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  #2121  
Old 12-13-2013, 02:00 PM
krissy krissy is offline
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[QUOTE=Elrohwen;2327296]We had a really good class last night. Our instructor asked me to bring a spray bottle to work on Watson's tendency to run off and do zoomies or play with other dogs (he started doing it every single time he was off leash). I've used it successfully at home when he got over the top with the rabbits, so I was willing to try it in agility. Success! The first little sequence we did he rocketed out of the tunnel and ran around like a loon. The instructor walked towards him and sprayed the bottle a couple times (I don't think she was even close enough to get him wet), I called, and he zoomed back to me so fast he almost knocked me over. The whole rest of the class he was attentive, fairly calm, and focused on everything we did, but still fast and enthusiastic. No more running away during off leash activites!

I'm generally not one to jump to aversives, but I have to admit that the spray bottle is pretty magical for him. It just stops him in his tracks and makes him actually think through what he's doing, and choose something else. Once is enough.
QUOTE]

You should really consider taking an Agility-U course. We just finished "Building Drive, Focus, and Teamwork in the Performance Dog" with Tracy Sklenar and it was amazing. Kili is very distracted by everything in the environment. She loves people and other dogs and is a complete social butterfly. She would also get super excited partway through a sequence... do an obstacle and take off around the ring. Tracy's course showed me how to focus her attention on me through positive methods.

Take this for what it's worth since I am by no means a trainer. I'm simply someone who trains my dogs. And I've only had dogs for 3 years now. However, I am a huge proponent of positive methods only, especially in sport dogs. Here's the thing. When they do the big "WHOO HOOO!" they aren't being bad. They do it for all sorts of reasons including stress and excitement. If they are blowing off stress we need to not punish that and find a better way for the dog to relieve stress and pressure. If the dog is doing it for pure excitement and happiness... that's so good! It's the wrong manifestation but we want our dogs to enjoy agility. A dog who is told "no" all the time in the agility arena is going to lose drive and enthusiasm.

Kili's focus and performance have improved so much over the 6 week course we were taking. On Monday I had her at our arena and she was able to work off leash with a kitten running around in the arena. She still was checking that kitten out and thinking about whether she wanted to work, but she stayed with me and performed the behaviours I asked for (a little slower but she did them). No way she could have done that 6 weeks ago. She would have been gone, and if I kept her on leash she wouldn't have been able to take her eyes off the kitten. So distraction and "social butterfly" tendencies can totally be worked through without aversive techniques. I know a spray bottle doesn't hurt the dog, but it can hurt drive.

Just my two cents. As I said, take it for what it's worth... probably literally two cents!
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  #2122  
Old 12-13-2013, 02:08 PM
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Is it too late to sign up for that class? Looking for more ways to build drive& focus before we get back to Jess Martin in the spring!! Link anywhere? I'd google it but I'm just getting ready to step out the door to train!
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  #2123  
Old 12-13-2013, 02:18 PM
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Elrohwen Elrohwen is offline
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You should really consider taking an Agility-U course. We just finished "Building Drive, Focus, and Teamwork in the Performance Dog" with Tracy Sklenar and it was amazing. Kili is very distracted by everything in the environment. She loves people and other dogs and is a complete social butterfly. She would also get super excited partway through a sequence... do an obstacle and take off around the ring. Tracy's course showed me how to focus her attention on me through positive methods.

Take this for what it's worth since I am by no means a trainer. I'm simply someone who trains my dogs. And I've only had dogs for 3 years now. However, I am a huge proponent of positive methods only, especially in sport dogs. Here's the thing. When they do the big "WHOO HOOO!" they aren't being bad. They do it for all sorts of reasons including stress and excitement. If they are blowing off stress we need to not punish that and find a better way for the dog to relieve stress and pressure. If the dog is doing it for pure excitement and happiness... that's so good! It's the wrong manifestation but we want our dogs to enjoy agility. A dog who is told "no" all the time in the agility arena is going to lose drive and enthusiasm.

Kili's focus and performance have improved so much over the 6 week course we were taking. On Monday I had her at our arena and she was able to work off leash with a kitten running around in the arena. She still was checking that kitten out and thinking about whether she wanted to work, but she stayed with me and performed the behaviours I asked for (a little slower but she did them). No way she could have done that 6 weeks ago. She would have been gone, and if I kept her on leash she wouldn't have been able to take her eyes off the kitten. So distraction and "social butterfly" tendencies can totally be worked through without aversive techniques. I know a spray bottle doesn't hurt the dog, but it can hurt drive.

Just my two cents. As I said, take it for what it's worth... probably literally two cents!
My stance on purely positive has changed over time I think, at least with this dog. I have seen such a change in him when he understands that certain behavior is actually *not* what I want. Running around, and especially playing with other dogs is so self-rewarding for him. I guess it is for most dogs, but knowing him the way I do, I think nipping it in the bud by making it the wrong choice, is ultimately going to get us further. And I don't mean that I regularly use positive punishment at all! I think this situation, plus the time I have used it to tone down his behavior with the rabbits, are the only times I've punished him for anything. I wouldn't do it at all if it didn't work immediately, the first time, with no nagging, and no shut down. Also, the one moment of punishment happened as far away from me and the equipment as possible, and then he sprinted back to me where he was rewarded like gang busters. He learned that his choice to zoom around sniffing everything was not productive, but coming back to mom was awesome. He didn't leave me again, and he wasn't punished or even threatened with punishment the rest of the class. I don't expect that we will need to use the spray bottle again.

