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DanC

Too Late To Bring Out Dogs Drive?

15 posts in this topic

DanC   

Hello all,

First time posting here so ill do a quick intro. I grew up with dogs (German shepherds), however never trained one.

14 months ago, I got my first dog (American Staffy). Boy oh boy I was in for a surprise. I had no clue what i was doing. 14 months later, I have moved from basic pet obedience to a very keen interest in dog sports (Schutzhund) and learning about dogs drives.

So for the past 10 months approximately, I have been attempting to culminate knowledge from resources such as Leerburg (only Michael Ellis' stuff) and other articles on the internet. Thus far, I'm all self taught, which means I have some decent gaps in knowledge.

I marker train with my dog, using 'ready' to start training, 'yes' as my reward marker, 'good' as my duration marker, 'wrong' as a no-reward marker and 'we're done' as my end of training marker.

I guess you could say I have my boy up to a decent level of obedience. He has good life skills and he can perform drop-stays, sit-stays and work around distraction.

HOWEVER......Due to my lack of experience, I have not gotten the most out of him and i know he is capable of more, and I owe it to him to do better.

When he was a young pup 8-16 weeks, at the time, i thought he was a little monster...looking back, it appears to have been a great deal of prey drive. He would chase/bite anything that moved and clamp down so hard, you couldn't open his grip. Even the slightest move of my finger, he would try and take it off haha. So what does any ignorant person to dog training do? Squash this drive, by continually correcting him.....

Is it too late now to bring that drive back out? considering I imprinted him wrong? He sometimes enjoys a game of tug. Ive tried to implement Michael ELLIS's system of tug and it has improved his interest, but not enough for it to be a functional reward.

Also, I get a feeling i can bring out more food drive in him. What are some basic methods to increase his food drive? I've heard a 1 day fast and thereafter only feed his meals (kangaroo mince) in short sharp training/play sessions until there is an increase in drive.

Any help you guys could provide would be great. I definitely owe it my boy to bring out the best in him.

Kind Regards,

Dan

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Huski would be the person to talk to about developing drive.

Any help you guys could provide would be great. I definitely owe it my boy to bring out the best in him.

The "best" in your boy is not compatible with bite work. I hope you keep that in mind. You are asking your dog to do something his breed was selectively bred NOT to do.

The breed standard is quite specific on this point. It states this breed "should absolutely never display aggression towards humans".

As far as IPO/Shutzhund goes, IMO you've got the wrong breed.

Edited by Haredown Whippets

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DanC   

Hey all,

Sorry, let me make something explicitly clear.

I live in Victoria, therefore bite work is not permitted.

I will be getting my boy through the BH phase.

Following the BH phase, if he enjoys tracking or more complex obedience work, we will pursue that.

I would never place my personal goals over the relationship I have with my boy or make him do something he isnt built for. This is ethically wrong in my view.

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Kavik   

You can always improve on what you have :)

How far you can get with it (ie whether tug will ever be valuable enough for the dog to make a functional reward for sports) depends on the dog's temperament, you, how you approach your tugging, and what you have done to suppress it.

I have struggled to get tugging to a useable level with my Kelpies. Kaos who is 9 1/2 will now tug reliably on toys as a reward at home, and will tug on his lead for relationship building/warm up at training and competitions, but will not tug on toys there. Nitro, who is 2 1/2 will tug on toys at home and in other locations, but not reliably, and not to the extent that I could use it as a reward. We are working on it :) As a result, I use a lot of food in my training as my dogs work well for food :)

On the other hand, I walk a Stafford for someone in my neighbourhood, and he grabs his leash with gusto and will tug me to the end of the road :laugh:

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ness   

Agree huski/k9pro would be the best people to talk to but you can always start training in drive. My girl started the training in drive course through Steve/K9Pro when she was 3 and we got brilliant drive out of her - more then we thought we might given she is a very nervy dog. I had done stuff with her when she was younger but not the same systematic approach we used with her when she went through K9Pro's program.

I have my up and coming youngster who is now 12 months and she hasn't done as much as I would have liked but I am sure if I work through with her then she will be as equally impressive if not better.

I don't know if K9Pro are running their online drive package at the moment because its super popular when they do but the program is definitely worth it.

Edited by ness

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huski   

Thanks for the rec everyone!

We don't have any suitable DLPs running at the moment, but we always have ways to assist interstate clients, DanC feel free to PM me if you have any questions.

The short answer is: no it is never too late to develop drive in your dog. :)

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DanC   

Thanks for the rec everyone!

We don't have any suitable DLPs running at the moment, but we always have ways to assist interstate clients, DanC feel free to PM me if you have any questions.

The short answer is: no it is never too late to develop drive in your dog. :)

the forum wouldnt let me PM you, so i used the email function button. Hopefully that reaches you.

