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Vickie

Agility Training Talk Thread

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ness   
:) I have all 4 dvd sets :D including the competition one.

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corvus   

Agility people, I need some advice.

Erik and I are doing a foundation agility class and we've just done week 3. I love the class and the instructors, but in the last two weeks Erik's tugging drive has plummeted. He's gone from swinging off tugs and barking and leaping at them to not even looking. It's so weird, because until now he's been a tugging fiend. We went through the 3 week relationship course and he was tugging the whole way, and he tugged on week 1 of foundation, and he hasn't tugged since. He will at home, but has trouble shifting from food rewards to tug.

I'm a bit worried. I don't think he's ready for the kind of training we're doing. I think he needs at least another 6 months of tugging for free and getting comfortable with different environments and switching from food to tug and back. I wonder if it's doing anyone any good to be training him in agility skills when he's not tugging at class. I wonder if it's only setting us up for trouble. I'm considering taking a hiatus from classes until he's had a chance to mature a bit and I'm happy with his toy drive. It's kind of heartbreaking to see my tugging monster turning his nose up at a tug. It's never happened before. I don't want him to stop having fun.

So what do people think? Should I stay with the foundation course to at least learn some skills as a handler and just let Erik take it at his own pace, or should I stop doing classes and work on rekindling his love of tug and getting him back to doing it anywhere anytime?

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Vickie   
Hi everyone. So I'm debating whether to enter my border in her first trial at the end of August. How did you know when to first trial your dogs? :(

Depends where she's at & what your expectations are. So long as you know she will stay with you in the ring, she is capable of novice type courses in training and you know you can make it fun for her. I say go for it!

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Kavik   

corvus

OK I'm no expert as mine won't tug at training at all :( but maybe you are asking him to do too much or he is confused? Are there situations at training where he will still tug? Maybe go back to only tugging at training for fun, and use other rewards for the actual training part until he is happy tugging again? As this is your first attempt at agility, maybe you are unsure of what you are doing and this is translating to him?

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sheena   
Agility people, I need some advice.

Erik and I are doing a foundation agility class and we've just done week 3. I love the class and the instructors, but in the last two weeks Erik's tugging drive has plummeted. He's gone from swinging off tugs and barking and leaping at them to not even looking. It's so weird, because until now he's been a tugging fiend. We went through the 3 week relationship course and he was tugging the whole way, and he tugged on week 1 of foundation, and he hasn't tugged since. He will at home, but has trouble shifting from food rewards to tug.

I'm a bit worried. I don't think he's ready for the kind of training we're doing. I think he needs at least another 6 months of tugging for free and getting comfortable with different environments and switching from food to tug and back. I wonder if it's doing anyone any good to be training him in agility skills when he's not tugging at class. I wonder if it's only setting us up for trouble. I'm considering taking a hiatus from classes until he's had a chance to mature a bit and I'm happy with his toy drive. It's kind of heartbreaking to see my tugging monster turning his nose up at a tug. It's never happened before. I don't want him to stop having fun.

So what do people think? Should I stay with the foundation course to at least learn some skills as a handler and just let Erik take it at his own pace, or should I stop doing classes and work on rekindling his love of tug and getting him back to doing it anywhere anytime?

He's probably finding all the other things going on around him more attractive than playing tug with you...he is distracted. We didn't do much on tugging in our foundation classes...it was left for us to do as homework. Bindi, up till now, would only tug at home & was more motivated by a ball or food. She got more interested in the tug, when we hid all her other toys, including the balls. Last week, we had a breakthrough & she tugged at a trial for the first time. She has been trialing for 8 months now & I have trained her mainly with food & she is doing well, & has fun, especially now she is getting less distracted. I wouldn't stop going to classes, just because your dog wont tug. You don't need a tug toy to be able to train your dog to enjoy agility.

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Toby has his first Novice Jumping run since Nationals coming up! :( He was almost got his first Q at nationals but after a clear (but slow) round he ran around the last jump and past the finish line. :hug:

I have been spending time working on drive, motivation and working ahead so that I can hopefully have him working with more independance and confidence in the ring.

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corvus   

Well, I think it's a combination of being distracted, lots of learning, and using heaps of food, but mostly the latter. He gets into food mode and that's that. The more exercises we reward with food the less interested in tug he becomes because he's expecting food. I don't want to set him up to think agility is all about food if I could set him up to think it's about running around and playing? The foundation skills are great and I think I should use food for many of them, but for others the food just seems to confuse him because I'm suddenly feeding him for things he does anyway, like circle work. He's so short it's hard to deliver food when he's moving, so every time I treat we both stop.

I am unsure of what I'm doing, and it does translate, but if I have a tug in my hand it shouldn't matter. He should want to tug as that's how it's gone down so far. :( I guess it sounds like I'm being a bit of a diva about it, but I don't want to risk undoing what little I have done with tugging. At the moment Kivi tugs more reliably than Erik! I kinda consider my dogs' willingness to play with me to be something to nurture and protect. I guess I just don't feel confident that I'm doing that with Erik at the moment. Maybe I need to relax about it and just get Erik used to the agility class environment before I worry about whether he'll tug there or not?

