"Scratched" training and how you fixed it - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-05-2010, 07:03 PM Thread Starter
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"Scratched" training and how you fixed it

It has happened to everyone, especially people new to SchH. I thought it might be interesting to hear about mistakes made in your training and how you fixed it or what adjustments you made that cleared up the problem.
Many times this is a case where a less than skilled helper messed up your dog and it took some time to bring the dog back but I am sure there are other cases as well where you realized you were on the wrong track and took a different approach that cleared things up.


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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-05-2010, 07:43 PM
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Re: "Scratched" training and how you fixed it

I don't have any Rocky Balboa come back stories I do have clearly imprinted in my mind the picture of Frans Slaman running his finger over his head when working with my dogs.... gesturing about their significant "brain scratch" from previous work.

It is a good topic even if my first response upon reading it was a shudder.

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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-05-2010, 08:00 PM Thread Starter
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Re: "Scratched" training and how you fixed it

Yes, I first heard that expression from you. Sorry if I triggered any PTS


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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-05-2010, 08:06 PM Thread Starter
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Re: "Scratched" training and how you fixed it

It doesn't have to be extreme, it can be something as simple as this for example.....some years back I was doing the helper work for a guy in my club. He was having a terrible time getting his dog to sit in protection. This was in front of the helper or during the side transport where the dog must sit first. It was starting to get ugly where he was really wanting to clobber his dog. I was watching him heel away with his dog when something the dog did made a lightbulb go off. Next time he came up to tell the dog to sit, I told him to say fuss instead. The dog sat instantly.


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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-05-2010, 08:21 PM
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Re: "Scratched" training and how you fixed it

I have been working hard for a whole year and a half so I don't know that I have the depth to add to this discussion...but;

My philosophy is simply to train. To take what my dog has, and what I have, and train to do the best we can...to become the most we can. Time is the variable that I think folks trip over...as if you've got to get somewhere in a certain time frame.

November before last, as rookies, my dog and I attended a seminar conducted by a famous trainer/handler. In working obedience, and specifically focus, he pushed her too hard with compulsion. She conformed to both he and I working her, but there was no joy, just capitulation.

I went back to my mentor (Alpha Bitch) and she broke things down for me and set me on a path to work on focus from the basics. The following June, I went to an Ivan B. seminar and he basically told me the same thing my mentor did...it was expensive validation, but worth every penny. With very positive methods, basics, and time....we've polished out the "scratch" of capitulation....and now she has this prance of joy that I am very proud of....she looks like a happy Lipizzaner Stallion. I am not suggesting she is perfect, far from it, but I am very pleased with her happiness on the field.

I think my experience with the first trainer/handler was a question of method and technique. I think there are some who can train certain dogs a particular way and achieve amazing success. I think there are others, like Ivan and my mentor (Alpha Bitch), who can look at the block of stone and see the sculpture within....regardless of the dog, and in my case the handler.

So in my limited experience, excellence is never allowing the "scratch" and good is figuring out how to polish it out.

The key is time.

Just the thoughts of a rookie.


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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-05-2010, 08:31 PM Thread Starter
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Re: "Scratched" training and how you fixed it

Doesn't matter for the topic if you are new or not. However, while you mentioned the "who" helped you part, you were a bit vague with the HOW . Postive methods can means many things.


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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-05-2010, 08:36 PM
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Re: "Scratched" training and how you fixed it

This isn't schutzhund but it's an interesting training mistake that took me a while to figure out.

I was trialing my chow, Kylee, in AKC utility level competition (this involves signal work, scent discrimination, moving stand for exam, directed jumping, directed retrieves) and I kept running into a problem on the directed jumping. This is an exercise where you stand at one end of the ring and you send your dog away from you to the other end of the ring, where you then tell the dog to sit and the dog is to turn and sit facing you. There are jumps on either side, at mid-ring (the dog went between them on the go-out) and once the dog is sitting, the judge tells you which of the two jumps to send your dog over. One is a high jump (solid panel) and one is a bar jump (and either jump can be on either side). You then can give both a verbal command and arm signal to indicate which jump, and the dog is to angle to that jump, take it and while the dog is jumping you turn your body to face the dog and the dog comes and sits in front of you. You do this twice, once for each jump.

My problem is that when I would raise my right arm to indicate the right-hand jump, Kylee would veer to the left and take the wrong jump - and vice versa. It was making no sense to me. I was clearly indicating which jump, both by signal and by turning my head to look at the jump, and she was a fairly responsive dog overall. But she consistently was taking the wrong jump - and I couldn't really get away with indicating the wrong jump so she'd take the right one (judges kind of frown on that sort of thing .. *L*).

