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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-06-2009, 04:06 PM Thread Starter
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I am wondering how to teach my GSD to...

OK...so I have a question...

I've recently been wondering how people (I have seen it on K-9 cops on Animal planet lol) teach their dogs to enthusiastically and speedily come around and sit at their sides and focus. I have suspicions that it has to do with perfecting an off-leash heel?

My dog knows basic obedience pretty darn reliably now, and I would like to "branch out" and teach him some new and more complicated things, and I've always found this command / trick / whatever, to be super cool! Other things I'd like to learn to show my dog are the off-leash "focusing" heel, and possibly how to catch a Frisbee (that one's less important to me than the other 2).

If anyone has some good/proven instructions on how to show these commands, I'd love to know!! Thanks.

Christian

Christian

The Brat Pack:

- GSD Marshall (10/2007)
- Adopted Collie/Terrier Jack (8/2008)


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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-06-2009, 04:53 PM
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Re: I am wondering how to teach my GSD to...

The speed comes from training in "drive." That involves using toys/tugs/food as motivation for the dog to get where it's going quicker. I like to train this way from the beginning.

As far as training, there are so many different ways, you're liable to get a different answer from each person.

My training comes from the first 2 Ivan Balabanov DVDs Obedience without conflict - Clear Communication and The Game. And the book Purely Positive Training: Companion to Competition by Sheila Booth.
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-06-2009, 05:18 PM
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Re: I am wondering how to teach my GSD to...

This is not "a" thing that you teach, but behaviour that you mold and develop over time and then put the parts together.

As Tracy was saying, you get the speed and the enthousiasm through drive. If you have a high-drive dog, you can start teaching the behaviours in a lower state of drive (for food rewards, for example), and when they understand what is required of them, you can bring in the speed and sparkle with toy/tug rewards and build the drive. Depends what works best for the dog.

To teach this, you first work on teaching eye-contact focus (over weeks and months), then you teach a basic position with the eye-contact focus (over weeks and months). You lure your dog into the correct position and reward when they come in, plop down their butt, and look up at you. Reward right away at first, then expect longer and longer uninterupted focus.

The perfect heeling position with focus comes from having this foundation work done first. Not the other way around.

This focus, speed, enthusiasm, drive is BUILT, over time. The behaviour is not so much taught (like a "trick"), as it is a string of behaviours that is developed over time.

You CAN teach your dog to come to your side using a key word and food lures, and rewarding, but you will notice a definite difference in the end result, in that the behaviour will be more robotic, and less energetic.

Lucia


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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-06-2009, 05:32 PM
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Re: I am wondering how to teach my GSD to...

tug toys, tugging, toys, food, tugging, toys, tugging.....

As mentioned, you want to connect to the same crazy drive that makes your dog tear off after a squirrel........but instead it's tearing up to YOU!!!

Here's some great sites about this:

http://www.thedogathlete.com/playing-with-prey-drive/

http://www.siriusdog.com/prey-drive-...n-winkler1.htm




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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-08-2009, 08:48 PM Thread Starter
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Re: I am wondering how to teach my GSD to...

Those articles are so interesting!! Thanks!

So the basic idea behind it is to have the dog worship a toy so much that it can be used as a reward (a better reward than food?) I will be getting a good reward toy for Marshall and starting that process for sure. I've always noticed that K9 dogs, etc, get rewarded with a toy and not food, but I've never known how to condition the dog for that.

I have been working on the "focus" command for a while now. We are up to probably 2 solid minutes of focusing before I release him at this point. How long would you guys recommend to have his foundation solid enough before moving to the next step (of having him move to my side and focus)?

Also, I'm a bit confused too...how do I teach the dog to sit at my side and focus using a food lure, without getting that "robotic" and "less energetic" response? If the best way to teach that is to avoid using a food lure, how can I show him what I need him to do? Is the idea to show him using food and then begin to use his "prey toy" as the reward?

Thanks for the help!

Christian

Christian

The Brat Pack:

- GSD Marshall (10/2007)
- Adopted Collie/Terrier Jack (8/2008)


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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-08-2009, 11:27 PM
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Re: I am wondering how to teach my GSD to...

Quote:
Quote: So the basic idea behind it is to have the dog worship a toy so much that it can be used as a reward (a better reward than food?)
Exactly. Think of holding a piece of steak for your dog, and then a squirrel tears right past you both and away.... is that dog staying with you and the steak? Or is he off to chase the squirrel (and maybe come back for the steak?). The toy drive, when done properly, links to our dogs prey drive. Which is MUCH stronger than the food drive for treats.

You sound like you have a good foundation for starting attention heeling, but I would REALLY REALLY recommend finding a good club/class in your area. So much easier to do it really well from the start, and timing is crucial for our pups to 'get it' and LOVE getting it. Heeling can be EXTREMELY demotivating for our dogs. And you have a great start KNOWING you want a motivated dog. But the steps to keep that with heeling can be a challenge.

When a good set of classes/club breaks it down much better. The vast majority of us go too far too fast and don't realize it. Along with having poor timing for praise, correction and use of the toy/treats.

