2x2 Woes

Discussion in 'Agility and Dog Sports' started by Beanie, Jun 23, 2012.

  1. Beanie

    Beanie Clicker Cult Coordinator

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    I know a few of you on here have used 2x2s for your dogs and have adapted them some to address individual challenges for your dogs... so I'm hoping you guys may have some ideas.

    Payton and I started 2x2s several (several...) weeks ago. It went super fast at first and it was awesome. He was hitting entries from all over the place, dropping his tug toy to go drive through the weaves, I was super excited.
    But once we added the second set of poles, it fell apart.

    My first challenge was that he didn't know to keep going. He would do the first set, then look at the ground for his toy and got confused because no toy had appeared. He'd look back at me. He'd come back and go through the first set again... confused. He would take a single step towards the second set of poles, look back - confused!
    I tried to follow SG's recommendation on the DVD of rewarding between the poles 50% of the time for the first 5-6 reps, then only 30% of the time after that. So once he FINALLY managed to go through all four poles and I rewarded, and he came back and I rewarded between the poles, he got really confused again. Like he couldn't figure out why sometimes the reward appeared in the middle and why sometimes only after the second set. He was frustrated and ended up going off to sniff because he didn't know what to do.

    So I stopped for about a week and didn't do any 2x2s. I asked some people's advice and they suggested only rewarding after the second poles, no longer trying to reward between the poles. When we went back to doing it, we finally got it to click and he was driving through all four poles. Okay, fabulous!

    But then once I moved the poles closer together, and then started edging them closer to being straight up and down, it fell apart again. He did what SG warned about and started only taking the last set of poles. He did NOT want to take that first set of poles. Even if he was set up looking straight at them, he would buzz by the first set and only take the second set.

    Frustrated, I took about another week off, read a bunch of stuff online, then decided to start over from the beginning again. It seemed to go much better this time, when I introduced the second set of poles he was driving harder and faster and I thought, okay, he GETS it now.
    But today we got to where I started moving the poles closer to being straight up and down... and once again he only wants to do that second set of poles. And if I just stand there and wait, he'll keep doing only the second set of poles, and run back barking at me like "I DID THE POLES WHY DIDN'T YOU THROW MY TOY?" I even opened the first set of poles almost wide open to make the entry easier, and he STILL completely skipped past them. He's frustrated again and I'm frustrated because he is. And this is not a good frustration, like sometimes when the dog gets frustrated in shaping he whacks the bell and that's what you wanted, but nope... there's nothing productive about this frustration he is feeling and I think I'm really close to poisoning weave poles with him.
    I took some video the first time we had problems and asked people if they thought his problem was being OVERstimulated and they didn't think so. Payton is... sometimes when we are shaping he is almost always at risk of going over threshold at any moment... but I don't think this is him being over threshold. As of yet he isn't quitting on me and going to sniff so we ARE in a better place than we were last time, but I don't want to get back to that again.

    I even dragged my set of WAMs upstairs and outside this afternoon because I seriously considered just throwing in the towel on 2x2s. Auggie was trained on WAMs and his weave poles are his best obstacle, people always comment on how fast his weaves are and he very rarely misses an entry. But I love the idea of 2x2s so much, I really don't WANT to give it up... I believe in the theory behind this method even though it's been five weeks and my dog still can't even do four poles. 12 poles in 12 days? Not even close.


    So, for those of you who have played with the method and tweaked it to suit your dog's individual "needs" so to speak... any ideas? If it's chuck the 2x2s and hit the WAMs instead, I'm honestly cool with that, but I wanted to ask for some input since I recall a thread before where people talked about doing some different tricks with the 2x2s to make it work for their dog.

    TIA for some brainstorming and sorry this is long. =P
     
  2. AgilityPup

    AgilityPup Agility freak!

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    I'd first off open the first set completely up. You said they were ALMOST wide open? I'd open 'em wide. Only a couple times and if that helped, slowly start closing them again.

    If that didn't work, I'd maybe try a few reps of putting him in a sit stay and going to the end of the poles, and releasing him, and rewarding if he goes through both sets. Stand right in front so he sees you. I know it's not what SG suggests, but it might be worth a shot.

    As for 12 poles in 12 days, even with Psyche, who had no struggles, she wasn't going 12 poles in 12 days. On day 13 or 14 we started proofing six, though.
     
