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Obi246

How To Become More Interesting

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corvus   

K9: I didn't say people don't need a recall, I was merely pointing out above you say you cant get your dogs to leave you then you went on about a reward system that you only use for the recall.

I thought I gave you my answer right there. Of course we all need to practice recalls. And I don't always use jackpots for recalls. Only good recalls. And I do use them for other behaviours, but only when it was a damn good job. Or if I'm training something new and they suddenly get it. I just figure it's not a jackpot if you do it every time.

K9: I think they will have as much value as you condition them too.

K9: Having a party with my dogs isn't a problem for me, I actually enjoy rewarding them at that level.

:shrug: That's your prerogative. I don't disagree. I just have a different approach. That doesn't mean I'm trying to have a go at you, you know.

K9: perhaps you have trouble getting your dogs to respond to jackpots because you run so many reps there is no drive left for the exercise, only for the constant reinforcement.

Oh, they respond to jackpots. Probably. I'm just wary of jumping to the conclusion that they are effective given there's not much support for their use. I'm not exactly sure what you mean by "no drive left for the exercise". My dogs don't seem to get tired of doing anything. I don't really drill them. We do a handful of reps, mix it up with some other things, then take a recess. I've trained for 40 minutes straight with no recesses and they still don't seem to get tired of anything. I'm careful with stays, though. Don't want to test it.

K9: Just on another topic, do you find that the "problem" of your dogs not wanting to leave you as they expect to hear a cue all the time produces dogs with no off switch, dogs that need constant attention and to be walked and exercised excessively to quench their desire for reward?

No.

I find that if you don't teach a dog when to predict engagement, ie after a cue, then any time they desire reward they will try and engage with you and this can be a lot with some dogs.

Yeah, that's true and is the reason why stimulus control for behaviours is pretty useful. The exceptions are default behaviours. I like default behaviours. I find them worth living with uncued behaviours. I'm not a perfect trainer. Anything that doesn't get put under stimulus control usually turns into a request for training. Erik's latest is hopping on 3 feet. Evidently I should have put a cue on that some time ago.

The conundrum is that on the one hand I don't want to be pestered to train and on the other I don't want to give the dogs a "seriously, no more reinforcement" cue in an environment where I may need to change my mind about that at any moment. I don't want them to disengage completely because they might not hear me when I need them to respond. If they always have an ear out they are really nice and responsive. It's just a safety thing, and makes life a fair bit easier. I brought it up because it illustrates the power of conditioning and a strong reinforcement history in a variety of contexts. You want to be more interesting to your dog? I'm so interesting to my dogs it's hard work to get them to leave me sometimes. If I had my time again I'd do the same thing. I still want responsiveness in any situation and I love the default behaviours. I secretly like dogs that are being as angelic as they know how in the hopes you'll reward it as well. Aww, they are cute. Annoying, but cute.

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Interesting point about the release word. I do believe you need to train a release so the dog is in no doubt that they are not working at that moment. My dogs will try to re-engage me but I simply don't reward what I don't want :) If I just want a walk with no attention from them I will say "off you go" and not reward any attention seeking and they get the message and go do their doggy thing.

I actually have a range of release cues which I use in different contexts.... in any performance area they know the release is temporary and they are to re-engage immediately.

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I thought I gave you my answer right there. Of course we all need to practice recalls. And I don't always use jackpots for recalls. Only good recalls. And I do use them for other behaviours, but only when it was a damn good job. Or if I'm training something new and they suddenly get it. I just figure it's not a jackpot if you do it every time.

K9: so it seems that you do use jackpots quite often then, good recalls, damn goods jobs and new things, so I am lost at why you said "Jackpots don't have much empirical support. I don't really use them much, so don't ask me."

