Agility training

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by Panzerotti, Feb 6, 2012.

  1. Elrohwen

    Elrohwen Active Member

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    Omg, thank you for your post! So many awesome things to think about.

    Yeah, it was always something that I told everybody not to do, until I tried it one day with Watson when he got too rough with the rabbits. They can interact through an xpen, and the rabbits are very interested (probably too friendly, honestly, with no fear) and he lunged at my girl sticking her nose through the pen. My husband went in the bunny room and hid, and squirted him when he was inappropriate. There was an immediate shift in his energy and he was so much less frantic. He thought things through. This was the only reason I was willing to try it in class. And because I know he's never responded to any other correction in his life, ever.

    lol Groundhogs are so ballsy. We pulled Watson out of a GH hole when he was in up to his shoulders. I'm pretty sure he would lose that battle.

    And Premack! We broke a plateau when I learned to use sniffing as a reward. This dog enjoys sniffing like he's a bloodhound. Nosework is so easy for him that he looks at me like I'm stupid. Playing the "gimme a break" game with sniffing turned around our obedience classes.

    Yes, I think this is really important. I think the other dogs need to be crated out of the ring and he will be sooo much better.

    He does stress up. Like way way up. On the other hand, he also gets easily overstimulated even when he's not stressed. We have been to the vet where he's jumping around, staring at their birds in the waiting room, and being an idiot, but when they take his pulse, totally calm. I really do think he's just that hard of a dog. I have never met a dog like him. He responds to everything in life with a smile and a tail wag. You could hit him with a 2x4 and leash correct him until he's dragged on the floor, and he would not care. Not that he can't get stressed, and I've seen it. He will eventually shut down if he thinks you're being "mean" or unfair, but otherwise he is a bulldozer. Nothing phases him and he is always ready to smash into the next thing in his way. In a way it's nice because he's basically impossible to mess up, but he's also the hardest dog I've worked with.

    Watson is 16 months, so not far off. And every Welshie person ever tells me that the males take forever to mature, so I hope things get better. As a pet he's awesome and the best snuggler and most tolerant dog I've owned. I love him to death, but sometimes I want to strangle him.
     
  2. BostonBanker

    BostonBanker Active Member

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    :rofl1: You pretty much described me and Gusto to a tee! Our relationship as owner/pet is wonderful, and although it took a while for that relationship to grow, I just smile and my heart swells multiple times a day when we are around each other. Our working relationship just needs a little more work, and I think a ton of it was the problem with me not realizing he was stressed.

    We've been working hard, and there has been some hard stuff for me (I pulled him out of classes because he was getting worse, not better, there, even though I credit that trainer a ton for the work she did with Meg). We are supposed to be trialling Sunday for the first time in a few months. I mostly wanted to trial now just because I KNEW that some people who stress me out badly weren't going to be there, and I'm not sure how much that's been affecting things. For the most part, I'm thinking of this winter as our Big Training Winter. I really hope that come spring, all our work will really start paying off.

    Some day these silly boys will mature...right?!
     
  3. krissy

    krissy New Member

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    Tracy introduced me to the "win-win sequence" and it makes A LOT of sense to me.

    She says that a lot of people (myself included) set up an inherently rewarding, vicious cycle without even realizing it. The dog runs away to sniff/visit/play/run laps. These behaviours are all inherently rewarding to the dog (win!). We then recall the dog which although you may not give a reward for this particular recall is a very heavily reinforced behaviour and so many dogs also find rewarding (win!) on top of which you probably will reward the dog for the recall (I know I always did). Then you put the dog back into the course which is also heavily rewarded and which the dog probably enjoys anyway (win!). So the dog has basically been reinforced for running away in the first place.

    I had never considered this. But it makes so much sense. On top of that... my dog had NOT improved over the months when I was just recalling her from distractions. I wouldn't say she had gotten worse, but there was definitely no improvement in the amount of times she ran away every class.

    Now what we do which has worked so well:
    1. "Heat the porridge" (is what Tracy calls it). Dog comes out of the crate and immediately engage in tug, tricks, and other high energy, fast paced games that are fun and rewarding. Stay connected.
    2. Leash is ON if needed. If the dog tries to leave he gets some sort of non-reward "consequence". We use me taking her collar and backing her up 5-10 steps away from the distraction. Wait for attention and re-engage. You can also return the dog to the crate for a "time out". Basically the dog does not get to do what it wanted and the dog gets some sort of "consequence" for thinking about leaving.
    3. If when the dog IS off leash they take off. Do not call the dog. I leave too! I leave and go feed Kili's cookies to one of the other dogs in the class while someone else catches my dog (or she runs right over to me to investigate and I pass her off to someone then continue feeding my new best friend). When I'm done feeding the other dog I take off for the start line (or wherever I wanted to go) and whoever is holding Kili releases her. Better believe she is after my like a shot hoping to get a taste of whatever it was that I gave her friend.

