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Old 02-19-2012, 10:03 AM
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Default Channeling into a tug.

At the fun match yesterday Simi was screaming at the dogs running the course and flailing, and at one point I lifted her over my shoulder and carried her out like a 2 year old who was throwing a tantrum because I was worried she'd distract the dog who was running.

So my question now is that I'd like to get all that amped up want to go-go-go energy (would we call this prey drive? ...or?) and put it into her tugging. Her breeder has expressed to me before that some of her dogs have been to high drive to watch sports like agility and so it's something I'd like to work on handling now, while she's only 5 months instead of when she's 18 months, full grown and doing the same thing before her run.

Yesterday what I was doing was I took her out of threshold and got her interested in her tug and while we were tugging I'd pull her a little closer, "yay good puppy, keep your tug!" then back away from her and tug some more. We did this several times and she was able to get within watching distance but not for prolonged periods of times.

This is also something I'm going to try to work with Psyche, too. She really gets very 'into' little dogs and fast dogs while they're running, and so the other day I did allow her to watch them, and she was like... shaking/whining/squealing but then when I took her onto the field, she was actually pretty focused on me... but if at all possible, I'd like to get her into her tug mode while she's that "on"...

Anyway, yeah... suggestions?
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Old 02-19-2012, 10:14 AM
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I'll be watching this with interest... I have my own flailing herding breed, but mine's a little easier to carry than yours.
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Old 02-19-2012, 10:55 AM
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IMO, you need to teach her to be calm instead of to get amped up and then reach for a tug. You're just transferring her frustration from wanting to get in the ring to wanting to get amped on the tug. Neither transfers to a relaxed, controlled dog.

Your dog should be tugging with you as a reward not an, "oh, I'm bored, lets tug" behavior. She needs to learn impulse control around whatever is getting her all worked up.

Mat work is good for this, or if you don't feel like hauling around a mat, just a good default down. Reward for calm, I'd use treats. She was watch agility (think playing "look at that") while calmly laying in a down. If she's being calm, she can move closer (on your terms, don't allow scooting), if shes wild eyed and popping up out of a down you need to move her back, the stimulus is too high.

Work on your tugging away from excitement. Just my opinion though.
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Old 02-19-2012, 11:02 AM
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Originally Posted by OutlineACDs View Post
IMO, you need to teach her to be calm instead of to get amped up and then reach for a tug. You're just transferring her frustration from wanting to get in the ring to wanting to get amped on the tug. Neither transfers to a relaxed, controlled dog.
This exactly. Zuma was awful when she could even just hear other dogs running agility. Friday night she was able to stay calm during open ring time (28 dogs taking turns, busy, trial like environment). If she got a little excited, back into her crate she went.

Crate games is the best way to go, IMO. Teach it really, really well in a calm environment and then start within hearing distance of dogs running and then eventually where she can see the dogs running. The reason why it works so well is that it gives them a job to focus on rather than focusing solely on the other dogs and because the rules are black and white.
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Old 02-19-2012, 11:06 AM
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Read Control Unleashed, Control Unleashed Puppy Primer, and Shaping Success.

What you need to NOT do is develop a pattern of behaviour (your behaviour) where "my dog is going crazy so I'm going to stick a tug in his face!!" Lots of people, particularly sports people, do this. It has the opposite effect you would imagine - the dog is too far over threshold to tug, and you end up destroying some of your tug drive because you are trying to make the dog tug, and it really doesn't want to, and in some ways is actually incapable of engaging in the game. The tug ends up bringing more stress to the dog and people assign STRESS rather than FUN to the tug.

IMO, what you really want to be doing is increasing your dog's self-control so the dog is NOT going crazy, is not over threshold, and therefore can tug, or lie down, or sit, or heel, or whatever you ask. Not just straight up channeling the OMG OMG OMG I CAN'T CONTROL MYSELF I'M SCREAMING AT THE TOP OF MY LUNGS into a tug, because you really don't want a dog who can't control herself. You want a dog who is that amped up but still chooses to do a sit-stay until you release them to obstacles or off the table... until you release them to sheep... until you release them to go swim... whatever it is. Another dog running agility is (more or less) just another distraction, like food on the floor or you doing cartwheels thirty feet away or a squirrel running the fence.

I would honestly not be "sneaking" her closer to the ring by pulling her closer mid-tug. You want to allow her to be thoughtful. You want to allow her to take a step closer WITH you, look at all the exciting things happening, and yet still be able to do whatever you ask, be it sit, down, tug, or even turn around and walk away from the ring. Reward for calm behaviour, ask for easy behaviours you know she can do at first. Use the Look At That game as well. This is not "ignore the other dogs running." This is "See those other dogs running? Doesn't matter, we're working here, and we're having fun."


and NEVER allow her to play agility when she's screaming and lunging. No self-rewarding allowed!
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Old 02-19-2012, 11:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OutlineACDs View Post
IMO, you need to teach her to be calm instead of to get amped up and then reach for a tug. You're just transferring her frustration from wanting to get in the ring to wanting to get amped on the tug. Neither transfers to a relaxed, controlled dog.

