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I just completed my 2nd novice rally AKC trail. We got a Q score but did not place. My dog heels beautifully when I have treats. In a trial where treats are not allowed is another story. A lot of sniffing and slow responses to commands. My question is how do you fade out the food treats? She is highly treat driven. I would so appreciate specific training ideas that do not rely so much on treats / luring. I'm at a loss of what to do next. Thanks.
 

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With my guy, I've focused on chaining so that he understands he will earn a fantastic reward when finished rather than actually fade food rewards all together. Are you familiar with chaining?
 

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Chaining is when you piece together multiple behaviors and reward at the end of successful sequences.

All pieces should be well trained (on cue, fluent) before attempting to put in a chain. For your heelwork that includes all turns, pivots, the attention, finding and maintaining position, etc. For rally you would want to also have the sign behaviors along with your heelwork components.

There's 2 types of chaining. Chaining and Back Chaining.

Chaining is when you start with the first behavior and add on the following until you reach a full sequence. So: Behavior 1 = reward. If successful then Behavior 1 + 2= reward. Behavior 1+2+3= reward. So on and so forth.

When backchaining you start with the final behavior and chain behaviors in front. So if working on a sequence 10 behaviors long... Behavior 10 = Reward. Then behaviors 9+10= reward. Behaviors 8+9+10=reward. So on until the whole sequence has been built.

One of the biggest mistakes people make (I'm guilty of this too) is to keep going if the dog makes a mistake in a chain. When chaining you're entering the world of tertiary reinforcement...
https://paws4udogs.wordpress.com/20...hat-the-heck-is-a-tertiary-reinforcer-anyway/
each behavior reinforces the dog for the prior response as he works his way toward the final reward (people I train with use the dogs highest value reward). Ideally one would stop the chain when a mistake is made and try again. Doesn't have to be a big deal or even a typical correction people give. I've been taught to just step out of heel when mistakes are made during heelwork. When the dog reengages (gives attention and finds heel) then we begin again. If a mistake is made more than once or twice in a row that part of the chain should be pulled out and looked at individually. Once trained for then it can be put back in.

When actually competing I know you'll likely just move forward through the course. I do it too. I use video to analyze and then pull out our problem spots and focus on training specifically those spots before putting them back in the mix.

I haven't watched this webinar by Julie Flanery but I bet it is wonderful. She's a fantastic trainer and competitor. Big in the freestlye world but has trained in other sports as well with her dogs.
Back Chaining in Dog Training - Online Webinar

This link is to the first in a series of blog posts on chaining by Denise Fenzi. Another really awesome trainer and competitor. To read the following posts in the series look at the links and arrows right above the blue title. Arrow/link on the right just above the title should take you to the next post.
Behavior chains – Part 1: The Basics | Denise Fenzi
 
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