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where the tails wag
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So how does your dog know he is going straight? Some of the theories I have heard

1) The jumps provide an alleyway
2) The mark object (ie; stanchion)
3) They can key off 2 landmarks similar to what we do when attempting straight
4) It is muscle memory with good attention and lack of deviation from the line
5) The mark, done often and well, provides the line which the dog can lock on
 

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I go with muscle memory, because in field when you send them on a blind with the "back" command they are expected to run a straight line, even though there aren't any landmarks or cues.
 

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Loving Flyball
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I go with muscle memory, because in field when you send them on a blind with the "back" command they are expected to run a straight line, even though there aren't any landmarks or cues.

I agree! If a dog in the field can go straight for a couple hundred yards, why can't an obedience dog go the length of the utility ring? I know it is easier said than done, but that is how I feel. I think we can learn a lot from field training, and apply it to many other areas. I do use markers for training, but not all the time. Sometimes I just go to an open area(such as the street), and train go outs.
 

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Humankind. Be both.
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I think the speed with which most dogs run in the field helps them go straighter than in the obedience ring. Gates naturally put pressure on the dog as well, which decreases speed.
 

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I think there has to be visual clues to help. Have you guys seen the Mythbusters' episode on walking a straight line? I know this is people not dogs but I do wonder if they might have the same problem as us.
 

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While I think visual cues help, I don't think they are necessary. Some of the blinds we run are to the center of a level alfalfa field that has no visual markers on any side. Since there is also no suction (no factors!) I expect him to run a nice straight line for 100 yards or more. But it certainly is easier for them to run a straight line if they are running toward something, I agree.


I think there has to be visual clues to help. Have you guys seen the Mythbusters' episode on walking a straight line? I know this is people not dogs but I do wonder if they might have the same problem as us.
 
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Aren't we supposed to get them to look out and key on something before we send them? So they go in the direction we want? We don't just let them take off where they want.
I don't know the answer to the question but if I had to guess, I would say all of the above. If I had to pick one, I would pick a mark object. That's how I get our poles in a straight line setting up drills.
 
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In the learning stages, yes. But then they are supposed to run in the direction their spine is facing whether or not there is something apparent to key in on. That's the purpose of drills like the wagon wheel, I believe, to get them used to heading in the direction their spine faces.
It seems to me that you run into some problems if they will only run to something that they're keyed into, because sometimes you can't get them to look at what you want them to. For example, if there's a tree that's 30 yards off to the left of a 100 yard away blind, maybe even further out, you may have a very hard time getting them to start out on the correct line unless they are used to heading out toward "nothing".
Just my thoughts, I'm so new at this I wouldn't bet much on my being right!


Aren't we supposed to get them to look out and key on something before we send them? So they go in the direction we want? We don't just let them take off where they want.
I don't know the answer to the question but if I had to guess, I would say all of the above. If I had to pick one, I would pick a mark object. That's how I get our poles in a straight line setting up drills.
 

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Muscle memory would be my guess, but I can't rule out visual cues, I don't think. If I am sending a dog on a blind in a completely featureless environment, when he is lined up before I send him, I put my hand down. That is his cue. What happens from there I am not sure. He could be focusing on something visual or it could be muscle memory only. When we teach blinds, it is certainly visual. That is why you start by identifying the pile in the early stages and then transition to pattern blinds where the dog may be beyond the identification stage, but he has run it a number of times where it was originally identified and knows it is there.

I *think* that as the dog gets more experienced, they know to run straight in this direction until dad blows the whistle, but I can't know that they aren't thinking that they are supposed to go to a spot that they have identified in their own eye.
 

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We'll never know but I have a hard time believing that if you could test it and blindfold the dog, the dog would go straight. Just a hunch. I am sure there is more factoring into it like muscle memory.
 

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By going straight, do you mean not arcing, zigzagging, or veering off, or do you mean going straight ahead of where they are facing, not taking a diagonal line to a point not directly in front of them?

I think different answers depending on your meaning of the question.
 

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Going straight in the direction in which their spine is *facing* and running on that straight line until told to stop.

By going straight, do you mean not arcing, zigzagging, or veering off, or do you mean going straight ahead of where they are facing, not taking a diagonal line to a point not directly in front of them?

I think different answers depending on your meaning of the question.
 
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where the tails wag
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Discussion Starter #13
When I think of straight Go Outs, I think of a dog heading in a straight line (no zig zags, arches etc) in the direction his spine is lined up in - that is, if I lined my dog up incorrectly facing a corner and he heads in a straight line to a corner, he has actually done exactly what I told him :) although it would have been a diagonal line to me.