Oh, they respond to jackpots. Probably. I'm just wary of jumping to the conclusion that they are effective given there's not much support for their use. I'm not exactly sure what you mean by "no drive left for the exercise". My dogs don't seem to get tired of doing anything. I don't really drill them. We do a handful of reps, mix it up with some other things, then take a recess. I've trained for 40 minutes straight with no recesses and they still don't seem to get tired of anything. I'm careful with stays, though. Don't want to test it.

K9: I have trouble keeping up with your posts to be honest, in one post you say you are more interested in doing more reps, the next you say you don't over practice things. I wonder if you actually know what you do lol

K9: Just on another topic, do you find that the "problem" of your dogs not wanting to leave you as they expect to hear a cue all the time produces dogs with no off switch, dogs that need constant attention and to be walked and exercised excessively to quench their desire for reward?

No.

S: Are you sure lol, my mistake then, I thought in the 9 - 5 thread you wrote they took a lot of exercise to keep balanced.

I wont add any more, you seem to change the playing field as you go :)

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kayla1   

Yeah, that's true and is the reason why stimulus control for behaviours is pretty useful. The exceptions are default behaviours. I like default behaviours. I find them worth living with uncued behaviours. I'm not a perfect trainer. Anything that doesn't get put under stimulus control usually turns into a request for training. Erik's latest is hopping on 3 feet. Evidently I should have put a cue on that some time ago.

Corvus could you (or anyone else that knows) please explain what stimulus control is, and what default behaviours are?

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corvus   

Yeah, that's true and is the reason why stimulus control for behaviours is pretty useful. The exceptions are default behaviours. I like default behaviours. I find them worth living with uncued behaviours. I'm not a perfect trainer. Anything that doesn't get put under stimulus control usually turns into a request for training. Erik's latest is hopping on 3 feet. Evidently I should have put a cue on that some time ago.

Corvus could you (or anyone else that knows) please explain what stimulus control is, and what default behaviours are?

Stimulus control: Behaviour only occurs when cued, basically.

Default behaviour: This is a term Leslie McDevitt uses, I think. She uses it to describe a behaviour that is so strongly conditioned in so many contexts that it bypasses thinking a lot of the time and often the circumstances are the cue. For example, Erik has a really nice default down. If he wants something, he usually downs. If he's not sure what I want him to do, he downs. One time he got in a blue with another dog and when I got the opportunity I grabbed his harness and he automatically downed. I think it was in response to the combination of being pretty upset and feeling pressure on his harness. He was surprisingly solid there, though. The other dog was still at large and trying to come in for another round, but E just stayed in his down while I tried to fend it off or catch it.

Bedazzled, sometimes situations bleed into each other. Like I tell them to go play, they decide they'd rather hang around, then a few minutes later things change and I ask them to sit while someone else goes past or something like that. As far as they are concerned I just made it worth their while to disregard the go play release. I'm not that bothered, though. Kivi in particular is pretty spitzy in his temperament. If I just let him potter off and explore he's liable to lose track of me. He's also not a multi-tasker like Erik is. E can do three different things at once and still hear me when I call and he just about never loses track of where I am. Kivi's head gets lost in the clouds just doing one thing. :o

K9, you're asking me to somehow distil everything my dogs do and everything I do while in a dynamic environment down to a series of simple rules. It's just not that simple! I do a lot of things, some a lot more than others. You're always asking me about exceptions, that's why my answers are often hard to follow. I try to give a representation of what usually happens and you ask me about what happens unusually. So yeah, contradictions!

