We succeeded on most activities but we certainly didn't shine at the 'stop!' command. The idea is that Penny will run towards me and I will put up my hand (like a British policeman stopping the traffic) and she will slide to an immediate halt. The technique I tried was to hold up my hand, at the same time throwing a treat at her. She would stop to eat the treat and when it was all happening smoothly I could add the verbal cue 'stop'.
I've learned one thing - if the treats are tiny and we're working on grass, she'll spend lots of time nosing around for the food. The other catch was that she soon figured out that I actually DIDN'T want her to come to me, so she sauntered towards me, waiting for the food to land at her feet. Great fun for her, but not what was expected.
It was 'back to the drawing board' after class and we tried it out in our garden with bigger treats. She was starting to look a bit tubby already...
At K9 Kompany we've tried a similar command with mixed success. I call Penny to jump towards me over a series of jumps and when she's over the first one I stop her with the same technique. I've been told to lean forward to add my body language to the hand signal.
I looked for some help in the book written by the Kintala founder, David Weston and I think I'll try his technique. The chapter is headed 'Stop on recall' but it's actually a 'Drop on recall.'
He says the dog must first be thoroughly conditioned to drop from the stand position at a distance. Then he says:
1. Practise the drop from a stand position once or twice, using the voice signal 'drop' only and reinforce successful responses.
2. Leave your dog in a stand wait position, walk away five paces and turn to face your dog.
3. Call your dog to you but, the moment it moves, give it the voice signal to drop. Return to the dog and reinforce the correct response.
4. Repeat points 2 and 3 gradually increasing the distance between you and the dog, and allowing the dog to make more movement towards you before offering the voice signal 'drop'. Continue to return to your dog and reinforce it in the drop position.
He then says you should make a hand signal with the voice signal and has a clear explanation of how this signal should look, together with a photo.
I've only mentioned the basics of what he says, because that's what I'm going to try first. I'd recommend this book to anyone wanting a clear set of reward-based lessons, because the explanations are clear and there are a series of photos on every page.