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Red Fox   

The dogs either have the drives and nerve to do the work... or they don't. It's really that simple.

Contact Eagle Heights Sportdog Club in Vic if you're interested in Schutzhund/IPO. PM me if you need details.

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Red Fox   

Hey all,

Sorry, let me make something explicitly clear.

I live in Victoria, therefore bite work is not permitted.

I will be getting my boy through the BH phase.

Following the BH phase, if he enjoys tracking or more complex obedience work, we will pursue that.

I would never place my personal goals over the relationship I have with my boy or make him do something he isnt built for. This is ethically wrong in my view.

There's no problem putting IPO titles on the Vic dogs. Just trial in another state.

We have had quite a few gain their IPO1/2/3 in SA.

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Nekhbet   

You can bring drive out in quashed dogs I have done it plenty, even with dogs I have had given to me.

Your problems are not unfixable, just require a bit of effort. I am in Geelong if that is close to you.

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Wobbly   

Haha I had to respond to your post. Similar dogs. I got mine from the pound though, so imagine your dog as an adolescent with the "bite hard and hold" instinct totally uninhibited with dogs and and limited bite inhibition around humans, I still maintain a no off lead around other dogs rule, no incidences in over 7 years, but it's a promise I made myself.

We were bloody and bruised from her biting in the first couple of weeks, my husband remarked "what if we wake up one morning, and she's killed us in our sleep?". She never clamped down with humans like she did with a dog, but it was a big worry of mine that she would in the first weeks of owning her. When she'd jump up and bite, I'd hold the lead up so she choked until she calmed down and stopped the biting frenzy, I was calm about it as it was a tedious regular occurence in the first weeks. Most definitely Not how I'd handle it today, but the only way I knew at the time. Pretty harsh, but it didn't supress her generalised "drive" at all, nor her appetite for human forearms.

I was fortunate that a couple of months after I got my dog, I went to one of Steve Courtenay's "Training in drive" seminars. My dog behaved horribly at the seminar, so I didn't get to take notes or take in everything that was said, but I walked away with enough to know making my dog a fetch or tug obsessive was probably my best shot at any decent form of control, punishment had got me nowhere much. And all the methods I learned at that seminar worked, she turned into a really great dog once she learned appropriate toys were great outlets to vent the need to chase, bite, tear, tug and shake.

So that's really my best recommendation to you, if one of Steve's drive seminars happens again, jump on it. He does (or did do) long distance packages I think? http://k9pro.com.au/ Also Denise Fenzi is worth looking up, she has a lot of info on her blog http://denisefenzi.com/ No face to face contact as she is US based (though she has visited and done motivation seminars in Aust, highly recommended) but she runs online classes, some of which address your issue. http://www.fenzidogsportsacademy.com/ Michael Ellis is always great too, but he tends to presuppose a level of experience I don't have, so I thought Steve and Denise were easier for the layman. Diane Jessups site is great for ideas too, specifically catering to the peculiar bents of the Bull breeds, where most of the others are all very Belgian forcussed. The sheps don't seem to be into some of the stuff our dogs love - hanging off spring poles and the like. She has info on training and conditioning for our dogs' temperaments.

Pointers for the interim, I'm gonna go ahead and say you probably won't ever reach the potential "drive" he had as a pup. The general rule is the more you use it, the stronger it gets though, so you can most certainly strengthen what's there if you want.

I think you are going to need to really read him closely, you want to see what enthuses him most, what does he really really love above all other things? Is there anything that he will intently focus on to the exclusion of other things, can you get intense focus out of him at all? What with?

If he's worrying about avoiding correction or intimidated by you, you may find fetch is a better option than tug because he won't have you looming over him. Fetch is also good if your dog is like mine - she caned her teeth so hard as a youngster that I'm hesitant to play a rough game of tug now she's older, lest she damage her remaining teeth, she has inadequate self preservation responses when she's excited, a breed feature I think. Try fetch, in many environments - there'll be some environments he's more comfortable in than others, and with different objects - fluffy toys is often a great one, usually the softer, the nicer it feels in the dog's mouth, so the better for a more hesitant dog. Does he like squeaky toys? Fluffy squeaky toys? Dies he delight in tearing them up? you can work with that for sure! Try a flirt pole, which will also give him some distance from you.

If he goes for any of those, you're in! Make these games the funnest thing you can, a few minutes a session - short amazing awesome sessions, end on a high. Correction free, just ignore his mistakes, don't want him worrying about being wrong. Keep a close eye on his demeanour, if he's looking avoidant or excited - try to see what triggered each state of mind so you can adjust your approach. One of Steve's tricks is don't walk him one day, or even two then play fetch/flirt pole or tug, he'll be likely to put his pent up unspent energy into it if he enjoys the game. The more he has a vigourous game and enjoys the hell out of it, the better. You're on the right track.

