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Old 11-21-2012, 04:22 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Help! Poodle Obedience Experts!

Help!

What is going on with my one (1) and only Standard Poodle? Louie is 2.5 years old now, and I took him to a puppy obedience class, beginning obedience class and intermediate obedience class. He did not seem overly exited or motivated in any of the classes. In fact, he had a difficult time with the down-stay command and we would have never earned a leg toward our CD at a dog show! Basically, Louie wanted to play and socialize with the other dogs. This was VERY different than my Belgium Shepherd that received his CD in one dog show and received high-point dog three days in a row.

Now Louie (my Standard Poodle) is 2.5 years old. After chores, Louie comes into the house and sits by the clicker and treats. We have our little routine now, and we routinely go through all the commands that are required for a CD. He sprints for the come. He stays in the down-stay. He stands perfectly and does not move with me touching him anywhere I want, while I'm walking around him. He even waits for the release and then steps forward, sits, and looks up at me for a treat.

What is he trying to tell me? Why is he interested in obedience NOW?

I gave up on getting our CD or beyond. I have been trying to love him and appreciate him for what he is and what he wants to do---not just what I love, which is obedience work!

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Old 11-25-2012, 02:09 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Wanting to play with the other dogs was the primary reinforcer here, from the sound of it. Use the Premack Principal instead of food.

Or in a slightly less positive spin, proof his focus around distractions so you can use the food instead of Premack.

Although, the first option would help to proof his distractions when he learns that he gets to play as a reward for compliance.

I believe in using what the dog finds most reinforcing. The dog should decide. IMO, anyways.

Was the question why he does so well at home but not at class?
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Old 11-25-2012, 03:35 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Thank you, msminnamouse!

Thank you so much for your help! I really appreciate it. [By the way...your fishing photo is fabulous]

I have scheduled a meeting with my obedience trainer/teacher this week and will discuss your suggestions!

Yes, I believe that my question is---Why does Louie do so well with the sit/stay or down/stay at home---but not in class? I think that you nailed it: Focus around distractions. We have lots of homework!

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Old 11-26-2012, 04:49 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Thank you. Funny enough, that reservoir is the only place that Ginger will swim. Your little boy is so handsome!

As I'm sure you know, the profession of dog training is unregulated so a formal education (or otherwise) isn't something that every trainer has. And even if they do, the courses and schools are also unregulated. And not every trainer does research into dog behavior. So it's a grab bag what your trainer may know.

So basically what I'm trying to say is, I hope that it works out for you and that the trainer will know what the Premack Principle is. If not, hopefully explaining it to them will help.

It's just basically, a more probable behavior can be used to reinforce a less probable behavior.

Some examples are:

It is more probable that Louie will want to play with the other dogs than do obedience. So you'd use his playing the other dogs to reinforce his first doing obedience. A nice sit will earn him a release to go run off and play for a moment.

It's more probable that Fluffy the collie will herd than stop barking when you ask. So if Fluffy does stop barking when you ask, her reward would be to go herd her stuffed animal for a moment.

It's more probable that Ben the lab will play with his ball than come when he's called. So his reward for a good recall would be you throwing the ball for him.

It's more probable that Garry the Greyhound wants to chase than stay in his sit and stay. So his reward for maintaining his sit and stay would be running so he can chase you.

The great thing about Premack is that you'll never be caught without a reward for a good behavior. Treats are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to reward based training.

I'd also work on building focus, regardless. Raise his criteria very slowly so he can keep up and build focus. Have him master obedience in the house, then slowly move to more distracting environments. Then work on mastering each new environment and phasing out treats to intermittent use. Each time you raise the criteria, the rewards have to be reintroduced to reward every behavior at first.

Then there are all kinds of games you can play and exercises to build focus also. 101 Things To Do With A Box, living room agility, "Watch Me" (increasing the duration of the eye contact cue), Follow the Leader, Hide and Go Seek, etc. Try Googling "dog games".
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Old 11-26-2012, 05:44 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Thank you, msminnamouse!

Hi msminnamouse,

Wow. You did an excellent job in explaining the Premack Principle. I will definitely pass this along to my trainer!

Perhaps I have been compartmentalizing too much with my Louie!
---At doggie daycare, it is playtime---At obedience class it is training time---At grooming time it is stand still and enjoy being massaged time---at chore time it is stay-by-my-side time, etc.