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Kavik   

The difficulty tugging around food rewards seems a pretty common problem - have talked to a few others at my club who have the same issue.

And while you think it shouldn't matter that you are unsure and that he should tug regardless as long as you have a tug - maybe it matters to Eric. I know it matters to Kaos. He will tug if I am relaxed and confident but not if I am unsure.

I think as you get more confident in what you are doing, that Eric's confidence will also pick up.

Sorry not sure what to suggest to help. My big achievement so far is I can open the front gate and sometimes get Kaos to tug outside the front gate, or if he stops and gets distracted that I can get his attention back on tugging at all :mad

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Vickie   
I think he needs at least another 6 months of tugging for free

If he has already entered a phase where he thinks tugging with you is the not best fun ever, you could actually do more harm than good by tugging for free for an extended period.

So what do people think? Should I stay with the foundation course to at least learn some skills as a handler and just let Erik take it at his own pace, or should I stop doing classes and work on rekindling his love of tug and getting him back to doing it anywhere anytime?

I don't see why you can't do both...

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Tassie   

As usual :laugh: I agree with Vickie. After all, if you don't learn skills as a handler, no amount of tuggability is really going to help :o

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Kavik   

OK my achievement today - I got Kaos to go under my hoop for a tug :laugh: The hoop is what I used to prevent him jumping off contacts while training 2o2o behaviour separately.

I decided that since he is giving good reliable tugging in the yard, I am going to try to get him to work for it, and separately work on tugging in new environments (mostly front yard to outside front gate). So I decided to start easy with something I could restrain him by collar with one hand and he could easily see how to get the tug. Next will try tunnel.

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Jess.   

What about using a jackpot toy containing some food corvus?

The "food coma" was discussed at the last seminar I went to, and you could see some of the dogs would tug happily and then be rewarded with food, only to have them refuse the tug next time it was offered because they wanted more food. The advice was make them tug/play, keep pestering the crap out of them until they accepted the tug (and vice versa for dogs who refused food). I'm still trying to get my head around that and weigh it up against always offering something that the dog finds really rewarding.

Darcy will tug reliably anywhere with anything providing she's sufficiently aroused. She'll tug before she goes into a ring most times but by the end of a day trialling she starts to get a bit flat and won't, but she's still happy to pick up her jackpot toy and cart it back to "camp" knowing I'll give her a crack at it's contents when we get there. She'll still play games with me (spins, high 5, bark on command, hand touches) and still runs just as good at the end of the day as she does at the start.

I use a squeaky toy as well as food in training and find it works well. But I do train on my own a lot, some people get a bit snarky about using squeakies in group situations. :)

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Kavik   

My squeaky doesn't squeak anymore so it's not really a problem :)

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corvus   
If he has already entered a phase where he thinks tugging with you is the not best fun ever, you could actually do more harm than good by tugging for free for an extended period.

Really? How does that work?

Steven Lindsay was saying that when a dog is expecting a particular reward, offering a different reward may actually be aversive. It makes sense that when a dog gets put into food mode they don't want to tug anymore. A friend of mine uses food to lower arousal in dogs that get seriously over the top. With Erik when I get to marking and popping treats he goes into clicker training mode and he only wants his food. The more aroused he gets the faster he wants to clicker train rather than opening up tug as a potential reward.

I was having a crisis about this tugging thing this morning. After a play with Erik in the yard I convinced myself that his tug drive was not going to vanish after all and he would continue to find it loads of fun. He wil also continue to find clicker training loads of fun and if he's not ready to chase a toy over a jump in a few weeks he's not ready. No big deal. He's only a year old and the whole agility thing is all new to us both.

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Do you guys have any suggestions for getting Tess to run tunnels properly? she is more than happy to go in and she knows what the 'tunnel' is, and sometimes she will run through but most of the time she will skip the exit and run by my side, she will go in but turn around and come out the entrance again, or jump on the tunnel :noidea:

It isnt a confidence issue, I really dont know what it is...

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Do you guys have any suggestions for getting Tess to run tunnels properly? she is more than happy to go in and she knows what the 'tunnel' is, and sometimes she will run through but most of the time she will skip the exit and run by my side, she will go in but turn around and come out the entrance again, or jump on the tunnel :noidea:

It isnt a confidence issue, I really dont know what it is...

Hi,

It probably isn't a confidence issue, but it does sound like an understanding issue.

You could try to shorten and straighten the tunnel and do HEAPS of rewarding as the come out the end - throw a toy or piece of food to build drive for them bursting out the end of the tunnel and chasing their reward.

Hope that helps.

Cheers

Tony

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With Erik when I get to marking and popping treats he goes into clicker training mode and he only wants his food. The more aroused he gets the faster he wants to clicker train rather than opening up tug as a potential reward.

Sounds like Erik has you pretty well trained. 'If I do this then I get these treats. If I don't get those treats I won't work.' I admit I have BC's who are wired a little differently, but I do have a VERY challenging and soft BC who is very manipulative and will 'shut down' if things aren't going his way.

