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Old 08-27-2013, 12:23 PM
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Default Reward with activity?

I don't remember where I heard it, but I've heard when trying to work on a behavior where the dog get's overexcited/over-stimulated you shouldn't use toys/action rewards as it can make the dog keep getting overstimulated. Now that makes perfect sense to me, but is that true?

So for example, I'm working on Talon's need to chase (or at least try to) cars and bikes. Last few days we've made great progress using kibble as the reward, but I was stugn by a wasp for having kibble crumbs on my hand, and the bee's keep swarming us and the food bag. I've previously had serious allergic reactions to bee's (I don't know if wasp would be the same as a bee sting as far as allergies?) where I ended up in the ER. So I'm seriously skittish with this whole mess.

So, the kibble works great, we are making great progress but now I'm a bit too afraid to go out again with it. So, what is you opinion on using activity rewards for these kinds of behaviors? Have you had success? Does it make the dog over-stimulated? Does it help or hinder?

Thanks!
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Old 08-27-2013, 12:47 PM
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I've heard of people using tug toys as an anxiety/energy sink while cars pass (I think it was from Susan Garrett, but I can't find it on the 'net). I think it's probably possible, but it's also probably tough to manage arousal levels. I'd be worried about intensifying excitement in the presence of cars to higher levels. Though, if you can keep that excitement handler-focused it should work.

Clearly I've not used it myself, or seen it used personally.
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Old 08-27-2013, 12:53 PM
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Depends on how you use them. In general I use food for thinking and toys for action, but that's a gross generalization.

If you're looking for calm behavior in the face of the chase temptation, yeah food and some sort of Look at That type game is generally the way to go. If you're looking for a controlled redirect of that chase drive, a toy can work well.

As a loose example, with my high drive retriever, not retrieving my chickens is really really hard. But once in a while a chicken will get out ("as God is my witness, I thought [chickens couldn't] fly!"). While she knows what "leave it" means, since that was taught away from such overwhelming fluttering feathered temptations, I got a much snappier response when I started randomly rewarding her appropriate decision with a thrown ball to redirect her sudden overpowering need to retrieve and put thongs in her mouth .

I hope that makes sense...
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Old 08-27-2013, 12:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sekah View Post
I've heard of people using tug toys as an anxiety/energy sink while cars pass (I think it was from Susan Garrett, but I can't find it on the 'net). I think it's probably possible, but it's also probably tough to manage arousal levels. I'd be worried about intensifying excitement in the presence of cars to higher levels. Though, if you can keep that excitement handler-focused it should work.

Clearly I've not used it myself, or seen it used personally.
That's kinda what I'm worried about. I don't want to make it worse and get him more excited. I've used tug as a reward for this before and we didn't see much progress, but on the other side of the coin I've used the same thing I'm using now before without much progress. So.....IDK if I should try it or just suck it up and keep up with the food. Argh, choices. >_<
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Old 08-27-2013, 12:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Shai View Post
Depends on how you use them. In general I use food for thinking and toys for action, but that's a gross generalization.

If you're looking for calm behavior in the face of the chase temptation, yeah food and some sort of Look at That type game is generally the way to go. If you're looking for a controlled redirect of that chase drive, a toy can work well.

As a loose example, with my high drive retriever, not retrieving my chickens is really really hard. But once in a while a chicken will get out ("as God is my witness, I thought [chickens couldn't] fly!"). While she knows what "leave it" means, since that was taught away from such overwhelming fluttering feathered temptations, I got a much snappier response when I started randomly rewarding her appropriate decision with a thrown ball to redirect her sudden overpowering need to retrieve and put thongs in her mouth .

I hope that makes sense...
So I think I partially understand what you mean. So rewarding with an action (tugging, ball, frisbee etc) after the initial look away/leave it response is given to reward the behavior. A treat for a calm response during the introduction of the stimulus.

I guess for what I'm looking for a toy will not work. Mainly because I'm looking for a calm "oh a car went by? I didn't even notice" response rather than a redirect "oh a car, let's play" kind of response.
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Old 08-27-2013, 09:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shai View Post
I got a much snappier response when I started randomly rewarding her appropriate decision with a thrown ball to redirect her sudden overpowering need to retrieve and put thongs in her mouth .

I hope that makes sense...
I lol'd.

But yes, in general if you're trying to get calmer behavior, go for less activity/excitement, ie food. In this case with the cars, I'd say your best bet is braving the bugs and using food.
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Old 08-27-2013, 09:09 PM
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I lol'd.

But yes, in general if you're trying to get calmer behavior, go for less activity/excitement, ie food. In this case with the cars, I'd say your best bet is braving the bugs and using food.
Oops lol. Clumsy thumbs.
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Old 08-27-2013, 10:53 PM
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haha, I didn't even notice it said thongs!


Well, my hand has continued to swell after the sting yesterday. It's swollen up to my wrist pretty bad and up to my elbow slightly. So.....Not sure I want to go through this again.

Someone else suggested trying less bee attracting food. I'm going to try some tortilla pieces or bread. I'm not sure what will attract them and what won't so I'm going to try super bland things first then if that doesn't work for Talon, I'll try something a bit tastier.
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Old 08-28-2013, 07:05 AM
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This might be dumb but... would bug spray help keep the bees away? I know that's not what it's typically used for but it might have some deterrent effect?
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Old 09-02-2013, 11:51 AM
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This might be dumb but... would bug spray help keep the bees away? I know that's not what it's typically used for but it might have some deterrent effect?
I was thinking this too. Obviously you couldn't spray your treat bag or your hands that go in your dog's mouth, but maybe spraying your clothes and arms with a bug repellant (like "Off") would keep them away? Or use a can of cheese-whiz to reinforce - just squirt the stuff straight into her mouth, maybe the bugs would be less likely to notice.

But yeah, as far as your question, I'd recommend food or other calming-type of things as reinforcement. BUT, after a good session of "look at that" or whatever, you can go away from the road so that she doesn't see the cars and things, and then do a high-energy play session. Because even when she's learning to act calm, it will probably be hard for her to actually be calm, so giving her an outlet, away from the stimulation, to reward her efforts, might make her more motivated to try again to stay calm in the future.
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