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Obi246

How To Become More Interesting

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huski   

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).

Differently to which of our programs?

I think it's important that dogs can learn to tug on different surfaces, but there are lots of reasons why some tugs and surfaces are better than others. Safety for the dog, firstly - rope toys for eg can have threads come loose and lodge between the dogs teeth and cause infection in the gums. You should also choose a tug toy that's a safe size for the dog to tug on, too thick and it can cause the dog jaw pain because they have to stretch their mouth over it too far, too thin and it can also be uncomfortable if the dog snaps it's mouth around it quickly and snaps its teeth together. Tugs that fall apart quickly can affect the dog's grip. Practical elements too - we've all met someone whose dog's favourite tug toy is a deflated soccer ball! If you want to use drive in competition or for a certain goal having to whip out a deflated soccer ball is impractical. It's hard for the handler to grip on. You also don't want the dog to tug on a surface that can damage it's teeth. I could keep going but there are really a million and one reasons why what the dog tugs on is important, regardless of whether the dog is learning bite work! :)

As I said, there is nothing really wrong with furry tugs etc on their own but if the dog needs to be stimulated by the fur and sound of the tug to go into prey drive, I'd be asking firstly if the tug is being handled properly and secondly whether tug is really what the dog works best for.

efs

Edited by huski

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Kavik   

I've been to a few of Steve's workshops, and the way tug is approached is different to the way SG approaches it. SG would like all of her student's dogs to tug. I think my dog's issues have been more to do with confidence, trust, biddability, and my playing style with him (my handling of the tug and approach to the tugging game) rather than drive. He has improved 100% over the last year, still needs a bit more before it can be used as a reward outside of the yard.

The most common tug I see being used as a reward in agility is the dog's lead. When I can get Kaos jazzed up at a trial or training we have had some success tugging on his lead as well.

ETA: I meant as long as it is safe and practical I don't see why it should matter what the dog tugs on - why should it matter if my dog likes to tug on furry things or rubber things, or balls on ropes, and someone else's dog may prefer something else. Swagger (SG's young dog) really likes a plastic bottle on a rope that is filled with something so it rattles (not sure what is inside it). Instructors aren't going to care, or other students or competitors or judges, so long as everyone is happy and safe. Squeakers may present a problem with the noise though.

Edited by Kavik

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megan_   

You have to work with the dog that you have. I have terriorists, they love squeaky and fury. I don't see the point in not working with what you have? They dont like firm bar tugs and they have soft, small mouths so they struggle to grip them. They lime tugs they can trash around. After fergs hurt his back it has taken him months go get back yo tugging so I use small, moving tugs. The best tug for him at the moment is a holeproof explored sock and a fox tail.

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corvus   

This sort of excited involvement with the dog in the training process is one of the key things I've learnt from various gurus

But it's not just the training process where you have to engage your dog. That's the key point that Cosmolo made, and I would really hate for it to get lost here because it's so important. You've got to take it on the road with you. If you do that much, how you deliver reinforcement or how excited you get isn't all that important. Otherwise my dogs wouldn't be so engaged with me seeing as I don't jackpot very often. Might help, but it's not the key issue. The trick is to circumvent them so they can't use the environment as context cues. The strongest signal to them that they are training needs to be that you just gave them a cue.

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Weasels   

What a great thread :)

I have one of each: a velcro dog who is always looking for an opportunity to engage with me, and my trouble-monster who really had stuff-all value for humans when we first adopted him.

Chess (velcro) was ball obsessed when we got her, so she never strayed far away lest she miss an opportunuty to chase a ball. Lack of ball throwing just meant she ran ahead a short ways, turned around and gave you the most intense, hopeful stare that it seems few humans can resist (hell it is so engaging it even got her out of the shelter!). At first we utilised it, and her training proceeded at a cracking pace, but then when we started to teach her "have a rest" it took aaaages. Teaching her to do something was (is) a snap, teaching her to relax probably took 6 months! But eventually she's learnt that when I say "have a rest" no more ball throwing (and hence no more training) is going to happen, to the extent she will now sometimes just drop the ball where it is and go sniff and be normal. The ball itself has become less reinforcing on it's own, and the value for the person+ball has gone up. FWIW teaching her this "nothing's going on" cue hasn't diminished her responsiveness one bit, if I make a clicky sound (my 'change direction' cue) or say her name she is back and engaged in a heartbeat.

