Utility Articles Mat or a Board? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-09-2011, 07:59 PM Thread Starter
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Utility Articles Mat or a Board?

I'm getting my girl started in Utility. How many people like using a tie down mat for articles or do you use a peg board to tie them down. Pros and cons of each???

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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-11-2011, 03:02 PM
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never tried the tie down method, i just started with ALL articles scented, the pup got rewarded for nosing/mouthing/indicating an article. Then I would replace 1 scented article with 1 unscented article, repeat, eventually going along and replacing the scented ones with unscented ones until only one scented left. My pup learned VERY quickly that the scented article is the one he needs to find.

here's a vid from the first day I introduced scent work to him as a pup:

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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-12-2011, 11:36 PM
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Sounds like a great idea! Replacing good articles with not so good and letting the pup make the choice.
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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-13-2011, 10:58 AM
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I use a mat because in this area (Midwest) we have green mats at most of the shows.
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-13-2011, 05:07 PM
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Originally Posted by codmaster View Post
Sounds like a great idea! Replacing good articles with not so good and letting the pup make the choice.
Yeah, Id never trained articles before, but i was VERY happy with that method, as you can see in the video, he knew exactly what he had to do to get the reward. That was the first day I started teaching it in the video. Much easier than having to lug around a mat, tie down and untangle articles, i think. My dog has rarely picked up a wrong article (maybe two or three times) since he's learned it (he's nearly 3 years old now). If he did pick up the wrong one, I would turn my back to him. Try to phase out verbal praise and encouragement as early as you can, as the dog can become dependent on hearing whether he's got the right article or not from you. When the exercise is fully learned, praise by smiling at your dog when they are returning the correct article and reward when the sit and present it to you. Then when in a trial, your dog wont be waiting to hear whether he's a "good boy!" when he's picking up an article, and doubt himself when he doesnt hear you praise him.

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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 12-14-2011, 12:28 PM
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Try to phase out verbal praise and encouragement as early as you can, as the dog can become dependent on hearing whether he's got the right article or not from you. When the exercise is fully learned, praise by smiling at your dog when they are returning the correct article and reward when the sit and present it to you. Then when in a trial, your dog wont be waiting to hear whether he's a "good boy!" when he's picking up an article, and doubt himself when he doesnt hear you praise him.
As someone who has had a dog stand in a pile of articles, pick up the correct one and then look to his owner for verbal affirmation - I completely agree with what ShatteringGlass said!!!

Here is my experience with the tie down method . . . It was winter and I decided to start working utility articles in the house. Thought I'd be really clever and use a bit of leftover carpet. After all, it would match our flooring and I could easily tie the articles through the carpet backing.

First article was correct. Mental moment of "Yay am so clever and frugal!"

Second article, Gavin picks incorrect article. Dog: "Hmm, article appears to be stuck in carpet. Well, I shall just retrieve the entire carpet . . this will make her very happy."

So huffing and puffing, dragging the carpet, flinging the correct article aside, Gavin brought me the entire carpet with the incorrect article attached. I laughed (which in Gavinspeak means good job) and completely undermined any "training" that was to occur that day.

I know a few people that have had success with the tie down method, but we changed our plan after the carpet debacle. We started with a small pile, squeeze cheese and only rewarded correct attempts.

Good luck! Utility is fun!!!

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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-29-2012, 11:48 AM
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I have started my scent discrimination training by using 2 mason jar lids laid loose on the floor. I left my scent on one and not on the other. Timber was very successful at selecting the one that smelled like me.

I added a 3rd lid and he was getting more right than wrong. So, that's ok, I didn't reward incorrect choices and sent him back to "find it" and he'd get the correct one and get rewarded.

I then went for my lesson with my trainer. She likes the tie down method. She doesn't think the method I was using was very wise because it doesn't correct the dog immediately. She explained that when he choosed the wrong one, he can't take it and I'm supposed to go over and point to the correct one and have him get it. She also went on to say that the dogs usually go through a period of searching for the object that is loose, but they work through it.

So, my first session of the tie down method didn't go very well. He chose the wrong one and it didn't cause him to try another one. He picked up the mat and brought the whole thing to me. Now, what did that teach him?

I know my trainer is very successful, but sometimes I just don't agree with her methods. I'm now torn between doing it her way because she's my trainer, or my way, which seems to make more sense. I don't want him to think of it as a game to find the loose one. At least the loose method is very clear...........pick the one that smells like me to get the reward.

I'd like to hear what you would do.
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-29-2012, 12:11 PM
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What was I thinking? Sorry for the typo- chose not choosed. Too late to edit.
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-29-2012, 03:21 PM
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Every dog is different and a good trainer will adapt their training methods to suit each individual dog. I think you should use the method that seems to work best for your dog.

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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 06-29-2012, 06:04 PM
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Every dog is different and a good trainer will adapt their training methods to suit each individual dog. I think you should use the method that seems to work best for your dog.
Right!

I'm in the process of teaching articles to my 6th dog (not counting student dogs). I've used somewhat different methods with each dog. Let's see....2 learned via tie down (first dog on a board, current dog on a mat), 1 did straight Around The Clock, 2 did modified ATC (a LOT less cheese). 1 dog, we just put all the articles out, hot scented one, brought him out on a leash and praised when he got to the correct one. He figured it out from there.

Lots of different methods work, as long as the method is clear to the dog and the handler believes in it. Don't bother trying a method you don't believe in, because that's pretty much a guaranteed fail.

Bunny is doing tied-down articles (mat), because we're training with Anne Paul and that's how she teaches articles. Figure hey, Anne has over 1000 OTCh points on her current dog, so I'll try it her way!

I have a student who insisted on teaching scent articles to her golden "her way." She hasn't put a UD on any dog yet. "Her way" meant carrying her articles in the training bag with all her other stuff (with her scent all over EVERYTHING) and insisting that her dog would learn to find the hottest scent. That isn't working out AT ALL, and the dog is completely confused. She's now ready to try it my way. Hopefully I can un-confuse the dog!

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