Go Back   Pet forum for dogs cats and humans - Pets.ca > Discussion Groups - mainly cats and dogs > Dog training - dog behavior

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old February 14th, 2006, 10:11 AM
jessi76's Avatar
jessi76 jessi76 is offline
Senior Contributor
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: U.S.
Posts: 2,510
getting that initial focus, and keeping it

need some advice, tips, professional help.....

Although Tucker is doing well in his training classes, we seem to have one constant (BIG) problem.... getting focused on ME.

Bit of background - Tucker is a basenji, and 11 months old (today). He's completed playschool, level 1 & level 2 obedience, and is currently in the middle of his off-leash/agility-prep course. He knows his commands, voice & hand signals, and when he's paying attention is VERY reliable.

the problem is initially getting him to pay attention to ME, at the start of a task. I've tried the upbeat, super happy voice, food lures, I've held food to my forehead to reinforce WATCH ME - that works for about half a second. then i get the "you look stupid w/ food on your forehead" look from the dog! which, granted, I do.

I could hold a roast beef to his nose and Tucker is more interested in sniffing the floor, sniffing the air, watching the puppy class going on, concerned with the dog who just came in the door, concerned with the person who just walked by, chasing a dust bunny.... I ask him to leave it, and technically he does, but then something else catches his eye.

once we get going though, he does watch me, even with major distractions going on. it's just getting that initial focus. By the end of class, he pays attention just fine.

for example last night we had class... to start class we walk around the room (in a big circle) and your dog is SUPPOSED to be heeling and paying attention to you - then change direction - etc... tucker is doing everything EXCEPT paying attention. literally, i'm the only one who's dog is walking forward, and looking backwards.

BUT by the end of class I asked for a sit/wait, dropped leash, walked few feet in front of him, called him, he came, and half way I gave him the DOWN signal, he dropped, waited for a release, then came to me and sat - looking AT me.

so it's just getting started really - but it's each and every time - how do I control him at the begining? I feel like I'm dragging him and forcing him to pay attention - I'm sick of the "ugh, what on earth do you want?" look from my dog - that's not cool.

maybe it's the breed, yes, very independent thinkers... maybe it's the age, yup, he's in the idiot-phase, maybe I have crappy treats, but I shouldn't have to bribe my dog to listen to me.... I feel like at the start of class Tucker is thinking "la la la la la la la la...." and my voice sounds freakishly similar to the teacher in the Charlie Brown movies. but by the end of class he miraculously understands English.

sorry, turned into more of a rant.

tips???
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old February 14th, 2006, 01:58 PM
Lissa's Avatar
Lissa Lissa is offline
Agility Addict
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Ottawa, Ontario
Posts: 1,402
Is Tucker like this everywhere or only at training?

I enjoyed the rant - it literally sounded like me a few months ago!My dog, Dodger is a 17 month old American Foxhound and I feel like you are going through the exact same thing as me! I was (and am) constantly training with Dodger. We've completed a pre agility and 4 obedience classes so far.

I had the exact same problem as you and it turned out that it had a lot to do with age. From 8 months to 13 months Dodger rarely made eye contact. When he did, it was like I was forcing him to and it was very fleeting (it felt like he was looking for anything to become a distraction instead of focusing on me!). Then from 13 months to now he makes eye contact all the time but loses it once we get in motion! I can't seem to win!

Do you exercise Tucker before class? Is there any chance you could get there a bit early and work with him before the class starts? If you have a few minutes before things get underway - I would practice what Tucker is really good at; hopefully it will motivate him and at least you'll be starting off with a positive attitude!

Do you let him sniff around before class starts? I would give him that opportunity and then adopt a no-nonsense attitude - let him know that its time to work, not play. Groups classes are hard because there are so many distarctions. We are both working with independent breeds that don't naturally look to humans for guidance - it takes patience, commitment and maturity for you dog!

Have you tried clicker training?! It is NOT bribing!

I have no doubts that everything will work out with some time and consistent training.
__________________
"Animals are reliable, many full of love, true in their affections, predictable in their actions, grateful and loyal. Difficult standards for people to live up to."
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old February 14th, 2006, 02:08 PM
Lucky Rescue Lucky Rescue is offline
Senior Contributor
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 10,287
Quote:
I've held food to my forehead to reinforce WATCH ME - that works for about half a second. then i get the "you look stupid w/ food on your forehead" look from the dog!
Haha!!! Not usual with this ancient hunting breed of dog, which is quite "cat-like" in that they are difficult to train and very independant and were not bred to take direction from people.

