Tugging style issue

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by Emily, Feb 27, 2013.

  1. Emily

    Emily Rollin' with my bitches

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    Blossom, Blossom, Blossom... :lol-sign:

    We're working through a number of minor issues that I suspect originate from her past, where her drive wasn't exactly, uh, appreciated, I'm sure. :p Luckily it hasn't put a damper on her enthusiasm but she does have some inconvenient habits.

    I feel confident in fixing all but one: She throws herself onto her back and death rolls like an alligator when we play tug. Which is funny, and would be fine, if she did it only once in a while. But it's pretty much default. She also groans (not growls) while she does it. I know some dogs are just vocal but I admit the combo of the death roll/dead weight and the moaning make think there's some conflict going on. She also gets quite chewy on the tug when this happens. Regardless of what it stems from, I'd like to get her to remain upright when we tug.

    Fixes I've considered:

    Drop the tug and walk away - This won't work because she'll just self-satisfy on the tug or eat it. We're working on having her return to me with the tug when I drop it. I leave a drag leash on her and use it to help bring her in if she doesn't respond to verbal encouragement, and mark and continue the game for returning. Right now, obviously, I only take 1-2 steps back.

    Outing - I also can't really out her when this starts, because for one thing, she doesn't have a clean out yet, and for another, it's like impossible for me to lock up and kill the toy when she's upside down, pushing her feet into my legs and thrashing against the toy. I'm not exactly strong the in the upper body. :rofl1:

    And obviously, I'm not going to just pull her onto her feet because that continues the game and she enjoys it. I'm just sort of concerned as to how to build correct tugging skills without causing more conflict, confusion, or killing drive.

    Other relevant information is that I'm using a 12" long, stuffed French linen tug. Used to have two handles but now it's down to one, LOL. I still grip it on both sides. She will tug on anything though and her attitude seems to be the same no matter the material. I do think this tug is a little thick for her where her grip is at right now, and that maybe something easy for her to hold would prevent some of the moaning/dead weight routine. Maybe she's afraid of losing her grip? The problem is that she will also quickly destroy thinner things by grinding her molars into them while tugging. Trust me, I learned that the hard way. So if that's the case, I'll have to find something thinner but tough.

    Any ideas? If it would help, I can try to get some video this weekend. You get a cookie if you read the whole thing.
     
  2. stardogs

    stardogs Behavior Nerd

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    What about tugging in a hallway or other narrow space - would that keep her from having enough room to flop? What about holding the tug higher so she CAN'T lay on her back?
     
  3. Emily

    Emily Rollin' with my bitches

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    Both good idea! Unfortunately, my house has no hallways, LOL. **** you, open floor plan! But, I'm housesitting for my mom for a few days starting tomorrow, and they have hallways, so I'll see how that works.

    Holding the tug up would probably work, I'll just need to start working out. My upper body strength is laughable right now! :eek: But, maybe if I focus on short sessions with the tug up high (before I get tired) and being sure to praise and give the tug lots of movement/fun when she's on her feet?
     
  4. AdrianneIsabel

    AdrianneIsabel Glutton for Crazy

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    I honestly wouldn't be surprised if its just her nature and not previous experience, it doesn't sound exactly atypical.

    That said, will she trade? Two identical tugs and animate the second if she drops? I would concrete an out (as best you can) in an effort to control the game more.

    Will she roll on any toy? You said she'll tug with any.

    As for chewing we found that changing to a hard toy will help deter the chewy behavior. A coworker recently stopped all toys except a hard softball on a rope in an effort to stop dumbbell chewing, as recommended by Denise Fenzi at her last seminar. It may be worth exploring.
     
  5. AdrianneIsabel

    AdrianneIsabel Glutton for Crazy

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    I didn't see this but definitely start here.

    I forgot just how much muscle I gained working the Malinois until I stopped for six months, now that we're working them again my body huuuuurts.
     
  6. Sekah

    Sekah The Monster.

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    My first thought was to shape a correct tug again from the ground up. I shaped Cohen's initially, so it may not be entirely surprising that that's what I thought of first. Use food to shape a proper grip and shift in weight for a few weeks before really going nuts and getting animated with the tug.

    Cohen moans sometimes too when tugging and I kind of think it's adorable.
     
  7. adojrts

    adojrts New Member

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    chase, tug, chase. only tug for a couple of seconds, produce a second tug, chase again. If she thinks she is going to chase you, she is likely to remain on her feet. also keep her on leash to make sure she does come with you and not play with the first toy without you.
     
  8. Emily

    Emily Rollin' with my bitches

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    Well, I can't really shape tugging with food with her. She won't take food when toys are present, or she'll grab it and spit it out. She has excellent food drive when no toys are in the picture, but if toys are available it's a done deal. I'm working on having her respond to food to earn a toy because it's convenient to have balanced drives but I'm afraid that if a toy is present, food has little value. I'm sure there's a way to do it, but I think for this dog, it's not a practical solution right now.

    I think the moaning is cute too but she seems almost distressed, which concerns me. I know this could just be a young dog learning to cope with her own high drives, though. And desperation isn't exactly unusual for Mals, LOL.


    Cool, I'm glad to hear it's not abnormal. I didn't necessarily think it was, but I was concerned it might indicate some kind of deeper-seated issue with the game.

    I always forget about trading, I don't know why! She will trade, and pretty easily too!

    She will roll with any toy, I believe, though it's the worst with her super special, high value French linen tug. She'll def tug on anything, LOL, sometimes rather inconveniently. I need to experiment more with different toys. Sadly she's destroyed quite a few, though, so right now our selection is limited. She really liked my udder tug until she ripped it clean in half while tugging. -_- lol So I need to grab a handful of super durable toys. She also can't anything too chewy or squeaky because it sends her waaaaaay over the top and she goes nuts just chomping on the squeaker and having fun "killing" it. LOL crazy bitch.

