stays, dumbbells and articles, oh my! (help!)

doberkim

Naturally Natural
Joined
Oct 14, 2005
Messages
1,380
Likes
0
Points
0
#1
Thought I would post here, since it's one of the more active forums!

Rah is doing fairly well for such a young green dog in class, and I am starting to work on some other things but his immaturity is showing in many ways...

in the past two weeks, his stays have disappeared. This dog used to do stays in class with major distraction (dogs running chasing balls, etc) for 4-5 minutes with no problem. Now he cannot sit or down for longer than a minute without breaking - sits he just lays down, and the downs he is now breaking for distraction.
So, I am curious what some of you have done to teach and proof your stays!


Also, Rah is starting dumbbell work (mainly marking and bringing it back). He will bring it to hand, but he will NOT hold it when he comes to me - I have to take it immedialy or he spits it out. I am thinking that I should put him in a front and start back from scratch to teach him that he can hold it without moving, but I do not want to resort to an ear pinch and I am not really happy with Sue Sternberg's induced retrieve.

Also, for those working at that level, how have you introduced scent articles to a dog that already is familiar enough with a dumbbell to retrieve it?
 

Roxy's CD

Active Member
Joined
May 17, 2006
Messages
3,016
Likes
0
Points
36
Location
Ontario, Canada
#2
Don't know if I'll be too much help here, but from my experience with my two...

For the long sits, going into downs, first, I shorten the time before I reward. Roxy's started getting lazy and doing this, and it's awfully frusterating because I'm sure she knows, but I give her the benefit of the doubt. It seems as soon as I go to the other side of the room she downs. So now, I'll walk halfway across the room than run back in and treat. Walk all the way to the other side, come back immediately and treat if she's still in sit. After awhile I started varying how and when I came back into treat.

If she slipped into a down, I just gave a quick "wrong" and brought her back up into a sit.

To proof in class, my trainer will also yell out commands like sit/down/finish etc. (in a show situation it could be going on in another ring) If my guys mess up, I usually just mildly verbally correct and put them back into the proper position. (and quickly get in there to reward if the next time, they don't down/break stay)

Hades had some trouble with the downs as well when my trainer started throwing a tennis ball and he really disliked the singing plush duckies that she would sit beside each dog, but to be honest, all I really did was mildly verbally correct, than the next time around quickly reward if he didn't break.

For the dumb bell, does he "take it", or it's just when you throw it?

What would he do if you offered out the DB? I had the opposite problem with Hades, he didn't think he could move with the DB, so we did a lot of heeling and recalls with the DB. I rewarded heavily for moving/holding and mild verbal corrections if he dropped it, no food reward.

If he'll take the DB, I would place him in a sit, have him take it, one second hold, give and reward. I did use the "hold" command with Hades at first because he was unsure. "Good hold! Good boy!" Than just gradually increase the amount of time he holds it in a sit.

Roxy started the scent articles a few weeks, close to 3 months ago. I haven't used a DB yet. We've just been messing around, but we've been using dirty and clean socks. The scents strong in dirty socks (yuck I know! LOL) and it's easy enough for me to show her I want that awfully stinky one.

The first thing we focused on with the socks, was inspecting every one. I know some people don't do it, I chose to. It was easy enough to show her I wanted the stinky one, just by saying "YES" after she'd inspected every one and returned to the scented article.

For the first day or two, she was pretty excited and at my command "Find it!" she'd just run up to the pile and grab the first one, than look at me like, "This one right mom?". Just a "wrong", I put the clean article back, and we started over again, mainly working on slowing her down and making her think about the excercise. She's 100% with the stinky socks now, and has been for a little while, we're starting with the DB in two weeks.

Are you competing with Rah in obedience yet?
 

RD

Are you dead yet?
Joined
Aug 1, 2004
Messages
15,572
Likes
0
Points
0
Age
32
Location
Ohio
#3
I can't comment much on the stays, my dogs' stays ALL suck right now. I've been doing what Roxy's CD suggested, just starting at the beginning again and reward/releasing them before they break.

What did you do to teach the retrieve? With Dakota I used a clicker to shape the actual taking of the dumbell, and then I gently praised and stroked him if he would sit and hold it. After a couple seconds I'd simultaneously click, remove it from his mouth and give him a treat and more love. I don't know how excitable Rah is so if the slightest touch sends him into bouncies of ecstasy like it did when Dakota was young, it might not be a good idea. s'just what I did.
 