It sounds like you're doing very well, but don't expect miracles. These dogs sure aren't like Goldens!
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old February 14th, 2006, 02:31 PM
jessi76's Avatar
jessi76 jessi76 is offline
Senior Contributor
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: U.S.
Posts: 2,510
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lissa
Is Tucker like this everywhere or only at training?
everywhere, but once we get into the task at hand, he gets more focused. ummm, how to explain... for example, we leave the house for a walk - he's off in la-la-land until we're a portion of the way down the road (after many stops, & backup's) but then he "snaps into it" and walks nicely, and checks in with me (makes eye contact).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lissa
Do you exercise Tucker before class? Is there any chance you could get there a bit early and work with him before the class starts? If you have a few minutes before things get underway - I would practice what Tucker is really good at; hopefully it will motivate him and at least you'll be starting off with a positive attitude!
My bf meets me there w/ Tucker after work (no time for me to drive home from work and make it to class in time). so we meet about 20 min before class, and we start right away with "warm up's" - I run through drills w/ him - a string of commands - sit, down, release, come, down, stay, etc... but NO he's not "tired" at the start of class.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lissa
Do you let him sniff around before class starts? I would give him that opportunity and then adopt a no-nonsense attitude - let him know that its time to work, not play. Groups classes are hard because there are so many distarctions. We are both working with independent breeds that don't naturally look to humans for guidance - it takes patience, commitment and maturity for you dog!
I've found his behavior is WORSE if he's allowed to romp & play for even 2 min before class. I let him say hello & sniff a butt, but that's it - we're there to learn. we do allow socializing AFTER class though. even though I try to keep him focused, he's just wanting to play, so YES, it is indeed very hard w/ a group setting, but on the other hand, I think these distractions are an important part of it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lissa
Have you tried clicker training?! It is NOT bribing!
LOL! we ARE clicker training!!! you couldn't tell?!?! on the advice of my trainer, we use food lure's for the particularly stubborn ones... i.e... TUCKER.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Lucky Rescue
It sounds like you're doing very well, but don't expect miracles. These dogs sure aren't like Goldens!
good reality check... perhaps I am expecting too much.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old February 14th, 2006, 03:52 PM
Lissa's Avatar
Lissa Lissa is offline
Agility Addict
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Ottawa, Ontario
Posts: 1,402
Okay...thanks for answering some questions for me!

What has your trainer suggested?

I think you will find that as he matures you will get more focus. BUT I am not saying that there is no point in continuing with the training NOW! Right now you are laying the foundation, even if you aren't seeing the results yet!

If you sign up for another class, I would try to exercise Tucker right beforhand. I used to have to have to let Dodger hunt for at least 2 hours beforehand...Now I can go to training without even taking him for an off-leash walk and he's still perfect.

I'm sorry, I didn't realize you are clicker training. Have you taken a clicker class? A friend of mine was trying to clicker train her hound/pointer mix on her own and was totally unsuccessful. You really need to know what you are doing with a clicker!

I personally am of the belief that just because you own a hound, you shouldn't expect less. Lucky is right, hounds certainly aren't meant to work with people BUT they can learn to enjoy it. They aren't really stubborn, you just need to convince them that you both want the same thing! Dodger already knows over 100 words/phrases/commands/hand signals and that's only with obedience training (no agility, rally, tracking etc...) Don't give up, I am sure that Tucker has it in him !

I would start making Tucker focus before he gets to do anything: going for a walk, crossing the street, getting his dinner, greeting someone, walking through a door, playing etc... He needs to learns that looking at you is not only a good thing but completely necessary before he can do what he wants!

Since it sounds like Tucker is really distracted, I wouldn't even let him have a quick sniff with the other dogs before class. He needs to learn that he is not the boss of what you get to do!

Also, I rarely practice commands on a walk...I believe that this is Dodger's time to have fun and I don't want it to become boring/stressful by over-training. This is him time to let loose and do all the things that he can't do on-leash... You need to approach training in a different way with hounds and figure out what motivates them...it isn't always food!

