Tips For High Drive Dogs - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-23-2011, 09:19 AM Thread Starter
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Tips For High Drive Dogs

Keeping focus when the brain is moving on all thrusters.

Keeping vocalization to a minimun, not really barking, but yodeling.

Helping not forget his very solid training and getting so excited he jumps up on me?

Managing his excitement at trials as he feels all the adrenaline around him and it sends him over the top.

Suggestions I got at the obedience trial. ---
No corrections just ramps him up more (it does, I tried it)
Coming up with things to keep him on his toes and thinking and not just the same exercises. spice it up every day.
Proof the heck out of him.
Make him think about his task so much he has not got the time to think about where to go with his drive.
Go to every match I can find and keep putting him in the environment until it is very blase to him.
No tug at trials as a reward, ramps him up more.
Exercise, exercise, exercise. ( I walked him over 11 miles and played fetch for 30 minutes at a time several times)

Okay all you SchH people, what do you do??

Kathy

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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-23-2011, 09:37 AM
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My dog is a Mal in a shepherd's body so I know what its like to have a high drive dog. He's also very reactive (to prey items not in an aggressive way) and very very high drive.

Some things that helped us:
1. Take him on a long walk before training - even though for SchH it's common to keep the dog crated before with my dog it's actually better to release some energy and frustration so he can actually think
2. Work on focus focus focus. I set a goal to have him go from wildly chasing the prey item to sitting calmly watching the ball (or me once he knew watch me) as fast as possible. The faster he made the transition, the faster he seemed to be able to "turn down his volume" when needed in training
3. Work a lot on impulse control - wait by the door, wait before eating, wait before being released off leash, etc etc. Got him used to waiting patiently for things

These all helped, but the truth is he's still high strung even though he gets roughly 2 hours per day of exercising (fetching/tugging/running - maybe 30 minutes devoted to walking) as well as 30 minutes of training. These definitely helped to calm him down a little bit so he can think with a clear head while training
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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-23-2011, 01:08 PM
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TG for this post Kathy ! I have posted in the past about, "How to channel excitement" & really did get much advice so, will be watching this post & hope you will get many answer that will then help me/us!


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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-23-2011, 01:26 PM Thread Starter
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Just for clarification ...... we walked 8 MILES on Saturday! Played fetch for 30 minutes. On Sunday we walked for 2 hours and played fetch for 30 minutes just before going into the ring. I think that is the only reason we Q'd!

We have done a lot of impulse control work but I like the idea of working on the transitions, admittedly, we have not done much of that recently and I do think at 3 1/2 his drives kicked in over the summer. So my really wonderful working novice dog is now a working maniac.

The cute little guy in my avatar is the wildebeast of whom I speak, he just loves to work with me and he is a terrific dog we just need to tone him down a little bit.

Kathy

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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-23-2011, 06:14 PM
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And the idea for teaching the transition is giving the dog the opposite of what you want the dog to give you. You start by actually bringing up his drive by teasing and tugging (no fetching at this point). Then make him miss a few times and give the sit command. He may still go after it but give a calm no and refuse to move the ball (i.e. playing with him). At first - the second he sits (almost like a coiled spring) give the release word and play a vigorous game of tug. After he gets the point (that obedience will bring the prey item alive) you can extend the sits and downs. Later you can do these transitions with a down, sit, heir, etc. Hope this helps.., sort of hard to explain what I mean using only text
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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-23-2011, 07:03 PM
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Kathy, you know that I've discovered the hard way that physical activity doesn't really work on the long run for tiring dogs and channeling their drive. The longer you walk, fetch, etc the stronger your dogs become but the main problem is not addressed, the mind is still on idle. Building a canine athlete is wonderful but pretty counterproductive for your purposes because we will exhaust sooner than they will.

Why don't you run a track with Havoc before the Ob show? It will put him into working gear, will take the edge off, it will tire him as much as you will allow to by adjusting the difficulty of the track.

Just a thought. I do not compete but a track thing works for me if I am about to attend something important with Anton. And you know how vocal he was and still is

PS Toning down doesn't work either, just creates frustration. What about giving him an opportunity to go as high as he can? So he will know that there are times when he can be a monster, just not right now. Lure coursing? Just thinking out loud.


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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-23-2011, 08:16 PM Thread Starter
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Oksana some excellent ideas!!! There was a wonderful field right by the show site too and I was kicking myself for not bringing his harness and line.

I do know how much you tried wearing Anton out to no avail. Barb G gave me some good recommendations too about breaking off exercises when he ramps up like that but all that has done is frustrate him.

I have never had to deal with such high drive before. Havoc is very calm in the house, settles well, walks nicely on leash. He is a joy but you get him working and he turns on like a light switch. I have also thought about trotting between exercises to keep him moving and focused instead of being more sedate. I am matter of fact with clear commands and you know I am pretty high energy myself. I don't do things slow and maybe me slowing down trying to help him collect himself is having the opposite effect.

Kathy

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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-23-2011, 09:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kayos and Havoc View Post
The cute little guy in my avatar is the wildebeast of whom I speak, he just loves to work with me and he is a terrific dog we just need to tone him down a little bit.
I have never met a show-dog with too much drive. I have seen a few with adequete drives, I have even seen one or two with good drives, but I have never seen one with "high drives".

What needs to be done with a dog that you describe is to stress the dog in training so that he is very careful, very correct and not nearly as happy as you want him to look on trial day. Therefore, when he goes 500% higher on trial day than normal training days he is right where you need him to be.


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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-23-2011, 09:45 PM Thread Starter
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I understand this but I am not sure I know how to proceed and I don't like him not being happy in training. I wonder if that is worth it?

Kathy

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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 02-23-2011, 10:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Kayos and Havoc View Post
I wonder if that is worth it?
I do not know if it is worth it to you or not, but this is what I suggest.

Last summer I showed a bitch at one of those "happy-go-lucky" clubs. The weekend before the trial I visited the club to get the bitch on the field. It is no exageration that I had that bitch crawling on her belly and every club member wincing. The next weekend, at the trial, the judge was telling everyone how great the bitch is and how she is so willing to work, and how happy she is, blah, blah, blah. Meanwhile, the club dogs, that have never had a half-ass correctrion in their life, looked incredibly stressed.


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