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Discussion Starter #1
I've been trying to figure out why Noelle's attention checks out during rally and obedience. I did an experiment today and made a discovery.

Focus. Noelle looks at me.
Heel. Noelle's eyes are on me, head up, moving with me.
I stop. Noelle sits straight.
And, pow! Noelle's attention disappears.
If on leash, she looks away or sniffs the floor. If off leash, she wanders away.
Redirect.
Rinse, repeat.

Why is this happening? Did I accidentally train Noelle that after she gets a treat she can run off and do as she pleases? And if I did, how do I fix it? How do I teach Noelle to stay focused on me until I release her, and not to release herself?
 

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I’ve noticed something similar. As you know you keep training your dog to get better and better at heeling, it never stops. So I like to have heeling training sessions regularly. When I do this I stop and go into a slight.dip while I treat her by holding the treat on my leg so her head is turned towards me. I always use soft food and a small amount so it’s easy to swallow. She always turns her head away from me as she eats it so I wait till she turns her head back towards me again and I have eye contact before I start heeling again. I find it frustrating and I don’t know why she does it. I do see many other dogs doing something similar but I also see other dogs which maintain eye contact and their owners can treat as they continuously heel. Our heeling is heel a bit and stop, treat, wait to eat, wait to get focus back then repeat over and over.

I’m glad I’m not the only one dealing with this kind of issue. I look forward to hearing what others suggest
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Skylar, so glad to know I'm not alone. It's like I trained Noelle that the treat means Exercise Finished.

What I think I'm training is: focus your attention on me, good dog, great job, here's a reward for being focused and good, let's keep working.

What I am actually training: Focus, treat, whew, all done working now, what's that on the floor?
 

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I would do lots of what I call the "five cookie" game with her. You need five really good treats. Have Noelle at heel and on leash so she can't trot off. Start is a familiar and nondistracting environment and show her the treats in your left hand. Lower your hand and left her take one treat while showing that there are more so she learns to eat with her head up and keeping eye contact. Give her the five treats one at a time and then release her to jump up or to play interactively with you, nothing that will take her attention away from you. As she gets the idea of the game you will have her maintain the heads up eye contact longer and longer (duration) and then as her duration sticks add distractions (mild ones at first) and so forth as you know how to do. If you practice this a lot you will get rid of that checking out behavior.


Also you should have different verbal markers for work isn't over but I liked that vs. awesome you are free. I use a three word marker system with "uh oh" or something similar for that was a mistake let's try again, "good" for that was nice but let's keep working (like at a heeling halt) and "yes!" for great job I release you for a cookie. Yes always gets a cookie, good doesn't. Oh and having two ways to mark good work one that ends work and one that doesn't is something that you can't do with a clicker.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I only use my clicker in the beginning when training a new behavior and capturing the correct moments. After that, I fade the clicker and use my voice. I use "nope," for not quite right no reward. "Good" for, I liked that, keep going. "Yes," for here's your jackpot that was amazing. And "Okay," work is all done and I'm out of treats.

We will try the five cookie game. Noelle would really like being paid for sitting in heel and then getting to give me a hug. She loves hugs. It's also a good warm-up for outside of the ring, too. We've been playing "it's yer choice," which also helps with attention.

Still, I think I accidentally taught Noelle that treat=exercise finished. Ever wish training had an undo button?
 

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Still, I think I accidentally taught Noelle that treat=exercise finished. Ever wish training had an undo button?
Wouldn't that be brilliant.

I do know I've trained several things over - or modified them. I've noticed, especially with agility even my trainers have gone back and retrained things like weave poles and teeters even though they've been competing for years with their dogs successfully - but they want to up their game and be even more competitively.

Catherine, I have similar markers - uh uh for it's wrong, good girl when its right but no reward and yes for treat. I use ready before we start heeling or some other exercise. I was originally taught to say okay as a release word, but my agility trainers had me switch to free. I tend to use free more often, always in agility but sometimes I fall back to okay or okay free. When we're finished training I say all done. If we're leaving the ring and class randomly she might be jackpot but I don't do it every time because I know people who struggle with their dogs running out of the ring during a competition in anticipation of a jackpot. And the current rules are leave with your dog under control which most people in my club are interpreting as leave with your dog heeling.

I have done the 5 cookie game - but maybe I've been doing it wrong.

I have had a little more success with having her touch my hand - while we're heeling I have my left arm at my waist - for touch I move my hand down close to her nose and say touch so she can touch my hand - sometimes she has jump up a little to touch my hand - then I move my hand back to my waist and then randomly I have food in my hand so when she touches my hand she finds food she can eat. When she gets the food - the action stops.

I hadn't thought about giving a treat stops the action, but it makes sense. You did your work, here's your reward.
 

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Catherine, I've done the 5 cookie game, but maybe I was doing it wrong. I was giving her 5 treats, with the 5th one having her jump up with touch to get it. But I wasn't holding all 5 treats in my left hand.