So one day I was at a picnic and I swung my arm out to point at the truck, saying "in the truck" and Kylee went away from my arm and circled the truck instead. I realized that my arm was pushing her AWAY from me. And then it clicked. We'd been doing herding (for fun, since I couldn't title her due to her breed), and in herding I used my arm or the stock stick to block her path (mostly mentally as she wasn't close to me) and send her the other way. She loved the herding and took to it very naturally, and moving away from the arm became the dominant behavior when I raised my arm. Of course that carried right over into the obedience ring. It was 100% my fault (and I felt bad for any frustration I had, because I know she knew I was unhappy with what she was doing).

I was able to change it fairly easily, though. I modified my arm signals. In herding I would raise my arm high, from the shoulder. In utility, I kept my elbow against my body and indicated mostly with just my hand at waist level. It worked really well and she started taking the correct jump.

We never did earn that utility title, though, and I think a good part of it was due to my inability to see the mistakes I was making at the time. She was my first chow and they think differently from herding dogs (I'd put UDs on a GSD and an Australian shepherd). I found that she was feeling really stressed in the utility ring, so we took a break and then (when she was 9 1/2) went into agility instead and she earned four agility titles. I was having fun into agility and chose not to try for the UD after that.

But I'll never forget the lesson I learned in how signals/commands from different venues can cross over and create problems that shouldn't be there. I'm really cautious now when I choose a command and/or signal - I make sure it's not something that can be easily confused with another command/signal I'm using.

Melanie and the gang in Alaska

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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-05-2010, 09:25 PM
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Re: "Scratched" training and how you fixed it

Quote:
Originally Posted By: VandalDoesn't matter for the topic if you are new or not. However, while you mentioned the "who" helped you part, you were a bit vague with the HOW . Postive methods can means many things.
World class trainer/handler #1, has an amazing presence (on or off the field), and when heeling with my dog, he would give the fuss command and as they walked, at the point she broke her focus he would give a stern "fuss" followed with a strong correction on the pinch. Within a short period of time, she did not break her focus, but there was no joy in the work either.

My beloved Alpha Bitch, and Ivan B. both had me work her with a tug or ball. Command, "fuss"...one step with focus, praise and reward...then two step, then three....and now, with time, she is my happy prancer with nice focus from slow walk to full run.

The real progress with me as a handler has come from what we could call the Dynamite trainer in our club.....she invested quite a bit of time training me to train my dog.

It takes a village! LOL


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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-05-2010, 09:32 PM
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Re: "Scratched" training and how you fixed it

I have gotten frustrated with a dog in tracking. Tracking is not my best venue... though now I do enjoy it more. I was new at it and I would get frustrated trying to figure out how to get the look of a well done competition track. Oh crap, my dog felt that frustration. I can't imagine how the dog must have interpreted such a thing! She was absolutely doing her best (they usually are) and had no idea of this human concept in my mind about what I thought was supposed to occur. She did lose confidence.

I gave up in frustration and that probably was a very good thing. A break was good. The bad experiences were not repeating for the dog. She built desire to work again while bored at home.
I had to spend some time saying, "now self, how are you going to handle yourself out there?" I got advice from experienced people who helped me realize the biggest issue was me. Ain't it fun how often that is true?!

When I went back to it, I decided I would just lay track and be amazed if anything at all happened. It worked! I was always amazed at the dog and we had a good time. I started to try to play a game of laying different tracks and seeing if that changed behavior any.... more turns, less turns, more or less food, blah, blah... I don't know if any of those things helped...but I focused more on my part of the activity and less on the dog. Time on the track with no bad experience may have been the real critical factor, but at least I kept myself occupied with something other than controlling her in minutiae.

When I was first starting to train, I was very focused on the end goal in training. I could see how the dogs looked in competition. What I didn't know how to navigate was the process of getting there. Now, I am much more interested in the process...phhhffft on competition! Oh, hopefully we will do well when we get there but the goal does not loom as large to me now. It would sound so corny to say "its the journey", but really for me now, it is.

I did see some interestingly scratched training once. A lady's dog did not down on the send out. She got the electric collar out and zapped the dogger right in the middle of the field. He didn't down then either, but he would give the middle of the field a big wide swing away after that. It took a lot of work with shortening the distance, repitition and high a rate of reward to undo.

I am not saying I would do particularly that method to fix the problem, but it did impress me to take any pressure or correction I was going to do outside of the formal exercise when possible.

Carla and The Pack
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 02-05-2010, 09:43 PM
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Re: "Scratched" training and how you fixed it

Hard to pick from such a long list. LOL! One in particular that comes to mind was with tracking.

I was doing two tracks at 20 paces each and one 40 pace track. So, to conserve space, I did the two short tracks in a straight line out from where I was parked, then did about 15 paces over and did the 40 pace back toward the truck.

So, when we ran the track, Bison did fantastic on track one and two but about 10 or so paces into the third track, he glanced up and saw the truck. Since "go for a ride" is so much fun, he pretty much just blew the rest of the track to get back to the truck.

So, lesson learned, now I always lay the tracks facing AWAY from the truck.

Amy
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