  3. Shai

    Shai & the Muttly Crew

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    Quick question on my way to bed: You said he does two sets well until they are rotated pretty much straight. So he's doing 2 open sets with confidence whether you're moving or still, behind or ahead ot start, far away, etc.? Basically he is knowlingly and clearly choosing to go through that first open set?
     
  4. Beanie

    Beanie Clicker Cult Coordinator

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    Yes with a caveat, the part of the yard we are practicing in (deep length-wise) is not very big, so I can't get too far away laterally without running into the unfortunate garden in the middle of the yard. The only other place I have been able to play with them is also deep but skinny so I couldn't get lateral movement there either. But I can be ahead or behind them on both sides and he's good to go. Me moving was temporarily a problem, he would stop and chase after me rather than doing the poles, but he figured that out within one session and it's no longer a problem.
     
  5. BostonBanker

    BostonBanker Active Member

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    I don't have any useful advice, but I'm watching with interest for the answers. I had planned on 2x2 for Gusto and wound up changing my mind 5 or so days in. More because the method didn't work for my mind, I think, than because there is any issue with it or anything. I too really like the idea of them - I just had a hard time with it.

    I have a friend who has trained the 2x2 religiously with a couple of dogs and says "12 poles in 6 weeks" is far more accurate, so I certainly wouldn't let yourself feel frustrated that you aren't making the 12 day mark. We aren't all SG ;)

    For what it is worth, I went back to my old method used with Meg of shaping upright poles, and had six poles in a week, very fast and low (I only have 6 poles at home; he transferred to 12 easily at practice). Many roads to Rome and all that. I was amazed to get flack from people for *not* using 2x2, as if it is The Only Answer.
     
  6. Shai

    Shai & the Muttly Crew

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    Oh yeah with Mira is was more like 12 poles in 6 months lol...granted we stopped several times because she too young for real weaving so we did 2 poles then stopped til she got older...then 2 and 2 and stopped til she got older...

    I mean without seeing what you're doing it's really kind of hard to say...you're doing all the stuff I would do as far as I can tell. As long as you're being religious about reward line, only going one way, and have the sets spaced far enough apart without being too crazy far...I'm not sure what to tell you.

    If you're comfortable with WAMs and want to go that route, anything that reduces negative stress and avoids poisoning the weaves for your dog is the way to go IMO. Or if you want to stick with 2x2, only train when you are really up and optimistic and walk away as soon as you feel frustration. Things I'm sure you already know but sometimes it's easy to fall into that pattern anyway!
     
  7. SaraB

    SaraB New Member

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    Here's my advice:

    When I teach my 2x2 class I have a hard fast rule: your dog is allowed TWO mistakes and then you must find a way to make them successful. This will keep them from getting frustrated and keep the motivation up. Any more than two mistakes and you risk losing speed or the error becoming a pattern. The things you can do to make them successful depends on what the errors are. For missing entrances you can:

    -Open up the first set of poles (you tried that)
    -Move yourself much closer to the entrance so that they don't really have a choice but to go through it
    -Do a straight on entrance (which you should be mixing in with the other entrances anyways)
    -Switch sides. Even if you are going to the dog's "bad" side, sometimes that will help break them out of their pattern

    I would suggest that you need to focus more on getting the entrances down from every angle before tightening up the bases. Make sure that he can find that entrance from every angle (use the clock analogy). If he misses an entrance use a Non-reward Marker (Even SG recommends this) the SECOND he misses that entrance. It cannot be anything correction sounding like "eh-eh" or "no", but rather some happy sounding "oops!". All you are using it for is to tell your dog where he messed up so that he doesn't go down to the end expecting a reward. Make sure you are using a positive marker for when he hits those entrances. Only reward when he makes correct entrances, but you should be at a point where he is making at least 80% of them.

    I hope that helps! 2x2's are tough to explain over the internet, I really have to watch to see what you are doing to give you better advice. Can you video tape a training session?
     
  8. Beanie

    Beanie Clicker Cult Coordinator

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    Okay, I like the "only two failures" rule. I am going to start trying that rule and see if I can't figure something out.
    "Oops" is our NRM. Yesterday in desperation I tried putting a target out and when he blew past the first weaves (even though he was sitting right in front of them staring right at them) and I said "Oops!" he still ran up to the target, but then just stood there staring sadly down at the cookie container. Like he knew "oops" meant he didn't do it right so he couldn't grab his cookie container and bring it to me for a cookie... poor guy. Ugh. I felt terrible. Yesterday was really just one of those "awesome, I'm totally failing my dog" sessions.