Videoing a session can really help you see how your dog is feeling, often we don't notice important clues in the moment, from the angle we're at. Buy a tripod for your phone off ebay, or commandeer a loved one to film. Videoing a training session can make what you are doing right or wrong a lot clearer, as well as being something you can submit to trainers for feedback.

Here's one I did (was fat and bald from chemo at time of vid, am getting healthy have hair and lost all that steroid weight now!). I picked this vid specifically because in this one I am sort of working on the same thing to you in but in reverse. I have often had trouble getting my dog to accept food as a reward in a new or exciting environment.

But I found an exploit, you know those little quirks of your individual dog you can exploit to get what you want out of them. Look for those! I have this one: My dog associates heeling on the beach with fetch/tug rewards, at this point training on the beach is rewarding in itself for her, it's like a tertiary reinforcer - heeling predicts a Yes which predicts a reward. So Heeling is great to her mind. So I'm exploiting her love of beach heeling by feeding her lots while we do it, I want her to strongly associate food with the beach heeling, it increases her interest in food a lot!

She can go a long time without fetch rewards now and I omit them entirely sometimes, (it took me a long time to get to this point), which means I can concentrate solely on the food rewards. Last time I went to Steve Cortenatys, as Huski saw, Jarrah wouldn't take roast chicken :/ but I'm about 95% sure she would now (5% uncertainty because it's far easier for me when there's a body of water as her initial drive was developed with swim/fetch/tug, so that strong association "I love to work and eat near water, because swim fetch tug" will always linger. In retrospect it's not ideal to have the environment rather than a command dictate that frame of mind, but I can work with it so it's fine, and its a done deal now anyway, that's her long term conditioned emotional response, so I have to work with it).

So you go through your own videos slowly in 5 second increments, and identify what you need to address. On mine we start with the dog jumping up on me. I'm not going to punish beyond that verbal..squeak? whatever it was... as this session is about drive building, she knows that, which is why she does it. I should have not bothered with a verbal emission that I knew she'd ignore, instead I should've stopped the session. Bad behaviour = you don't get to train, it's an unignorable punishment that causes her no social pressure like a physical or stronger verbal corretion. I use training session witholding to correct and find it doesn't have a negative impact, but be aware it might for some dogs, so YMMV there, gauge your own dog. She jumps again after a release at about 10 seconds. This jumping is really a problem isn't it? I hadn't noticed it was so prevalent, and my reaction so ineffective. I will in future address it with negative punishment, withholding training sessions or fetch for a minute or so when it happens. Thats why videos are great! You can see all your mistakes and figure strategies to correct your own mistakes and responses.

You see me waving her away to give her brain a break, I do that every so often, so she can look around, check the environment. She ends up turning round to face me quickly enough, and is delighted to come back after having decided I am the most interesting thing in this environment and above all else she'd like to work with me. Decisions like that are crucial, give your dog plenty of opportunities to opt in himself. Release, let him look round as soon as he focuses back on you call him back. If you've set it up right, he'll decide for himself he wants interaction with you above whatever the environment holds. Make sure you get a verbal command in before he comes back and works, i missed that bit at first and believe me when i say a dog who thinks they can hassle you into training is a total pain to live with, keep it clear that only humans have power to begin these sessions. I also change pace a lot to keep it fun for her.

These videos are so important to gauge what causes enthusiasm in your dog, what diminishes it. I look at this and see a litany of errors in my handling that I didn't notice at the time, and more importantly now I can see what my errors are are, and have time to consider my response I will be able to address them more effectively.

We are very sloppy, that's why I need food rewards to be effective, it's a much easier reward to deliver, and much less exciting so it'll be better for finetuning stuff like forging, lagging, crabbing going wide etc etc etc. Ignore my form, it's terrible, I was pretty ill, I still need to reward in position better too. But the dog is doing great - that body language she has - ears up, so pleased to be working she's strutting - that's the effect of the tug/fetch rewards on her attitude! That's exactly the picture I want to see in my training!

To start, just play I think. If you think the body language of the dog is keen and enthusiastic enough on a video, then start to add in training between games. I have found that making my dog work hard for the reward actually increases the desire for the reward, that is a real effect for a lot of dogs, but you may not be at that point quite yet. It's a balancing act - video a trial and see what you think, is your dogs enthusiasm for play increasing by adding work? if not, stop, it's too early for that. Wait till the dog decides he really LIKES your reward, fetch, flirtpole, tug, whatever your prey reward may end up being before you make it challenging. Pace the work-reward to be like a computer game paces reward-work, you want to be manipulating your dog dopamine levels in much the same way a good game's developers manipulate ours.

