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I have gone to dog shows, watched obedience competition and noticed something interesting. There are dogs who do what's expected of them without interest and then there are the dogs who truly watch their master and are eager to please. You can see it in their faces and in their responses. I don't see it very often and would like to get my dog to that as well. What's the secret?
 

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Originally Posted By: mollysmom
Originally Posted By: DHauWhat's the secret?
Make training fun, fun, fun.
Positive reinforcement training.
 

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I dont really know how to explain it since I am not a trainer or anything, but with my puppy I try to make whatever we are doing a good time for him, you can tell if the dog is enjoying it or not. And lots of treat when he does something I want him to do.
 

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Originally Posted By: Hannah_I get the positive part, how do you make it fun?
Lots of play time after training sessions. Keep your training sessions short and always end with a fun game of tug or something that your dog loves to do.
 

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And not only playing AFTER the training but DURING training. This way the dog does not wait for training to be over, because training is actually just a big fun game to him!!
 

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Sometimes, that intense focus that you see in competition, is not accomplished all positively. It is taught as any other exercise, show them how to do it, lengthen time, proof against distractions.
In other words, once they understand what "WATCH" means, they will get a correction for looking away. Just as they would get a correction for breaking a sit or walking off when heeling.
Mary
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I thought it was all about love and a special bond between the two.
 

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Training helps create that special bond.
 

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It also crossed my mind that maybe the dog was just one of those rare finds who had that type of personality to begin with.
 

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Some dogs aren't comfortable with constant eye contact. My eldest female Cheyenne is that way, but when we were training more often than we do now, her focus on her long downs really rocked, she was just waiting for the here command. But when heeling she will watch my knee, I can rarely get her to look up at me.

I agree with incorporating training into play.
 

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Some of the dogs that show that intensity are trained with compulsion, yes. But it usually shows in the face/ears if you're really looking at them. When you see a dog that's heeling with the head up, ears perked forward, eyes bright and happy, mouth relaxed, and prancing along full of joy then it's usually done by training with a lot of positive reinforcement.

It helps to have a dog that is naturally more comfortable under stress as some dogs stress easier than others, but that again can be a matter of training too. I always start my dogs out with attention training, taught using tons of +R for attention to me. I go through specific steps to teach this (not just randomly, although I will also reward for random attention). My general method is on my website - http://www.kippsdogs.com/tips.html - and I use it on all of my dogs as well as having all of my students do it too.

Then I try to keep all training short and fun. During the actual training of an exercise, there's no right or wrong for a dog - if they don't do what I want, I just don't reward it. They learn that the only way to get what they want (a reward) is to do what I want. Later on, once the behavior is well-established, I may use a verbal correction (or on rare occasion something physical) but I try to use the least amount of correction possible.

I gradually add in distractions as the dog learns a behavior too. This is a tough step as the distractions of a performance ring are hard to imitate in training, but you do what you can! The more you can simulate what you'll get in competition (the other dogs, smells, sounds, stress) the more likely you are to have a dog that can retain attention during actual competition.

This is what I want my dogs to look like in the ring. I know this isn't a shepherd, but this is the dog I've been competing with the last two years .. *L* .. this photo is of Khana's first time in the competition ring (she took first in her class that day). She was a year and a half old.



Melanie and the gang in Alaska
 

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Discussion Starter #15
That's exactly what I was talking about.
 

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DHau, the best format I've seen to teach this are the books by Teri Arnold called Steppin up to Success. The main focus of the entire first book it how we can get our dog to LOVE to be with us and looking at us and then start gradually building on the obedience.

Click here!

 

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You can also check out Dawn Jec's Chose to Heel program. She has a website or you can order the book from http://www.dogwise.com

I use food to achieve this and begin basic heel work without a leash so I am not tempted to pop the dog. I will admit I will use a correction if needed much later when I know the dog understands the watch.

But initially it is all about building a fun and trusting relationship. I also give my dogs the freedom to check out the environment so it is not so distracting to them and they are in a better frame to ignore the environment and focus on me.

Havoc is 8 months old and has yet to receive any type of correction in training. All positive and fun. Use toys to get that rocket recall by tossing them between your legs and let your dog run to the toy to play. Not every recall should end in a front. Often just being cheerful and smiling makes it upbeat and fun.
 

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Click and treat for eye contact (or use your voice to mark the moment--that's what I do). Spend time playing with your dog. Use play (tug, frisbee, etc.) to reward your dog, and do it 'just because'. Keep training sessions short so your dog wants more. Think about training as a game, fun for you, fun for the dog. If it's not fun, back off, take a break, take a walk, roll around on the grass, make snow angels. Clicker style training (with or without a clicker) turns training into a fun game for the dog; make sure it's a fun game for you too (dogs know when you're trying too hard).
I save corrections for really really important stuff (Recall, down, leave-it) but even those commands are rewarded with plenty of fun when executed promptly.
Also, think of all the things you do for, and give to your dog that your dog loves (including opening doors, putting on leash, getting in car, etc.). Then, as your dog learns commands, have your dog earn those things with short moments of obedience. A quick sit at the door, eye contact, or whatever is appropriate for your dogs level. Now, your dog will learn that you own the world.
Ps. It takes time.
 

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Originally Posted By: DHauIt also crossed my mind that maybe the dog was just one of those rare finds who had that type of personality to begin with.
Almost all working line GSDs have that intensity of focus on the handler if you use positive training methods. It's genetic and not rare at all. If you don't see it in a working line GSD, it typically means a bad relationship-abusive master, too much negative training, minimal contact w/a poor kennel dog, etc.
 
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