The thread is about getting a dog to hang around and pay attention while off leash in an exciting environment. I love my dogs' off leash control. It's at its best in exciting environments. In the scheme of things, I rarely have to try to get my dogs' attention. I just say their name and I've got them. I love that despite Erik being a touch emotionally reactive and Kivi having a pretty strong independent streak, I can take them pretty much anywhere and be confident that they will be fabulously responsive off leash. I have worked very hard to get this level of off leash control and it took quite a while. It's not perfect, but I can never quite call something done. I'm always improving it. The way I deliver my rewards is such a minor issue I can't believe anyone could get upset about it. I only brought it up because I think reward delivery in general is a side issue to the one of simply getting your dogs to be responsive in exciting environments. I just didn't communicate that very well. If people want responsive dogs, who cares about how you deliver rewards as long as you get in the habit of doing it. Any time, any place. My dogs are not fabulously responsive because I make a fuss when I reward them. They are fabulously responsive because when we take them out we do stuff with them. We play games, we learn new behaviours, we practise behaviours we're working on, we do exciting things, we practise being calm and doing quiet things, we use the environment as props and ways to test their problem-solving skills, their understanding of basic cues, and improve their body awareness, we work on safety behaviours like "leave it" and whiplash turns or u-turns (positive interruptor?), we practise getting their attention in the face of big distractions and holding it, we practise directional cues and even when we throw a ball for them it's part of training. We are very interesting to them because we engage them. It's not about how we deliver the reinforcement or even what reinforcement we use. It's about being with them, engaging them, and having a strong history of being a good bet for fun and rewarding activities.

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Kavik   

I think, as sometimes happens in these discussions, that corvus and K9Pro are talking at cross purposes :)

I just read K9Pro's blog entry - very nicely worded :) I have found a huge improvement in my dog's focus since improving my reward delivery and making myself more fun and exciting (though I don't use K9Pro's program). It was difficult at first as I felt self conscious but now I am more comfortable doing it in public and having much more fun with it and we have had fantastic results this year in agility. I am now even having success with my dog's tugging away from home, though not ready to use it as a reward away from home yet.

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huski   

If people choose to believe that reward delivery makes no difference to dogs that is their choice of course, however it's certainly not my experience and we see huge changes in dogs responsiveness and engagement levels when the handler is taught how to deliver the reward in a way that not only makes the experience of receiving a reward more exciting but involves the handler more. Sharing in a reward experience with your dog isn't about making the reward itself more valuable, it's about involving yourself in the process so the dog learns that without you the reward doesn't have much value. A dog that has learnt this can get rewards from elsewhere, even the same reward as what you are offering, but it won't hold the same interest or value to the dog as it would coming from the handler. There is more to training dogs IMO than handing a piece of food over to them, at the very least, I certainly enjoy training my dogs more when it's an experience we are both sharing in and enjoying together.

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huski   

I just read K9Pro's blog entry - very nicely worded :) I have found a huge improvement in my dog's focus since improving my reward delivery and making myself more fun and exciting (though I don't use K9Pro's program). It was difficult at first as I felt self conscious but now I am more comfortable doing it in public and having much more fun with it and we have had fantastic results this year in agility. I am now even having success with my dog's tugging away from home, though not ready to use it as a reward away from home yet.

Thanks Kavik :). As I said on the blog, for me it's one of the valuable things I've learnt about training dogs. We notice this especially when running dog and handler workshops - we see dozens of dogs change how they respond to the handler, their focus, their desire for the reward, their durability and desire to work simply through changing the way the reward is delivered, when you see how quickly the dog changes you can't deny the difference reward delivery can make.

ETA: And of course there is a practical element too, if we look at something like playing tug how you present and handle the tug can either encourage the dog to engage with you and increase it's desire for the tug or it can turn the dog off tugging. The number of times I have seen people say 'my dog won't tug' only to watch them and see how they handle the tug is making the dog turn off, has been huge! Show them how to do it right and the dog can turn into a tug monster almost straight away. Super interesting stuff, though getting OT now! :)

Edited by huski

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Kavik   

I have found Susan Garrett's information and courses to be very helpful - I have done Recallers and her Contact Course. Both included a vast array of content far beyond their title - Recallers has a lot of great games for relationship building and engagment, drive building, self control and of course recalls. There is emphasis on getting your dog to tug (including a separate Tuggers section to help troubleshoot tugging issues), playing with your dog and also looking at what your dog finds reinforcing and what your dog finds distracting.

