The Mia agility training thread

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by Laurelin, Mar 8, 2012.

  1. Laurelin

    Laurelin I'm All Ears

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    So I'm just going to chronicle things. Mia started her foundations class/drive building class that the training center requires before dogs start getting introduced to equipment. It went really well overall but Mia was absolutely INSANE tonight. In good ways and bad ways.

    The good: Mia was a star in the class by far. Today was just the basics because most the people had never done any training before. Mia already knew all the exercises. Just basic clicker training and free shaping. One exercise she gave us a stool and we were supposed to click and treat interaction with the stool. Well, Mia's done this a million times and before the instructor got her hand away from the stool Mia was smacking it and jumping over it trying to figure out what I wanted. The trainer laughed and said "I can see she knows how this works." Anyways, I shaped Mia to jump over the stool since she already knows commands for 'stand on it' and 'touch it' and 'nose it'. The other dogs had obviously not done much free shaping at all but this cute little lab mix picked it up super fast. She seems like a really fun dog.

    The other good: Mia loves the instructor. I had enough time to get the words 'She's a little shy' out of my mouth when she jumped up and kissed the instructor on the face and started trying to play with her. That's the second time this week she's jumped into a total stranger's lap. I'm happy but a little weirded out to be honest. I can count on one hand the number of people Mia has immediately liked- me, my cousin, my second trainer, and then this trainer.

    The bad: Mia did not settle AT ALL the entire class. The other dogs were sleeping when the trainer was talking and Mia was bouncing around the end of her leash, going in and out of the crate, trying every trick she knew on her mat, and whining in frustration because we weren't doing anything. We've really been working on 'go to your mat and settle' and it's helped in obedience class, where she's starting to rest a bit on her own. I know tonight it was a factor of things. 1) I've been sick for four days and Mia has not gotten any park time or anything past training in the house and ball playing. So she's already wound up pretty tight. 2) New place and new dogs. Not the familiar training place. So I'm trying not to worry about it too much and we will keep working on it. Hopefully next week when she's better exercised and more familiar with the place, she'll settle down a bit.

    One hilarious thing happened. The trainer asked us all if our dogs liked toys and I said (to the trainer) "She doesn't really tug but she likes tennis balls." Mia went and grabbed her tennis ball that was sitting on top of my stuff and dropped it at my feet. She knows the word and heard me say it. :rolleyes: I locked the tennis ball in her crate then she went and OPENED her crate then threw the tennis ball at the trainer. Everyone laughed. It was funny despite the fact that my dog is annoying. lol Once again, we need to work on settle and CALM DOWN.

    I am a bit worried because the trainer really talked up tug and Mia just won't tug much. Sometimes she will at home but at class, no way. Just too many distractions. I'm thinking about trying to find a way to make a kong squeaker into a tug and trying to not pop the squeaker. Maybe that would entice her? I really wish I'd worked on tugging with her as a pup because she loved it then but just has lost interest now in favor of the tennis ball.

    I am a bit impatient too to get to something new and exciting. I understand the importance of having dogs learn clicker training first and build drive to work but Mia already knows that stuff. I keep reminding myself that I have plenty to work on with Mia though and it's never bad to spend time shaping and working on that stuff. I think it's hard since Mia's already seen all the equipment to go backwards. She and I both are accustomed to more and I could tell it frustrated her.

    I think I'll keep updating this thread mostly for me but also in case anyone has advice or anything else to say. :)
     
  2. Shai

    Shai & the Muttly Crew

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    YAY for Mia being back in agility!!!
     
  3. Laurelin

    Laurelin I'm All Ears

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    I am SO beyond stoked. I hope this time we can keep on going to the point we are ready for competition. She's definitely got potential. I sometimes feel bad we haven't done more. :eek:
     
  4. Shai

    Shai & the Muttly Crew

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    You'd just given her time to grow up is all. Like fine wine...better with some age.

    Either that or you might need some wine after running her.

    Either way, there should be wine ;)
     
  5. Panzerotti

    Panzerotti New Member

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    Sounds like a great class!

    Have you tried a ball on a rope?
     
