Obedience versus Joy - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-17-2019, 12:23 PM Thread Starter
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Obedience versus Joy

Hello guys,

I know that the title of the post imply mutual exclusivity but that is not what I mean.

Allow me to explain.

So I think I have achieved a good basic obedience level. It worked in most environments for now, at the park (not dog park) with dogs somewhat far, when I go to a cafe, in the house, around people walking etc... etc....

Over the weekend, I decided to go to a beach here where dogs are allowed off leash. It was full of people, some kids and lots of activities around, DJ, people dancing. People kiting, playing ball etc....Nice place.

There were maybe 7-10 other dogs that all seemed relaxed and comfortable.

Rex had a great time, he ran, swam, chased and played with nice dogs. He was full of joy. However, recall went to close to non existent. So if we wanted to chill a bit for example and I wanted him close before we go at it again and go play it did not work. Playing involved running at the beach, other dogs coming and playing, they go, I tease Rex to go in the water, he follows, I play with him with his toy abit but then he checks out when he wants and just go run with the dogs and sometime play with other people.

So two examples:

when we are playing and other dogs playing, and I wanted him to come to me it was, it is as if I did no exist. He would check on me at times and I was with him as he moved and play. But could not go back to chill a bit unless I got him and leashed him to bring him back,

Then when we are sitting, and say I made him sit with us. 5 minutes later, there would be commotion and he would go, so break the stay and go. I tell him "hey" but he would not listen.

So it was either enforce some obedience, or kind of go along with it and let him have his joyous moments. So I chose the easy going laissez aller attitude and looked away on obedience and enforcing it and letting him enjoy to the max.

Do experiences like this create a retraction of the obedience achieved thus far? I mean he is a one year old male that wanted to obviously have fun which was more interesting of staying put for a 5 minutes.

Are experiences like this detrimental for training achieved? Should they be avoided? Or used to one's advantage, having have his joy and try some obedience and not be too anal about it?

Thank you for your feedback
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post #2 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-17-2019, 01:09 PM
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My 2 cents worth.....I think you have to appreciate the situation and have honest expectations of the dog's adherence to obedience when commanded.



You now know an environment where there is a breakdown in obedience....so I might not be inclined to issue a recall or stay if you couldn't enforce it.....probably best to not even issue the command.


It sounds like your dog had a great time....maybe next time you could do a bit of training up front in that environment....long line recalls....leashed down stays..etc.....and then when Rex does as instructed......you use all the dog romping/swimming/ meeting and greeting as the reward for job well done.


Sounds like you have it figured out.





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Last edited by SuperG; 02-17-2019 at 01:14 PM.
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post #3 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-17-2019, 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Mozi View Post
Hello guys,

I know that the title of the post imply mutual exclusivity but that is not what I mean.

Allow me to explain.

So I think I have achieved a good basic obedience level. It worked in most environments for now, at the park (not dog park) with dogs somewhat far, when I go to a cafe, in the house, around people walking etc... etc....

Over the weekend, I decided to go to a beach here where dogs are allowed off leash. It was full of people, some kids and lots of activities around, DJ, people dancing. People kiting, playing ball etc....Nice place.

There were maybe 7-10 other dogs that all seemed relaxed and comfortable.

Rex had a great time, he ran, swam, chased and played with nice dogs. He was full of joy. However, recall went to close to non existent. So if we wanted to chill a bit for example and I wanted him close before we go at it again and go play it did not work. Playing involved running at the beach, other dogs coming and playing, they go, I tease Rex to go in the water, he follows, I play with him with his toy abit but then he checks out when he wants and just go run with the dogs and sometime play with other people.

So two examples:

when we are playing and other dogs playing, and I wanted him to come to me it was, it is as if I did no exist. He would check on me at times and I was with him as he moved and play. But could not go back to chill a bit unless I got him and leashed him to bring him back,

Then when we are sitting, and say I made him sit with us. 5 minutes later, there would be commotion and he would go, so break the stay and go. I tell him "hey" but he would not listen.

