rights reserved) | Website by : imediate.web.