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Options and Discrimitations – November 9 (or when weather allows)

November 8, 2010

The Option Problem
This week’s practice exercises managing what is known as “The Option Problem” in a Chances style course. It is much like the Discrimination Problem and many people refer to discrimination when it really is an option. However, there is a difference, and it can be significant from a handling point of view. The discrimination problem can be solved by using a verbal cue that tells the dog which of two different types of obstacles to take, whereas the option problem refers to situations where the choice is between two similar obstacles. Therefore, getting something better than a 50/50 guess by the dog as to which obstacle he should take requires something other than just naming the obstacle.

The course below presents three option problems and two discrimination problems inside the gamble line. The option problems are at the tunnel entrances #3, #6, and #9, while #5 and #7 are normal discrimination problems (unless you use the same obstacle name for jumps and hoops, in which case you have five option problems to solve).

In addition to the option/discrimination problems, the course provides an opportunity to hone the dogs pattern recognition skills with the #10/11/12 serpentine. A set of future courses will focus on pattern skills for the dogs.

While performing this course, which truly provides some difficult decision the dog must make, continue the flow of the run even if the dog chooses a different obstacle than you intended. At the end of the run, think through what you would have done differently if you really meant for the dog to take the path it did. This type of post analysis will benefit you as a handler and doesn’t discourage the dog or undermine its confidence.

The course, like all chances courses, is short and allows each handler multiple runs. To avoid the downsides of patterning by the dog, alter the flow of the course for separate runs. For instance, you can switch #3 between the two tunnel openings. Same goes for #9 and for #6. You can also switch #5 with #7. So, it is possible to run this course in flow in 16 different ways. That said, there also are times when you might want to take advantage of patterning, such as when you want to tweak a cue and use the patterning to help the dog understand that the altered cue means the same.

The diagram shows the elite (red) and novice (green) gamble lines. The open line would fall roughly in the middle between the red and green lines. We’re using the chances format here primarily for some specific skills and handling practice, and only secondarily as a practice of the Chances class. For instance, there is no pronounced “handler jail” commonly found on Chances courses. The closest to that is the kink in the novice line at the #7 hoop. Best use of the course is to use the distance you think you can be 80% successful at, and not worry so much about where the gamble lines are.

We encourage the use and redistribution of our course maps for non-commercial purposes. For further information, please refer to our license page.

ECC0808-opt+disc PDF

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