Edited by Kavik

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kayla1   

Yeah, that's true and is the reason why stimulus control for behaviours is pretty useful. The exceptions are default behaviours. I like default behaviours. I find them worth living with uncued behaviours. I'm not a perfect trainer. Anything that doesn't get put under stimulus control usually turns into a request for training. Erik's latest is hopping on 3 feet. Evidently I should have put a cue on that some time ago.

Corvus could you (or anyone else that knows) please explain what stimulus control is, and what default behaviours are?

Stimulus control: Behaviour only occurs when cued, basically.

Default behaviour: This is a term Leslie McDevitt uses, I think. She uses it to describe a behaviour that is so strongly conditioned in so many contexts that it bypasses thinking a lot of the time and often the circumstances are the cue. For example, Erik has a really nice default down. If he wants something, he usually downs. If he's not sure what I want him to do, he downs. One time he got in a blue with another dog and when I got the opportunity I grabbed his harness and he automatically downed. I think it was in response to the combination of being pretty upset and feeling pressure on his harness. He was surprisingly solid there, though. The other dog was still at large and trying to come in for another round, but E just stayed in his down while I tried to fend it off or catch it.

Thanks. :)

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Aidan3   

I think it's an interesting discussion, and it's good to see a bit of X vs Y debate.

There is a lot of interesting research on the role of dopamine in rewarding experiences, and related neural processes that seem to be comparative - reward experience is measured against reward expectation. If experience meets or exceeds expectation - good, if not - I am disappoint.

Events that are super-significant to an animal are more likely to be learned from, so there is a case for a "big" reward. Matching law tells us that big reward experiences are more powerful. It also tells us that high frequency rewards of lower value can trump big rewards, too.

Some of the most reliable behaviours studied using an operant conditioning, food reward paradigm are those that have been learned through many, many trials. Is this because many, many trials of low value are better? Or because it is more practical to train this way (considering that behaviours often need to be shaped by successive approximation, so we're going to need lots of rewards to get what we want initially, and don't want to satiate the animal before we get where we're going)?

If a dog knows how to do something (and dogs can often figure some things out very quickly, also other things are innate and just need a bit of guidance; tracking, herding for e.g) - are we better taking a skinner-box type approach, or an approach such as that described by Huski in her blog post?

My approach tends towards a mix of both. Initial behaviours are trained using low-value food and lots of trials in quick succession. Once the initial behaviour is learned, we can switch to a more powerful, less frequent "reward experience" (to borrow from Huski). Think of teaching a young dog to retrieve, then taking him out when he is ready and letting him retrieve in the field. The teaching phase requires lots of repetitions to shape the behaviours that we want, then when they are ready they are going to get big reward experiences - regardless of what they do, so you'd better make sure they're going to get it right.

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Kavik   

For me it depends on what I am trying to train, and where I am in teaching it. For shaping I tend to use food and many short sessions, for other things a game may be more appropriate. I start and end my sessions with relationship building regardless of what I am going to train. At home this is tugging at the start and using food in an exciting way at the end, when we are out this is using food in an exciting way (until we get our tug more reliable when out).

ETA: placement of reward is very important too - I don't always want the dog looking at me.

Edited by Kavik

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Vickie   

My approach tends towards a mix of both. Initial behaviours are trained using low-value food and lots of trials in quick succession. Once the initial behaviour is learned, we can switch to a more powerful, less frequent "reward experience"

I often use a mix of both too. I frequently start new behaviours simply by using the daily meal. Putting a bowl of food on the ground seems like a wasted training opportunity to me. Living in a multidog household, my dogs get pretty excited about mealtimes. Sometimes the meal is a bowl of kibble, sometimes it's fresh meat or a nice big bone.I find that after a few days repetition of luring a behaviour, my dogs very quickly transition to offering the behaviour, and because of the anticipation that exists at mealtimes (and despite the fact that it may be boring kibble) they do it with a lot of enthusiasm. It's kind of interesting because the meal makes the training more exciting and the training makes the meal more exciting. Win win situation. I also use the "reward experience", but for many behaviours, this is introduced in the proofing phase rather than the initial learning phase.

