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Old 12-05-2012, 11:30 AM
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Default Giving up some control

Last night at our agility class, I realized that a majority of Kailey's drive issues stem from me trying to over control her. If she starts to walk away when we're not doing anything, I call her back to me and put her in a sit or a down. If she's getting distracted while we're standing around, I tell her to focus on me.
Yesterday, I just let her make her own decisions. I let her wander, sniff, and meet her friends. (If their handlers were willing.)
Completely different dog. When it came time to work, she was actually on. And she made really good decisions for herself, too. I had food in an open container on the ground, and she occasionally wandered over to sniff it. Just to sniff. She'd look at the cookies, look over to me, then wander somewhere else. I didn't give her any cues, she just made good choices. She was completely responsive and pretty driven when I did give her cues.
I'm really pleased that she knows how to make good decisions without me telling her what to do. I tend to be a huge control freak, but letting her be a little more "free", if you will, definitely took a lot of stress out of our relationship.

So how do you handle your dog? Have you found that it's better to keep your dog constantly engaged with you, or do you step back and let them make decisions on their own?
I think different degrees of each technique work with different dogs. Schaffer's much easier to work with when I keep him happily engaged with lots of little, easy tasks. But he and Kailey are polar opposites.
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Old 12-05-2012, 11:48 AM
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Premack Principal is amazing!!

I use it all the time with Frodo (it's way more effective than food for him) and plan on doing a ton of work with Siri using it as soon as she gets here.
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Old 12-05-2012, 12:00 PM
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The Premack principle is basic good sense when training dogs. Make the behavior that's less likely to occur by itself be rewarded by behavior that the dog is most likely to want to engage in. I like to develop defaults in some behavior that becomes a preferred behavior for a dog so that I don't have to tell him something all the time. Too much telling, correcting, hands on can become stressful to some dogs and they tend to tune you out. Developing default behaviors can be really helpful.
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Old 12-05-2012, 12:03 PM
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Oh woops. double post.
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Last edited by Doberluv; 12-05-2012 at 12:39 PM.
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Old 12-05-2012, 12:37 PM
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This is the whole basis for Its Yer Choice exercises, which I swear by as being the foundation of all dog training - from the most basic behaviour to the most advanced. Allowing the dog to choose to make good decisions should mean that you have better odds of your dog continuing to make those good decisions when they're not in your presence or directly under your control. Punishment and active management are short term solutions that do little to nothing to address the initial urge to do something inappropriate.

I don't so much manage Cohen, but I am always providing her opportunities for reinforcement, if that makes sense. During down time at obedience class I'll have Cohen doing strings of tricks, or working on an active stay - I never disengage from her. And as a result she never disengages from me, which is exactly what I want. It's now become so habitual that neither she nor I think much of it, but she has some of the best focus out of all the dogs in the class, both while working and not.
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Old 12-05-2012, 01:25 PM
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I manage Mu during downtime in every class. Her reactivity is bad at the moment, partially because we haven't been in class for awhile and partially because it's a weaves class and OMG THOSE DOGS ARE RUNNING MAKE THEM STOP HAVING FUN RIGHT NAO. If I didn't manage her she would just get to practice bad behavior.

She also resource guards me, her mat, and our general area but has no qualms about going to check out other dog's stuff. So I manage her when we're actually working as well.

I don't have to manage Tipper nearly as much - mostly because she has a better off switch, no reactivity, and is much more polite around other dogs. I actually can't manage her downtime because if I do she burns out about halfway through a class. She needs breaks whereas Mu needs to be engaged.
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Old 12-05-2012, 03:25 PM
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I handle it a bit differently, I don't ever want my dog deciding to leave me. However that means I have to be engaged with them and focused on them for them to not disconnect from me and chose to leave. So when I am distracted, which often comes from when I listening to my instructor or trying to solve a problem, I need to either put my dog up in a crate or placement mat/chair (note: dog has already been taught away from agility that on the mat/crate/chair they are to chill/relax and not leave unless given permission to come to me or be on their own time). Or I give them a release to do their own thing BUT if released and they chose to engage me, then I take that time to reinforce that choice.
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Old 12-05-2012, 03:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adojrts View Post
I handle it a bit differently, I don't ever want my dog deciding to leave me. However that means I have to be engaged with them and focused on them for them to not disconnect from me and chose to leave. So when I am distracted, which often comes from when I listening to my instructor or trying to solve a problem, I need to either put my dog up in a crate or placement mat/chair (note: dog has already been taught away from agility that on the mat/crate/chair they are to chill/relax and not leave unless given permission to come to me or be on their own time). Or I give them a release to do their own thing BUT if released and they chose to engage me, then I take that time to reinforce that choice.
^ more or less this.

I do let my dogs choose to leave me but in environments of my choosing and it's part of this training. By the time we are working on competition behaviors/obstacle performance they should be not only choosing to engage me but actively trying to talk me into it and earn the right to keep working . My responsibility there is giving them a finite "Work is not currently available" cue when I cannot engage them in return...be it by a mat stay or crating or whatever.

All "control" is not created equal. I try to work for a control in which the dog is trying to get me to work with him, not in which I'm trying to get the dog to work with me or nagging him to stay out of mischief.

I hope that makes sense.
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Old 12-05-2012, 03:51 PM
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If I can't be actively working with my dog, I usually have them put up (in a training situation, not at home of course.) With Pirate in particular this is necessary, because he's more than willing to entertain himself, and his choices aren't always the best.

We just dealt with that a little because of being at the agility seminar, so unattended Pirate would tend to go off to the side to look for a ball or steal food from the people waiting there. Or he'd just rampage around taking random agility equipment. Which isn't a terrible choice, but I did need him to settle down sometimes.

That's pretty much what he's always going to choose to do, particularly in that barn, where he spent a lot of time playing as a pup. And I like him being eager to do stuff, so I'm going to continue managing rather than try to train him to behave himself.
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Old 12-05-2012, 05:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shai View Post
^ more or less this.

I do let my dogs choose to leave me but in environments of my choosing and it's part of this training. By the time we are working on competition behaviors/obstacle performance they should be not only choosing to engage me but actively trying to talk me into it and earn the right to keep working . My responsibility there is giving them a finite "Work is not currently available" cue when I cannot engage them in return...be it by a mat stay or crating or whatever.

All "control" is not created equal. I try to work for a control in which the dog is trying to get me to work with him, not in which I'm trying to get the dog to work with me or nagging him to stay out of mischief.

I hope that makes sense.
Makes perfect sense, and that's what we're working towards. I seem to have lost my copy of Control Unleashed in the basement, but I think there are several exercises that echo this loud and clear.

As far as the Premack Principle goes, it's pretty much my dog training god. I feel weird relying on one principle so heavily, but it hasn't steered me wrong yet. Took a while to get incorporated into our classes because Kailey's high-probability behavior is always charge over to the most reactive dog in class and try to play with it, but we're in a group of calmer dogs now so I'm not as concerned about her losing her nose.
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