So it was either enforce some obedience, or kind of go along with it and let him have his joyous moments. So I chose the easy going laissez aller attitude and looked away on obedience and enforcing it and letting him enjoy to the max.

Do experiences like this create a retraction of the obedience achieved thus far? I mean he is a one year old male that wanted to obviously have fun which was more interesting of staying put for a 5 minutes.

Are experiences like this detrimental for training achieved? Should they be avoided? Or used to one's advantage, having have his joy and try some obedience and not be too anal about it?

Thank you for your feedback

JMO but this very well may not have ended like it did...there have been other threads that did not end so well....I think most members here would agree---strange area--strange people--strange dogs--off leash and no recall can be very bad--Recall is one command that at the right moment could be a life saver for your dog.
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post #4 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-17-2019, 02:18 PM
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Looks like your dog needs to earn the right to run free on the beach. Of course that will take longer now that he's figured out that he can ignore a recall. Better obedience can mean better joy. The more you can trust your dog when you need him to respond the more places he can go and the more freedom he can have. The dog that misbehaves all the time can barely leave home and when they do it is for short walks on tight leashes.

So visits to the beach should be when it is calm, with a long line. Yes it is hassle and a long wet sandy leash is no fun for you but you need to be able to reel your young dog in when you call. Take this year to teach recalls must be obeyed. That will also give your dog another year to mature and with practice and that maturity gain more self-control.
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post #5 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-17-2019, 02:35 PM
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You are teaching your dog that if he comes to you, fun and games are over. Stop what you are doing or his recall will get worse.

Next time, call him to you, when he comes praise him, and immediately release him to go back to having fun. Rinse and repeat.

If I were you, I would lose the toy, especially if other loose dogs are around. Toys are a catalyst for dog fights.

If you want him to check on you more often, move around, circle the group he is playing with, don't call him, let him look for you. He will. Shepherds are like that.

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post #6 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-17-2019, 03:11 PM
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What has worked for me, when Red chooses fun over a recall, is the E-Collar reminder; its serves as a refocus tool, that gets his attention back to the obedience command. Even though it rarely gets used when we are out and about, I continue to fit my dog with the device, in a "just in case" basis; mainly for those instances like the one you described, in which the recall gets ignored for the sake of joy and play. This is just what I have found that works for us, in the rare situations in which we need to get him out of a potential developing crisis (other dogs just appearing out of nowhere), or him getting in a situation in which his safety may be in peril (a Snake encounter comes to mind).
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post #7 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-17-2019, 03:38 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you all for the feedback.

I want to clarify a couple of points and some facts I neglected to mention.

We stayed there around 4 hours. I called him twice only. Once in the middle of full play which he did blow off and the other he kind of half responded, came back but not fully. Then I stopped recalling him fully for the reasons mentioned in the replies.

What I did after to have some control if needed, is put on a long leash. Even though I held it half the time, it seemed that when it was on and i let it go , he was more aware of me and I nudged on it a couple of times to test and he came back and then I let him go again.

At times however, I was worried about keeping it when he was running with one dog who he had most fun as I worried that it would entangle. So when that dog cae to play chase with Rex, I took of the leash and let him run. He would eventially find me and then I would put it back on and run with him and then he ran woth me.

Does what I did as described above seems reasonable given the overall situatiion described? I made it a point not to kill his fun by enforcing and giving futher commands. I said "come" twice as above and a couple of "heys"...

Thanks
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post #8 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-17-2019, 06:20 PM
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In my opinion, obedience and joy need not be mutually exclusive.

If you train smart with very high value rewards, including being released to play, you can get a joyful response that is still the response you want even in the face of big distractions.

I do use an E Collar on one of my dogs but I have never needed to use it around dogs. His ball trumps dogs and it's easy to set up to train, especially because I have as many new strange dogs as I want at my disposal daily. I would first train engagement with the ball on a rope on the other side of a fence from strange dogs.

