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Obi246

How To Become More Interesting

90 posts in this topic

huski   

Ok thanks :) Weez certainly had to learn that chasing the ball was fun, for a long time he would just chase Chess around but I didn't like that so much because there was no payoff (catch) and it didn't always hold his attention in the face of distraction. Chasing the ball now definitely puts him into kelpie-mode and he is stuck on that thing like glue, which gives us a great opportunity to practice the "command over instinct" that he needs in herding :)

Just to clarify by using that example I definitely wasn't suggesting using a ball as a reward is bad (I use a magnetic ball with the Mal for some things) just like many things it comes down to how we use it to benefit what we are training.

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Weasels   

I didn't read it that way Huski - I'm less fussed about getting Weez to tug because he's never going to be an agility dog; he has the turning circle of a bus! For obedience and tricks, food + ball work for him and for herding the reward is intrinsic. I like tugs as a nice neat reward that keep the energy level up but they aren't really necessary for anything I do with Weez.

Thankfully Chess is rewarded by almost everything under the sun so if I get near an agility club again there'll be no problems there :laugh:

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huski   

I didn't read it that way Huski - I'm less fussed about getting Weez to tug because he's never going to be an agility dog; he has the turning circle of a bus! For obedience and tricks, food + ball work for him and for herding the reward is intrinsic. I like tugs as a nice neat reward that keep the energy level up but they aren't really necessary for anything I do with Weez.

Thankfully Chess is rewarded by almost everything under the sun so if I get near an agility club again there'll be no problems there :laugh:

It's definitely dependent on your training goals etc, for training obedience generally I find the magnetic ball by far the best option as a reward as it allows for so much accuracy. But then other things I'd use a tug for, or food. It's fun to mix it up :)

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Kavik   

huski,

The last workshop I went to was a while ago - 2006 maybe? But I do try to keep tabs on what you guys are doing and I don't think it has changed so much that I would need to come to another one at the moment, thanks anyway :) It really is a different mindset and way of thinking about tugging, and a different use of tugging, which probably does fit more into corvus's theory of it being more play/interaction based. Probably the first time I have agreed with her so much about something :laugh:

And some of the exercises in the courses I am doing, tugging IS necessary, you can't assess your dog's weight shift while tugging if your dog doesn't tug :laugh: . Some of the others can be modified to use food, but not all of them.

I know that having him chase a ball as his main reward in the past (and still his main reward for agility) has hindered our tugging, and given my time again I would have changed that but I am chalking it down to a learning experience :)

These are the tugs I currently use:

http://www.cleanrun.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=product.display&Product_ID=1860&ParentCat=29

http://www.cleanrun.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=product.display&Product_ID=390&ParentCat=76

http://www.whelpingsupplies.com.au/index.php?_a=viewProd&productId=541

http://www.agilityclick.com/prod13.htm

plus a braided fleece tug and a couple of homemade toys made from fake sheepskin and skinneez toys.

This ball on rope ordered from cleanrun

http://www.cleanrun.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=product.display&Product_ID=2449&ParentCat=29

So I do mix it up for him :)

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I think tugging is a combination of things acting together, and doesn't just rely on the dog's level of prey drive. Some terriers and sighthounds have high levels of prey drive (great for ratting/coursing) but may be difficult to get to tug with a person as a reward, as it is an interaction with a person, a cooperative effort and game, that they may not feel as comfortable with.

I remember reading in that dingo thread a comment on wolves and their high prey drive - but how easy would it be to use tugging as a reward with a wolf? It is not as simple as enough or not enough drive.

I agree to a point, I know very drivey dogs that don't or won't tug- who knows if they would have a better performance if they were taught to tug though?

My own dog isn't very drivey at all but will tug more readily and seriously with me than many higher drive working breed dogs.

Although she enjoys tugging and thinks its a fun game, she will work most effectively for food. Personally I don't see the point in attempting to make her enjoy tugging more and see it as more rewarding. I don't really have the time for starters and secondly I don't enjoy tugging with such a heavy dog. I've tugged with BCs before and its much more pleasant than tugging with a 30kg lab!

To answer the OPs original question:

With my lab I have always just started walking or running away from her if she gets distracted. It doesn't work for all dogs as they actually have to have a fear of being left behind, but running in the opposite direction making ridiculous noises can be helpful, then engaging in a game of fetch or tug or whatever or giving a big food reward can be quite effective.

I also taught my dog to play fetch, which I slightly regret now because it means she is less interested in playing with other dogs, but is useful to get the dog focussed on the game with you rather than other dogs. It's not great though if you want a social dog that plays with others though.

Food rewards- yummy ones such as cheese, bbq chicken, meatballs etc have never failed me at the dog park in achieving a great recall with labs! Unfortunately it can attract every other dog at the park as well, so you have to be subtle about how you reward your dog.

