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Video Review
by Cathy M. Reinhardt, Front and Finish 1997

Many of you know that Gerianne Darnell and Barbara Cecil have a book titled Competitive Obedience For The Small Dog. What you might not know is that now they also have a series of training videos available. The tapes are titled Small Dog Fun, and the tapes live up to their title. All of these dogs are havine a great time!

The tapes are broken down into Novice, Open and Utility. The Novice tape has an introduction where Barbara and Gerianne discuss their training theories, why they chose small dogs and what they look for when choosing a puppy. I thought this added a nice personal touch to the video.

All three tapes use footagce taken from Gerianne and Barbara's obedience camp, home videos, and footage shot just for the tape. You get to see actual students trying these training techniques on their own dogs. This helps give the videos a more "real world" feel to see dogs who are just --'earning like you are. If you are a visual learner like I am, you will really love the use of slow-motion footage in these videos. It helps you get a close look at how both handler and dog are moving.

These tapes are packed full with information. I personally needed more than one viewing to get it all down (though having a small child in my house may have played into that factor). It is not difficult to go back to an area that you need to review since the tapes are broken down into segments such as "Heeling" and "Recalls". A bonus of these videos is that you get training ideas from two trainers who don't always do things the same way. Certain exercises, such as the finish, are shown two different ways. Gerianne and Barbara each prefer to do them differently. However, they both stress throughout the videos that you must keep it fun. Indeed, these dogs are having a great time

I've enjoyed watching these videos (and even caught my husband watching) and believe these videos will be a valuable asset to the small dog trainer. We as Papillon owners are fortunate to have access to training techniques that were developed just for our fun-loving Papillons. In keeping with the fun, make sure you don't miss the 'bloopers' at the end of the Utility tape. Happy training!

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Video Review - "Small Dog Fun - Utility"
by Phyllis Fleming

This month's column open with a continuing review of the sensational set of training tapes authored by Barbara Cecil and Gerianne Darnell, Small Dog Fun.

The Utility tape starts with a discussion of the equipment you will need to successfully train and show your dog through Utility to that very desirous title "Utility Dog". Items shown and listed are, of course, the individual jumps, gloves and articles as well as several other necessary items. Gerianne recommends single bar articles since these are similar to what the dog has already been retrieving with the disclaimer that double or triple bar articles may be easier for the bracepalic dogs, such as a Pug or Boston Terrier, as the bar is farther in the air and more visible. She also recommends that when you order your custom sized articles that you also include three extra of both the leather and metal articles for back-to-back shows and training.

Gerianne and Barbara go about the business of training articles a little differently and Barbara's indefatigable humor surfaces when she discusses the subject of beginning to train Scent Discrimination. Barbara states that you should first buy a good bottle of alcohol (I think she mainly uses gin) and a good hunk of cheese. The first day you drink the gin and eat the cheese and say, "I'll think about articles tomorrow"! She's kidding of course, but she really does use a little gin and cheese in getting the dog started in using its nose to learn how to discriminate scent. I won't tell you here exactly what she does but it is interesting and makes a lot of sense (or is that scents) when you think about it.

The methods they demonstrate for each of the various exercises for training and fine-tuning are all very sane, sensible ways to impart your wishes to the dog. Nothing is forced or heavily corrected. Actually having watched Gerianne train many times I know that her correction are very mild and mostly verbal. The dogs are trained in way that they are set up to learn the exercise without the opportunity to make a mistake. This saves a lot of frustration on the part of the handler and confusion on the part of the dog. As Barbara states, "Being right is good".

Attention is given to some common handling errors, on of which is "turning in place" which is required for the glove exercise as well as directed jumping where you turn to face your dog as it comes over the jump. Very explicit footwork is shown and described for these turns and ways to avoid some common handling errors shown by Barbara.

Both ladies believe strongly in teaching young puppies the "go-out" portion of Directed Jumping. This is illustrated with a small shelf nailed at eye level to a stanchion and the puppy is allowed to eat small bits of food from the shelf and within a short time is sent to retrieve and eat the food from the shelf. This does work! Just this past weekend I was working with my puppy teaching him to get food from a clip positioned on a stanchion. Within a very few minutes he was anxious to "go-out" to the food and was doing it from a distance of about twelve feet.