If I line him up correctly, he still goes in a straight line towards the (stanchion, or it could be a glove, bird etc) so I guess I really mean a taking a straight line - hopefully to a point directly in front of them, but eventually they need to go straight.

This would actually appy to field as well as Go Outs, Directed Retrieves etc.
 

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The way I teach my dogs, it doesn't matter where their spines are lined up to, they are going to a visual mark. Which in obedience can be a lifesaver on gloves especially, and also if the dog isn't in perfect heel position on the start of a go out. While in an ideal world my dog would always be lined up with where he is going to be sent, I sure as heck don't always live in a perfect world so I occasionally practice going where I direct his vision, not where he is facing.

Now I think that keeping on a straight line (not arcing) is a combination of nature and muscle memory. Most of my dogs will naturally run straight towards where ever they are headed. Flip's natural tendency is to take an arc out there (I told you he is part border collie!) I have to work to make him run a straight and not put an arc in his approach. He will start in the correct place, he will end up in the correct place, but if I don't train consistently then the middle part of that go out will be off center. An issue quite often seen in herding breeds.
 

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After starting with a visual cue (just like blinds) they learn to follow the line sent on until directed otherwise, in this case, to sit. They learn to avoid obstacles (jumps), distractions (gloves in corners) etc. I back chain the exercise. I teach the directed jumping part first, then teach the go out part. Like blinds, it gives a purpose to running away from you (taking a jump or finding a bird) and keeps the motivation up. They don't go out to a corner looking for a glove they just retrieved because they know go-outs are about jumping, not retrieving. I simply cue it with my word and send on my field 'back' command.
 

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Where The Bitches Rule
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Kathy G's ppost made me think of an issue I encounter with Oriana when proofing go-outs. We put gloves in one corner and then line the dog up for the go-out. A lot of dogs tend to get sucked into the corner that has the gloves, but not all dogs. Some just focus on the go-out and ignore the gloves.
And then there is Oriana. :eek: She says "Oh no, I know they are setting me up" and she then goes out over the jump on the opposite side of where the gloves are. :doh: She avoids the glove corner at ALL cost. She had never, honestly never, gone out over a jump in training ever before this day. It took me a few times to understand what was happening. Once I did, I decided to put a glove in both corners. She could/would not focus on straight ahead. Her head was on a swivel between bot gloves. When sent she went tentatively out and reasonably straight. We then shortened up the go-outs to take jumps out of the picture and it helped. I tend not to do this type of proofing anymore as I realize she knows not to go for the glove but it is extremely stressful for her. She really is trying. ;)
 

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the party's crashing us
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I tend not to do this type of proofing anymore as I realize she knows not to go for the glove but it is extremely stressful for her. She really is trying. ;)
Hank this is why I do very little proofing in obedience with Fisher. Oriana sounds very similar. He is so honest, if he has a problem he will show it, whether in testing or training. He has no hidden agendas. If I proof on something he has no problem with, he tries so hard to avoid the proof that it messes him up from doing it correctly. I thought well this is silly, I'm stressing him out and making him do it wrong! If he showed me he was distracted by something or something needed fixing then we'd do it and he'd be fine. This is where I learned not to proof until the dog shows you he needs proofing.
 

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Where The Bitches Rule
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Hank this is why I do very little proofing in obedience with Fisher. Oriana sounds very similar. He is so honest, if he has a problem he will show it, whether in testing or training. He has no hidden agendas. If I proof on something he has no problem with, he tries so hard to avoid the proof that it messes him up from doing it correctly. I thought well this is silly, I'm stressing him out and making him do it wrong! If he showed me he was distracted by something or something needed fixing then we'd do it and he'd be fine. This is where I learned not to proof until the dog shows you he needs proofing.

I agree but have to add. After I do this type of proofing, her GO OUTS are rock solid. Fast, straight and no pulling up before the gates or my command to sit. Almost like she is telling me "PLEASE, I'll do it right. Just don't put those gloves out there, PLEASE!!!" LOL
 

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I use that pressure to help in straightening out Flip's go outs. When I see him starting to arc in one direction I'll toss a toy out in that area. He'll work after that to avoid that area that could get him in trouble.
 

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Where The Bitches Rule
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Sharon to get back on track to your original post. I think it is different for different dogs. Some focus on a point, some use the visual of the ring and jumps to cue on, some it is muscle memory and thy will go as their nose, head and spine are lined up. I am now using visible channels in the beginning on the floor to give the dog a definitive path. I also use a box at the stanchion to be clear where to go, turn and sit. Brooke took to this like a duck to water.
 
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