  6. Laurelin

    Laurelin I'm All Ears

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    Mia does not need wine. :p
     
  7. Laurelin

    Laurelin I'm All Ears

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    She has a tennis ball on a rope but it's not a KONG SQUEAKER. I love how crazy she is about her tennis balls but I have learned a lot since raising her. My next dog I'm going to promote more toys. Basically if it is a ball and not a kong squeaker, she won't play with it. Kong squeakers are like crack to her and as a pup since she greatly favored them, I pretty much did not play with many other toys.

    She also likes her flirt pole with a mouse cat toy on it but it died...*coughsomedogdestroyedit* I need to rebuild it. I wonder if I can build that up to a tug? She'll chase it, jump after it, stalk it, etc and will pull on it a little bit when she 'catches' it but she won't just tug and tug on it. It's just never been her thing.

    But why is tug so important though? I really don't get it to be honest for a sport like agility if the dog has a lot of drive in other areas. Mia's drive for food is fantastic, her drive for tennis balls is fantastic, and most importantly her drive just to work and do things is very high. Do I really need a tug if the other rewards work better with her? She is incredibly drivey in most every other way.
     
  8. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

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    How exciting! Thanks for sharing!

    About tugging: 1.) I think way too much emphasis is put on tugging in many agility classes. Luna doesn't tug (or play with any toys outside of the house) and she rocked at agility. I've seen tons of dogs do awesome in agility and never play tug. Also tugging is misused and overused by a lot of people in agility. So IMHO, Mia is plenty toy-driven to be great in agility without needing to be able to tug.

    and 2.) if you think a squeaker might entice her to tug, sounds like Mia might like a wubba (which come in teeny sizes too) or a tennis tails toy.

    About foundations class: Keegan and I just finished our foundations class. I will admit that I felt like the first few weeks were a little "beneath" us, as in Keegan knew the exercises and had clearly had more training than the other dogs in the class. BUT what Keegan was NOT good at was calming down and relaxing in class, focusing on me when other dogs were around, having someone else take his leash (he very much enjoys humping my trainer, it's pretty mortifying), peeing only on cue (do NOT mark the jump stansions, please!), etc. So in addition to doing the assigned exercises in class, I worked on the other stuff that I'd identified that Keegan needed work on. That made it difficult enough for him that I thought about repeating the foundations class (and even though we've moved on to the next level, my trainer is offering another foundations class in April that we may still sign up for). Having the opportunity to train your dog in a class setting with all those distractions is valuable, no matter what the actual exercises are.

    Have fun!
     
  9. BostonBanker

    BostonBanker Active Member

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    Yeah! It sounds great. I think Mia will be such a super agility dog.

    Have you seen the Tug-It training tug toys? They didn't work at all for Meg, but I'm thinking you could use them (or something like them) and put one of her little squeaker balls inside it. She could still see it and grab the ball part, but you'd have a handle to tug on. Gusto's go-to tug has a small tennis ball on the end of it, along with a sheepskin part (and a nice stretchy section). Maybe she'd go for that? It looks something like this:
    http://agilityproshop2.com/page8/page10/page10.html
    but with a tennis ball instead of a hockey ball.

    Having said that - not all agility dogs tug, and it isn't the end of the world if they don't. It is a great tool to have, but plenty are successful without it.
     
  10. MandyPug

    MandyPug Sport Model Pug

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    will she tug on say a hole-e roller if there's a squeaker ball inside? That's one of the things that one of the world team members up here uses with one of her paps.
     
  11. Panzerotti

    Panzerotti New Member

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    Agreed. I think that what is important is having a very high reward available for training. You obviously have that, so I wouldn't worry about tugging personally. Sure, it's something that could be developed, but I agree that is isn't necessary for all dogs.
     
  12. Laurelin

    Laurelin I'm All Ears

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    Thanks for all the ideas. It is good to know that you can get by without a tug if you need to. I'm starting to get ideas to build a tug though so hopefully I can get her into that. She loves to tug on Summer's tail.... ;) (j/k)

    I wish the tennis tail toys had a squeaky ball on it. That would otherwise be perfect. She knows the second she catches the wrong kind of ball or picks up the wrong kind of ball and will drop it and start looking for a 'good' ball instead. I wonder if I take away the kongs and just have a tennis tail or something of that sort if that would drive her to play with that instead. But I hate taking the kongs away because she loves it and it's such an easy high value reward we already have going for us.