Also shown on the tape is a method that Gerianne uses later in training on this exercise where the food is traded for a dowel. I won't go into all of the details here but I believe the methods are laid out enough, well enough that anyone stuck off in the farthest regions of Montana with nary a training center in sight could learn to train their dog to the level of expertise required to earn not only a UD but also a UDX. I won't stick my neck out and say the the tape will make it easy for you to earn an OTCH because this is something that requires a dedication to the task at hand, religious training schedules, and adept trainer and, most importantly, a very willing, healthy, happy and athletic dog.

By the way, one point that I missed reporting on the Open Tape is an excellent discussion of structure and movement and their importance to the obedience dog by Gerianne's handsome husband, George Darnell, DVM.

As with other tapes, almost everything in the Utility tape could be used with equal success by trainers of larger dogs with only minor adaptations. Even if you are training with a local club or trainer, I would recommend any or all of these tapes for your training library. As every successful trainer knows, there is no one right way to train a dog for any individual exercise or portion thereof. A good trainer has a very large "bag of tricks" and uses what is needed to communicate with their dog. This particular "bag" is full of good, sound, sensible methods and advice. Have fun.

Until next month, it's time for the paws that refreshes so...see you at the mailbox...

Phyllis Fleming

Video Review - "Small Dog Training Series"
by Lois Morkassel

Visualize two happy women sharing their knowledge and joy in training toy dogs from obedience competition. Got the picture in your head? Now you can watch Barbara Cecil and Gerianne Darnell in Canine Training Systems' professional production: Small Dog Training Series (Tape 1--Puppy and Novice, Tape 2--Open and Tape 3--Utility).

The taping was done at the 1996 Small Dog Obedience Camp at Gerianne's home outside Council Bluffs, Iowa. Campers and their dogs helped illustrate points as well as Barbara and Gerianne's enthusiastic Papillons. There are also some segments of home videos, which illustrate exercises at actual shows that are interwoven into the professional taping.

The Small Dog Training Series very nicely captures the obedience portion of Small Dog Camp. It is a wonderful illustration of the Competitive Obedience Training for the Small Dog book by Barbara Cecil and Gerianne Darnell. Barbara and Gerianne have complementary styles of presenting information. Both are clear and able to communicate well and with humor while imparting massive amounts of information. The presentations are smooth and fast paced, moving in logical progressions. The reasoning behind many of their choices of training exercises in certain ways is shared with the camper and viewer.

The overall look of the tapes is clean and clear. The producers obviously know dog training, if they aren't dog trainers themselves. Each tape is presented similarly. The equipment is discussed and shown. Each exercise of each class level (Novice, Open, and Utility) is discussed on the appropriate tape, but when a category such as stay is introduced, its importance for all level is pointed out and stressed as foundation work for upper levels. A handler can see more clearly why patience and thorough training of each behavior is important before showing, not just to qualify, but to lay the groundwork for exhibiting in upper classes.

Although each tape moves rapidly through the informational presented, slow motion and stop-action highlights actions that are difficult to see at "normal" speed. The angles are unusually exceptional in that the viewer can see what is being discussed. The only time this definition is poor is when Gerianne is demonstrating the hand position for a forced retrieve on her "Rudy". He has too much hair to allow the camper and viewer to see what she is doing. A short-coated breed would have been better choice here for purposes of illustration, and is not a production fault.

The Small Dog Training Series does show the different methods that Barbara and Gerianne use to achieve the same ends. Their first parting of the way is evident in their feeling about the "finish". Barbara prefers the finish to the right or "heel around" and Gerianne prefers to the left finish or "swing" finish. Each has logic behind their preference and each illustrates teaching their finish clearly. Other areas they offer alternative methods on are teaching the retrieve, scent articles (you'll have to buy the Utility tape to learn about Barbara's Hard Cheese/Hard Liquor method of scent training) and Go-outs.