Today I held all 5 treats in my left hand and treated her while heeling. I also didn't do the dip either - and she seemed to keep her head turned towards me and I thought things were looking good as we were able to smoothly heel and treat at the same time. She saw there were still treats in the hand so she was continuing to look at the hand which is what I've trained. I have her trained to do a heads up heel, but to look more at my hand and not so much at my face because as a mini she's closer to the ground. Although I know she's reading my whole body for clues - shoulders, where my head is turned etc.

Is that the key? Do you mind explaining the 5 cookie game carefully so I understand the nuances?
 

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I will make a video on Friday to show 5 cookies. There are some subtle bits to it that I guess I have a hard time explaining with words.

Skylar you are correct that you have to make sure the dog knows a good consistent place to look for all of this. For mine they look at my face, for oversized minis like Babykins and Noelle it probably should be either your shoulder or your hand at your waist. For smaller and smaller dogs, hip or even knee.

For release from working I think free works better since so many of us say okay all the time and it may not mean much to the dog or the dog always thinks it means stop working. Another thing you can think about coupling to free actually is some sort of stand by mode. You aren't working, but you aren't free to goof around either. When I am taking a class, workshop or private lesson and I need to attend to what the person I am working with is saying/showing I put the dog who is with me on a relaxed down stay. Essentially I am saying you can relax but not totally check out on me. BTW there is no sniffing the floor allowed for that down.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Well, I tried something radical. I had Noelle in heel. As long as she looked at me, treats came every six seconds. When she looked away, I said, "NO!" Not my usual nope, but a flat out NO! She turned back to look at me, pause, got four treats in a row. Then we went back to every six seconds. Look away, "NO!" Pause, four treats in a row. I paused for a beat before giving her a reward because I wanted her to know it wasn't looking away I was rewarding, but looking at me.

After three tries, Noelle self-corrected a look away! Massive jackpot of about 15 treats and praise. Noelle was impressed.

I think what I was missing was the penalty phase of training. Noelle is trained to look at me. She is not trained it's mandatory until I say otherwise. I'll keep working on jack potting Noelle for self-correcting look away. Returning to look at me is always heavily rewarded.

I want Noelle to understand eye contact is her responsibility to offer, not my responsibility to beg for. We'll stay stationary for two training sessions. Then we'll heel, sit and play the game again. My goal is for Noelle to offer continuous eye contact for three minutes, long enough for a rally run. And she should be able to self-correct a look away.

Remind me how the five cookie game is played? I want to use it as a warm up.
 

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thanks, that will be so helpful
 
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That is really nice when a dog fixes itself. I think it indicates a new level of understanding of what they are supposed to be doing. The next step after that is not making the mistake in the first place. It all takes time and is harder if you have to fix things before moving on, but almost everything can be fixed. I taught Lily put put balls down at my feet when she brought them back so I had a devilish problem when I taught the dumbbell. That is something I wish I could hit the restart button for. Javelin wanting to kick his dumbbell around is another. I ignored it at first because unlike Lily who is a strongly natural retriever he was not so I was happy he wanted to get it at all.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I had a dog, April, who refused to give toys back and paraded with them. It was annoying. So, as a wee puppy, I taught Noelle to hand me all of her toys. Now Noelle won't hold a dumbbell and spits it out as soon as I reach out for it. DOH! Hit the undo switch.

I'll keep working on attention and focus and really encourage Noelle to fix her own look aways. I'm working with a new trainer in March and all I want to work on is attention and focus. Nothing else matters.
 

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I had a dog, April, who refused to give toys back and paraded with them. It was annoying. So, as a wee puppy, I taught Noelle to hand me all of her toys. Now Noelle won't hold a dumbbell and spits it out as soon as I reach out for it. DOH! Hit the undo switch.

I'll keep working on attention and focus and really encourage Noelle to fix her own look aways. I'm working with a new trainer in March and all I want to work on is attention and focus. Nothing else matters.

That is true, nothing else matters because focused attention that is impeccable leads to all other things, beautiful heeling, attention for the utility jumps, finding lovely fronts...everything including pleasant no pulling on the leash walks in your neighborhood.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
When I have that focus, we just flow through rally together. She watches me, I watch her, and we dance together. I love when we connect. I just need to build consistency. We trial again in April.
 

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You will get it!
 

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Discussion Starter #17
We worked on eye contact and the NO game without moving today. Her focus was slightly improved. Correcting look away with a stern, NO! is more effective than a collar pop on a microwaved marshmallow soft dog like Noelle. Strong enough to get her attention, stern enough to tell her she screwed up, but gentle enough not to upset her.

I like giving my dog very clear instructions. She'll figure out very quickly how to avoid a no and just stand there eating treats. Once we can stand still, with treats one after another, without her looking away for a full minute, we'll take a few steps, sit and repeat. Build up to sit, get some snacks, heel with me, do a rally trick, eat some snacks.... Build and build until we can do 20 rally tricks between snacks.

Should take about 20,000,000 years.
 

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A good sense of humor about these things does help tremendously!
 
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