    I like this!!! Awesome. I think between you, Adrianne, and stardogs, I've got some workable solutions. I already feel much less frustrated. Part of her deal is also that when she works on the same toy for a long time, she becomes heavily fixated and little over aroused, with a tendency towards static biting and wanting to just hang, thrash, and grind her teeth into the tug, which makes perfect sense given her genetics/pedigree.

    Cool beans, guys, thanks. :) I knew you could help. I'll make an update on her progress.
     
  9. Aleron

    Aleron New Member

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    Her brother does this too LOL It is a workable issue, he doesn't do it very often at all anymore but I try not to give him a lot of chances to do it. Because it's sort of a PITA when you're trying to use tug as a reward to have your dog unmovable and not upright :rofl1:

    With him, I keep tend to keep tugging sessions short and action packed. Kind of like what Ado suggested. And it seemed to improve on it's on once he started getting a good grasp of the "out" and not re-grabbing at it when I go to pick it up or until I tell him he can. Basically impulse control work with the toys seemed to really help him develop better tugging skills. I suspect it is a possession related issue, so it would sort of make sense that the impulse control work helps with it.
     
  10. AdrianneIsabel

    AdrianneIsabel Glutton for Crazy

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    Please do! It's a fun topic to problem solve. Good luck!
     
  11. milos_mommy

    milos_mommy Active Member

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    Maybe I'm TOTALLY missing something, but can't you teach her a solid drop-it command and have her drop it as soon as she starts to roll?
     
  12. Emily

    Emily Rollin' with my bitches

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    Weeeeeeell...

    And it's difficult to TEACH a solid out or "drop it" when your dog will hang cheerfully off a toy, even if you kill the motion of the toy and wait. Her "dead toy" outs are getting there, but when she's on her back she's often totally over aroused and can hang there and self-satisfy by just chomping/thrashing on the toy. If I let go out of the toy she finds that reinforcing, and absolutely won't trade a toy for food.

    I will be teaching a solid out by trading her for toys, which I may later on use to "correct" her for rolling if the behavior persists. But honestly, I don't necessarily want to use negative punishment (pausing the game every time she rolls) if I can instead build the proper a little bit at a time positively, using trading and chasing games, as others have suggested.
     
  13. AdrianneIsabel

    AdrianneIsabel Glutton for Crazy

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    Out. It sounds so simple, until you own a strong drivey possessive obsessive dog. lol

    But yes, a solid drop it would help the rolling. :)
     
  14. Emily

    Emily Rollin' with my bitches

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    LOL yeah, exactly.

    I plan to build proper tugging bit by bit using trading and chasing, and then when we've got a good out, I'll use it to correct any remaining rolling.

    Of course, Belgians like to take your simple plans and stuff them back in your eye socket at you, so she may have other ideas.
     
  15. AdrianneIsabel

    AdrianneIsabel Glutton for Crazy

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    We have learned to pick our battles and one we don't bother with for Sloan is an out. She outs off a live sleeve, hands over a dumbbell, and spits out a ball for fetch, the fact we have to not touch her or the toy for an out is relatively unimportant.

    Backup however, raised the exact same, has a fine toy out with gentle reminders and yet has trouble returning with and outting his dumbbell.

    Simple would be boring, or so they tell me.
     
  16. stardogs

    stardogs Behavior Nerd

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    Yep. I'm working on outing issues with Aeri too - she was fine until her toy drive went up after her first heat, and then BAM! no more outing. >.<

    And to give others some reference: Aeri will literally drag me if I try to immobilize a tug by STANDING ON IT. She doesn't care that it's dead, the slight inch by inch movement she can force and the chewing she can do is plenty reinforcing.

    That being said, with lots of two toy and trading, and some creative problem solving, she is FINALLY outing even a linen tug that's NOT immobilized as long as *I* freeze. :D
     
  17. CreatureTeacher

    CreatureTeacher New Member

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    I'd very much like to see a video. I've got a couple of ideas, but I'm not sure if they're on the mark. It's such torture when they do things you know you shouldn't laugh at!
     
  18. FG167

    FG167 New Member

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    Oh outing, never knew how much I would grow to hate outing my dog lol.

    What about a leather tug, a flat, non soft one. They're slippery when drooly so she might slide off when she rolls if she's not careful. I have better control on grips with a non chewy tug as well.
     
  19. Emily

    Emily Rollin' with my bitches

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    So, did some experimenting today!

    She's less chewy and less roll-y with a rope toy, I got this one at Target for like $5.

    [​IMG]

    Today I switched between that toy and the linen tug. She def values the linen tug a little more, but we haven't played with the rope toy as much so there's not a strong history of reinforcement yet. Either way, she will trade pretty readily (although at one point she had both of them in her mouth, LOL). I left a drag leash on her and if she fixated on the tug she had and didn't want to trade, I just used gentle leash pressure (while running backwards) and an excited voice to bring her to me, which worked really well as an interrupter and got her refocused on whatever toy I had.

    But I really think I need to ditch the linen tug for a while until her targeting gets better, because while we were playing chase games she managed to pin my finger to the tug and give me a decent puncture. Waaaaaaaaaaah LOL But I kept playing until blood got all over and it got gross. :rofl1: It was an innocent mistake and I didn't want to punish her by ending the game when she was trying really hard to work with me. That tug is only 12" long and down one handle... I think we need a longer tug where I can keep my hands clear of the danger zone, lol, until we both get a little more coordinated.
     
  20. AdrianneIsabel

    AdrianneIsabel Glutton for Crazy

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