Training a Stay for Ruby

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by noodlerubyallie, Nov 2, 2008.

  1. noodlerubyallie

    noodlerubyallie Sprayin' the spiders

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    I do obedience training classes with Ruby, so currently we are on our first attempt at Intermediate. One of the things they really emphasize is cementing the dog's Staying power, and Ruby is NOT getting it. (Or maybe I'm not :))

    BTW, Allie just finished Advanced, which is starter Rally-O. Good girl!

    I get her into heel, get her attention, give her a firm "Stay" with the hand motion, lead off with my right foot. She stays until my third step and attempts to run after me. I've had three different trainers watch, and they don't see that I'm doing anything that would "call" her to me. So what we've been trying to do is have someone stand on her leash so when she gets up she gets a mild self correction and then she has to resit. The problem is that she doesn't trust people she doesn't know, especially standing behind her, so she refuses to sit again and instead resorts to wooing, yelping, bouncing, etc.

    I might add that she does this ONLY in the ring. At home, in public, she will Stay like it's no big deal. At home the stays are done with the distraction of Allie and Noodle. In public, we work at pet stores, etc.

    I suspect that she's getting too worked up when we get to class, so her excitement (and stress, when she's on leash she's reactive to other dogs, thank god the class is small) is making her not want to "wait" for what I'm trying to get her to do. We've tried running out her zoomies before class. I've tried being as calm and quiet as I can be when we are training to try and calm her. I've been using hot dogs, Bil Jac and Natural Balance rolls combined as treats, she's highly food motivated. I don't use any kind of corrective collar on her, she doesn't respond to them. So the only things I'm using on her are food, her leather collar and lead.

    This is the only exercise she's decided that she doesn't really want to listen to me on. I've been blaming it on Ruby and that independent thinking mind of hers :)

    Any suggestions, oh brilliant Chaz minds???
     
  2. corgipower

    corgipower Tweleve Enthusiest

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    It sounds like she can stay, but she can't stay in the class setting. Each setting/scenario is a different exercise until you've done enough variables for the dog to generalize.

    Since you know she'll break on the third step, only take one or two steps and turn to face her. After a few times of that, take two steps, turn to face her, wait a moment, then back up another step.
     
  3. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

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    ^^^agreed

    The more times she gets to practice getting up on your third step, the more difficult it will be for her to learn not to. The best thing to do would be to prevent that bad habit from forming, and since she is not comfortable with people standing behind her, the best thing for you to do would be gradually build up to taking 3+ steps.
     
  4. Maxy24

    Maxy24 Active Member

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    I agree, stick to just two steps, then walk back and reward, she'll let you know when she's ready for a third step, that's not now.
     
  5. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    Here is how I teach stay: It is detailed and very long, as it is part of the book I am writing. It is a little rough and probably not the finished product, but it's quicker for me to copy and paste than it is to write a lot all over again. Some of the things mentioned may not make perfect sense to you because of pre-existing chapters which explain some of those things. But the main thing is to break things down into small parts, set the dog up for success and reinforce at a high rate at first.

    Stay

    No matter what you’re teaching your dog, always think in terms of breaking it into parts wherever you can and working each part separately at first. With stay, I see three main parts; there’s the duration, how long is your dog going to be asked to stay. There’s the distance between you and your dog. The further away you are, the more difficult. And finally, there are distractions, the type and degree that will be in the environment where your dog will be able to hold the stay successfully. It certainly would be difficult for a young dog starting out learning this tedious task with squirrels running past or children playing with a ball. That would be setting the dog up to fail.

    Always incorporate a release word into your dog’s tasks so that he learns he must stay where you left him until you give permission to get up or move away. I use “OK.†It’s probably not the best word since it is used a lot in every day conversation. Some people use, “free†or “release.†Anything you choose is fine as long as that is the cue you always use to indicate to the dog that he may get up from where you left him.

