What is proofing and why do we do it? Proofing is an important piece of your training program and should not be overlooked. I recently released a DVD series on Proofing, and you will also find more than one book available to give you ideas on how and what to proof. It is important that I explain what proofing means to me, as your interpretation of proofing and mine could be entirely different. Proofing is introducing your dogs to distractions in training, and teaching them how to ignore those distractions and remain on task to the given exercise even though there are outside influences. Your dog will become more reliable in the ring as she learns how to work thru numerous new scenarios in her training.
Proofing is not to be extreme. It is not meant to stress or worry your dog and you need to help and encourage your dog to be right. When you watch my video clip below on dumbbell proofing, you will see that I am helping Raisin to figure out what I want. I am helping her to problem solve. I am creating a thinking dog and not one that will get easily bored if all I ever do with the dumbbell is to stand there and throw it. Even a Retriever breed will quickly bore of repetition with no variation day in and day out.
Proofing helps my dog to think outside of the box. It helps to keep people from pattern training and being uncreative.When proofing, your dog learns more than he needs to. And it is important to teach your dog more than just the basics. When you go into the ring and it’s just you and your dog, it should look easy! This can only happen if you challenge your dog in training. Proofing enhances the language I have with my dog, The proofing I do keeps my training fun, enthusiastic and unpredictable. It clarifies what I want, while strengthening my dog’s confidence and concentration. It increases my dog’s understanding of the exercise and because she is having fun, she is more apt to stay focused.
Echo was one of my best seminar dogs. Here she performs a real crowd pleaser, her hot dog retrieve. I used to demonstrate her holding the hot dog, and then show everyone, “look no puncture marks!”
Then one day someone in the audience said, that’s nice, but can she retrieve it??? So we gave it a try, and that became Echo’s new trick!
I don’t let my proofing get out of hand to the point where it would stress my dog. Once you do that, you are inhibiting his learning, not enhancing it. You need to be able to read your dog, is he having fun? When you watch Raisin on the video clip, you will see she is having a grand time. Proofing is supposed to be fun, but you need to know your own dog’s limits. I hear stories of people over-proofing, such as someone sitting inside the article pile and offering cookies to the working dog. This most definitely is out of my comfort zone! I will submit in future articles, more video clips on proofing, and how I incorporate it into my training.