Throughout this series, Barbara and Gerianne emphasize working on the dog's attitude and enthusiasm, which should never be sacrificed for accuracy. The trainer needs to keep learning clear, upbeat, unemotional, as stress free as possible for the dog. The training stage needs to be under careful supervision and done with realistic proofs. The polishing and proofing stage, when getting ready to show, needs to be carefully thought through. The distractions become more difficult to try to cover possible ring situations. In all these states, progress is made in small increments allowing the dog to build confidence through success.

The video series can and does stand by itself. The book makes it less laborious to go through for references and following step by step sequences to teach categories of behaviors that can be refined into the exercises that are unrelated through Novice, Open, and Utility.

The first tape, Puppy and Novice, discusses advantages of showing and training small dogs. Barbara and Gerianne find the stand exercise more difficult for small dogs that large dogs don't have to face. They advocate teaching dogs at home in a safe, comfortable, distraction free area. Classes can be used for proofing.

Barbara and Gerianne believe that you should train the specific dog you have. The owner must be happy with whatever the dog can give. The trainer is responsible for the dog's attitude.

Puppies need time to be puppies, but can learn foundation information for future obedience careers in minute amounts that are generalizing games.

Novice work starts with the key handler responsibility: learning how to walk for heeling-- without the dog! The footwork includes how to place the feet when walking, posture, speed, stride, and pace. Add the turns, starts, stops, and the figure 8. When the handler's feet are under control, the dog can be added.

Barbara and Gerianne cover pre-heeling concepts and focal points. They both use a dowel to help the dog understand what is wanted of its body. They walk about and illustrate its use as well.

The sit, down, and stand are taught using a combination of methods: treats, minimal hands on and placing the dog in position. The dog is taught on a table or while the handler kneels or sits on the floor. The dog is taught the signals for each position. The stays are added in. The physical ability of the dog to do these positions is constantly analyzed and checked. The key to training is to build on successes. Learning is accomplished in small increments.

The recall, front and finish are covered from puppy work through polished ring presentation. Barbara and Gerianne see the recall as the "Public Relations" exercise which shows how your dog feels about working with you.

The second tape: Open, builds on the information presented in the Novice tape. The first exercise covered is the drop on recall. The groundwork for the exercise is discussed and illustrated. There is emphasis placed on the dog learning to stop before dropping which can save costly points in the ring. A sequence to work through a drop on recall is described.

The methods of training the retrieve are listed and described. The method the handler chooses needs to be followed through. Then if the handler is not satisfied, another method can be tried and worked through. The inductive, motivational with food and force methods are discussed and demonstrated.

When jumping enters the picture, the handler should have the dog vet checked to make sure there are no physical problems that could cause injury and pain. The most common small dog problem is in the patellas, but hip dysplasia can also occur. The most important physical area that the handler can control to help the dog is to keep the dog's weight down. A fitness program is also important to build necessary muscles.

The high jump is taught low (2" board first) and the dog is worked to competition height. The retrieve is incorporated into the jump, starting at the 2" board and again working to full height.

The broad jump is taught with a very elaborate equipment set up. Their dogs jump the broad jump well and cleanly. (I personally would be intimidated by the sheer quantity of stuff they use.)

The third tape: Utility, is all built on the work done in Novice and Open. Heeling is presumed by this time, as well as jumping and retrieving skills.

There are pre-requisites for the signal exercise that the dog needs to know before the whole exercise can be put together for the ring. Barbara and Gerianne teach the signal exercise close in and in a way that is fair to the dog. They insist "pattern" training is not a dirty word. They see no reason to make things more difficult for the dog than absolutely necessary.

Two methods of teaching scent are discussed with some illustration. The methods described are closely related. Both advocate very thorough cleaning of the articles after use and avoid teaching "hot scent/cold scent".

The directed retrieve is usually a blind retrieve for small dogs. Groundwork can be laid by introducing "the mark" as a food retrieve game. Great emphasis is placed on the importance of separate and different footwork and cue words for each pivot.

Directed jumping is again broken into component parts. Go-outs are taught early in the dog's career. If the new trainer is starting a first dog in their method, this information should be included on the Novice tape. Barbara and Gerianne teach go-outs to a ring stanchion. A food method is given first with a second method of dowel retrieve used for competition dogs.