Then I progressed to calling him away from other dogs that he was loose with--dogs I knew would have no interest in his toy or playing with me. Again, I am lucky I can just hand pick dogs that meet whatever criteria I need and use them for whatever training setup. Most people don't have that but you can be creative with outside a dog park, and other ways.

And work up to it. What you described is like university level recall. Did you work the stages of first grade through high school? If not, start there. Your third grader can't take the SATs.

And until you get to that point in training, don't call him at all. Just go get him from whatever he is doing without saying anything, and if it is possible (safe) when he allows you to grab him, reward hugely with a toy or food. You might need to catch him and then invite him to chase you away from the other dogs and reward at a safe distance but if you bridge from a to b the dog will make the connection.

I don't remember how this started but me and my adult male have this thing now at competitions. I stash his ball on a rope somewhere, if it's a big indoor trial I'll stash it at a friend's crate or something. And then when I bring him out of the ring, I take him to where I left it, I let him grab the ball discreetly, I hold the strap, and let him tow me along by the ball out of the building. I'm still holding his leash and he's not out of control at all he just walks right beside me, has the ball and is sort of quietly pulling me along by it. At this point he has a one track mind, he only cares about getting outside somewhere with me where we'll play for a minute and that's his reward for a job well done in the ring. That became his bridge from doing good in the ring to taking me to play so it's all linked together. Because sometimes it's a long way between where we compete and some quiet private place where we can play tug and toss.
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post #9 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-18-2019, 05:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mozi View Post
Hello guys,

I know that the title of the post imply mutual exclusivity but that is not what I mean.

Allow me to explain.

So I think I have achieved a good basic obedience level. It worked in most environments for now, at the park (not dog park) with dogs somewhat far, when I go to a cafe, in the house, around people walking etc... etc....

Over the weekend, I decided to go to a beach here where dogs are allowed off leash. It was full of people, some kids and lots of activities around, DJ, people dancing. People kiting, playing ball etc....Nice place.

There were maybe 7-10 other dogs that all seemed relaxed and comfortable.

Rex had a great time, he ran, swam, chased and played with nice dogs. He was full of joy. However, recall went to close to non existent. So if we wanted to chill a bit for example and I wanted him close before we go at it again and go play it did not work. Playing involved running at the beach, other dogs coming and playing, they go, I tease Rex to go in the water, he follows, I play with him with his toy abit but then he checks out when he wants and just go run with the dogs and sometime play with other people.

So two examples:

when we are playing and other dogs playing, and I wanted him to come to me it was, it is as if I did no exist. He would check on me at times and I was with him as he moved and play. But could not go back to chill a bit unless I got him and leashed him to bring him back,

Then when we are sitting, and say I made him sit with us. 5 minutes later, there would be commotion and he would go, so break the stay and go. I tell him "hey" but he would not listen.

So it was either enforce some obedience, or kind of go along with it and let him have his joyous moments. So I chose the easy going laissez aller attitude and looked away on obedience and enforcing it and letting him enjoy to the max.

Do experiences like this create a retraction of the obedience achieved thus far? I mean he is a one year old male that wanted to obviously have fun which was more interesting of staying put for a 5 minutes.

Are experiences like this detrimental for training achieved? Should they be avoided? Or used to one's advantage, having have his joy and try some obedience and not be too anal about it?

Thank you for your feedback
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post #10 of 23 (permalink) Old 02-18-2019, 12:08 PM
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Quote:
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I said "come" twice as above and a couple of "heys"...
I would not use your official recall word in those circumstances since you're not able to reinforce it. To me, "come!" means to stop what you're doing immediately, run to me, and sit in front with eye contact. I only say that word when I know I can get that response. Otherwise, that cue will eventually become meaningless because it will no longer be associated with that criteria.

I like to have more relaxed, informal cues with lower criteria in addition to more formal commands. Around the house I'll use things like "c'mon" and "let's go", or "c'mere". They don't necessarily need to stop on a dime and sprint towards me and they don't need to sit, they just need to come towards me or walk with me wherever. If I use "come" to sometimes mean one thing and other times to mean something else, it's confusing to the dog and will degrade the command.
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