    This is a dog who would leave me at the drop of a hat. Visiting people and dogs, sniffing random smells, looking for dropped cookies on the ground, trying to take whatever equipment she felt like, walking the fenceline, running laps (very rewarding for a greyhound). Now she stays with me. She doesn't go nuts leaping off equipment. She is way more in control on courses. She keeps at least one eye on me most of the time. I worked her in the arena with a kitten attacking my camera tripod and she only chose to leave me once. Greyhound and kitten. I was impressed. She did better than I actually expected her to. I spent 3 or 4 months getting frustrated by her social butterfly tendencies and distraction problems. 6 weeks and we have MAJOR improvement.

    I do agree with "do what works for your dog". But when it comes to aversive techniques (even when they're only slightly aversive) my personal thought is only after I have exhausted every possible positive avenue. And as much as I love and trust my trainers... I don't do everything they suggest. I keep an open mind, but at the end of the day I am my dog's protector. I need to decide what I think is best for her. So I'm not saying there is anything wrong with your trainer or that they're out to hurt your dog, so please don't take it that way. I'm just saying that you don't necessarily have to do everything a trainer suggests, no matter how good they are. And if you're comfortable with it, that's fine too. It's not that using a squirt bottle will hurt your dog or is bad for him, but if drive and resiliency to failure are things you want to promote in your dog then even mild aversive techniques are counter productive. In my opinion anyway. :)
     
  4. Elrohwen

    Elrohwen Active Member

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    These are all really great games to play. Thanks for the tips!
     
  5. adojrts

    adojrts New Member

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    Excellent advice yv0nne, bang on!!

    Here is a link to Jess's online courses, take the Puppy Foundations course, you wont find anything that will help you more for such a cheap price :) She will help you motivate and keep connected with your dog.

    http://www.agiledogtraining.com/online-classes--webinars.html


    One of the things that I love about Jess and why I decided to train with her, was her openness about the struggles that she has had with her own dogs. Therefore she doesn't pass judgement but figures out how to help you and your dog. And it works. Anyone that can take a dog that was terrified of everything, a dog that would stress to the extreme, disconnect and leave her and turn that dog into a world champion gets my money :) For the simple reason that she can relate to the struggles and frustrations and then solve it.

    I know many people that had some serious issues with their dogs, people that had trained with other 'names' ..........to be told they would never be able to compete with that dog. They now train with Jess, not only are they competing but with success.

    Good luck.
     
  6. Laurelin

    Laurelin I'm All Ears

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    Do you honk there's a good online option for Mia's stressiness?
     
  7. crazedACD

    crazedACD Active Member

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    I like this, it makes a lot of sense to me.

    My first agility class there was an energetic mixed breed dog, her first time in agility. She really didn't have a recall, if she realized no one was holding her leash, she would run zoomies-then run up to other dogs. The instructors started stomping on her leash when she was came out of the tunnel, or other exercises where the leash was dropped (like the tire). So it started when she went into the tunnel, she stayed there! She was just stuck in the middle running back and forth not wanting to come out. She was also picking up the end of the leash and running with it. The dog wasn't soft by any means but simply stepping on the leash (and the dog hitting the end of it) was enough of an aversive she probably associated coming out of the tunnel with being uncomfortable. Unfortunately the instructors didn't really have a great solution for her, but there was only maybe 3 classes left when she started that, so there wasn't a chance to really work on it. I'm not opposed to aversives at all but I think you have to be careful in agility not to get an aversion to the equipment.

    I like classes, I really do, but I also feel that it can be hard to work on specific things in group classes when the lesson is moving on but you need more work in a specific area. And, a lot of it is stuff that is difficult to replicate at home. I know I want to put more work into slowing down on contacts, Skye has such little voice control, but I can't really school that when we are moving on to the next thing in class. Personally I've been thinking about doing some ring rentals and schooling her myself, I know there are pros and cons to that. I've never fully trained a dog in agility, well not seriously, but I "think" I get the jist. Do you have anywhere to rent that you might be able to work on these issues on your own?
     
  8. adojrts

    adojrts New Member

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    Yes, Jess's (Jess Martin) online course, the course started last week, but that wouldn't put you behind and I am sure she can add you.
     
  9. Elrohwen

    Elrohwen Active Member

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    Watson routinely hits the end of the leash with full force if there's something he wants. lol Definitely not something he would mind. But I totally understand what you're saying.