Your dog should be tugging with you as a reward not an, "oh, I'm bored, lets tug" behavior. She needs to learn impulse control around whatever is getting her all worked up.

Mat work is good for this, or if you don't feel like hauling around a mat, just a good default down. Reward for calm, I'd use treats. She was watch agility (think playing "look at that") while calmly laying in a down. If she's being calm, she can move closer (on your terms, don't allow scooting), if shes wild eyed and popping up out of a down you need to move her back, the stimulus is too high.

Work on your tugging away from excitement. Just my opinion though.
I agree and it's mostly just based on anecdote. I know a guy with a sport bred border collie. They were in Summer's agility class 3 years ago. She was fast and really driven and no impulse control. She would go crazy if any dog was moving much more than a walk. She could not watch any of the other dogs run in agility and I had heard she couldn't watch other dogs run in flyball either. She had to go first and she could only run once, but she was fast. She would redirect on him a lot out of frustration. His go to method when she was acting up was to grab the tug and throw it in her face or give her a soccer ball to go crazy with. Essentially it worked as rewarding her for her bad behavior. Fast forward three years and I saw the man and dog again when I went to try flyball. Asked how they were doing and he'd quit agility and the dog was still not able to run flyball either without trying to go for another dog.

I am a bit guilty of it too to a lesser extent. Mia's not reactive towards other dogs that way but she's a dog that doesn't settle on her own ever and has a tendency to demand bark and scream when she's in a class and not doing anything. I am very guilty of just feeding into that by trying to give her something else to do. I was throwing commands at her or bringing out a toy to play with. I stopped doing that a few weeks ago and brought in a bed for her and started doing mat work with her. I will say she FINALLY for the first time ever in class lied down for a while and relaxed yesterday. I am seeing such an improvement in her since starting to work with being calm during down time in class. I wish I'd only started it sooner. For some reason I had it in my head that with a dog like her, you needed to just keep them busy all the time. Shooting myself in the foot so to speak.
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Old 02-19-2012, 11:11 AM
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Alrighty, guys. This was my second idea but I wasn't prepared with a clicker, treat bag and treats yesterday (I know, stupid!) so I didn't whip out the treats first thing. We're going to another one in a month, and a seminar (for her!) so I'll be sure to take this approach.

I will hopefully be getting the CU DVD set soon, and I have crate games to get started on.
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Old 02-19-2012, 11:23 AM
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Just want to say that my extremely driven GSD can do commands while watching sports, BUT he is screaming the whole time. He behaves but he wants out there and wants to do what they're doing. As I said, he listens but he still screams...it happens a lot with a very driven GSD. I personally let him. It doesn't bug me too much and he is still listening so..whatever. I also do tend to shove something in his mouth while waiting a turn to keep him quieter. I make him do things for it and work for it...it works for us!
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Old 02-19-2012, 11:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Red Chrome View Post
Just want to say that my extremely driven GSD can do commands while watching sports, BUT he is screaming the whole time. He behaves but he wants out there and wants to do what they're doing. As I said, he listens but he still screams...it happens a lot with a very driven GSD. I personally let him. It doesn't bug me too much and he is still listening so..whatever. I also do tend to shove something in his mouth while waiting a turn to keep him quieter. I make him do things for it and work for it...it works for us!
If it works for you, fine, but I wouldn't reccomend this at all. If your dog is screaming he's obviously over thrshhold, and so what he's listening to commands? He still isn't fully focused on you, he's amped up by his environment. I realize this may be acceptable for some, but I don't want this from my dogs.

If you can't wait calmly you don't play. Period. This is especially important with herding. If the dog is frantic the stock are frantic and frantic stock get injured, or hurt the dog, or the handler.

PS- clickers can be used at class or a training club, but don't pull one out at a trial. I stick with the word "yes" as my marker word at trials.
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Old 02-19-2012, 11:45 AM
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He is amped by his environment cause it is something that he absolutely loves doing. He is not over threshold, he listens and obeys everything I say, he has great focus on me. He is just a barker/screamer. His time to be calm is in his crate as soon as he is out of his crate, that means it is go time and he knows that. I want him ready for whatever we are doing as soon as he comes out of the crate, his drive level depends on the activity...Schutzhund and DockDogs along with Agility are high drive things and he comes out of the crate READY...that is what I want out of him. Controllable but in full drive mode.

Thats fine for herding. I don't play herding. I play Schutzhund, DockDogs, OB and starting agility. Judge is an extremely high drive dog. I manage that drive the best I see fit. A working bred GSD is completely different than other breeds. He is not a dog that you can whip a clicker out with and modify behavior...he needs balance from negatives and positives. Most of the GSDs I see in Agility and Schutzhund are LOUD. They want to be out there...that doesn't mean that they are over threshold or that there is something wrong with them.
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