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Obi246

How To Become More Interesting

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Obi246   

Hey everyone,

I have a 1yr old lab who is reasonably well behaved... until he sees another dog.

We used to go to obedience training and we got upto grade 4, but then i started a new job where the times clashed and can no longer go :( At obedience he was pretty good, we got up to doing offlead work - but a few times he would break and run to the other dogs. With sit stays, drop stays he would be fine until another dog moved... apparently that signalled play time for him. Its gotten to the stage now where he has about a 200m dog radius - that is, if he is offlead and theres a dog within 200m of us, he's gone. I know i shouldnt be letting him off lead because he doesnt have a 100% recall, but even on lead if we walk past another dog he will be pulling my arm off trying to get to it to say hello.

He is usually very food orientated but from most interesting to least interesting it would be Dogs > Food > Toys > Me. Its actually quite upsetting :cry:

So... does anyone have any ideas about how i can make myself more interesting and fun to him? He was so good around the other dogs at dog training, how do i make him like that all the time? Do you think i need professional help?

I also saw in another post about training a "Yuck" where they spit out whats in their mouth. Any tips on how to train this? He really needs this as probably twice a week he finds something gross at the beach (dead fish, dead bird, dead baby sting ray the other day, netting etc) and refuses to let me catch him to get it off him. I think i have been lucky so far that he hasnt swallowed something thats gotten stuck.

Thanks

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Cosmolo   

Found it- hope this helps.

One of the problems in these situations is the lack of reward history in context. ie- We take the dog to a distracting situation and the level of distraction being so high is then made 100 x worse by the fact that there is such infrequent reward for the dog. Consider your training at home- dog is compliant= pleny of reward. Training in distracting environment= no reward.

Now from our people point of view we say- the dog won't take food, i can't reward the dog because he/ she is behaving so badly. This makes sense to us. But not to the dog. The dog comes to learn that in distracting environments, there is no opportunity for reward from the handler. (But plenty of fun can be had bouncing, pulling, leaping, whining etc)

So what do we do about this. Firstly- short periods of time only. The more occasions where you have the dog there not getting rewards from you (remember the reason why doesn't really matter- we know it's because he's behaving poorly or won't take rewards but it's irrelevant to him) and getting excited and frustrated, the worse the problem will get. Secondly- i would get him out of the car and either drop a handful of food on the ground or if his focus at that point is okay- feed him from hand immediately. If he looks for more, feed him. If he doesn't, feed him. If you get to a point where he won't take food- either in time elapased or distance from the distractions, you have gone too far.

I call it the bank account of reward history- and you need to start increasing the balance- dramatically. Teach him that this environment is about rewards from you- as soon as there is some reward history then start the LAT game. Build value for the LAT game by doing 100's of repetitions when you don't need to- at home, on regular walks etc. Use anything as the LAT distraction, not just other dogs. If you do enough reps like this, the effect of classical conditioning will then allow you to have more success when other dogs ARE present.

MANY dogs are labelled as unmotivated when the problem is actually a lack of reward history which in turn leads to no expectation of reward. If the dog does not expect it, they can't anticipate it. If they don't anticipate it- all their energy has to go somewhere, and it's going to go away from the handler.

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So... does anyone have any ideas about how i can make myself more interesting and fun to him? He was so good around the other dogs at dog training, how do i make him like that all the time? Do you think i need professional help?
<br style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: verdana, tahoma, arial, sans-serif; line-height: 17.600000381469727px; background-color: rgb(238, 242, 247); ">

I think a personal session or two with a professional (who comes recommended and who is not one of the 'I can fix anything instantly' franchises ) would give you a big boost ..and add lots of 'tools' to you dog training basket :)

Your boy ..even if friendly , will look very scary to some people ...and may get you both in trouble if he is strong .

I'm sure there will be lots of suggestions posted for you :)

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megan_   

Hi Obi,

Don't despair! Most people have been in this position and given that you have a lab (people and food oriented) I'm sure you can work through this. That said, it always helps to get professional help - it just has to be the right help (not the "you don't need to reward your dog he should do things for you out of respect" kind).

I think Steve from K9pro has a blog article this month on making a reward an "event", so it might be worth reading that too.

My dogs pay attention to me at training and aren't bothered even when dogs break and pester them. These are my tips:

* Firstly, you have to build your relationship (mum = best fun ever) outside of training. This can take time. It isn't the case that you can do this once or twice and the problem is solved. The best place to do this is at home with few distractions. Does he tug? This is a great engaging game to play. If he doesn't tug, try not feeding him for 24 hrs and then putting his food in an old, long sock and see if he'll tug then, praise him for tugging. You can teach a release by making the tug dead on your legs.