    This is why the one aversive we used was done far away from myself and the equipment. The trick with punishment is that dogs can easily associate it with something you didn't intend, but I do think in this case we didn't associate it with any equipment. He got sprayed after doing stuff with the tunnel, and we immediately went back to the tunnel and he rocketed through again, but came to me on the other side instead of running off.

    Yes, this is so so true. When I rode horses, I went to private lessons after about 5 years of riding. Instead of an hour we got half an hour of instruction, and I remember my dad feeling a bit cheated, since I only had half the riding time. I assured him that I worked way harder, and on stuff that was important to me, during that half hour. My riding would never have advanced to the level it did if I hadn't had private lessons.

    I've been interested in ring time for obedience type stuff (not competition, still working on attention and focus). We have been taking weekly classes, but occasionally they offer up ring time for people to show up and do what they want, and others can help. I haven't been able to make the times, but I'd like to. For agility we're way too green for anything like this, but some day I would like to try it. My obedience facility does have some obstacles (a tunnel, a jump, etc) so I could talk to our instructor about taking some private time, or even just doing a private lesson weekly to work on focus. Equipment isn't our problem, but focus always is and that's something we could work on with just a tunnel or jump here and there. I think general off leash time to work without other dogs present would be good, since it's not something he has a lot of practice with outside of working at home.
     
  10. Finkie_Mom

    Finkie_Mom It's A Red Dog Revolution

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    When Kimma was around a year old we started having lots of recall issues in agility foundations. We were now doing small sequences and she would do some of it then just run and blow me off. She didn't care if I left her, if I played with other dogs, anything. So I actually just pulled her from classes altogether.

    We had 6 months where she was not off leash ANYWHERE. Including the backyard. No dog park, no nothing. All we did was play recall games. And by not having her off leash, I didn't have to worry about her blowing me off completely. She's a sensitive dog so I did silky leash kind of stuff to get her used to my pulling on the lead - that way if she was blowing me off while on a long lead I could easily just put a bit of pressure on her collar and she would come running. No need for her to hit the end of the lead hard or for me to reel her in. I made playing with ME the most fun ever. And then I went back to one jump. Rewarding heavily for that. Then add another, then a tunnel, etc. It took a long time but she's awesome now. I just had to realize that she wasn't going to just ignore all those distractions (other dogs, people, dropped treats, a leaf or interesting blade of grass, etc.) without my putting in the work, too.

    I see nothing wrong with going "backwards" in order to help firm up recalls/drive for the game. Heck we are doing it now in that I've pulled her from trials and classes and we are just doing short course work in a private lesson setting. All we are currently working is short course work with getting her revved up and excited about playing the game and playing it WITH me.
     
  11. Elrohwen

    Elrohwen Active Member

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    You and Kimma are awesome! I love watching your videos. Actually, I thought of you when I was watching some Eukanuba videos and they had a sequence with finkies.

    I'm so frustrated with it because we have nowhere to go backwards to, if that makes sense. We have only ever done foundation type stuff, and we just started doing single obstacles. I could understand taking a step back if we had been doing full sequences and needed more foundation work, but I feel like all we've ever done is foundation work and he's still not reliable. I don't know where else to turn. That's the reason I said that more foundation classes weren't an option. Not that we aren't doing them, just that it's *all* we're doing and we still aren't getting anywhere, so clearly something isn't working.
     
  12. adojrts

    adojrts New Member

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    Ok, lets forget agility for the moment, how are your recalls and working basic obedience in the face of distractions?
     
  13. Finkie_Mom

    Finkie_Mom It's A Red Dog Revolution

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    LOL thanks! It's taken us a while but we're starting to really come together as a team :)

    I guess what I mean is backwards not in terms of "levels" in agility, but in terms of training in general. We literally did nothing off leash and no agility for months. Then everything was introduced back in slowly once I knew that she would be in the game and respond to my cues the way I needed her to. You could even just take a different type of class (I know we took an Intro to Competition class wherein we learned strategies to gain focus with our dogs no matter where we are) just to get the relationship building stuff going more before doing any further agility work. That's not to say you can't do jumps like in your home or places where you know he's going to follow you really well, but like others have said and you know, the more he rehearses the bad behavior, the more difficult it will be to break him of his habits. If that all makes sense :p
     
  14. Elrohwen

    Elrohwen Active Member

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    Uhh, not great? I had a whole recall thread recently. Basically, he rocks formal obedience recalls where he is in a stay. It's his favorite game and he will recall with other dogs running next to him. If he is running amok and finds something more interesting, he'll come when he feels like it.