Over all, these tapes are very thorough and fast moving. The pause and rewind on the VCR are most helpful for playing back areas the viewer wants to review. I even saw things in reverse that helped me understand some footwork better. The book and tapes compliment each other well.

The Small Dog Training Series is a visual treat. Barbara and Gerianne have a fluid grace of movement when they work with their dogs. They do a wonderful job of analyzing and breaking their movements down so others can learn how to "dance" with their dogs. The dogs illustrating the exercises and positions have their own grace and humor.

Lois Morkassel

Video Review - "Competing with a Small Dog: Video Tape #1"
by Linda Smoot (Donato)

I was asked to review the videotape made by Barbara Cecil and Gerianne Darnell entitled Competing with a Small Dog. There are 3 parts to this video series, I reviewed Tape 1-Puppy and Novice. If you obedience train with food as a reward, then this video is for you. I train my dogs in obedience with only verbal praises as a reward, however there were some things I did find helpful. The tape starts out with about 10 minutes of Barbara Cecil and Gerianne Darnell talking about how they go about training and past experiences, the differences for training with small dogs versus a big dog, importance of small dog safety at shows and various other things.

Equipment is gone over next, and the suggestion for using a bop bag and hula-hoops for future 8 training I think is a great idea. Also suggests using a dowel for close heeling. Next the differences between praise, conditioned reinforcers and a release are taught along with using eye contact. These are all taught using a lot of food treats along with verbal praise. I myself would just drop using the treats and give more verbal praise.

Next teaching the sit, stand, and down are gone over along with training your dog in tiers by beginning in a familiar area with distractions then moving to an unfamiliar with distractions.

I would not suggest this tape for a person who is just starting out in training and who hasn't attended an obedience training class. It could be used in conjunction with a class or attending a seminar, which it appears from the filming of the tape is what they were doing, holding a seminar on how to train a small dog.

Linda Smoot (Donato)

Video Review - "Competing with a Small Dog: Video Tape #2"
by Grace and Lee Lebbin (Gianel)

HE SAYS: Barbara Cecil and Gerianne Darnells COMPETING WITH A SMALL DOG (Open Level) video starts out with lively music and four different breeds of toy dogs executing six open exercises ten times, all within one and a half minutes.

SHE SAYS: With a lively introduction like this video has everyone should be eager to watch the rest of the tape which talks about equipment needed (with suggestions on the size) and four open level exercises with several methods of training. The free heeling with the figure eight and the out-of-sight group exercises are not mentioned in this tape.

HE SAYS: Equipment covers the size of the jumps, fitting the dumbbell, and a few extra household items to aid in the training. All that in a minute and a half. This is clearly narrated by Russell Ruffin who is also the cameraman and editor. Next both Barbara and Gerianne spend more that 16 minutes discussing the drop on recall. A dowel is added to the collection of aids. All of this is illustrated with 7 different toy dogs and other short breeds.

SHE SAYS: After explaining how to know if your dog is ready for the formal drop, it is divided into several steps. It is suggested the handle have two downs: one "lie down" for the long down and one "down" for the drop. Barbara demonstrates and explains the different steps on the leash then off with one of her Papillons. Gerianne discusses anticipation.

HE SAYS: The next exercise is the retrieve on flat which is over 20 minutes long and uses 8 different dogs. Another handler with Russell narrating and Gerianne with her Papillon take turns explaining each step. Added is a hula-hoop.

SHE SAYS: Gerianne discusses the inductive retrieve (shaping), the motivation retrieve, and a collar twist forced retrieve. When Gerianne's dog is picking up a thrown dumbbell she has the dog on a flexi lead. A hula-hoop is used to help the handler practice throwing the dumbbell in the same place.

HE SAYS: The retrieve over the high jump is a shy over 7 minutes with one dog doing all the work. a veterinarian discusses jumping and the small dog (knee problems, weight, etc.).

SHE SAYS: The exercise is shown in progressive increments of jumping to jumping with the dumbbell, dealing with problems that may arise in the dog's performance. The suggestion is to start the jumping with a 2" board for the toy breed. The problem of going around the jump is covered.