You mentioned that a "nice sit will earn him a release to go run off and play for a moment."

I'm getting ahead of myself here, but how does the Premack Principle work at a dog show? The obedience folks that I know are quite serious at shows and focussed on getting legs. They do not want their dogs playing or distracting each other. Or are shows completely different than training time?

It is evident, to me, that I desperately need to watch more Poodle People in the ring and watch what they do and learn!

I'm the only rancher in the area, that I know of, with a Poodle. But boy oh boy---it is so beautiful to see Louie's Pom Pom waving to everyone that watches us as we herd cattle down the road and back to our ranch!

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Old 11-27-2012, 07:43 AM   #6 (permalink)
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LUCKY Louie that he gets to herd and work!! I wonder if the cattle are like, what the heck is this fluffy little thing following us? Lol.

In all honesty, I don't do shows and competitions. I'm just not at all interested in competing against others and winning things. I know it's beneficial to measure your own success against others and to have goals to work towards but it's just not my bag. In fact, I'm planning on building an agility course in my backyard and not really going beyond that into competitions or anything. I want it to be more like a playground than a practice for getting better.

So I can't really comment on what you see at shows but I *think* you're not allowed to offer treats, corrections (these can be heavily used by some competition folk and I don't think this makes dog sports fun), toys and stuff like that when you're competing. I think the competitions are testing your final product when you're beyond offering help for runs. So it's good to have moved on to secondary reinforcers (big smiles, nods, applause, and the like) and only intermittent use of primary reinforcers by the time you're competing.
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Old 11-28-2012, 01:51 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I do trial in obedience. Using Premack principle in training and/or food rewards or whatever you want is allowed in training, but none of it is allowed in trials. One of the mistakes I see "newbie" obedience handlers do is to try to pretend they are at trials when they are in class. The handlers I spend training time with who have dogs that trial well use class time to teach (most of them through positive methods like shaping much more than aversives). When we have trials coming soon we take routines at our club and go through all of the exercises in order treated as they will be at trial. In the analogy of a staging a play class is like running lines while a routine is the dress rehearsal.

As you know, since you had a CD on a previous dog, trials have pretty formal rules. I didn't get any decent results with Lily at trials until she was almost three, but right when she turned three she earned her CD with a high in trial score! Even a good working poodle can get silly when they should know better so I've had some pretty things happen this year in open. I think you are at the point where your dog is the right age to proof him up to the standards expected for trials. Since Louie obviously has a good work ethic from his herding work I would think you can get him to trial well.
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Old 11-28-2012, 03:21 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Thank you Lily cd re!

Hi Lily cd re;

Thank you so much for your encouragement with Louie!

You mentioned that ..."One of the mistakes I see "newbie" obedience handlers do is to try to pretend they are at trials when they are in class. The handlers I spend training time with who have dogs that trial well use class time to teach (most of them through positive methods like shaping much more than aversives). When we have trials coming soon we take routines at our club and go through all of the exercises in order treated as they will be at trial. In the analogy of a staging a play class is like running lines while a routine is the dress rehearsal."

All of what you said rings true. Thank you!
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Old 11-29-2012, 04:40 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I think standards are a little slow to mature as far as really crisp obedience goes since they do like to silly things up. Remember you can talk to him as much as you want between exercises even at a trial. This will keep him on task. Lily used to get silly between exercises. Now I talk to her between exercises and she keeps her attention on me and what will be coming next.

After the judge says exercise finished, I always say good job (even if it wasn't spectacular). If it was really great I will be a little more effusive at that point, but not too much since I don't want to get her overcharged. I then tell her something like get ready for your dumbbell, time to retrieve, time to jump and I keep talking to her about the next exercise as we move across the ring to wherever we are supposed to set up. She used to wander off and go visit the judge or goose the stewards. I think she still wants to, but she has figured out that its better not to.
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Old 11-29-2012, 05:28 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Thank you Lily cd re!

Lily cd re;

What a help! Thank you!

You mentioned, "...Remember you can talk to him as much as you want between exercises even at a trial. This will keep him on task."

Lily cd re---I think your advice will help me (the handler) relax and have
fun---which will greatly help my Louie!

Thank you,
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