    Oh that's great! The one thing she will tug on is a sock if I put the kong squeaker inside the sock. I've been trying to think of a way to attach a rope or something to an x-small kong squeaker but maybe putting it inside a cloth would work. That way she could still bit through it and make it squeak. I really think she'd go for that.

    I think I'm also going to buy a lunge whip or something similar to make a new flirtpole for her.
     
  13. adojrts

    adojrts New Member

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    Tug can be a wonderful thing, but there are a lot of dogs out there that are stressed because of someone wanting them to tug. Smart trainers KNOW that you use what motivates the dog and if it isn't tugging then don't do it or at least don't stress them out or shut the down for the sake of tugging.
    One of my student's, her dog was shut down and hated agility........one of the reasons was they (the instructors at the first place she trained at) were insisting that the owner 'get him to tug'. She came here and I asked what is his motivator? A frisbee.........loves it. Told her to bring it, dog enters the agility ring, sees the agility equipment, hangs his head and gets a glazed look in his eyes. This was a happy go lucky young Border Collie until he saw that equipment.
    I moved all the equipment to the side of the ring, told the owner to produce that frisbee, dog lights up. We used the frisbee to turn agility into a great game for him, we just changed it to a soft one so it didn't bounce far :) Guess what? He loves to tug now on anything :) And they have a high q rate and earned their first titles quickly when they were finally ready to compete.
    So find a soft ball on a rope or anything that she'll play with, good luck.
     
  14. Beanie

    Beanie Clicker Cult Coordinator

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  15. Laurelin

    Laurelin I'm All Ears

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    Oooh I wonder if she'd go for that? She definitely prefers the x-smalls since she's so tiny and that one is bigger. But I got Ada an x-large kong squeaker and Mia played with that too quite a bit and it was almost as big as she was. She would roll it then attack it and would even pick it up by the fuzz and drag it around. I swear they put crack in the middle of those toys.

    You guys are making me feel better about the tugging. I don't want to stress her for sure because right now agility and training is one of her most favorite things ever and she LOVES it.

    I think this trainer will be okay with not tugging if I need to. She said one of her BCs she uses food mostly with and the other she tugs with. I can tell she does prefer to get a dog to tug though. All the other dogs in the class tug.
     
  16. Aleron

    Aleron New Member

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    I find chasing to be more useful in agility than tugging. Tugging is good for drive building, engaging your dog and what not....if your dog is into it. But for actual agility training rewards, if I had to choose between tugging and chasing, I'd pick chasing. Whimsy tugs but pretty much every non-trial run I do with her ends with me winging a toy and her chasing it/getting it. When she brings it back to me and wants to tug, we tug. If she wasn't into tugging, the chase reward would be just as good and useful on it's own. I've worked with some dogs who were highly food driven but not into toys at all. Throwing a small Kong stuffed with favorite treats worked just as well for those dogs.
     
  17. JacksonsMom

    JacksonsMom Active Member

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    Totally OT - but how is Ada? Have you heard from her owners?
     
  18. Laurelin

    Laurelin I'm All Ears

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    She's good. :) (Albeit fat, blegh) I ran into her owner at the mall this weekend, actually. They really like her and she fits in well.
     
  19. Laurelin

    Laurelin I'm All Ears

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    That's great to hear! She loves chasing the ball and I've been using it a lot in our training sessions lately now that she can concentrate when the ball is around. Just getting the ball and being able to roll it around herself is a high value reward but throwing it is even moreso.
     
  20. SaraB

    SaraB New Member

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    This. Not tugging is not an end all. After having a dog that absolutely will not tug and now having a tugging fanatic, I can say it is a much more convenient reward but not a necessity.

    Zuma wasn't a tugger when I got her, I ended up shaping the behavior. Grab the toy, click, here's a treat. Grab a little harder, click/treat. Tug, click/treat. Now she the tug is almost even with food as far as value of reward.

    I was talking to one of my students that was starting her basenji in foundation classes and she was so discouraged that her dog wouldn't tug. She ended up putting so much pressure on him to tug that it became aversive to him. So now the teacher was pressuring her to tug and she was pressuring her dog, nobody was having fun. I told her ditch the dog, go back to using food rewards and now they are having a blast again. I also told her that if she wanted to continue to teach tug that she needs to do it low pressure without a "timeline" and make it fun!
     

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