Good luck!
__________________
"Animals are reliable, many full of love, true in their affections, predictable in their actions, grateful and loyal. Difficult standards for people to live up to."

Last edited by Lissa; February 14th, 2006 at 03:56 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old February 14th, 2006, 04:02 PM
Lissa's Avatar
Lissa Lissa is offline
Agility Addict
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Ottawa, Ontario
Posts: 1,402
I forgot to mention that I never just put Dodger's food bowl down. He works for every piece of kibble.

Try some self-control exercises with Tucker. Put him in a sit-stay, then put a treat on the floor. You don't have to be in heel position. He doesn't get the treat until he makes eye contact with you. At first release him right away. As he improves, only release after a few seconds of eye contact. Ideally, you want to get to the point where he never breaks eye contact, even as you toss the treat on the floor.

I'd also try to mix things up a bit and make training fun. Try to learn a new skill or trick every week - you'd be amazed how positively humans approach trick training compared to obedience training.

I think you are doing everything right...from the sounds of it, I think it is just a maturity issue!!
__________________
"Animals are reliable, many full of love, true in their affections, predictable in their actions, grateful and loyal. Difficult standards for people to live up to."

Last edited by Lissa; February 14th, 2006 at 04:06 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old February 14th, 2006, 04:11 PM
jessi76's Avatar
jessi76 jessi76 is offline
Senior Contributor
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: U.S.
Posts: 2,510
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lissa
What has your trainer suggested?
he thinks it's his age mostly. and of course, Tucker acts PERFECTLY when the trainer is doing one-on-one w/ us. just like your car makes noise, go to mechanic, noise stops...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lissa
If you sign up for another class, I would try to exercise Tucker right beforhand. I used to have to have to let Dodger hunt for at least 2 hours beforehand...
I'll give that a try for our next class, good suggestion!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lissa
I'm sorry, I didn't realize you are clicker training. Have you taken a clicker class?
no need to apologize! actually all of our classes (except playschool) have been clicker classes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lissa
I would start making Tucker focus before he gets to do anything...going for a walk, crossing the street, getting his dinner, greeting someone, walking through a door etc...
I try to do that - daily we practice WAIT, STAY, SIT, TOUCH (targeting), ON YOUR MAT, etc... I incorporate the commands into daily activities - come in from a potty-break he's told to WAIT (for me to remove my boots) then I go through the door first, and invite him in. he's great at these, because he has to be to get in the house, or get dinner, or get a toy. at class though, it's like he knows all he'll get is a click & a tidbit of food, so why bother paying attention? he eventually gives in, but there's alot of protest to start.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lissa
Since it sounds like Tucker is really distracted, I wouldn't even let him have a quick sniff with the other dogs before class. He needs to learn that he is not the boss of what you get to do!
I think you're right, social time will have to be after class only.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lissa
Also, I rarely practice commands on a walk...I believe that this is Dodger's time to have fun and I don't want it to become boring by over-training.
I wish I could give him a break, but we still have a pulling issue - I really just enforce the training, but I do have fun commands like "ok, go sniff!" which allows him some fun.

I hope your right about him just needing to mature... thanks lissa, you've got great hound-sense!
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old February 14th, 2006, 06:41 PM
tenderfoot's Avatar
tenderfoot tenderfoot is offline
Senior Contributor - Expert
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Boulder, Colorado
Posts: 1,249
The reason he is able to control himself at the end of the class is because every successful thing you have done with him during class has released calming chemicals into his brain, you have also acted as his leader and become more of a distraction than what is around him.
The reason he is worse after some play is that his brain is on an adrenalin rush, he has been in recess doing as he pleases and has acted as his own leader.
You are on the right track by working him before class starts. But the 'start of class' environment in general is an advanced level for him and he is still earning his 'strips' at that level. We almost always start a client in privates and work towards a group environment as the person and dog sharpen their skills.
The very first thing we teach is for the dog to look to the human for advice - voluntarily, not for food. Leadership and respect for the leader is strong in all dogs and that’s the angle we come from. Never having to worry about having enough or good enough treats to win the dogs attention.
Use the class as your opportunity to create a stronger leadership role in his world. Start working his drills before class and with the arrival of each new dog continue working him and keeping his attention on you. If he can't handle being 10 feet from the other dogs then move 20 feet away until he is focused back onto you. Then move towards the others inch by inch, and foot by foot until he EARNS the chance to be with them. He needs to learn self control in respect to you. But every time he starts to lose control you need to back away again. At first you will be going backwards more than forwards until he figures this out and then you will make good forward progress.
Perhaps you spend much of the class doing this simple drill while everyone else works with the trainer. You need to spend time on this issue and forget about the rest of the stuff for a minute. He knows what he is supposed to do (as you described) but he is choosing to ignore you when the distractions are great enough and his energy is high - so this is about respecting your word. It shouldn't matter how much fun your child is having in the playground when you say it's time to go he needs to listen - or he looses playground privileges for a while. Same with your dog. If he can't control himself during class then we work on his self control during class and forget the other stuff until he shows he can handle it.
Yes this has to do with his age, but that just means you need to stick to your guns and make sure he learns that blowing you off is a waste of his time and you are more important than the rest of the world. It doesn’t mean that you have to be mean or that he never gets to play with his buddies but there is a time and place for everything, and class requires focus.
__________________
Love Them & Lead Them,
~Elizabeth & Doug
www.TenderfootTraining.com
Dog Training the Way Nature Intended

