The Present is the “Sit” position (close and straight in front of the handler) at the end of any obedience recall. The dog “presents” himself to his owner/handler when called.
In Competitive Obedience the Novice Recall is found in every class as an independent exercise i.e. in Special Beginners, Beginners and Novice and is incorporated in the Retrieve and Scent Discrimination from Beginners through to Class C. Thus, it must be obvious that a fast, correct recall is essential for success in Competition Obedience. If not, any recall faults such as a skew sit, will be reproduced in all of these exercises. That’s why the Present (when the dog gets to you) needs special attention.
Before teaching the formal exercise, you need to teach the dog that coming to you is fun and you can now also lay the groundwork for correct Presents i.e. “the dog is to sit closely and straight in front of the handler.”
The Present Call
Verbal commands are brief spoken commands, consisting of one word. They may be given in any language. However, the same command is to be used for the same task at all times. For the recall it is permissible to use the dog’s name instead of “Come” or “Here” etc. but the name of the dog in conjunction with any verbal command is considered a double command.
I prefer to use “Here” which I elongate and put stress onto the end of the word e.g. “He-e-ye.”
The Present should only be introduced once the puppy is happily sitting on command. With young puppies the handler sits on the ground with legs spread out to form a “V”, which will help guide the puppy into the correct position. Your legs will ensure that the puppy sits straight. With larger dogs, you need to get down on your knees with your bottom resting on your heels. With very large puppies you can make use of a bar-stool or lean back against a wall with your legs slightly out in front.
Let the puppy walk around on a loose lead, and attract his attention with a treat held in your hand. By stretching your arms out towards him you encourage him to come and take the food. As he attempts to do this, bring the treat into your groin – to get him in close to your body – and then move the treat up to your chest to get him to sit. Say, “Sit” and treat him only once he sits in the Present.
By raising your hands while giving the Sit command is the same as when the Sit command was taught, and should result in a quick Sit and your legs will ensure that the puppy sits straight. Do not give another command; just wait until the puppy sits before praising and rewarding. Next you can callthe puppy into the Present without having to do a Recalls first.
To develop fast returns into the Present position you need a helper to assist. Let the helper hold the dog by the collar while you are standing in front of the dog. Show him a tasty treat and then back away about 10 yards and get into one of the positions described above, depending on the size of your dog. Call the dog to you, “Come” and let the helper hold him back for a second or two longer before releasing him. Reward him for coming fast and give extra treats for sitting close and straight in the Present.
The Chair or Stool
Sit in a chair and position your legs slightly out in front so that your feet will guide the dog into the Present when he is called. Repeat this exercise from different starting points to the sides so that the dog learns to always come to sit closely and between your legs. In this way, the dog can be called from any angle within 180 degree radius into a straight Present.
With larger dogs, a bar-stool may be more suitable. Later when the formal Recall is being taught and the dog can sit and wait, you can leave the dog and then sit in a chair or on a stool before calling him. In this way you will always have a straight Present. From experience I find that the closer to you the dog sits the straighter he sits.
By leaning against a wall or solid fence you can again position your legs slightly out in front as you call the dog to the Present. The added advantage of this method is that you do not need special equipment to practice this exercise.
The Present ‘Bunny hop’
Place the dog in the Sit and position yourself in the Present with your hands in the present position. Take a small step back with one leg at the same time calling the dog and close up with the other leg as you give the Sit command. Praise the dog each time for presenting before repeating.
By adjusting the step backwards, the dog will not have the room to stand up and walk into the Present and instead will learn to ‘bunny hop’ from one Sit to another. In this way the dog will learn to tuck his bottom into the Present and not rock backwards. This will ensure that the dog starts to sit while moving forward, which is essential for straight sits. Teaching the ‘bunny hop’ will ensure correct sits.
Once the dog has been taught the straight Present, you can start teaching angled Presents which will be needed for the Retrieve and Scent exercises because the dumbbell my roll over to the left or right and the dog may return to the handler at an angle.
Place the dog in a Sit position and place yourself a short distance away at an angle before recalling the dog.
I found leaning against a wall is a good way to start angled recalls.
With acknowledgement to: Brian McGovern: Competitive Obedience for winners
Ringpress Books Ltd – 1995