    Start out in the most boring room of your house where there are no distractions. Let’s start with duration and have your dog sit. Stand right in front of him for just one second and pop him a treat and tell him “good boy†quietly and release. Since he has not had much practice with the stay, get that release word in quickly before he breaks the stay. That release word must become part of the deal and tightly associated with the exercise. Keep your praise low key and quiet. Any excitable praise is likely to cause him to leap up in a fit of joy and break the stay before you get a chance to get your release word in. Rewarding and making a fuss after you’ve released him is fine to make the whole task more fun, but be sure to reward before you release him so that he learns that staying is what he’s being reinforced for, not for getting up. Set him up for success. Remember, the more chance for reinforcement for a correct response, the quicker he’ll learn. Now, bring him around in a little circle and start a new exercise. Repeat what you just did, only see if he can hold it for two seconds, treat, praise and release. Then three seconds and so on.

    Now, mix it up. This time, have your pup stay for one second, treat without releasing, then two seconds, treat, then three, treat. What you’ve done prior is to work that release word so that it will assist him in knowing when he has permission to break the stay. You’re showing him a contrast now. He is holding the stay and getting a tiny treat each second that he holds it. Don’t ask for too much too soon. Try three or four seconds, rewarding after each and then release him. Have a little tousling fun for a moment and come back to it as long as he seems interested.

    So, gradually, over time, you’re going to be adding more duration, sometimes breaking it up with a treat/praise and release and sometimes asking for a little more with a continual holding of the stay. If he breaks the stay before you’ve released him, you’ve asked for too much too soon. Go back to where he was successful and work there a little more.

    Once he is getting onto it and holding a stay with you right in front of him for say, ten seconds or so, start adding your cue word and a hand signal. Put your hand up like a traffic cop and say, “stay.†Remember we talked about not muddying up the waters by throwing English words at him that don’t have any meaning yet and getting in the way of his trying to get the behavior. The exception would be the release word because it is not so much a skill as it is the freedom to be released from the performance. With the release word, you can open your arms and make a fuss over him, have some playtime and generally stop all that concentration for a moment.

    Give your verbal and visual cue for stay only once. Vary the location you have him stay and vary the hiding place where you retrieve your treat. If you use a clicker, your treat can be on a table near by. But if you don’t have that small bridge of time, you must get the treat to your dog immediately. A pocket or fanny pack will work. Get the behavior first before your dog sees the treat.

    Once he’s getting the hang of staying with you right smack dab in front of him and is able to hold it for ten or fifteen seconds reliably, it’s time to incorporate the distance part of this. Anytime you’re adding a new criteria, relax all other criteria. Give your dog his cue to stay and step back one step and immediately, without any hesitation, return to standing right in front of him, treat/praise and have him hold it. Step back two steps and return like you’re on a spring….immediately. Treat/praise. Then three steps back and so on, gradually adding distance but no duration. Work this for some time until he is staying reliably with a distance between you of say, six or eight feet. Again, you can break it up so that sometimes you release and start a new exercise and sometimes have him continue to stay put. Breaking up the exercise can keep him from getting bored and with puppies, especially, their attention span is that of a gnat. Throw a toy, play a little and come back to it or even do another skill for a while. It’s imperative that the pup is interested and having fun. Tomorrow is another day.

    After he’s gotten quite reliable staying with you walking back six or eight feet, you can start putting the distance and duration together, making it as easy as possible so your pup can succeed and store up lots of reinforcement. Step back one or two steps and ask for two or three seconds and gradually work your way up to further away and longer duration. Be sure to reinforce for each correct response and remember to practice in different places, with no distractions.

    Now comes the “fun†part…the part that can try the patience of every owner or trainer. Distractions. Remember to relax other criteria. In this case, the duration and the distance. Make it easy for him when another person walks through the living room or you drop a toy on the floor next to you. You might move your arms, jump up and down a couple of times. See what you can get away with as long as he holds the stay. If he breaks it and comes to play, he is not being stubborn or naughty. He needs more practice where he was successful. Gradually work in more distractions. Take him outside where there might be more sights and sounds that motivate him more than his interest in staying. Don’t rush this part. Over time, you’ll be raising the criteria; the distance from you, the duration and the distractions. You’ll be trying him out in different locations and your own body position in relation to him will need to be varied as well. A dog may understand that sitting and staying is only something that is done when his owner is standing in front of him, facing him. That is part of the cue. Now, you must show him that stay means stay even if you’re facing away from him, turned sideways to him, squatting down, lying down. You will also be having him stay when he is lying down or standing, not only sitting. Those things will need to be worked in as well.