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corvus   

The last workshop I went to was a while ago - 2006 maybe? But I do try to keep tabs on what you guys are doing and I don't think it has changed so much that I would need to come to another one at the moment, thanks anyway :) It really is a different mindset and way of thinking about tugging, and a different use of tugging, which probably does fit more into corvus's theory of it being more play/interaction based. Probably the first time I have agreed with her so much about something :laugh:

:laugh: Thanks, but it's not my theory. I'm not the first that has said tug might be play and I won't be the last, but I'm not standing on a soap box saying "Tug is a play behaviour. Because I said so." I'm just saying based on context in the form of behavioural sequences and the ease with which dogs can move from tug to other social behaviours or respond to social cues, and how they might move from tug to other predatory behaviours, tug makes more sense as a play behaviour.

Anyway, there are always exceptions. For some dogs the lines are blurred.

Incidentally, Weasels, many consider drive to be the extent to which a dog will persist in a goal-directed behaviour. How hard it is to distract them from it or put them off, what they will go through to obtain that goal. By that definition, a dog can appear quite calm and still be displaying high drive. My mum's lazy little dog once spent 2 days in the hated rain poking around a wood pile waiting for a rat he saw go in there come out. Same dog ripped a hole in the garage wall to get to a possum. I still can't believe a 10kg dog was able to do that. One is a low arousal thing and the other high, but both show high drive. An adrenalised state is not a pre-requisite. This is the definition I've encountered most outside of DOL. It's a little known fact (well, it's probably well known but few people put words to it) that high arousal achieves narrow focus, which combined looks like a dog that will go to the ends of the earth for the object of their desire and wouldn't notice most of the journey. Sounds like high drive. That's kinda the point of high arousal, though. It gets stuff done. If you work a dog in high arousal they may be much harder to distract and may be more persistent and more energetic. How do you tell the difference between that and high drive? If you're working a dog at high arousal and they do happen to get distracted, what happens? A lot of effective modern reactive dog treatments are aimed at lowering arousal. Why lower arousal if high arousal leads to narrow focus? If you're working a high drive dog at high arousal and they get distracted, what might happen? If you work them at moderate arousal can they still get the job done? Rhetorical questions. Just trying to give people something to think about.

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Weasels   

Incidentally, Weasels, many consider drive to be the extent to which a dog will persist in a goal-directed behaviour. How hard it is to distract them from it or put them off, what they will go through to obtain that goal.

Under that description then Weez has drive up the wazoo :laugh: He is quite prone to getting 'stuck' on things in typical sheep-dog manner, to the point where I've pretty much given up on having a completely reliable recall with him and have settled for a reliable down-stay instead, so he can stay stuck on whatever but still be in a safe position. Also, being the uncoordinated thing he is, will do all manner of tripping and tumbling and still be aiming for the ball. You can almost see the conflict in his eyes when he is e.g. standing next to his ball or at the gate into the stock yard and you ask him to process something different. He looks like his little fuzzy head is going to explode :(

Also, he had to do a full day of herding demo at the royal show recently, despite being terrified of most of the things the show has in abundance - strangers, kids, loud noises, fluttery things, plus we were right next to a rollercoaster :eek: But, as assured by our trainer, as soon as he laid eyes on the stock nothing else existed for him :)

Edited by Weasels

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Wobbly   

We're running a drive and focus workshop early next year, you should come along :)

When is this? I would be very interested in coming. Steve won't believe it's the same dog he's met before! XD

To the OP:

I saw Steve K9pro for a behavioural consult, and one of my (many) issues was exactly the same problem you have - way too much high value placed on interacting with other dogs. I found his advice to be really great & really effective. I wouldn't attempt to pass on the whole of his advice here, due to the risk of a "Chinese whispers" effect potentially subverting important points and also my dogs needs will be different to yours. Basically for us it involved - dog learns that displaying excessive excitement around other dogs ends a walk - we go home. There's a lot more to it than just ending the walk, but your situation may be different to mine so you'd be better to get the information straight from a good behaviourist in regards to your specific dog.

The advice he gave to us in respect to my dog placing far too high an value on other dogs would actually be very suitable for sorting out out via distance learning & correspondence if you can't get there in person. As far as I can see no similar approach has been covered at all in the thread so far...

Just follow the link in Huski's sig and shoot them an email would be my advice.

Edited by Wobbly

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huski   

We're running a drive and focus workshop early next year, you should come along :)

When is this? I would be very interested in coming. Steve won't believe it's the same dog he's met before! XD

Hi Wobbly, the date is not yet set in stone as we only just wrapped up our last workshop for the year this past weekend. However, looking like end of Feb - will be sure to let our database know once it's all confirmed! :)

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