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VomBlack 12-15-2013 07:21 PM

Flatness in obedience
 
I've been having this issue with Odin lately and I'm really at a loss as to how to fix it, and I find myself becoming a bit frustrated/discouraged.

He has become very.. "meh" while doing obedience. Heeling can be sluggish, lack of focus on handler. Recalls are at a snail's pace. If I place him in a "fuss" he will sit on my left and give me attention until we start moving.

I have tried reintroducing treats, tugs, balls, etc. with minimal success. I have tried upping my energy, moving faster, acting excited, all that good stuff and I'm not really getting anywhere either.

Outside of training he will play/tug enthusiastically, I can get him all fired up. As soon as he realizes we're going to work obedience he checks out. I try to make it fun by using the items I know he loves, but there has been this strange disconnect.

I don't even push him to work very long/often anymore either. We may do 45 minutes once a week, and then I'll try and do short 5-10 minute sessions throughout the week. I just now grabbed his tug and tried to do a short session of recalls and I was able to get one decent recall before he started losing interest and I put him up before making anything worse.

:help:

I don't really know where to take things from here. While he is correct 90% in the time in the work, he just looks bored out of his mind.

Liesje 12-15-2013 07:25 PM

Maybe leave it for a while? 45 minutes does seem VERY long. Even if you train once a week I would not do obedience more than 10-15 minutes absolute max. Normally I pick two things to run through (and sometimes that changes once my dog is out and is acting like he wants to do this or that). Like, a short heeling pattern and out of motions, or three retrieves and a send out.

Baillif 12-15-2013 07:25 PM

Incorporate the tug work into the obedience? Ask for a position or two and then bam playtime as the reward for a bit. Out him ask for obedience bam playtime again. Play and work gotta mix. Make sure you are both having fun and that you aren't drilling the dog. Obedience out of drive from the tug should bring that energy up. Keep the sessions short and leave him wanting more. Think about maybe layering some negative reinforcement in there too on recalls. As long as you are tactful about it you might be able to light a little fire under that butt.

Another thing to keep in mind. How many extra curriculars is he getting? If hes doing a 5 hour hike a day or running like crazy playing with other dogs hes not going to have as much energy to put into the work.

martemchik 12-15-2013 07:34 PM

You might want to limit the tug play outside of work. Or only use the one tug he really loves while training obedience. That way he knows he's only going to get his number one reward while training and never outside of that.

I'm not sure what kind of exercises you're doing, but if its just heeling and simple retrieval work, that gets very boring, especially after 45 minutes. I know that if I get bored doing it, so will my dog.

onyx'girl 12-15-2013 07:40 PM

Obedience for a mature/finished dog can be boring, they are going thru the motions but not really 'learning' anything. I'd give him a break and do some other stuff to keep him engaged with you.

When we go thru this, I will use the line as a check and when the dog 'checks out', I turn the opposite way real quick and lose him. He then gets a self-correction for being away and it brings him back to me with some enthusiasm. He gets rewarded as soon as his focus is back on me in heel position.
I'd also change up my training style for awhile, reward randomly while asking for more(circles/turns/ups) when the dog starts losing interest, circle him, or ask for an up. When I say circle him, don't heel in a circle, but have him spin clockwise back into heel position, turns are the counter clockwise spin. Dogs learn these key words with some repetitions and it brings back the drive level when you use the key words.

VomBlack 12-15-2013 07:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Baillif (Post 4676426)
Incorporate the tug work into the obedience? Ask for a position or two and then bam playtime as the reward for a bit. Out him ask for obedience bam playtime again. Play and work gotta mix. Make sure you are both having fun and that you aren't drilling the dog. Obedience out of drive from the tug should bring that energy up. Keep the sessions short and leave him wanting more. Think about maybe layering some negative reinforcement in there too on recalls. As long as you are tactful about it you might be able to light a little fire under that butt.

Another thing to keep in mind. How many extra curriculars is he getting? If hes doing a 5 hour hike a day or running like crazy playing with other dogs hes not going to have as much energy to put into the work.


I try to keep his other activity light on days that I'd like to work on some obedience with him to make sure he's not overly tired.

I have also really tried to make it about play lately and not drill him, the complete switch in drive/energy level once he realizes that I'm going to start throwing work into his play lately has been crazy.




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VomBlack 12-15-2013 07:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by onyx'girl (Post 4676506)
Obedience for a mature/finished dog can be boring, they are going thru the motions but not really 'learning' anything. I'd give him a break and do some other stuff to keep him engaged with you.

When we go thru this, I will use the line as a check and when the dog 'checks out', I turn the opposite way real quick and lose him. He then gets a self-correction for being away and it brings him back to me with some enthusiasm. He gets rewarded as soon as his focus is back on me in heel position.
I'd also change up my training style for awhile, reward randomly while asking for more(circles/turns/ups) when the dog starts losing interest, circle him, or ask for an up. When I say circle him, don't heel in a circle, but have him spin clockwise back into heel position, turns are the counter clockwise spin. Dogs learn these key words with some repetitions and it brings back the drive level when you use the key words.

Thank you, I'll have to try the long line idea and see if that helps any. I did find that by asking for focus and then having him do little spins/circles would help "refresh" his attention.

Either way I'll continue to scale down how often we work things to see if that also helps.


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onyx'girl 12-15-2013 08:00 PM

This time of year, with the cooler(cold!) temps, has my dog in a really different frame of mind. He is "ON" and never flat during obedience, but we are not tracking or doing daily ob sessions like we did all summer long. So when we do train, I see more enthusiasm.
I think daily short training sessions are fine, but for some dogs it is just too boring to do the same things over and over and over. I hardly ever do a full routine and seldom pattern train. When I do pattern train, I give the reward at the same spots so during a trial that anticipation because it didn't come builds and hopefully brings the drive state up during that long routine.
We do more agility and core strengthening exercises in the winter months just to keep busy when the snow is a foot deep. I'm lucky I get to go to a couple private indoor places to train in the frigid temps, but we all hate being inside!

Renofan2 12-15-2013 08:07 PM

Had the same issue with my female. I ended up having her tested for tick diseases. She tested positive for erlichea. She has been on doxy for a month and no training until medicine is finished. She is bouncing off the walls at home and occasionally I do a quick ob (fuss, sitz, platz, etc) and she is doing all quickly and with enthusiasm. If the "boredom" came on suddenly you may want to have some blood work done. In addition to build drive for obedience, I crate her throughout the day - not just on days we train. This seems to work for her as I need to hold affection with her or she is really not interested in pleasing me during ob.

lhczth 12-16-2013 12:40 PM

45 minutes? That would bore the heck out of me let alone a dog. I would let him be for awhile. Just play. Then you can start throwing small bits of OB into your play session and I mean small bits. Make your recalls motivations, no fronts/finishes, and even better if someone can hold him so you don't have to have a stay before you call him. Short burst of heeling then play. A few fronts and play, etc. Not all of these things in one session either.

How long a dog can maintain the level of mental focus depends a lot on the dog, but even the driviest and most motivated dogs would start to show issues after 45 minutes. That is a very very long time even if only 1 time per week.


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