    All these things take time, practice and patience. As he becomes very proficient in staying, it will not be necessary to treat him each and every time he is successful. You will be going onto a fixed reward schedule for a little while, say for two or three sessions or so where you’ll be reinforcing him every third stay. Then you will go onto a variable reinforcement schedule where you’ll be mixing up the number of correct responses in order to be reinforced; after two correct responses, after four, after one, after three, after eight and gradually spreading them out more. If you completely stop reinforcing a dog for behaviors you like, you will likely see some regression at some point. So, you must reinforce frequently enough that the behavior doesn’t fall apart.

    Here is where a lot of people ruin their dog’s solid stay: They call him to come from a stay. Don’t do this. Go to your dog. I will call my dog from a stay, only one out of every ten stays and only when he has developed a rock solid stay in all kinds of circumstances. Even then, I use the word, “wait,†not “stay.†Even though you have given him permission to break the stay to come, it puts it in his mind that anticipation of getting to break it and run to you or run somewhere else. Keep your dog’s stay solid. It might save his life one day.

    Creating a default stay (that's the next part of my stay chapter, along with other more advanced things like long down stays and staying while the owner is out of sight etc. But I will leave that stuff out of here)


    Written by: Carrie
    ©All Rights Reserved
     
  6. noodlerubyallie

    noodlerubyallie Sprayin' the spiders

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    Thanks everyone! I knew I was missing something in the middle that would help her (and me) out.

    Now I just have to find a nice way of telling the class trainer that I don't want to go any farther than three steps away from her until she gets it!
     
  7. corgipower

    corgipower Tweleve Enthusiest

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    I would hope that the trainer can understand it. :)

    Let us know how it goes!
     
  8. adojrts

    adojrts New Member

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    agree with everything above ^^^

    If it were me, I would also video tape my training sessions in other places where her stays are excellent and then tape my sessions in class. Compare the two, see if you can pick up anything that you are doing different, especially in the presence of your instructor in which you could be stressed a bit or nervous etc.
     
  9. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    This is why people feel they need to correct or use aversives on their dogs for being "stubborn" or "naughty." They set them up to fail. They ask too much too soon. If things are set up in a way that the dog is less likely to fail and more likely to succeed at baby steps, the reinforcement they receive for those baby steps raises the odds significantly that they will give more correct responses in the future. When you read all that mumbo jumbo that I wrote, it may appear to be some very long, super gradual process. But suprisingly, it is not.

    You don't waste time with so many mistakes that you have to "correct." All that just wastes time and doesn't give the dog effective feed back.

    He also misses the association between the cue and the behavior. (if the cue is used too early on in his training of that skill)

    After a few successes and reinforcements, the catching on to it snowballs. In other words, the dog learns HOW to learn...gets onto the game...stops guessing at what he's being reinforced for and gets down to the business of trying that behavior again which brought him the good stuff.

    Breaking things down and going slower at first will in effect be faster and more easily understood by the dog.

    I use to teach swimming lessons a long time ago and a lot of the students were children. They always have a tendancy to thrash around and "reach and pull" way too fast. They feel the need because they start to sink if they don't. But their reaching and pulling is so ineffective. They're not pulling much water. So, I told them to slow way down and pull strongly, but not in a rush. (a very difficult thing for children to do. It goes against their instinct almost) I told them, "slower is faster." And once they got their stroke regular, rhythmical and strong, then they could increase the speed. It's kind of the same thing with dog training. Slower (at first) ends up being faster.
     
  10. Dekka

    Dekka Just try me..

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    Another suggestion (all the above stuff is great) don't work on any formal recalls or restrained type recalls for the next week or so while you are working on this. Make sure YOU go back to reward her, not her getting rewards for coming to you.
     
  11. noodlerubyallie

    noodlerubyallie Sprayin' the spiders

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    That's a good point Dekka. I think another reason she wants to leave is that I haven't spent as much time coming back to her and rewarding, she's more used to recall. I'll spend a LOT more time going back and around to heel, then rewarding.

    You guys ROCK. I'll be a good handler someday :)
     
  12. ihartgonzo

    ihartgonzo and Fozzie B!

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    I was going to say the same as Dekka... it has helped me a LOT to teach my dogs to differentiate between a "stay" and a "wait". STAY is never recalled, I always go back, usually to the left side, and it is only released with the release command ("release", ironically, haha). The hand signal I use is a flat hand with fingers closed. WAIT is always recalled, and I use an open hand signal.