I've been doing classes, mostly obedience, with him for over a year now and his problems with focus have only increased with age. It's definitely something we're working on, really the only thing I'm working on in each class (plus I am figuring out online classes to improve those skills more). But the few times I have told him "no, that's not a correct option" have advanced our training far more in seconds than hours and hours of telling him yes. I will keep telling him yes, and I will never stop teaching him what he should be doing.

I guess I look for what works, especially for a particular dog. I never recommend aversives to anyone, and I've recommended to lots of people *not* to use a spray bottle for anything. But at the same time, being able to use it once, and get him to stop zooming around and actually focus on me, is worth it I think. Like I said, he's a hard dog. He has a lot of drive. He also acts before he thinks and sometimes his brain falls out of his ears. If he wants something, he is the dog who will hit the end of his leash with full force over and over and over again. I'm honestly not worried about lowering his drive by one moment of something unpleasant happening.

I definitely appreciate your advice, since I am new at the agility game and I know a lot of agility people are 100% positive. I guess I'm only 98% positive? I don't know, but I do know that sometimes being able to convey "no" to my dog has allowed us to make huge strides in areas that we spent months and months working on positively with very little progress. At some point, I just had to stop and think about why all of these positive techniques weren't working for him and what information he needed to be able to make the correct choices.

ETA: The suggestion to use the spray bottle actually came from the instructor, who is a very skilled agility competitor and trainer. I don't take her suggestions likely, and trusting that she knows what she's doing, and that I know my dog, were what lead me to give it a shot.
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Last edited by Elrohwen; 12-13-2013 at 02:39 PM.
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  #2124  
Old 12-13-2013, 03:15 PM
krissy krissy is offline
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Originally Posted by yv0nne View Post
Is it too late to sign up for that class? Looking for more ways to build drive& focus before we get back to Jess Martin in the spring!! Link anywhere? I'd google it but I'm just getting ready to step out the door to train!
Unfortunately the class just wrapped up this week. Not sure exactly when it will open again. There's no new time listed, however you can go to the website and ask it to notify you by e-mail when registration opens for the course.

Building Drive, Focus, and Teamwork

You can choose to have a working spot, audit, or observe. I would highly recommend either working or auditing. I took a working spot and really loved the personal attention. It was also a nice coincidence that Tracy does some seminars for my trainer so my trainer was even able to e-mail her and ask what we were doing when what he asked me to do in class was counter to what she had suggested to me. So we were all on the same page which was awesome.

Highly recommend this course for young dogs with focus problems. Kili and I are a much better team now than 6 weeks ago. I am so happy with our progress and can really see her turning into a great agility dog now. Love that it's entirely positive reinforcement and that that is very much emphasized in everything that Tracy suggests. For example, in terms of interrupting a behaviour we are to take the dog by the collar (gently) and back up several steps. She always emphasizes that this needs to be done gently since it is an interruption and not a correction, and reminds us too that sometimes we should grab the collar for no reason and offer a treat. Love how she's always looking out for our dogs.
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  #2125  
Old 12-13-2013, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Elrohwen View Post
ETA: The suggestion to use the spray bottle actually came from the instructor, who is a very skilled agility competitor and trainer. I don't take her suggestions likely, and trusting that she knows what she's doing, and that I know my dog, were what lead me to give it a shot.
I know a very skilled agility competitor and trainer who teaches agility using an e-collar.
Just throwing that out there.
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  #2126  
Old 12-13-2013, 03:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Beanie View Post
I know a very skilled agility competitor and trainer who teaches agility using an e-collar.
Just throwing that out there.
There are all kinds.

Everything else I've seen about this trainer is extremely positive to the point where she walked us through recalling our dog away from equipment they weren't supposed to approach, rather than leading them away. She didn't want the dogs to think they should avoid the equipment if they could be working on recall and being rewarded.
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  #2127  
Old 12-13-2013, 04:17 PM
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Have so much fun. Take videos. Take photos. Post them
We did 5 runs today, CPE Level 1. He Q'd and got first in all five!

I have 3 videos, pictures and the best Crosserton in the whole world!!!! I'll update later! We had so much fun!!
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  #2128  
Old 12-13-2013, 04:20 PM
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We did 5 runs today, CPE Level 1. He Q'd and got first in all five!

I have 3 videos, pictures and the best Crosserton in the whole world!!!! I'll update later! We had so much fun!!
Congratulations! I can't wait to see the pictures and videos!
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Old 12-13-2013, 04:22 PM
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Originally Posted by k9krazee View Post
We did 5 runs today, CPE Level 1. He Q'd and got first in all five!

I have 3 videos, pictures and the best Crosserton in the whole world!!!! I'll update later! We had so much fun!!
Congratulations! You guys are so awesome.
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  #2130  
Old 12-13-2013, 04:24 PM
SaraB SaraB is offline
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Originally Posted by k9krazee View Post
We did 5 runs today, CPE Level 1. He Q'd and got first in all five!

I have 3 videos, pictures and the best Crosserton in the whole world!!!! I'll update later! We had so much fun!!
Congrats!!!
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