We have both learned that I hold the keys to fun/reward and that he needs to learn to play my way or he won't get what he wants. Sometimes that is his crate, sometimes it is food, sometimes it is to run the next jump in a sequence, it doesn't matter. Unless it is on my terms it doesn't happen. eg: He LOVES flyball, but if I ask him to tug and he refuses then he WILL tug before he plays again. If that means we go out to the car park to get some tug action then so be it.

The hardest thing to get my head around was to keep sessions short enough that we could succeed. At first this might have only been 15 seconds, but if it worked that was a success. Now we can work for 8 to 10 mintues without him shutting down or deciding which treat or toy he is willing to work for. The trick is to pull up the game at 7 minutes....

I'm a big one for putting rules in dogs lives, but at the same time being careful that they are only rules that will heighten behaviours that you want, not dull them down. 'control' and 'calm' are two words I try not to use around CK - I have too much of both and need a little crazy so that is what gets him a reward.

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corvus   
With Erik when I get to marking and popping treats he goes into clicker training mode and he only wants his food. The more aroused he gets the faster he wants to clicker train rather than opening up tug as a potential reward.

Sounds like Erik has you pretty well trained. 'If I do this then I get these treats. If I don't get those treats I won't work.' I admit I have BC's who are wired a little differently, but I do have a VERY challenging and soft BC who is very manipulative and will 'shut down' if things aren't going his way.

He doesn't "shut down", he just looks for the food reward. If it's not forthcoming he looks confused, slows down, starts getting distracted. I don't think it's an unwillingness to work so much as a suppressive aversive. He thought he was going to get one reward and when he doesn't he gets a downer. Same way as when he expects a certain reward and he gets it he gets very happy. What reward he expects depends on the cues he has been given. Where we are, the way I'm moving, what I've already rewarded him with, even how aroused he is or what he has an appetite for at that moment. Some cues override others, so if I always use food for one exercise he expects food, and then if I move to another exercise he's still expecting food because of what we've just done. I think we're getting into the realms of "at agility class I get food" and what I really want to do is try to derail that cue so that at agility class he gets food or toys and if he needs to know what to expect than he should pay attention to my cues rather than the environmental or situational cues... This is how Erik works. He always figures out how to know what's happening next. What everything means.

But what do I know. I don't think he's manipulative and he's far from soft. He is just very discriminatory. Every little detail means something to him.

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With Erik when I get to marking and popping treats he goes into clicker training mode and he only wants his food. The more aroused he gets the faster he wants to clicker train rather than opening up tug as a potential reward.

Sounds like Erik has you pretty well trained. 'If I do this then I get these treats. If I don't get those treats I won't work.' I admit I have BC's who are wired a little differently, but I do have a VERY challenging and soft BC who is very manipulative and will 'shut down' if things aren't going his way.

He doesn't "shut down", he just looks for the food reward. If it's not forthcoming he looks confused, slows down, starts getting distracted. I don't think it's an unwillingness to work so much as a suppressive aversive. He thought he was going to get one reward and when he doesn't he gets a downer. Same way as when he expects a certain reward and he gets it he gets very happy. What reward he expects depends on the cues he has been given. Where we are, the way I'm moving, what I've already rewarded him with, even how aroused he is or what he has an appetite for at that moment. Some cues override others, so if I always use food for one exercise he expects food, and then if I move to another exercise he's still expecting food because of what we've just done. I think we're getting into the realms of "at agility class I get food" and what I really want to do is try to derail that cue so that at agility class he gets food or toys and if he needs to know what to expect than he should pay attention to my cues rather than the environmental or situational cues... This is how Erik works. He always figures out how to know what's happening next. What everything means.

But what do I know. I don't think he's manipulative and he's far from soft. He is just very discriminatory. Every little detail means something to him.

I wasn't suggesting he is soft and perhaps manipulative is wrong as well - I was trying to draw a parallel between what he does and what my boy does. While the outcome manifests itself differently it still sounds to me like he is running the show. I think you need to change the 'at agility class I get food' mentality to - I get food when I do what I'm told. Take the context out of it - he doesn't get paid unless he does what you ask - doesn't matter if that is go over a jump, tug or sit, he still has to work before he gets the next reward.

It might mean breaking it down and only asking for something very small like interest in a toy to be paid and then build the value back up to where you can involve it in agility. I could be way off base and it could also be a breed thing, but from what I've read it sounds to me like what I've seen with a fair number of dogs who play by their rules.

I'm not saying they are out of control or they are bad dogs, just that they have never 'had' to work in this context.

V. hard in email to get across what I'm trying to say, I just know I've seen it work with both my two when I started to accept nothing but what I want.

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Tiggy   
Toby has his first Novice Jumping run since Nationals coming up! :eek: He was almost got his first Q at nationals but after a clear (but slow) round he ran around the last jump and past the finish line. :D

I have been spending time working on drive, motivation and working ahead so that I can hopefully have him working with more independance and confidence in the ring.

Good luck :o

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