The dog is now used to doing Touch with the distraction of another dog in an adjacent lane - it is now time to introduce it to doing Touch while there is another dog in the SAME LANE. The object of this stage of the training is to get the dog used to the proximity of another dog in the training area and to not be distracted by the presence of the dog coming towards it as it is either sent away to the target box, or it is returning to the handler. This process is called a changeover and is used so that two or more dogs can run as a team and do a relay competition.
This particular exercise is very difficult for dogs to do comfortably when they begin to be trained in changeovers. There are very good reasons for this - not only are the dogs invading each other's personal space as they pass one another, it is the height of "bad manners" in dog body language for dogs to approach each other at speed and in a straight line. If you watch dogs meeting one another off lead in an open space you will notice that they approach one another in a wide curve, calmly and slowly, sometimes turning their eyes, head, and/or bodies away to signal their lack of threat to the other dog - these and certain other body movements are sometimes called Calming signals. Therefore, asking a dog to approach another head on could be distressing for either dog and build resentment and unease between them. This explains another potentially distressing situation for some dogs - being on a lead when passing another dog on narrow paths and in confined spaces, such as indoor venues. The dog's movement is restricted by the lead and also by the direction and speed that the handler is taking; it is unable to curve or slow its pace down, and neither is the other dog. Both dogs become anxious and trapped (neither can escape the confrontation, or freeze because their handlers keep walking straight on) so that the only option left to them is aggression.
Therefore, the Gold stage of any Game needs to be done with great care and forward planning. It is vital that compatible dogs are chosen to pass one another and not to choose dogs that have already shown they do not like being too close to one another. For instance, some un-neutered male dogs do not like to pass one another; the same can be true of entire bitches; some dogs prefer to do changeovers with dogs of the opposite sex; while other dogs (particularly those who have not been well socialised with other dogs) build up bad associations with certain other dogs and have not had the opportunity to resolve their fears. If a dog is continually asked (particularly in the early stages of training) to cope with passing a dog that it feels threatened or uncomfortable with it will not only start to have bad associations with the Game, one or other of the dogs will eventually decide to resolve the problem by either refusing to run until the other dog has passed it, or (more worryingly) show aggression so that the other dog veers away and gives it a wide berth. This is why it was recommended earlier on in Recall Starters and Round Starters that the dogs exercise off lead together so that they can become well acquainted with one another before attempting to train changeovers.
Another consideration to make when teaching dogs to do changeovers is that some dogs prefer to run first and are quite happy doing a changeover with a dog that is running second, yet cannot cope with waiting for another dog to return before it is allowed to run. Conversely, other dogs run better and are more focused on the task in hand when they see a dog doing the Game before they run, helping the dog to concentrate on the target box at the 51ft marker.
Please do not be tempted to rush through this vital stage of training, particularly if this is the first Gold level the dog has attempted in Dog-Games. Do not ask your dog to run too closely to the other dog for some time, watch their body language and gradually lessen the distance between them when they are comfortable with the situation. The careful management of the dog's training will eventually result in the dog happily doing changeovers with a variety of different dogs. Both its handler and trainer will be able to team it with other suitable dogs to form successful pairs and teams and perhaps progress to the dog sport of Flyball (where close changeovers on the start/finish line are very important).TRAINING
See Guidelines for a full explanation of how to set up for success. Ideally the dog should be trained in exactly the same location that it was first taught Recall.Training and test for 1st certificate
Try to use the first location where the dog learned Touch so that it feels relaxed and remembers what it was taught despite the added distraction of another dog in the lane with it.
Set up a very wide lane so that there is plenty of room for the dogs to run past each other without getting too close. Do not put the target box or poles into the training area to start with so that they do not to distract the dogs.Training and test for 2nd certificate
The purpose of this and the 3rd certificate is so that the dog learns to cope doing changeovers with different dogs.Training and test for 3rd certificate
Set up the wide lane once again and take in to consideration the difficulties the dog had doing the 1st and 2nd certificates.
Having gained all 3 certificates the dog has now earned its Gold Touch rosette.
The dog can now progress on to Platinum Touch.
As soon as the Entry Form and fees are received the Dog-Games staff will enter your dog's details on the website Roll of Honour, so that you have a record of its achievements as it progresses through the Dog-Games and your certificate (and your rosette when you gain the third certificate) will be posted to you.
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