If you get nothing out of the fluffy toys, fetch, flirt poles, try food as a play thing, throw it, buy something delicious you can play tug with like jerky, or attach to a flirt pole. People say not to mix the dog's desires for food vs tug, but I think this might be individual to the dog, I've had great results in increasing food drive mixing it up with play. Perhaps it's not entirely appropriate for a serious competition level dog, but if that's what you get the best response from your dog with, and it'll help you achieve your goal, then I'd go with it.

You may have ideas for approaches in mind, video them so you can gauge whats going on clearly. Even post one here. You'll likely get some good responses.

The main thing is, we all make mistakes, look back on our past training and wished we knew then what we know now. But it's never too late to fix things, you might not get as good results as whatyou would have if you started earlier, but you'll get results, old dogs do indeed learn new tricks if you care to teach them. Your dogs gonna love this stuff, playing like this will strengthen your bond with him enormously, it'll be a whole new dimension of awesome for him. It's well worth the effort.

Happy Xmas everyone!

Edited by Wobbly

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Wobbly   

Video yourself with food and toys, a big variety of food and toys. Go through the video and see which things your dog likes best, what makes him strut, or even better is there anything that gives his eyes a steely glint of determination - something he would swim a kilometre to fetch?

I'm going to assume your boy has a good solid temperament and you'll have done no lifelong harm with the corrections, he's so young so it's not like he has years of hard corrections in varieties of situations behind him, just those emergency "DO NOT clamp down hard on my arm! pup instances" (holy crap, I can't even imagine how much that hurt, even with puppy teeth - they're sharp!, and i too at first was informed that the only solution was hard correction, did it and regret it - it's absolutely not the best way - sticking a toy in the dog's mouth and reinforcing that is best (assuming the dog is biting from frustration, being over excited and too young or green to understand what's acceptable behaviour yet).

He's really young, start with whatever he likes best (I'm guessing squeaky fluffy toys on a flirt pole) or whatever, and make it the funnest you can for him, make every game of tug or fetch the best time of his life! If you think more energy from you is increasing his enjoyment, then go faster and sound more excited. But don't overwhelm him with high spirits if he's just not into it, that is - don't put in a ton of energy dancing round if he's low energy, stop, do something else he really does like. Throw some awesome smelly food (cut up grilled sausages or something) or hide it in layers of boxes he has to tear off to get at the food, if he shows a love of tearing cardboard (mine does) you can play tug of war with that - tearing it up together into little pieces is really quite satisfying for the both dog and owner I find!

Don't withhold food from him for too long - not a whole day (IMO) think about how hard it is to focus or give energy when you are hungry, it's the same for him. But it is a great strategy if you do it for shorter periods - a few hours after meal time, my dog might not get breakfast till early afternooon if we are going down the beach and I want her to be keen to take food as a reward. You can withhold tug/fetch/play rewards and only give those every few days though. That'll help you consistently be able to put in the energy you might need to to make those sessions the most exciting fun thing in the world for your dog, and rationing play like it's a precious resource will definitely increase it's value provided you can develop some initial value for it (which you have I think already?).

Identify environments and activities where he's really confident and comfortable - Play with him and feed him there. I feed Jarrah for heeling on the beach because she loves the beach and feels really confident, focused and happy when she's heeling there. Vary the rewards a lot, experiment with food types, toy types, play style types - a confident dog tends to love novelty, figure out which your dog likes best and in what orderso you can vary effectively.

Again my picks for resources on increasing your dog's motivations to work are Steve K9Pro, Denise Fenzi, Michael Ellis - they all use Belgians though, for us, Diane Jessup is a really great authority, she gets Bull breed dogs titles that traditionally go to the Belgians, Dutch or German Shepherd dogs if that's where you might like to head with it. I Agree with you on the no protection for our breed. It's such a shame - i know my dog has very solid temperament and she loves a game of tug, so a full body suit tug would be her idea of heaven, she'd adore protection sports. But the symbolism of it.... dog appearing to attack decoy in this BSL climate... IDK, if i could be assured of my skills enough to do it at a really high level I would totally, but since I know I don't have the training skills for that, I've never considered any protection training due to public perception vis a vis BSL laws.

Edited by Wobbly

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Wobbly   

Also, protection "sports" is just that - a sport, the dogs aren't attacking in deadly earnest, they're trained to bite a bite suit. In the past dog training was almost entirely corrections based, the dogs back then might have been fear aggressive and thus very dangerous, but it's not so now. These days, rewards based training is the new paradigm, the top level dogs are swinging round on that bite suit by their teeth in the same way the kids down the beach swing their staffy round when it's jaws are clamped on a frisbee. I've met plenty of collies ACDs and Kelpies who love the game of tug and have the nerve to not be faked out by the decoy's aggressive posturings. Viva La Border Collie Schutzhund revolution! The prohibitive thing with Schutzhund isn't breed, it's temperament of the dog and the training skills of the handler.

Edited by Wobbly

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