SizzleDog

Lord Cynical
Joined
Nov 12, 2004
Messages
9,449
Likes
0
Points
0
#4
He will bring it to hand, but he will NOT hold it when he comes to me - I have to take it immedialy or he spits it out.
I have the EXACT same problem! Ilsa will hold a dumbell if I give it to her when she's sitting, but ont he retrieve she'll either drop it at my feet or literally throw it at my hands.

She'll carry a dumbell in a heel, she'll retrieve a selected dumbell out of many... but as far as holdig onto the dang thing... I've never been able to figure that one out.
 

IliamnasQuest

Loves off-leash training!
Joined
Feb 28, 2006
Messages
1,083
Likes
0
Points
0
#5
I'm just going to very quickly touch on the stays and then talk more about the retrieving and scent articles.

If your dog had a pretty solid stay before and is going through a stage of breaking the stays, it may just be a plateau in training and if you get worked up about it you can actually make it worse. What I do at times like this is stop. The dog and I take a break from that part of training and I go on to other things (or maybe just spend a week or so playing and not training). I can't let the dog's lapse mess up everything else we've done and if you harp on it (not saying you do, but some people really get upset about their dogs not continuing a previously learned behavior) it can have long term ramifications. So I have learned to just step back a bit, not worry about it, go back later and use lots of happy reinforcement when the dog does it right.

Now, the dumbbell! I love retrieve and scent work. Since I have chows, it's a real challenge at times so I've had to learn a lot of different methods. I, too, have chosen to step away from forced retrieves (although that's what I was originally taught and used).

The best advice I can give on retrieve work is to take the time to build all the steps of retrieving. Use lots of positive reinforcement and go through the steps of the dog glancing at the dumbbell (to the left of the dog's head, to the right, above, below), then moving toward the dumbbell, then touching, then mouthing, then taking, etc. This will probably go VERY fast for you, but these building blocks are extremely important. Then you teach the dog to hold it (with a hold command) until you actually give the "give" command. I want my dogs to hold it while I touch their chins, their cheeks, scratch behind their ears, etc. I don't want a dog to drop it when I reach for it. I should be able to tap the ends of the dumbbell lightly or even tug on it a bit and have the dog hold tightly to the dumbbell. When I can do this, then I feel my dog has a good grasp of the "hold" command.

I also teach the dog to pick the dumbbell up off the floor while standing directly in front of me. During the original training, after the dog has learned to take the dumbbell from my hand, I gradually ease the dumbbell to the floor and then gradually ease my hand away from it (with the dog being reinforced throughout all the steps - picking the dumbbell up with my finger touching it, picking it up with my hand six inches away, picking it up with my hand a foot away, etc.). I want to be able to place the dumbbell on the floor, stand up straight, tell the dog "take it" and have the dog pick it up for me. Then "hold it" means the dog will hold it while I touch his head, etc.

One of the things that I find is very helpful is to look at the dumbbell when I ask for the dog to pick it up. The dog learns to cue in on that as well as the verbal command. Then, when I get to the point where I'm actually sending the dog out after the dumbbell, if the dog comes back to me and drops the dumbbell, I simply stand there silently staring at the dumbbell. Sometimes I even lean over a bit and make my stare very intense .. *L* .. what I want is for the dog to think "oops, better pick it up fast!". And if I've done the proper training of the building blocks for the retrieve, the dog WILL pick it up and then I can stand up straight, smile, say "hold it" and do the touching of the dog and the dumbbell before giving the "give" command.

There are so many facets to the retrieve and if you break them down and teach them all properly, they should all eventually come together into a beautiful, precise, happy retrieve.

Scent articles: I use a modified Janice DeMello "Around the Clock" method where I put squeeze cheese on the article. I have a couple of sets of articles I use, one is a practice set and the other a competition set. In the practice set, I have dumbbells that are specifically set aside as the cheese ones. You can use whatever you want, however, in place of the dumbbells. In AKC you need to have both metal and leather articles. In CKC you need to also have wood.

There are a huge number of steps to the DeMello method, so I'll just give a short summary. Basically you scent an article, put a small line of cheese on it, and set it out. Dog is on leash. You send the dog to the article, go WITH the dog and when dog gets to the article you put one finger on article to hold it still and you praise while the dog licks the cheese off. As soon as cheese is gone, the "take it" command is given and then you back up so that the dog can do a front with the article in his mouth.