Weez is another kettle of fish entirely. Until fairly recently he had higher value for Chess than for me (and probably still does in some contexts). The one thing that really pushed his training ahead was getting him to chase his own ball rather than just chasing Chess around. This happened fortuitously when Chess was convalescing after being attacked by a mastiff and Weez got a good run of just him & me walks. The other thing that helped with Weez is heaps of reinforcement for uncued "hanging out" - when he checks in or walks at heel without me saying anything he gets a treat about 80-85% of the time (and praise the other times). We do this a little bit every morning, along with regular recall etc. training, and he is getting better and better :)

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huski   

I think Megan and Kavik you are missing my point. I'm not saying that there is something wrong with a dog playing with furry toys, I'm sure many dogs do like them. But if the dog can only go into drive for a furry toy I would question if the dog has enough drive to do what you want it to.

Kavik as you bought up your experience with your dog I'll use that as an example. The style that you play with your dog probably does make a difference but realistically if it takes you a year to train your dog to tug just in the back yard is he really going to have enough drive for that reward to do an obedience ring run out or run the agility course in a highly distracting environment? Does he really have much value for the tug as a reward? My point is that if it takes a year to get a dog to tug just in the back yard, and the tug has to be furry or squeaky or whatever the dog probably does not have enough drive or value for that particular reward. If it takes you a year to teach tugging in the backyard how long will it take to be able to use it in the obedience ring? Or at agility etc.

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megan_   

I am struggling to see your point. You have to work with the dog that you have in front of you and build o its strengths. My dog has more than enough drive and focus to do what I want him to do - he is a great agility dog and I've been told that by instructors, some of whom are the top competitors in this state. He isn't a working line BC or mal but I'm hardly going to stop doing things with him and say he doesn't have enough drive to do agility because he doesn't like bar tugs! Why are they the only "real" ones?

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Wobbly   

One of the things I wonder about is the effect location and context can have.

By which I mean, you have fairly boring places like the backyard and lounge room, and then the super fun places - for my dog that's our off leash walk spot, her interest in a prey item is really affected by what she's come to expect from her surrounds.

Now I haven't been able to test this on the synthetic bar tug I just got yet because my dog is recovering from a toe injury, so we're taking it easy atm, but I'm pretty sure I can predict based on previous experience that her enthusiasm for it will change according to whether we are playing in the yard or at our super fun walk spot.

We're having a good time playing tug and fetch with the bar tug in the backyard, but she can take it or leave it (which is what I'm aiming for right now - low drive because I'm trying to teach "out", which I'm failing at atm btw, when I do "dead tug" she does "dead dog" - where she clamps down on the tug and takes her weight off her feet, so I'm forced to either hold up her weight by the tug or bend down to her at ground level :laugh: ). At least with the synthetic bar tug I can get it off her, so it's MY new favourite toy in the world even if it's not her favourite yet. XD

But I know if I start playing with the synthetic bar tug at our walk spot, it's value will skyrocket - if it regularly becomes part of a swim fetch game it will become the most important thing in the entire world to her. With her usual swim fetch toy the frisbee she won't just use her teeth to tug, she'll get right in and grip it with her front paws too (and I wonder why she broke her toenail the other day - derp). If I use the bar tug in the same context she will react the same way to it that she does the frisbee.

Material type like fluffiness and gripability used to be all important. But material seems now to be immaterial (so to speak), it's all about whether we play swim fetch with it that gives an item it's value. Once she gets to firmly associate an item with swim fetch, then it becomes the most precious resource in the world, location will cease to matter then - the item becomes intrisically imbued with all the excitement of swim fetch.

I guess that probably goes back to the energy you put into it, playing at our off leash walk spot I have always really gone out of my way to make games as exciting and fun as possible for her because I had originally assumed she was low in tug drive and that I needed to make a huge song and dance about it to make it interesting to her (lol at my daftness). But it's interesting to me that I seem to have taught her to place value on an item (frisbees specifically) based on whether we play swim fetch with it. Any location she can play swim fetch is equally effective, but we do have our usual spot where there's hardly ever anyone else.

It's not something I meant to teach her, it just happened that way, a fortuitous accident that suits me well so I keep with it. Probably the only thing I'd change (apart from a good "out" which I'd LOVE, although the synthetic tug makes it less of a problem because I can get it off her anyway), is that I do think she places more value on the prey item itself than me - that is the fetch/tug item is whats most compelling to her, moreso than myself.

