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Old 10-25-2013, 09:50 AM
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Sekah Sekah is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Toronto
Posts: 1,337

I fell into that trap with Cohen too. It sounds like you just need to work through it, and you probably have to go back a few steps and build that engagement back up. It sounds like he's being overfaced by the environment.

One thing that really helped with Cohen was having her jump up to get her reward. She finds the jumping itself is reinforcing and it adds energy into the game. (Adding energy is always my issue since I do most of my training with food instead of toys with Cohen.) The jump (or sometimes tossed treats) plus going back to square one and asking for good, active focus before I've even taken a step and working in short, short increments helped me get over that hump.

I'm currently in the process of introducing spins while heeling to get her driving back into position. I'm not yet where I want to be, but I think it's helping a bit too.

E: Also tossing treats helped too. I got really good at tossing treats with minimal telegraphing so she had to pay closer attention to me so she could catch them before they hit the ground (whereby they're often eaten by Megatron).

Lastly, don't reward crap. It's easy to fall into the 'good enough' trap with heeling, but you really want to push your dog to engage since it's a behaviour which requires such precision and can be quite dull for the dog.

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Megatron, Heat Vampire
Cohen the Australian Shepherd
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Old 10-25-2013, 10:00 AM
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Elrohwen Elrohwen is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Hudson Valley, NY
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Thank you! All really good stuff to think about. I think I need to break it down and focus more on precision and details in very short increments. I was sort of rewarding anything resembling a heel, and hoping to perfect it over time, but we're kind of stuck and it's not getting better. I definitely fall into the trap of rewarding crap.

I've started throwing rewards lately, after a show handling seminar showed me how much engagement it can build to toss treats out in front, or at the dog's head (whether they can catch or not). Also, if I throw it out in front of me in grass it gives him a chance to use his nose to find it, which is by far his most favorite activity. I haven't been trying it long enough to see if it's working, but I think it's tapping into what he finds rewarding.

Environment is so tough for us. He's so engaged inside in our normal training environment, but I lose him to self-rewarding by sniffing outside or in training class. I just started using "go sniff" as a reward, like the "give me a break" exercise in Control Unleashed, and it might be working. By the end of class on Monday he was sniffing quickly, and then staring daggers at me wanting to do more work, instead of me harassing him to get his attention off the floor.

Watson - Ch. Truepenny Olympic Triumph RN CGC | Welsh Springer Spaniel | DOB 8.2.12
Hazel - Truepenny Bright Side of Life | Welsh Springer Spaniel | DOB 4.2.15
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