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Old 09-10-2014, 11:01 PM
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Default Distractions trump toy drive, help?

So I think it is pretty common knowledge on here that Cajun really loves her frisbees. When I take them out at our standard places (in the house, front/back yard, 2 local parks) she is ALL ABOUT the game. No other person or dog or bird or squirrel means a thing to her, she is 110% into that disc.

HOWEVER. I am discovering that if we visit any places outside of the "usual," she is suuuuuper distracted and it's really hard to get her to care about the discs at all. She'll sort of chase rollers, but generally not with her usual enthusiasm and she has like 0 interest in tugging or actually catching them.

It totally surprised me the first time we ran into this issue because she is normally SO AMPED UP by the sight of them. It's a little bit frustrating to see her completely not care just because I know how ON she can be 99% of the time. The entire reason I even started going to new parks with her to play was to get her used to playing in different environments, but I wasn't expecting such a drastic difference in her behavior.

Any tips on how to work on this with her? If it matters, her food drive never falters. There is nothing more exciting than eating.
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Old 09-10-2014, 11:25 PM
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I would just desensitize her to the new parks. Take her there, let her wander. If she gets bored, try to have her go for a roller. Repeat. Eventually the "new" parks will become old and she will turn on for you again.
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Old 09-10-2014, 11:48 PM
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Hopefully it can be that simple! With my dogs, who knows She has moments where she'll all of a sudden turn on, and then just as quickly she completely shuts off and oh look this grass is delicious, or a leaf floated by, or oh there's a person walking a mile away...

Sometimes I think she's probably stressed/overwhelmed, and sometimes I think she's just being a ding-dong. Just chase your stupid toy, dog.
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Old 09-10-2014, 11:51 PM
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I'm having a similar issue with my foster dog, where every new place or experience is so incredible that he can't focus on anything. For Ulysses, the fix seems to be continuously going to new and different places as often as possible so that newness becomes normal. He also needs to see any given new thing three or so times before it stops being so wow.
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Old 09-11-2014, 04:16 AM
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Originally Posted by pinkspore View Post
I'm having a similar issue with my foster dog, where every new place or experience is so incredible that he can't focus on anything. For Ulysses, the fix seems to be continuously going to new and different places as often as possible so that newness becomes normal. He also needs to see any given new thing three or so times before it stops being so wow.
This.
The only thing that helped with us (/Merlin focusing on his training and not sniffing) was taking Merlin to so many new places, so frequently, that new places became normal.
Now new places are cool but not as cool as the WOW of treats and training and such.

People wonder why Merlin is so blase about new people and seeing dogs at the park (picture of him off leash lounging around busy park areas) is because of the fact that he eventually realized that new places aren't that exciting lol

Oh and I stop all squirrel/dog chasing in it's tracks because THAT is far too self-reinforcing lol it's just too much fun to try and train through, instead it becomes a reward for training. Like do this and then I let you off leash and you can go try and kill that squirrel
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Old 09-11-2014, 07:16 AM
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I'd not beg for my dog's attention. I'd try to set it up so she was begging for mine. Go out to a new place and let your dog explore. Try to arrange it so the new place isn't too engaging. If she offers an iota of attention, big party, give her lots of attention and engagement back. If she stops, go back to being neutral. As you practice this she'll check in more and you'll get more 'work' out of her before the environment gets to be too much. Look for small moments of brilliance -- over time they'll become more frequent.
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Old 09-11-2014, 07:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Sekah View Post
I'd not beg for my dog's attention. I'd try to set it up so she was begging for mine. Go out to a new place and let your dog explore. Try to arrange it so the new place isn't too engaging. If she offers an iota of attention, big party, give her lots of attention and engagement back. If she stops, go back to being neutral. As you practice this she'll check in more and you'll get more 'work' out of her before the environment gets to be too much. Look for small moments of brilliance -- over time they'll become more frequent.
This. Put her on a long line and only engage with her when she initiates it. Don't become a nag!!
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Old 09-11-2014, 09:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Sekah View Post
I'd not beg for my dog's attention. I'd try to set it up so she was begging for mine. Go out to a new place and let your dog explore. Try to arrange it so the new place isn't too engaging. If she offers an iota of attention, big party, give her lots of attention and engagement back. If she stops, go back to being neutral. As you practice this she'll check in more and you'll get more 'work' out of her before the environment gets to be too much. Look for small moments of brilliance -- over time they'll become more frequent.
I'm kind of the same. A little caveat is that I also limit (usually) the options of the puppy/dog as well. It's dependent on the dog of course, but in a dog with a decent temp, checking out becomes less and less of an option. at first they'd get to see new stuff because that's what I'm bringing them out to do, but this doesn't continue indefinitely.

Once I move to a stage where they've seen their environment and we've worked on OB and attention at home, they're option to explore and check out is pretty much over. They'd be on a long line to limit their options. Depending on the dog, some might get a little time to look things over, but by the time i'm working around distractions, they don't get to check out and check out something else.

I also imprint a cue from the start. "wanna play" is OB, "find it" is tracking" "where is that guy" is bitework. If I walk into a new building or park and say "wanna play" they usually start mauling me and are very focused on me.

If they chose to not engage me or check out early, I'll just walk back to the car and put them in a crate if it's bad enough. At first though, I'd do like Sekah. I'd have no emotion and completely ignore them, of course I"m stepping on a long line so they really have no other options other than to look at things, which gets boring for any dog with drive for a toy or food. And when they give me attention we have some fun.

But I stopped begging and trying to outcompete the environment a long time ago. There's a time to get to explore and be a free dog and there's time to pay attention. They get to choose, i'm not begging.
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Old 09-11-2014, 09:58 AM
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Ditto Sekah and RTH. Working around distractions is just a skill to be taught. Set her up in a way she doesn't really have the opportunity to completely blow you off by limiting her choices, don't beg for attention but allow her to offer attention and make it a big deal when she does.

Since you didn't really get the chance to do a lot of this with her when she was a "for real" puppy, and this might just be an entirely new skill you are asking of her, you may also decide to make it easier by choosing less distracting environments to start. Gradually choose more and more distracting environments to challenge the skill after you've taught it.

There's a lot of opportunity to use the premack principle here. If she plays frisbee, and ONLY after playing frisbee, you can go for a walk and allow her to explore. You say she's still interested in food - play with frisbee, and ONLY if play with frisbee, get a cookie. I think if you come at it with a real plan of attack, she'll catch on pretty quick!

I would also be careful to keep my early sessions short, which might be a real pain depending how far away your destinations are... but I would be making a real effort to keep each session really energetic and really successful, then call it quits and go home before she has too many opportunities to blow you off. This will also limit YOUR opportunities to get frustrated with her, which will make it more rewarding to YOU (IMHO very important.)
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Old 09-11-2014, 10:48 AM
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Beanie reminded me, teaching the dog to ask to work couples well with the "go be a dog" cue. Dog offers attention -> you celebrate it and engage -> you cue the dog to investigate the environment before her attention wanes and she opts to do so herself. Premack!

I love my "go play" cue. It's a sanity saver sometimes.
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