Edited by Wobbly

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Kavik   

I think Megan and Kavik you are missing my point. I'm not saying that there is something wrong with a dog playing with furry toys, I'm sure many dogs do like them. But if the dog can only go into drive for a furry toy I would question if the dog has enough drive to do what you want it to.

Kavik as you bought up your experience with your dog I'll use that as an example. The style that you play with your dog probably does make a difference but realistically if it takes you a year to train your dog to tug just in the back yard is he really going to have enough drive for that reward to do an obedience ring run out or run the agility course in a highly distracting environment? Does he really have much value for the tug as a reward? My point is that if it takes a year to get a dog to tug just in the back yard, and the tug has to be furry or squeaky or whatever the dog probably does not have enough drive or value for that particular reward. If it takes you a year to teach tugging in the backyard how long will it take to be able to use it in the obedience ring? Or at agility etc.

Here is where our point differs. Rather than saying he won't automatically tug in every environment so I'll give up on tugging, I am working on our relationship and growing the tugging behaviour. I know he has enough drive. Even if we don't get to use it as a reward for agility (he is 6 yrs old and so has a long history of not tugging when asked to overcome), it has still been a very worthwhile exercise to teach. I have learned a lot about myself and my dog, his strengths and weaknesses, to be able to guage how engaged he is, to note what he does when I let go of the toy or out him from the toy, his willingness to bring it back, the difference various toys make. All of this has improved our relationship and will certainly make it easier for me to train tug properly from the beginning when I get a new puppy.

This is where I really like SG. Like I said she encourages people to have ALL dogs tug. It is necessary for several components of her training courses. To celebrate the small succeses. To help your dog to tug outside the yard by increasing the distractions and difficulties within the yard first. There was a big congrats from SG and LOH when I posted that I was now able to get him tugging at the park. That kind of encouragement helps. Also knowing there are others in the same boat having to overcome the same difficulties, and succeeding!

I have gotten him to tug:

Straight out of a crate release to a tug

After shaping with food

At the park

At training

At a trial

On a table

On a wobble board

All things I never would have dreamed possible a year ago.

Last year I had huge issues with him running out of the ring. He has only done it once this year, at a very distracting trial and new environment. It was the only trial we did not qualify in at least one event. We gained 3 titles this year, our most successful yet!

Sometimes in training it is the journey that is important :)

I'm sure you found training just as simple with your Beagle as you do with the Malinois puppy yes?

Edited by Kavik

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Wobbly   

It's funny Kavik, I think we are both trying to subvert our dog's natural instinct AND our own years of conditioning.

For a bully breed like Jarrah, breeders were entirely focussed on a dog that holds on and never, ever gives up. I have cemented that with years of playing without a successful out, and just now I am trying to change it up on her, derp. Actually she hasn't even realised I'm changing the rules (shows how effective my attempts are) :o

For a stock dog like a Kelpie, breeders would have been very focussed on producing a dog that wouldn't hold onto sheep, a motivational nip or two maybe, but certainly never the hold & shake behaviour of a tuggy dog, that'd be the last thing you'd want in a sheep dog I'd think.

We've both got a bit of an uphill battle. XD I hope we can do it despite the odds (I bet we probably can, though I am going to need some professional help I think).

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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.

I totally agree with rewarding at the right times...

At the moment he has to be really hungry to want a food reward over other dogs in the group.

It's good that we gain with a group of dogs that all have their issues.. There are no meet and greets in our group. It is teaching him, that he can't say hello to every dog he meets.

Thanks for the link, off to read it now. Are there any recommended books on this?

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It's funny Kavik, I think we are both trying to subvert our dog's natural instinct AND our own years of conditioning.

For a bully breed like Jarrah, breeders were entirely focussed on a dog that holds on and never, ever gives up. I have cemented that with years of playing without a successful out, and just now I am trying to change it up on her, derp. Actually she hasn't even realised I'm changing the rules (shows how effective my attempts are) :o

For a stock dog like a Kelpie, breeders would have been very focussed on producing a dog that wouldn't hold onto sheep, a motivational nip or two maybe, but certainly never the hold & shake behaviour of a tuggy dog, that'd be the last thing you'd want in a sheep dog I'd think.

We've both got a bit of an uphill battle. XD I hope we can do it despite the odds (I bet we probably can, though I am going to need some professional help I think).

