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I have been thinking about this for a long time and would like to get some other opinions.

As most of you know already, I started SchH training when Bison was 3 years old. When he was a little guy he did NOT like to be held down, constrained, petted... Since he was “just a pet”, I never pushed the issue. If I had to hold him for any reason and he threw a fit, I would wait until he calmed down before letting him go. I just gave up trying to pet him. He just never liked it.

In training, everyone else uses calm slow strokes to help the dog calm down, help them transition drive, or reward them. (Articles, holding the DB, between exercises in OB...) When I do that with Bison, I see the same behaviors I saw when he was a puppy, just more subtle. His eye widens, his ears spread, his muscles tense, and in some cases he even vocalizes or tries to pull away. What I think I am seeing is that it increases his drive rather than calms him or maybe that he just doesn't like it. Because conventional wisdom is just the opposite, I wonder if I am misreading his reaction.

Has anyone else experienced this with their dog?
 

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Auron is just turned 6 months and I knew I was going to do Schutz. from the start. That was the reason I got the breeding I did. He likes to be petted just loose in the house but when it comes to any of the three disciplines its a different matter. I started using tugs when he was only 13 weeks old to train as his food drive is low used as OB. Strange that he is a tracking fool as I am now tracking him threw playground equipment with 4 and 5 ninety degree turns with cookie cutter results. He is very possessive and doesn't like to be pet once he has the tug or sleeve be it the tug in OB or sleeve in protection. He will drop his head and flatten his ears slightly when I pull him to me afraid that I will take what he has won. As long as we are working he outs happily but when I tell him "all threw" and let him have it the "leave me alone" attitude comes out. With him I am forcing the physical contact to show I am not going to take his prize in the end and he is starting to settle down. On your dog and at his age I'm wondering if by forcing it you will not as you said actually increase drive (maybe aggravation is a better word?)which is counter productive to attention and focus. Each dog is an individual an one has to find what works with that dog. IF I were going to force the petting/stroking I would do it some where completely different than during actual training situations till it was a non issue. No use in throwing gas on a fire so to speak.
 

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In the house and around our neighbourhood Stark is a sucker for pets and cuddles. He thrives on it in the house, he will climb in my lap or on my bed to get cuddled. He seeks it out.

On the field, he will react very much like Bison.

When he is high in drive or transitioning he will tense up, pull away, lean away, or shrug me off. He just dosen't want to be bothered. He's too focused, too ampt up and doesn't want to be calmed down.

What has worked for us is speaking softly and slowly. This seems to bring him down a bit.

The petting or stroking just seemed to bother him, not really increase his drive but definitely didn't work as a calming technique either.
 

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When I first brought Hondo to OB classes, I would sit him between my legs and while I listened to the instructor I'd slowly stroke him, thinking I was calming him. My instructor called me on it. She stated I was rewarding him for being reactive, and he'd learn to kick it into high gear when he was stroked (pet). So for Hondo, I was to only give him a reward scratch with a treat and then continue with training.

She did state that every dog was different and that we'd have to learn what to use on our dogs as a calming technique. Some can pet thier dogs and their dogs will come out of high gear. At that time, Hondo didn't.

For Hondo (now at 14 months) - the reward pet he favors most that does have a calming affect is to scratch him around the eyes down the nose. Obviously, this redirects his attention to me.

When I catch Hondo before a reaction (say to a running cat) and redirect him I'll praise him with heavy handed praise (hard pats - a heavy hug - sometimes hard enough to knock him off balance) along with "Good Boy!" - this directs all his attention back to me and provides the results I need to refocus him. If I pet him lightly, thinking I'm calming him even if I say "Good Boy!" - he'll explode after the cat - it did nothing to redirect him.

However - when we are relaxing, Hondo will come over to be pet and will do so calmly. It's only when he is being reactive that what I'd consider a calming pet will shove him into high gear.
 

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His eye widens, his ears spread, his muscles tense, and in some cases he even vocalizes or tries to pull away. What I think I am seeing is that it increases his drive rather than calms him or maybe that he just doesn't like it.
He doesn't like it and you are creating conflict. I have owned dogs that I could cradle and others that didn't care for it. Instead of doing what others are doing, do what is best for your dog.
 

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I agree do what's right for your dog. I have one that is by far the biggest sweetheart of a dog at home and everywhere. She likes nothing more than to be curled up with me and loves contact, but when doing bitework, anything more than an occasional run of the finger tips down the back makes her want to pull away.
 

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Thanks for the replies. I guess I was just wondering if it was possible that he doesn't like being petted. I thought maybe I was reading him wrong. Lisa, that really makes sense that it is conflict. I think that is a better way to describe it than drive elevation.

Also, thanks for those who included suggestions of things to try instead.
 

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Thanks for the replies. I guess I was just wondering if it was possible that he doesn't like being petted. I thought maybe I was reading him wrong. Lisa, that really makes sense that it is conflict. I think that is a better way to describe it than drive elevation.

Also, thanks for those who included suggestions of things to try instead.
I agree with this and have seen it in Madix. I RARELY touch him when I am trying to get him to do something that has nothing to do with me (for example, I touch him a lot in Flyball b/c that's my job - holding him), like in Schutzhund. However, on the occasions I have, I have gotten varied responses. Sometimes he glances at me as though waiting for the reason I touched him - a valid response b/c I do sometimes relay info like that. Sometimes he completely ignores me and sometimes it creates conflict and he starts acting like a jerk.

I've found for my particular dog, that I do the same as you - if I NEED to touch him, he is expected to settle and that I will in turn, give him the respect of leaving him alone if I don't NEED to touch him. When I do touch/pet/whatever, it is very matter-of-fact and calm and I usually don't talk at all. Heck, when he is "working" at fetching the ball, he will duck my hand if I try to pet him. But at home he is a HUGE and demanding cuddler so I know he likes it, just not when we're working and I respect that. This method seems to work perfectly though, it has deleted a lot of the conflict I have seen.

How are things going with your dog?
 

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I agree with this and have seen it in Madix. I RARELY touch him when I am trying to get him to do something that has nothing to do with me (for example, I touch him a lot in Flyball b/c that's my job - holding him), like in Schutzhund. However, on the occasions I have, I have gotten varied responses. Sometimes he glances at me as though waiting for the reason I touched him - a valid response b/c I do sometimes relay info like that. Sometimes he completely ignores me and sometimes it creates conflict and he starts acting like a jerk.

I've found for my particular dog, that I do the same as you - if I NEED to touch him, he is expected to settle and that I will in turn, give him the respect of leaving him alone if I don't NEED to touch him. When I do touch/pet/whatever, it is very matter-of-fact and calm and I usually don't talk at all. Heck, when he is "working" at fetching the ball, he will duck my hand if I try to pet him. But at home he is a HUGE and demanding cuddler so I know he likes it, just not when we're working and I respect that. This method seems to work perfectly though, it has deleted a lot of the conflict I have seen.

How are things going with your dog?
Thanks for the input. We are on a mini break from training right now due to some family health issues. I have been watching behavior around the house and noticed that the reaction to being touched or petted is more when we are playing, much as you have described.
 
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