* Play games with your dog. Hide in another room and call his name. When he finds you "YYYAAAAYYYY"...reward, reward, reward, reward x 10. This might be food, this might be a game. While this isn't something you'd do at training, it helps your dog see you as a fun person.

* Make playing with you engaging and fun. Again, start at home. Do some simple training at home (eg sit) and when you release him praise him in a happy, sing, song voice. Be generous in your praise. When I go to training most people look bored and give polite "good"'s, with a treat. Of course this isn't engaging to a dog. When you praise him, put on a "talking to a baby voice" and say "good, good, super good <dog's name here" reward, reward, reward (sometimes x 1, sometimes x 10, sometimes x3 etc) "you're a geeeeennnniiiiiuuuuussss". Whether you reward with food, tug or another toy make it an active reward. Move around. Look at your dog. Smile and engage him. My philosophy is that if you're not acting like a bit of a loon when rewarding your dog then you're not being animated enough. I like to build anticipation so I go a bit rigid and my dogs know that we're suddenly going to play a wild game when I release.

* Up your rate of re-enforcement. Typically, a dog gets the choice of "work hard = 1 x disinterested good and 1 x treat", "play with other dogs = 1 hr of fun". I know which one I'd pick. So be very generous with your rewards. Let your dog know that if he works he will get a much more fun play session with his owner or lots and lots of yummy food. Or both. Again, this has to start at home. No point rocking up to training, he ignores you and you don't get the chance to reward him.

* Another great game to play is "bar open, bar closed". I *think* it is a Susan Garrett game. I'd suggest googling but who knows what will come up if you google that phrase... In a nutshell, when you pitch up to training (and at any point during training) make the bar open. Bar open means you give your dog lots of treats in very quick succession (every second) so that they learn "being in school/on a walk/wherever" and other dogs are close = big rewards for me. It also helps settle and focus your dog. Your dog doesn't have to do anything to earn the food, he just shouldn't be at the end of the leash, trying to jump on the other dogs. This means that, to start off with, you might need to be a fair way from other dogs. Then the bar closes and you move away from the other dogs a bit. This might sound over-simplistic but it really works.

* The 2 food game is also a great one for getting focus. Start with a few pieces of big food that stays together (the 4 paws meatballs are good). Throw a piece to your left, close by. As soon as the dog finishes eating, call his name and throw to your right. Repeat often. When you call his name make it really exciting. He should be animated and start running back to you as soon as he's finished his food. To finish the game call him in and give him the final treat. Tell him how smart he is.

* Stop feeding your dog from a bowl and make him do a little training session to earn his food. After all, why work for a bit of food at training when you get a whole meal for doing nothing? I'm not talking 1/2 an hour a day, but a fun, animated, 5 min session. You can train some tricks (look up Kikopup on YouTube) and play games (eg 2 food game).

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megan_   

Forgot to add that LAT is another great tool to have. K9Pro also have blog post on using a deflection (I use a kiss kiss). If you look at the latest posts in the reactive dogs thread here in the training section, Snook has posted a Youtube with Kikopup training her dog to look at her for a reward. This won't solve all your problems but will help him learn that attention to you = good things happen.

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huski   

I think Steve from K9pro has a blog article this month on making a reward an "event", so it might be worth reading that too.

Thanks Megan, that was my blog post from earlier this week, how you deliver a reward can make a huge difference to how rewarding the dog sees you. There's a big difference between rewarding a dog and sharing in a reward experience with the dog. There are so many little things we can do to learn how to be more exciting and valuable to our dogs, that when added together make a big difference.

efs

Edited by huski

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m-sass   
even on lead if we walk past another dog he will be pulling my arm off trying to get to it to say hello

Put a prong collar on the dog and let him/her learn the consequences of leash pulling to begin with then lavishly reward the correct behaviour for maintaining handler focus when encountering distractions or other dogs.

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Tassie   

@ milacon - have a look at Lesie McDevitt and her Control Unleashed programs - LAT fits in there. And you could probably find some DOL threads in the search function. :)

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BC Crazy   

I am just about to watch Control Unleashed in the next couple of days. Hope I can get some helpful ideas :thumbsup:

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This is the issue I was and still do have with Ziggy.. There is a lot in his training thread about it...