Its interesting you write that. My cattle dog bitch has never opened her mouth on sheep, and as she matures she is becoming very confident and proficient at turning the head of the sheep by shouldering them. Full body sideways contact turning the sheep anywhere from 90 degrees to a full 180. As a pup I tried lots of tugging, but it was all manufactured. Sure she engaged but she didn't tip over into that state of sheer excitement. She just isn't a mouthy dog, and like you pointed out kelpies ect haven't been bred to hold a grip. But she loves chasing things and she loves physical/stalking play.

A fellow DOL'er put me onto the idea's of Denise Fenzi (who is coming out here next year for a series of seminars :thumbsup: ) she believes in whatever turns that dog on. Denise has competed at the highest levels of both AKC obedience and IPO/Mondio ring. Some dog's like rough housing as their reward, some like to chase things, some like food, but its finding what that dog likes. To her the ultimate goal is when the dog goes into drive thru play, without intermediaries. I persisted with tugging but the whole time I was thinking 'why do I seem to be taking the hard road here. I can get the desired drive levels with a ball, or by rumbling with her'

I like what she writes here

OP, have a look on Denise's blog, there is so much interesting information, including breaking down physical play into different categories - stalk play, pushing away play, chase play.

I like this video from Forrest Micke

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Kavik   

It's funny Kavik, I think we are both trying to subvert our dog's natural instinct AND our own years of conditioning.

For a bully breed like Jarrah, breeders were entirely focussed on a dog that holds on and never, ever gives up. I have cemented that with years of playing without a successful out, and just now I am trying to change it up on her, derp. Actually she hasn't even realised I'm changing the rules (shows how effective my attempts are) :o

For a stock dog like a Kelpie, breeders would have been very focussed on producing a dog that wouldn't hold onto sheep, a motivational nip or two maybe, but certainly never the hold & shake behaviour of a tuggy dog, that'd be the last thing you'd want in a sheep dog I'd think.

We've both got a bit of an uphill battle. XD I hope we can do it despite the odds (I bet we probably can, though I am going to need some professional help I think).

That is a good point. I'm mostly interested in getting him more comfortable interacting with me :) and I am very happy with the progress we have made so far. It has certainly helped me to improve as a trainer and improved our relationship and I can't really ask for anything more than that!

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Guest Panzer Attack!   
Guest Panzer Attack!

Hey Kavik, what methods are you using with Kaos? I've only had experience with shaping a dog as a pup (Scooter, who is a tug FIEND now) so this is all new ground for Rudy and I, and it sounds like you're onto a winner. Cavs are obviously bred to be soft-mouthed too, so I'm down with getting creative!

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Inevitablue do you have any details on denise's visit?

From her FB page -

July next year, Sydney (Shannon Malmberg is the orgniser - I will find her details), Brisbane at Camp Tailwaggers and I think one other state still to be decided. Camp Tailwaggers has the info on their website.

She says on her FB page that she will be doing private consults whilst here too.

There must be other DOLer's who know more about her visit than me :provoke:

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For a stock dog like a Kelpie, breeders would have been very focussed on producing a dog that wouldn't hold onto sheep, a motivational nip or two maybe, but certainly never the hold & shake behaviour of a tuggy dog, that'd be the last thing you'd want in a sheep dog I'd think.

I must have an unusual Kelpie then. I haven't played tug with him for months. But just went outside to check, he tugs like a demon.

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Weasels   

Sometimes in training it is the journey that is important :)

:thumbsup: Why else do we do dog sports but to build our realtionship and spend time learning and having fun with our dogs :)

For a stock dog like a Kelpie, breeders would have been very focussed on producing a dog that wouldn't hold onto sheep, a motivational nip or two maybe, but certainly never the hold & shake behaviour of a tuggy dog, that'd be the last thing you'd want in a sheep dog I'd think.
I must have an unusual Kelpie then. I haven't played tug with him for months. But just went outside to check, he tugs like a demon.

My girl kelpie who is mad for tugging is much less mouthy on stock than my other kelpie who is an "if I feel like it" tugger :shrug:

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She will be conducting a seminar in Perth...pm me if you are interested. I have yet to promote it publicly but that will happen soon. I am a big fan of Denise who has competed at the highest levels using positive and clicker training :thumbsup:

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megan_   

Well I might have to go visit the family in Perth then... And go to a dog seminar while I'm there

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