SchH tug question (Long) - German Shepherd Dog Forums
 
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-11-2009, 05:14 PM Thread Starter
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SchH tug question (Long)

I have been thinking through our training session yesterday and would really like some opinions. (My learning assessment at work says I learn best through discussions. LOL):

Background:
Bison, working line shepherd, is almost 4. He has very high drives (IMO) and is a crazy ball freak. He learns very quickly, but is sometimes stubborn. We have done basic obedience in the past; we’ve been doing SchH for just under 2 months. Since Bison is a very strong dog and can be stubborn, we have not used tug toys in the past. They put him into a very agitated state of mind, so we pretty much just stuck with the ball for toys until we started SchH. He only gets to play with the tug when we are training.

The Issue:
I am having a difficult time getting him to “out” the tug. He will drop a ball reliably, but not the tug. I have tried exchanging the tug for another toy with some success, and he has been getting better in our sessions at home. But, yesterday he was an absolute beast. He would NOT let the tug go. Through the training session with other club members, he got to the point where he is at home. I am really frustrated with this because we have to spend all our time at club working on getting him to “out” and can’t move on with learning other obedience lessons.

My thoughts:
At club, we discussed that maybe the tug puts him in too high of a drive so he can’t concentrate on the lesson he is learning. On reflection, I think this is very possible. I wonder if letting him have one of the tugs to play with around the house will lessen the reward some so he doesn’t go crazy, insane when we he finally gets to play with it while we are working.

Since I am new to the club, I am still not feeling entirely comfortable. I haven’t learned all the “unwritten” rules and group culture. Since I previously had NO experience with SchH, I am still intimidated. I am still feeling like I might do or say something wrong. Normally, I am self assured and assertive. I wonder if Bison senses this difference and taking advantage of the situation. He sees that I am unsure of myself and seizes the opportunity to get his own way.

Questions:
• Is the tug too high of a reward?
• Will letting him play with one of his tugs at home lessen the drive for the tug?
• Do you think that Bison is picking up on me being intimidated and taking advantage of the situation?
• Any suggestions?

Amy
Bison (Indo vom Triton) CGC
Grizzly vom Buchonia
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-11-2009, 06:27 PM
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Re: SchH tug question (Long)

Quote:
Quote: Do you think that Bison is picking up on me being intimidated and taking advantage of the situation?
Absolutely he is picking up on your behavior. but he is not "taking advantage" and the faster you stop thinking like that, the better off you will be.
Nervousness in the handler goes straight down the leash and with a dog like you are describing, usually results in just what is going on. You are loading him with your nervous behavior. My only suggestion would be to not work on this at your club until you are comfortable and can be calmer with your dog. The more he sees you like that in that situation, the more he will associate the club field with you being upset and nervous and the more he will learn to load in that situation. Even when you finally start to feel comfortable, he will revert to the behavior he learned first.

We are training our dogs behaviors even when we think we are not. It becomes a case where you fight with the behavior you created but most people start looking at it like the dog is doing this on purpose or to take advantage. No, he is doing what you taught him, makes no difference if you taught him accidentally, they do what we teach them to do.
It doesn't have much to do with the toy IMO , it is almost always about what the handler is doing. Dogs pick up on the most subtle things but not many people realize it. You should give yourself credit for realizing your effect on your dog but don't get caught up in thinking your dog is doing something to spite you, that never turns out well.


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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-11-2009, 08:43 PM Thread Starter
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Re: SchH tug question (Long)


Quote:
Quote:
Nervousness in the handler goes straight down the leash and with a dog like you are describing, usually results in just what is going on. You are loading him with your nervous behavior.
Curses! That is what I was afraid of. What I meant by "Taking advantage" was not that he is plotting against me or anything, but that he senses what is going on and doesn't behave in the same way. Meaning "She is acting funny, I don't have to 'out' in this situation." Basically, because he wasn't trained that way.

Quote:
Quote:My only suggestion would be to not work on this at your club until you are comfortable and can be calmer with your dog. The more he sees you like that in that situation, the more he will associate the club field with you being upset and nervous and the more he will learn to load in that situation.
Meaning, don't work on OB at all until I feel more comfortable, or don't work on "out"?

Amy
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-11-2009, 08:50 PM
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Re: SchH tug question (Long)

I am a SchH newbie but one thing I've learned with my dog is finding the balance between working the dog in drive without getting so much drive that he "locks up", basically. For example, just today we were working on the out of motion exercises and he would *not* do the simple sit. As soon as I tucked the ball into a pocket or my armpit as opposed to in my hand or on my chest, he did it fine. Sometimes he just gets to locked on the ball and it interferes with learning. Other times the ball works great for getting him hyped up.

