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10 Ideas for an Effective Warm Up
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How do you warm your dog up before going into the ring?

I believe that 30% of our success at a show is dependent on an ability to coach our dogs on the day of the event. If you agree with me, then you need a plan!

If it will help, print this message — fold it up — put it in your training bag— 
bring it with you to the next show!

The following 10 ideas come straight from my training bag. Experiment with them until you discover the ones that bring out the best in your dog. Your goal is to elicit the attitude of a bright, alert dog that is paying attention to you.

10 Ideas for an Effective Warm-up 
  • Before you start, walk around the ring. Give your dog a chance to look around.
  • Your first goal is to engage with your dog. Perhaps you should start with a fun game your dog enjoys, or a quick retrieve.
  • If your dog seems really excited, give yourself plenty of time for your warm-up. If your dog seems dull or disinterested, consider handing him off to a friend while you disappear for a few seconds!
  • Heel in a straight line for 25 to 30 feet and halt. Establish a rhythm; require attention and a prompt sit just like you would in training.
  • Add a change of pace to your straight line heeling to emphasize attention and rhythm. Expect your dog to slow down and speed up when you do. Avoid the temptation to do an about turn.
  • Try a few fronts. Let your dog move toward you as you back up. Your goal is to have fun and maintain your dog’s attention.
  • Try a few finishes. Require your dog’s attention and accuracy just like you would in training.
  • Practice the “find heel” game (Tricks that Transition to Obedience Exercises) and use a conditioned reinforcer to reward him for effort and accuracy .
  • Heel at a slow pace as it gets closer to your turn in the ring. Heel slowly in Figure-8 sized circles. Remember, keeping your dog engaged and attentive is your ultimate goal.
  • If you find you have extra time, put your dog in a down and stand at a leash-length. Using the principles of “ready, set, go,” have him jump up from the down and “find heel.”
Try these ideas. You may discover that focusing on your warm up and the choreography of your performance will not only provide you with a bright, alert dog, but may also give you confidence and help to control the ring nerves you are feeling.

The subject of “ring nerves” is an important subject for another message — stay tuned!

Meanwhile, explore these ideas for warming up so you can develop a strategy that will bring out the best in your dog on the day of the show.

As always, let me know if you have any questions.