He is getting better but if I take him out, he has to be starving for me to keep his attention with food.

He is toy (ball) focused but that has its own issues.. Especially at training when I am squeaking a ball and others are trying to keep their dogs attention... So we went back to no dinner the night before or breaky before training on Sunday mornings.

Persistence, persistence, persistence.... If I let up for a couple of days, he goes right back to ignoring me when other dogs are around..

I have also found that shorter training times more often work better for him.

He gets no off lead time when there are other dogs around, unless he is calm entering the park.. As soon as he looks like his excitement level is escalating, I pull him out and we go home..

Last time we went he had all of 10 minutes running around before he started ignoring my recall.. He was leashed and we left..

I have had loads of awesome advice, some works and some didn't, each dog is different and you just have to keep trying until you find what works...

With Ziggy, it is training that wears him out better and more calmly than being allowed to run riot at the dog park... As much as he seems to love it, I find his attention and behaviour goes AWOL when he is given this kind of freedom...

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corvus   

Cosmolo has the right of it. I have the opposite problem. I can't get my dogs to leave me alone. I set out to teach them that training could happen any place, any time. I achieved this so well that they rarely want to be far from us in case someone gives them a training cue. I send them off on a recess to do what they want and they decide they want to hang out for more training, thanks. I reserve 'reinforcement experiences' for recalls, usually. If all your reinforcements are like that you lose the power of contrast and surprise. It took time to get my dogs to hang around me like a bad smell as a default, and a lot of mini training sessions. If my dog could only handle a 2-second sit in the environment they were in, then that was all I asked of him. The important thing is to release before the dog releases themselves. It's the same as everything. It takes practice. The more you do it, the better they get at it. I can now basically do anything in a busy dog park. I hardly train at home at all, and I don't really need to step up distractions because I teach behaviours in highly distracting environments in the first place. I don't think of it in terms of being more interesting. I think of it in terms of being a safe bet. Also I've found it gets to a point where the reward barely matters. My dogs will work happily for kibble no matter where we are. They didn't used to be that indiscriminate. Now they just really like training. The food is the icing on the cake.

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K9: I have to ask Corvus, why do you need a recall when your dogs won't leave you?

Why reserve "reward experiences" for a recall you don't need? If you want surprise and contrast should the experience then be placed randomly?

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corvus   

They're dogs, not robots! Find me a person that doesn't think they need a recall and I'll show you someone who is courting disaster.

Jackpots don't have much empirical support. I don't really use them much, so don't ask me. Bob Bailey says he only uses them for a brilliant leap forwards. I just know when I make a big fuss, and it's rarely. Doesn't seem to concern my dogs, and if I don't have to sit there having parties I won't. I'd far rather spend that time getting more reps and a ripping reward rate. Now there's something that makes dogs pay attention. I was talking to an assistance dog trainer on the weekend who told me one of the dogs I've had in my study who was struggling with the kennel environment had come forward in leaps and bounds when she started making a huge fuss when he got something right. I found the same thing with Kivi in the beginning, and I had another dog in my study that was similar. All three dogs seemed to be lacking in confidence, so there's certainly a precedent to use it more often, although I'd still make it contingent on good performance in those cases. Pretty arbitrary, though. Jackpots are thought to improve motivation, but not performance if I remember correctly. They're also associated with scalloping. You can use that to your advantage if you want temporary downtime for some reason.

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They're dogs, not robots! Find me a person that doesn't think they need a recall and I'll show you someone who is courting disaster.

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.

Jackpots don't have much empirical support. I don't really use them much, so don't ask me.

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

Bob Bailey says he only uses them for a brilliant leap forwards. I just know when I make a big fuss, and it's rarely. Doesn't seem to concern my dogs, and if I don't have to sit there having parties I won't.

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

I'd far rather spend that time getting more reps and a ripping reward rate.

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.

Now there's something that makes dogs pay attention. I was talking to an assistance dog trainer on the weekend who told me one of the dogs I've had in my study who was struggling with the kennel environment had come forward in leaps and bounds when she started making a huge fuss when he got something right. I found the same thing with Kivi in the beginning, and I had another dog in my study that was similar. All three dogs seemed to be lacking in confidence, so there's certainly a precedent to use it more often, although I'd still make it contingent on good performance in those cases. Pretty arbitrary, though. Jackpots are thought to improve motivation, but not performance if I remember correctly. They're also associated with scalloping. You can use that to your advantage if you want temporary downtime for some reason.

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?

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.

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