Edited by Vickie

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Tassie   

If people choose to believe that reward delivery makes no difference to dogs that is their choice of course, however it's certainly not my experience and we see huge changes in dogs responsiveness and engagement levels when the handler is taught how to deliver the reward in a way that not only makes the experience of receiving a reward more exciting but involves the handler more. Sharing in a reward experience with your dog isn't about making the reward itself more valuable, it's about involving yourself in the process so the dog learns that without you the reward doesn't have much value. A dog that has learnt this can get rewards from elsewhere, even the same reward as what you are offering, but it won't hold the same interest or value to the dog as it would coming from the handler. There is more to training dogs IMO than handing a piece of food over to them, at the very least, I certainly enjoy training my dogs more when it's an experience we are both sharing in and enjoying together.

Nicely said, huski. This sort of excited involvement with the dog in the training process is one of the key things I've learnt from various gurus - including some of the ones here (like bedazzledx2 and Ptolomy). I think it's the high excitement and the delighted involvement of the trainer that makes the jackpot so valuable - not the intrinsic value of the jackpot itself. My jackpots will more often be a rapid fire delivery of maybe 3 or 4 or 5 small treats in quick succession - dog doesn't actually get a lot of extra food, but gets a heap of extra delighted attention.

I find it one of the hardest things in helping other people, to get them to be animated and really connecting with their dogs. So many just seem to go through the motions - and then wonder why the dog is doing just that.

I really like what bedazzledx2 wrote about the release(s) - that's an important part of the training process that we often forget about, or forget to be consistent about.

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I just read K9Pro's blog entry - very nicely worded :) I have found a huge improvement in my dog's focus since improving my reward delivery and making myself more fun and exciting (though I don't use K9Pro's program). It was difficult at first as I felt self conscious but now I am more comfortable doing it in public and having much more fun with it and we have had fantastic results this year in agility. I am now even having success with my dog's tugging away from home, though not ready to use it as a reward away from home yet.

Thanks Kavik :). As I said on the blog, for me it's one of the valuable things I've learnt about training dogs. We notice this especially when running dog and handler workshops - we see dozens of dogs change how they respond to the handler, their focus, their desire for the reward, their durability and desire to work simply through changing the way the reward is delivered, when you see how quickly the dog changes you can't deny the difference reward delivery can make.

ETA: And of course there is a practical element too, if we look at something like playing tug how you present and handle the tug can either encourage the dog to engage with you and increase it's desire for the tug or it can turn the dog off tugging. The number of times I have seen people say 'my dog won't tug' only to watch them and see how they handle the tug is making the dog turn off, has been huge! Show them how to do it right and the dog can turn into a tug monster almost straight away. Super interesting stuff, though getting OT now! :)

Sorry to go off topic but do you have a link for this blog huski?

This has always been my biggest issue with Ziggy as he is not food focused at all, he really doesn't care if you have food or not.

I have been using a squeaky tennis ball but this is distracting for others at training and I would love to be able to get him to focus more on me with food... If that is possible.

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huski   

Sorry to go off topic but do you have a link for this blog huski?

This has always been my biggest issue with Ziggy as he is not food focused at all, he really doesn't care if you have food or not.

I have been using a squeaky tennis ball but this is distracting for others at training and I would love to be able to get him to focus more on me with food... If that is possible.

Hey SL, the one Kavik is talking about is this one I wrote last week;

http://blog.k9pro.com.au/creating-the-reward-experience/

It probably is possible to increase his desire for a food reward, but there are also other ways to harness his prey drive without using a squeaky ball if that's what he loves the most. I would avoid using a squeaky or noisey toy if possible anyway, if the dog has enough prey drive to work with you don't need to activate their prey drive with squeaky balls or furry tugs etc.