Then you take an unscented article, put it out, scent/cheese the first article, put it out a few inches behind the unscented article, send dog and again go with dog, hold down article, praise, do retrieve once cheese is gone. You add another unscented and go through the same steps, and continue this way until all the articles are out there and the dog is working through the articles to find the scented one.

There's a method to how DeMello puts out the articles to teach the dog to go into the group of articles and scent in a circular pattern in order to check all the articles. It IS important that the dog realise that the behavior is not going in and grabbing the first article that smells a bit right - the dog needs to check all the articles and bring the one with the highest amount of your scent on it. In a set of obedience trials, you may have to use the same articles three days in a row and there's no guarantee that the judge will choose the same articles for you to scent each day. So the dog has to differentiate between a newly scented article and one that may have the previous day's scent on it.

And, of course, once the dog has learned to go out and work through the full group of articles, you gradually decrease the amount of cheese on the scented article until the cheese is gone and just the scent remains. This takes some time - you want to be sure not to push the dog too quickly because dogs can get really unsure of themselves on this exercise. Building the confidence is really important. You also have to stop any cues that the dog has found the right article ... it's very easy for a dog to fall into a "I'll bring it to you only if you tell me it's the right one" mode. So getting the dog to understand that the reward marker will only happen once the article has been brought all the way to you is important too.

Along the line, it's not uncommon for a dog to go through a "let me grab the first convenient article and run back for the reward" stage. At that point I usually tie the articles down with clear fishing twine so that only the scented articles are free and the dog is basically self-corrected. That way I can avoid the dog losing confidence by coming to me with an article and not getting a reinforcement.

I hope that helped! I was going to start Khana on the scent articles this winter but we were having too much fun with freestyle. I think I'll wait until we get the CD done and then we can start playing with some of the utility exercises.

Melanie and the gang in Alaska
 
Joined
Mar 26, 2006
Messages
1,341
Likes
0
Points
0
Location
Texas
#6
With my dog, I actually clicked and encouraged her to sit in front of me and give me resistance when I grabbed the dumbbell. She had a decent idea of what I wanted because this is how I taught her to tug. I wanted her to pull back slightly on the dumbbell until I said "Give". This worked because in all reality, when you go into the ring, you aren't going to hold onto the dumbbell and wait forresistance. You will be reaching down and simultaneously be saying your release word as your hand gets to the dumbbell.
 

sam

New Member
Joined
May 10, 2006
Messages
894
Likes
0
Points
0
Location
Western Canada
#7
That's funny I had both these problems with Rosie very recently and it took me a wile to figure out what the heck had happened. The root cause for us was her excitedly jumping the cue because she *knew* what was coming and was actually unclear on what criteria is or what releases her ,what tells her to give the object.

Stays:
She went form rock solid stays at agility, on sheep- anything,to breaking them all the time. For her it was based in confusion and it was a matter of figuring out wtf she was thinking. :lol-sign: We had started doing that rally exercise where you put your dog in a sit-stay then you RUN three steps and call them, they have to catch you really quickly and come front, she was also working on lead outs in agility and being released when she was looking straight at the jump rather than staring at me. She literally was unsure of what exactly released her so then she was self releasing on my movement. I think I was moving some part of my body at the same time if not before her release word or next cue. It seems like this is a common start line problem in agility. Mostly for me it took cleaning up my cue system and reteaching the skills from the beginning which went pretty quickly once I figured out what was going wrong.

With Rosie if she broke her stay and I didn't want to put her back in position and try again (if it seemed we were rehearsing the wrong behavior too many times) I just said "oh, too bad" or "whoops!", put her away and worked Sammy for a couple minutes and came back to it. That always works for us in that she realises something she did wasn't quite right but doesn't make her worry or stress which makes it harder for her to learn. Watching me work another dog gets her motivated.

For the premature dropping of the retrieve object-
I think Rosie paid more attention to me bending down to reach towards her mouth as the cue to release the object, then to my relase word. So getting her to hold was as simple as mixing things up so she couldn't anticipate what was coming and so she needed to hold it. Sometimes I reached down and grabbed the toy and tugged with her- so that encouraged her to hold on. Sometimes I would practice bringing my hands in towards her mouth but not taking the object. I certainly figured out I couldn't use any food for teaching her a formal retrieve or she dropped the object like a hot potatoe in anticipation of food coming. At one point with one of the dogs I used a holleee roller for my retrieve object just so they COULDN'T drop it quickly (it sort of gets hung up on their teeth LOL) so that it created the opportunity to reward the right behavior so that lightbulb could go on in their heads.
 

Members online

No members online now.
Top