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June 26 A chain gain is a way to place dogs in close proximity to each other and become accustomed to watching other dogs work. The idea of taking turns and realizing not every retrieve is theirs are great expectations to develop.
Daisy and Kooly were brought out first and hooked up. They are experienced with the "game". However, Pounce is twelve months old and seeing new things often is part of training a pup. The dogs were tethered to short chains which are in turn attached to a long chain held by two metal stakes driven into the ground (at each end). The adjacent dogs can physically touch if both are willing. After conditioning, all three quickly settled into their own space. Within a few minutes, Pounce was "cool with it".
The next step was to take Daisy off the gang and do a basic OB heeling drill moving very close to, past and around Pounce....often. Then it was Pounce's turn for OB movements (on lead). These included heeling on both sides, sitting, backward straight line heeling plus pivoting (both sides), figure eights around Daisy and Kooly plus "down" (on command). It wasn't long before her body language read, "OK, I get this!"
What was interesting about this session is that Pounce dealt with a totally new
and exciting situation using previously, in drive conditioned skills. Being able to function in drive is what Hillmann's program is all about.
Many years ago, at a training seminar conducted by pro trainer Julie Knutson, she stated "You need to walk to the line with confidence that your dog will do the right thing because a dog will feed off your behavior". Recently, I've notice a personal and subtle calmness while training Pounce with Hillmann's program. I have a new and different attitude which revolves around feeling confident that both of us will do the right things "in the moment". We are in tune and it works both ways.
Pounce's first day in a "chain gang"