Are you any where near Chris Wild and her Schutzund club in Michigan? All her dogs have CRAZY wonderful heeling (and tracking and protection). Be a great place to join and learn....

http://wildhauskennels.com/ they could possibly recommend someone else if they are more than an hour or so away....




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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-09-2009, 10:17 AM Thread Starter
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Re: I am wondering how to teach my GSD to...

Unfortunately, Ann Arbor is about 1.5 hrs away from us. I read through the site though and would love to join something similar to a club like that.

I think I would be most interested in the obedience part. Is it possible to join and concentrate on obedience primarily, but learn to train in the style of Schut, like focusing on using the drive for reward and training with tons of distractions and commotion? I really think that the obedience training would improve his confidence and it'd be a great activity for us to get involved in. Those "out of motion" exercises are also so cool! I think it would be incredible to work on this type of training.

I think it would be very cool to train in the other aspects of Schut as well, but after reading through the sections about the dog's temperament being right for the sport, I'm not sure Marshall is best suited. He tends to be anxious and is sometimes unsure about new people. Hopefully this wouldn't disqualify him from this style of obedience training...

Christian

The Brat Pack:

- GSD Marshall (10/2007)
- Adopted Collie/Terrier Jack (8/2008)


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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-09-2009, 12:37 PM
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Re: I am wondering how to teach my GSD to...

A lot of people join Schutzhund clubs and just concentrate on Obedience and tracking, as Protection may not be suited for their dog. You can get Schutzhund Obedience and tracking titles seperately from SchH titles, like I have on my mixed breed (see signature). The formal training has done wonders for her confidence, and it got me hooked in the sport. We do bite-work also, but titling will be a whole other ball game.

As for your other question about using food lures and not having a robotic dog, you use food or tugs depending on your dog's drive level. I like to teach the behaviour when new with food, because my dogs get hyper-crazy for a tug, and I think it is unfair of me to expect them to think and learn new stuff in that kind of mind-frame. Then when they know what to do to get a reward, the tug/ball comes out, and the energy and drive kicks in.

If you have lower-drive dog, or a dog that has already been trained to basic obedience exercises, you can bring their drive out with a lot of exciting play and using their prey drive to get that focus and energy that looks so cool.

Lucia


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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-09-2009, 12:52 PM
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Re: I am wondering how to teach my GSD to...

Christian2009, I'm not saying it's ideal, but 1.5 hours isn't really that far. I mean I know it is when you just see the time on the face of it................

But I have to say, after doing this dog thing for over 15 years now, I've trained close and I've trained far, and now I go where I know I get the best training for my dog. Sadly, and it was with GREAT reluctance I discovered this, it take me over an hour to get to my current agility classes. But either nothing is closer, or nothing GOOD is closer. And this drive for me is just for a one hour class.

If you do choose to train with a Sch club, they tend to spend the day out together training. You get to watch and learn while others are with their dogs. And you will be learning when it's your turn. You may be surprised how well you and your pup do with a good trainer and club in ALL the sections of training.

I'd contact Chris/Tim Wild and see if you can get there to meet with them, talk about what being in a club involves, have them see you and your pup, and watch a training day. Heck, I did this at their place with my agility dog and they almost ( ) converted me! Good thing I live in PA cause that IS too far from Michigan!!!!!

They may even be able to then recommend someone else in your area if they know of anyone.... I say email them, go for a day of training, and see what happens from that.





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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-09-2009, 01:18 PM Thread Starter
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Re: I am wondering how to teach my GSD to...

Believe me, I'm not ruling out traveling over that way to join the club. But I definitely will be checking to see if there are closer venues...I'd actually look into a few places before joining any...even if it was 5 minutes away. Actually it's probably a little less than 1.5 hrs anyway. I'm an engineer and I do A LOT of research before starting any endeavor. My fiancee practically thought I was nuts b/c of all the research I did before getting my first GSD! She's already poked fun at me for how much I'll read when we have our first kid in a couple of years lol

I already sent them an email to kind of see what it was all about...but I forgot to ask about visiting for a day! I'll have to shoot them another note and check into that.

I've been reading about this a ton the past couple of days! Thanks so much for recommending those articles and website.

----------------------------------------------------

Overall, I think Marshall has a pretty high prey drive already...without me even knowing it, I've been training for it. We have a long rope with knots we use for tug, and he gets pretty excited when i bring that out already. I haven't really learned how to use it as a reward though. The toy is hard to hide (I keep it on top of the fridge lol). Do I show it to him first or try to hide it and when he does the task then go get it!?

I know I'll learn so much more after working with a professional on this...but I'd appreciate some steps for using tug / toys as a reward in general so I can get started! Say I want to practice some basic obedience commands that Marshall already knows, but start using the tug toy as a reward. Take me through! Put the toy on the ground where he can see it? Hide it? Etc etc!? I was also reading about "drive increasing" toys and "training" toys. Should I invest in a smaller toy that's maybe easier to hide?

Thanks all so much for the info!

Christian

The Brat Pack:

- GSD Marshall (10/2007)
- Adopted Collie/Terrier Jack (8/2008)


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