In my experience, having toys around the house has made *zero* difference in my dog's drive for the toy during SchH. He is the opposite of your dog - he will work for a tug and out a tug, but his true love is the ball. He's ripped probably a dozen balls off their strings in the past few months, so I have these lying around at home (along with his tennis balls, Cuz, etc). He plays with toys all day and is not without something in his mouth unless he's passed out sleeping, but he knows that the "game" happens with me, not just the ball. The second I stand up and take one step toward where I keep the SchH training supplies he drops what he is doing and starts whining and nudging at where I keep the SchH toys, even if he has the same toys on the ground.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-12-2009, 04:32 AM
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Re: SchH tug question (Long)

Ruthie, I am by far no expert in the sport (although I am completely addicted) but I have to agree with the comment about not working on the out with the tug on the field at this time, particularly if you are starting to feel frustrated over the conflict.

One thing I am a huge fan of is the concept of "the game" (although at this stage it may take some time for it to work). Not sure if you have heard of it before but essentially the jist of it is that the handler works with his or her dog on immediate reward (eg a rebite on the tug) the second the dog releases it and then work up to longer pauses between the rebite reward. The concept it relatively simple (especially if your dog already knows what the "out" command means) - you make a game so to speak out of the playing with the tug, then you "lock up" (eg the prey is "dead and no more tug fighting with the dog) and then command out. You remain locked with the tug until the dog releases and then as soon as he or she does, the reward is an instant rebite then the game starts over again. Many dogs learn very very quickly this way in that as soon as they release the game continues. Of course, this also depends on how strong of a dog he or she is (eg if you aren't able to lock the tug enough and thereore the dog "wins" it from you when it should not have then obviously it is teaching the wrong thing to the dog).

Not sure if this explanation makes sense - maybe someone else can elaborate on it if my explanation is lacking . It worked very well with my gal but I did start this from a very early age with her (and yes she is a high high drive gal who goes pretty mental for the tug when we are working with intensity). Not to say we don't still have some occasional conflict but as soon as this starts I begin playing the game with her much more to reinforce the outing behaviour. Personally, rather than avoiding the issue, I would work on it, but that is just me I would work on the game in an environment away from the field (and away from anywhere where you may have had conflict in this context) and I would not introduce it on the field etc until the game was going well and the outs with the tug were pretty much right on 100%. I know the tug is not the same as a sleeve once protection gets underway but I do believe that some of the behaviour from working with a tug does carry over into protection work as well. So that said, I would say that beginning to work on it would be a positive thing to do. Is there someone at the club who is perhaps familiar with the concept of "the game" who could maybe help you out? If not, maybe there are some good examples on youtube (I haven't looked there to see if maybe there are any good ones or not).

MHO! Good luck and please let us know how things are going.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-12-2009, 12:00 PM Thread Starter
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Re: SchH tug question (Long)

That is a great explanation of “the game”. That is what we were working on when the “out” issues started surfacing. There are really great and very knowledgeable members in the club. They have been awesome working with me and Bison. They gave me some great tips and advice on Saturday. I just really like to mull things over and the forums help me do that.

His drive "locking up" could certainly be happening too. Liesje, thanks for sharing your experience.

Also, just thought about the issue of me feeling intimidated after club was over. It is a hard thing for me to admit, because I am normally a very confident person. But, I want to do what is best for Bison. And if admitting it means I will get better advice…

Nicole, I really appreciate your input and encouragement. Your explanation helps me think through again what we are supposed to be accomplishing with the game, so as we work on it at home I can improve.

Amy
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-12-2009, 12:15 PM
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Re: SchH tug question (Long)

The hardest thing for me to learn as a SchH noob is simply how to play "the game" and be a total goof with my dog. We spent months just playing around with the toy so I could figure out the rhythm (my dog was not outing, I was constantly getting bit, my timing was all off...but the common thread was that these were all new skills that *I* as a noob handler had to learn first otherwise I'd get ahead of myself). It was very frustrating for a long time but then it kind of all fell into place and within just a few months the dog will heel the pattern, do the turns, finishes, and out of motion exercises. I've definitely spent way more time learning how to use the toy and how to make obedience about fun and drive than actually training the skills. Sometimes I still feel like an idiot out there on the field but each time it starts to feel more natural.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-17-2009, 07:41 PM Thread Starter
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Re: SchH tug question (Long)

Quote:
Originally Posted By: Nicole L

Good luck and please let us know how things are going.

Update from today...

So, through many resources (including here, thanks) I learned that Bison is really a spoiled brat. LOL. Actually, he just hasn't learned how to control his high drive. Previous training that we have done has not been in drive.

He was even more "insane" this week. Each time we go to club he gets more and more excited. But, I actually feel good about today. Realizing, last week, that I was really nervous helped me change my outlook and I felt really calm and confident today.

Learned lots more today to help focus the drive and he is even starting to respond a little. I got some ok "outs" and even some really good obedience while doing protection. I really think we'll get there.

Thanks for the help everyone.

Amy
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Grizzly vom Buchonia
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 10-17-2009, 07:44 PM
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Re: SchH tug question (Long)

That is great news!! Thanks for keeping us posted - I always love to hear how things are going for everyone when working on problem solving!
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