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huski   

I should add there are definitely times I reward more frequently with food etc, I use shaping a lot, so I don't always handle the reward the same way. I like talking about creating a reward experience and looking at how we deliver rewards because I do think it makes a difference to the dog and I think it can be beneficial to train that way.

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Kavik   

It probably is possible to increase his desire for a food reward, but there are also other ways to harness his prey drive without using a squeaky ball if that's what he loves the most. I would avoid using a squeaky or noisey toy if possible anyway, if the dog has enough prey drive to work with you don't need to activate their prey drive with squeaky balls or furry tugs etc.

Don't knock furry tugs - they rock :laugh: (except they get really gross after a while!) - remember not all dogs are Malinois and not all prefer the same tugs :thumbsup:

I use a range of tugs including the udder tugs, real and fake sheepskin, fake fur, balls on ropes, kong wubbas, braided fleece, and one I made with a skinneez toy that I affectinately call 'roadkill on a rope' :laugh: I have several 'tradtitional tugs' but he doesn't like them as much.

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huski   

It probably is possible to increase his desire for a food reward, but there are also other ways to harness his prey drive without using a squeaky ball if that's what he loves the most. I would avoid using a squeaky or noisey toy if possible anyway, if the dog has enough prey drive to work with you don't need to activate their prey drive with squeaky balls or furry tugs etc.

Don't knock furry tugs - they rock :laugh: (except they get really gross after a while!) - remember not all dogs are Malinois and not all prefer the same tugs :thumbsup:

I use a range of tugs including the udder tugs, real and fake sheepskin, fake fur, balls on ropes, kong wubbas, braided fleece, and one I made with a skinneez toy that I affectinately call 'roadkill on a rope' :laugh: I have several 'tradtitional tugs' but he doesn't like them as much.

LOL I am well aware not all dogs are Malinois, though it would be fun if they were the only dogs I got to work with!

I'm sure many dogs love furry tugs, but I still maintain that if the dog will only go into drive for furry, colorful or noisey tugs it probably doesn't have enough drive to do what you want it to.

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Kavik   

It probably is possible to increase his desire for a food reward, but there are also other ways to harness his prey drive without using a squeaky ball if that's what he loves the most. I would avoid using a squeaky or noisey toy if possible anyway, if the dog has enough prey drive to work with you don't need to activate their prey drive with squeaky balls or furry tugs etc.

Don't knock furry tugs - they rock :laugh: (except they get really gross after a while!) - remember not all dogs are Malinois and not all prefer the same tugs :thumbsup:

I use a range of tugs including the udder tugs, real and fake sheepskin, fake fur, balls on ropes, kong wubbas, braided fleece, and one I made with a skinneez toy that I affectinately call 'roadkill on a rope' :laugh: I have several 'tradtitional tugs' but he doesn't like them as much.

LOL I am well aware not all dogs are Malinois, though it would be fun if they were the only dogs I got to work with!

I'm sure many dogs love furry tugs, but I still maintain that if the dog will only go into drive for furry, colorful or noisey tugs it probably doesn't have enough drive to do what you want it to.

My dog will tug for other ones, but he does have his favourites :D and I do mix it up at home (used two different tugs already this morning), but since I am still building up his tug in new places, I am happy to use his favourite tug, the one he is happiest and most likely to tug with, when we are out. If that is furry, then so be it. Different dogs may prefer different textures, and if you are not planning on doing bitework with them, what does it matter what they are tugging on? I also use different tugs for different things - a different one may be more suitable for exercises where I am throwing it than when I am rewarding close to my body, or a longer one may be more suitable in some cases. I do present and use tugs somewhat differently to K9Pro's program, since I follow mostly SG (who also uses a range of tugs, but not more 'traditional' types either).

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