    I practice stay much more than I do wait. And I started so, so slow as to never set my dogs up for failure and never give them the opportunity to break it. Start by saying stay and literally taking a single step to her side, treat her, and go back and release. Then, a couple of steps around her, go back and release. Until you can make a full circle around her while she's staying. Pay really close attention to her body language... if YOU feel she's about to break it, reward and release quickly. In the class setting, spend lots of time at first just telling her to "stay", not stepping away even, and rewarding her for staying there. Try to make her feel like staying on a stay is a must, and it's much much more rewarding than going anywhere.
     
  13. chanda

    chanda New Member

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    Doberluv nice intruction... i will save this thread so i can have some reference on how to teach my dog still properly.
     
  14. JoeLacy

    JoeLacy New Member

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    I use wait not stay as well. For some reason, she got wait before stay so I went with it. Use hand gestures only and keep the distance at two steps. Heavy reward at two steps. The first time she does 3 steps feed her a mouthful and praise her like YOU won the lottery.

    Reward any behavior that looks like she's even remotely close to doing what you ask and your dog will come around. Once she's doing 3 steps, rinse lather and repeat.

    Remember the adage around here. "if you want your dog to do something, make YOUR reward for doing something YOU want, greater than the reward she would get from doing what SHE wants." The way to call your dog off from chasing a squirrel has to be more rewarding for the dog than chasing the squirrel.

    Make sure you have a release word. Just as your dog "looks' like it's going to break stay give her permission. Nobody wants to stay forever and once she has stay in her mind and knows eventually she will be released for the good stuff, she is more likely to stay.
     
  15. adojrts

    adojrts New Member

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    Again great advice happening!!
    You also may want to not put a label on it yet, especially the same label where she has been unsuccessful in the class setting. When she is 100% successful, then add your verbal.
    Another thing to consider is not using the verbal that has been unsuccessful, use a different word. Or train it to mean that sit or down is a stay without the verbal 'stay/wait'.

    You can have some fun with it too, some people use 'splat' for a down, certainly not traditional but if they had to retrain it, it certainly makes it clear and concise to the dog.
     
  16. corgipower

    corgipower Tweleve Enthusiest

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    Great point, Dekka about not doing recalls. Very true.

    Also, to the OP - in your first post you mention leading off with the right foot. Excellent! Another extra cue you can give is to fold your arms. I have always done it with my arms folded in front of me across my chest. Recently I've seen more people instead clasping their hands behind their back, because the dog sees that as you walk away.

    Also the folded arms or clasped hands removes the possibility of an inadvertent hand signal being given.
     
  17. ihartgonzo

    ihartgonzo and Fozzie B!

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    I totally agree, Corgipower!

    Body language is super-duper important. I didn't even notice it at first, but I lean forward when teaching my dogs to stay/wait, and lean back and open up my body more when I recall.
     
  18. Doberluv

    Doberluv Active Member

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    That's a good way and a little extra body language cue could certainly add to the stability of the stay. What I did however, was once the stay got really quite good, (it has to be already a darn good stay) I'd start doing a variety of random things with my arms and my body that might entice him to break the stay so that future inadvertant movements wouldn't disrupt the staying power. I'd add them in just like other distractions, little by little, raising the degree of difficulty gradually. I'd raise up one arm suddenly. Or scratch my head, clear my throat, cough and cover my mouth, reach in my pocket for my lighter and light a cigarette, unzip my coat and toss it, I'd spin around, bend over, walk around, side to side, turn and walk away and then advance to jumping up and down, squatting down. (that's a hard one because sometimes when playing, we call our dogs that way). But in this instance, squatting was not an invitation. And dogs can learn the difference in contexts for the very reason they have that "phenomenon" about not generalizing behavior well. I'd make sure that the visual recall cue (if he were in a "wait" and this, only after he had a rock solid one and only once out of say 10 waits) was very clear and distinct from these other movements. If the dog would break the stay, I'd give a no reward marker and replace him. If he looked like he was just about to break the stay, I'd go ahead and remind him, "stay." If he broke the stay too readily or too much, I knew I had to back up and not do such flamboyant movements for a while more. Anyhow, all those things help increase the liklihood of further developing a good stay.
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2008

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