Last edited by tenderfoot; February 14th, 2006 at 06:44 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old February 15th, 2006, 11:35 AM
jessi76's Avatar
jessi76 jessi76 is offline
Senior Contributor
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: U.S.
Posts: 2,510
Tenderfoot, thank you for the insight and advice - it makes total sense. I do need to strengthen (or should I say, create) a leadership with respect, that is not food-driven. I think I'll work on that at home immediately, and try your suggestion of forgetting the task at hand (during class) to regain Tucker's focus on me.

Our trainer is flexible, and always puts the dog's best interest first. I'm sure he'll understand why I'm backing up and slowing down.

thanks again (lissa too!) for all the suggestions.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old February 21st, 2006, 08:49 AM
jessi76's Avatar
jessi76 jessi76 is offline
Senior Contributor
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: U.S.
Posts: 2,510
update

Lissa & Tenderfoot, I just wanted to post an update...

I took both of your suggestions, and whoa! I had a whole new dog at our training class last night!

Lissa, I noted in your post that you used to have Dodger hunt for 2 hrs before training - well, I'm no "hunting" expert, but we played "find the duck" (I hid a toy duck around the house for him to find - incorporating our WAIT, and GIVE commands). This made such a huge difference! We were playing, but he was still training and more importantly, THINKING. It was a great way to get him primed up focusing on me, listening to me, and a bit tired before class.

Last nights class was also structured so we could do some independent work, which was great because when Tucker started to get distracted, I was able to get his attention back quickly, without worrying about keeping up with the rest of the class.

and the BEST news of all.... I didn't bribe him once last night.. and realized, I don't need to.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old February 21st, 2006, 08:59 AM
Lissa's Avatar
Lissa Lissa is offline
Agility Addict
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Ottawa, Ontario
Posts: 1,402
WOW!! What an improvement!! I am so happy for both of you!

It's wonderful when working with you becomes the reward itself. It took Dodger just over a year to get to that point so I have no doubts that you and Tucker are going to be superstars !!!

Just keep it fun and interesting!

I find that the biggest disadvantage to group classes is that a lot of the time is spent waiting for your turn to do something...Dodger gets so bored if I don't continuously engage him...now I bring something for him to retrieve or I run him through his tricks - otherwise, I lose that focus!!

Keep up the good work and please keep us updated!! I am so glad you have seen such a great improvement!

Dodger and I took a pre-agility course and in March we are taking Beginner's Agility so it looks like we will be going through the same things shortly.
__________________
"Animals are reliable, many full of love, true in their affections, predictable in their actions, grateful and loyal. Difficult standards for people to live up to."
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Forum Terms of Use

  • All Bulletin Board Posts are for personal/non-commercial use only.
  • Self-promotion and/or promotion in general is prohibited.
  • Debate is healthy but profane and deliberately rude posts will be deleted.
  • Posters not following the rules will be banned at the Admins' discretion.
  • Read the Full Forum Rules

Forum Details

  • Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
    Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
    vBulletin Optimisation by vB Optimise (Reduced on this page: MySQL 0%).
  • All times are GMT -5. The time now is 11:49 PM.