    It's difficult because I think a lot of the "rules" of 2x2s are set up in a way that leads to frustration. Don't spend too long on any one stage or your dog will think that's the way you do the 2x2s and won't be able to progress!! But if you move on too quickly you have a problem. Allow your dog to think, don't always step in and make it easier for the dog!! But obviously THAT isn't working out very well for us.


    I think I am going to try to take the 2x2s to the training building today and maybe I can get some video of what's going on, or maybe just get something cooking playing in a new location. Our yard really sucks for a lot of things and trying to get video of a lot of our work is one of them. bleh.
     
  9. Shai

    Shai & the Muttly Crew

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    Don't worry about staying too long at one stage at this point. That's more for folks who for instance get to doing 6 poles and doing it well...and are afraid to add the other 6 so they practice just 6 for a year (it happens, really...). IMO it would be tough to overdo this first first foundation stuff...I mean when I started Mira on 2x2 she was too young to actually weave so we did 2 poles then 2 open sets for...ever. Not a lot of reps/session but I mean months and months of just doing those 2 sets in series a couple times a week...and she transitioned fine and has to date never missed a weave entry in a trial no matter how crazy the entry is, fast she's going, or no-helpful I am. Better to spend the extra time at the beginning stages and get them really really solid...I think based on training Mira w/ 2x2, retraining Web & Kim w/ 2x2, and helping some other folks in person that it's once you start pulling poles together that you don't want to stay too long in one place. The whole idea is that you want ducking between two poles then ducking in one then the next to be second nature...after four poles you're just expanding the concept into a rhythmic series of 6 sets of 2 strung together.

    You're at the hardest part...the part that sets up the whole rest of the concept. The part at which (at least from what I've seen) dogs are most likely to struggle with the learning curve. You're not failing your dog and he's not broken...it's just a very new concept for him and your first time trying to explain it. So just take your time and you're bound to learn a lot about your dog as he works through this which will also help in all your future training :)
     
  10. SaraB

    SaraB New Member

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    I second Shai's post. you can stay too long at a phase right now. Really, you need to build muscle memory and coordination right now anyways. I always tell my students that there at the aspects of teaching weaves: entries, getting the bases straight, and handler movement/distractions. If you arnt setting progress with straightening the bases its three perfect time to work three other two aspects.
     
  11. Beanie

    Beanie Clicker Cult Coordinator

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    Thanks guys. It helps to put it in a different perspective like that. I got the poles in the winter and was going to practice the method with Auggie, but he's not toy motivated so it didn't go very well and I decided since his weaves are so good anyway I didn't need to force it. Payton would sit and watch me work with Auggie and one day he got up and came over and ran through the poles, but I stopped after that because he was only like seven months old at the time and I didn't want to run into the problem of him being ready to go on and yet his joints weren't ready to weave... I wish I had gone ahead and worked with him just with the two at 2 and 8 all winter long had I known!

    I took two videos at the training building today but only the first one actually took, my camera ran out of battery power so apparently didn't save the second video at all. I'm not even gonna bother posting it because it's a mess LOL. I backed us up to having the poles at 2 and 8 again and he just kept skipping the first two poles on me. I did one session of six reps at the beginning of our play time at the building and it was rough, and then one more session at the end, and that's the one I don't have but I wish I could post. It was like the lightbulb went on and he was like "oh, it's THIS game. I know THIS game." *facepalm* No problems with entries and getting all four poles then. So good news at least, I don't have to completely start over yet again.

    Tomorrow I've got more 2x2s scheduled into our training calendar and I'm charging the camera right now so maybe tomorrow I'll get some actual quality video and post it and see if there's anything that pops out to you guys.
     
  12. Sekah

    Sekah The Monster.

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    I agree with everything the others have suggested - I just have one tiny thing to add.

    As with every shaping exercise, if you're running into a string of failures and your dog is getting demotivated, you can take a brief break from the task at hand and cue a couple fun, easy behaviours and reward them. Or, start off your shaping sessions with those easy, rewardable behaviours. It's to pad your "success" column with more check-marks than your "fail" column, and it can help maintain motivation over the duration of your training session.
     

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