    Basic obedience around distractions is hit or miss. I don't want to say he's awful because he's not. He was the only dog to hold a stay once when the instructors threw squeaky toys across the room. At the same time, the second he is bored he thinks nothing of going off and doing what he wants.

    For a long time I felt like we were at least progressing steadily in classes with impulse control and work around distractions. The past 3-4 months we have plateaued. I was hoping that getting out of our regular obedience facility and working on similar foundations at a new place focused on agility would help. So far that's up in the air.
     
  15. krissy

    krissy New Member

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    You can't get anywhere in agility class until you work on focus. Even when you are working individually, if the dog takes off you can't train properly. And eliminating all distractions is not the answer because an agility trial is FULL of them. In class Kili stays on leash for at least the first few minutes while I guage what kind of day she's having. Her general trend is that she is improving but she has days that are better than others -learning is not a linear process. If she is having an exceptional day I will take the leash off, but otherwise the leash stays on. I actually use a long line at class. I set jumps as low as they go so we can still work on single jump stuff.

    At home we work on lower level distractions. Me throwing a toy or food while she is supposed to be performing a behaviour. Me running around wildly while she does a behaviour. Me offering food to Summit. She always has to stay focused and perform the expected behaviour. Then in class we start increasing the distractions. On one sequence I asked my classmates to scream and shout and cheer us on. Another time I ran with my iPod in my pocket blaring music. I'll ask a classmate to stand right behind Kili at the start line. Soon I want to start scattering people around the course and having toys left laying around randomly on course. Then I'll work up to other dogs standing out of their crates on course. If she makes the wrong choice we use one of our "consequences" (collar grab and back away from distraction, time out in crate, or hand off to someone else and I reward another dog).

    When she can do that I will start to enter her in practice days so she can experience a more trial like atmosphere but still in a training scenario.
     
  16. Elrohwen

    Elrohwen Active Member

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    This is our first agility class and as basic as they get, so no options there. There aren't a lot of places to take classes and we're at the most basic level at our regular facility too (no rally or formal obedience, still foundations). He's never been off lead except for formal recalls which he adores. I think you're thinking we are more a advanced than we are. lol I feel like my question is what to do when your dog fails foundations classes. Maybe the answer is to just keep doing foundations classes for another year until he grows up, but I can't help thinking that I'm missing some things in training if a whole year of basics with a 16 month old isn't enough to do one jump or tunnel off leash.
     
  17. adojrts

    adojrts New Member

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    Those are somewhat controlled environments. Foundations is about control and focus everywhere and we do a lot of work/proofing in strange places. By strange places I mean, train stations, beside a dog park with a million strange dogs barking and running around, in wally world parking lots etc. Yes all those places you should have your dog on leash or a long line but if the dog is a 100 % in those environments, then work can begin on the off leash stuff in safe places :)

    How long before he gets bored and leaves? Actually it doesn't matter how long, you have to keep an exercise shorter than the 'bored/leaving' kicks in. If he gets bored with multiple reps of any exercise, break them up, move fast from one to another for a few minutes (max of 5 mins) and then put him away for a mental break.

    Question: When he leaves, you call him and he comes back do you reward him?
     
  18. Elrohwen

    Elrohwen Active Member

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    We do work on things outside of class. We work every day on my property, and the nearby walking trail. We work on stays and impulse control at hardware stores and the liquor store. His issue is almost always other dogs - without other dogs around, he's much more focused. He finds them so distracting. So no, he's not 100%, but we do work on this a lot and he's not as bad as you might think. I've had multiple people come up to me in public and tell me how well behaved he is and I just laugh. lol

    Not sure how long until he gets bored. Some nights it's 5 min, some nights it's 20 seconds. It's really hard to predict. At home he can go rep after rep and ask for more, but in stimulating environments, like classes, I try not to ask for more than one or two reps. And he's subtle about when he's thinking of charging off. I do think he's so impulse that it's not thought out so much as a spur of the moment decision.

    Generally I reward every successful recall. In obedience classes, if he's run off and come back, I haven't rewarded him coming back except to tell him he's good and restart the exercise (modifying the exercise so that running off wasn't an option anymore). In agility, I have rewarded him for coming back, mostly because I was shocked he bothered to come back at all in a few cases. lol
     
  19. Oko

    Oko Silence, peasants.

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    Elrohwen, if you haven't got it, I highly recommend control unleashed: the puppy program book. Lots of great stuff about focus in there, that's what it's all about. :)
     
  20. Elrohwen

    Elrohwen Active Member

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    Yep, I've got it and love it :) I use some exercises from that book daily.
     

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