HE SAYS: The fourth exercise covered is the broad jump. This is 9 minutes long using 4 different dogs. Besides the regulation broad jump boards and bar from the bar jump, soup cans, chicken wire, a ring gate with standards, foil tape, and boards are demonstrated as helpful aids.

SHE SAYS: The recommendation is to get down on the floor and see the jumps the way the dog does. In explaining how to teach the small dog this exercise a lot of "stuff" is used to keep from manipulating the dog physically. This time Barbara breaks it into a number of increments of jumping from over one board to the full length. The problem of clicking the jump, cutting the corner, and jumping between the boards is covered.

HE SAYS: A variety of narrators and 10 different breeds (sorry no IG) keeps the viewer's attention for a full hour. The video has excellent production values of quality, color, music, vocal variety, a great training facility, and neat dogs working and having fun. With a license plate in the closing scene saying "OTCHTDX", one can't go wrong following that car.

Grace and Lee Lebbin (Gianel)

Video Review - "Competing with a Small Dog: Video Tape #3"
by Karen Langenbrunner (Praise Acres)

It was my privilege to preview the Utility tape. Overall, the tape is well thought out, great photography, and excellent narration. Several different toy and small dogs are used, with the main breed being the Papillon of course. Again, no IG's. Guess they didn't want a breed to outshine the Paps!

As with any training tape or seminar, one can always learn something. I personally do not agree with everything demonstrated in the tape, but as a whole the methods seem to be productive and efficient.

Since this is the ultimate level of training for a dog, much of the basic training has been discussed in the open and novice tapes. This tape starts with the dog who is reliable to attention, focus, stays, retrieves, and problem solving.

For equipment, they suggest purchasing three additional leather and three additional metal articles when you purchase your set. They prefer the single bar article, since that is what the dog has been familiar with in the use of the dumbbell. For gloves, the suggestion is to use children's gardening gloves, or the toy size glove sold through most obedience vendors. Also needed are dowel rods, and a full set of jumps, plus a flexi-lead. And FOOD! They use food as a motivator frequently.

When the signals are discussed, one point that impressed me was reminding everyone to not correct the dog at a distance. Invest teaching time close to you. If the dog makes a mistake at a distance, don't correct, but re-teach. All of their novice dogs know the signals, and they are started by sitting on the floor and using the food. For the problem of creeping forward on the signals, they use innovative method of making a three-sided "box" out of a folding yardstick that the dog understands he is not to cross. This is also used for the front in previous levels. They also use a method called "backchain", where the dog taught and practices the unknown first, and ends with the reinforcement of a familiar and known exercise. They suggest that the most common problem with the signal exercises is a stay problem, not the signal itself.

For the articles, they demonstrate two methods. Gerianne uses a tie-down board or mat with a progression of tied/untied articles, and Barbara incorporated the use of gin or alcohol (really!) to use as a negative scent for the wrong article, and food (cheese) on the correct article, also incorporating the tie-down mat. (She suggests you eat the cheese, drink the gin, and then who cares about dog training!)

The gloves are introduced as a game. Food is used initially and extensively on paper plates or paper towels, getting the dog used to looking for the white "out there". This becomes fetch the food. Good footwork is demonstrated and stressed.

As they demonstrate the moving stand, they suggest that all of the ingredients are already there, you just need to put them together. The use of a dowel rod and leash sling are also used.

The go-outs for the directed jumping are also taught with food and a dowel rod as a back up motivator. Incorporated into teaching the go-out is the search for the glove. A ground pole is used for the bar jump and baby gates are used between the two jumps to block the dog from moving around the jumps when being taught direction.

The dogs and people in this tape are having fun. It was apparently made during one of their training camps. Just as with her seminars, you are made to feel right at home, watching them with their T-shirts, wrinkled shorts and slouchy socks. A group of ladies are in the training area sitting in their lawn chairs and taking notes. You just want to pull your chair up, too. I would recommend this tape highly for anyone's training library.

Karen Langenbrunner (Praise Acres)


Sunshine Obedience School