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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi everyone. Saffron is now 6 months and I may need lots of help;)
She is a great dog but some teenager stuff is starting to appear. She has suddenly learned “keep away” and “I am going to run in the opposite direction even though I love getting in the car” etc.
Keep away with a frozen salmon head was not fun yesterday with my very pregnant friend looking on while holding her dog and Sage...
The biggest frustration for me, where I don’t know the best way to train, is when we go to our beginner’s obedience class and the other 6 and 8 month old dogs mostly sit or lie down next to their owners. Saffron wants to pull and pull at her leash and whine and cry to go say hi. There is only so long she can stay sitting or down, even though we are mostly doing exercises.
She has always been so food motivated but when trying to lure her into heel last class she was even bypassing the treat (and bypassing me to continue on back or forward to whatever dog was working closest.)
Also, I have been trying to be more diligent in having good recall and control of my dogs so I took them onto the dike with long lines this week to let them play. I don’t exactly know how to use them and they constantly get caught. Today a guy came out of the woods with his dog and puppy, about 50 yards away. They were off leash (of course) but I was so excited I could use my long lines to reel in the dogs. Is that right? I just don’t want them to run up to every dog and person. Sometimes Sage gets nervous if he can’t tell who/what they are so he runs at them barking and it is so hard to get him back. He of course plays if it’s a dog and interested but same problem — I have to wait until a play break to call him back.
Of course they ignored my “come” command so I pulled them over but Saffron was going crazy at the end of it. The guy’s puppy (5 months old) kept coming at us and Saffron suddenly got very snarly and agressive sounding. She’s never done that before.
Then I didn’t know what to do. The guy said it was because she was on leash and “some dogs are like that,” implying I should let them off. Is that fair since he obviously had no control of his dogs? Both were coming at us. I think he was trying to call them.
What do I do in that situation? What about the tasmanian devil at the end of my leash?
It’s so complicated....
THanks for considering.
Jen and Sage and Saffron
 

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Well you have many different things going on there. I will try to hit as many points as I can.


First, the guy with the off leash puppy is correct that on leash dogs are potentially going to be reactive in the face of off leash dogs. However if you do not have a super reliable recall then your dog should not be off leash. My saying is: If you don't have a recall, you don't have a dog.


You must reinforce your recall in much less distracting conditions than out on a trail. Start in your home. Play recall games with both dogs separately starting in the same room and then turn it into hide and seek in different rooms. Pay very well (great treats, great fun). Make sure that when the dog comes you put your hand on their collar and then let go and release to free dog or go play. Make the dog anticipate that after coming and getting under your physical control something fun will happen. A dog that things coming and having your hand on the collar ends fun will not want to come to you. Once all that works well in your home go outside but stay close to where you live with low level distractions. Do not allow the dog to think this is an optional order ever so use your long line to reel the dog in if they don't come eagerly the first time you call them. Start at short distances so being compelled isn't a long line battle.


As to what is happening in class, do your dogs have a lot of off leash play time with other dogs? I have someone who started coming to my novice classes a couple of months ago whose young (just turned one) GSD bitch plays off leash with other dogs every day. When she started in class she totally didn't understand that she couldn't approach to play with the other dogs. I worked with her and her owner at their home to teach some focused attention that she could bring to the club to work on having the dog learn to pay more attention to her handler than the other dogs. She now works in the class much more easily. To make this relevant for you what you need to work on is making yourself way more interesting than the other dogs at the class. Games that encourage focused attention will help this happen. If you look here https://www.poodleforum.com/23-general-training-obedience/267673-focus-attention-issues.html you will see some discussion on focused attention, but also over the weekend look for a new thread I will post that will have video on the five cookie game.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks Catherine!! I was hoping you would reply;)

Even just writing everything down made me reflect and I could see it was kind of a difficult situation and I am putting the cart before the horse - wanting the end results of fabulously trained dogs but not sure how to get there;)

I think I can manage finding off leash spots that aren't quite as busy, such as just behind the house, although we will run into a fair amount of distractions. When it's the weekend and when it gets lighter after work I will have more options.
The dogs don't get much off leash play time with other dogs but they do with each other. I should probably play the games/training at lunch instead of letting them run around together. I wonder if this is not helping?
I think I did lots initially of focus training and recall, just lately it's been a bit of a hamster wheel and awfully cold and dark outside.
Thanks for the games and tips.
I will change it up.
 

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I totally get it about dark and stinky cold weather being a drag on training opportunities.

You can make lunch time be both for training and for fun! I would start with some fun free play for a few minutes then have them stop and do a couple of recalls or other training. Then let them free play again for a few minutes....repeat repeat repeat ending always with free play. This will do a number of things you need to have happen. First it will give them impulse control by stopping play. Then it will improve their recall since they will always want to come to you because if they do so they will come to know they can go play again very soon. The other thing is that it will improve their focus since you can use Sage as a distraction for Saffy and the reverse as you work with them individually.

Don't skip steps in training or you will find things fall apart. Beautifully trained dogs will come along, but remember your girl is still a baby so take baby steps.

When I take rental ring time at my private trainer's facility I switch Lily and Javelin out frequently but also sometimes work both of them at the same time. I don't let them play too much together since my time there is limited, but I start and end with free play.
 
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Discussion Starter #5
It’s hard to remember that Saffron is such a baby, but she’s only 6 months. She’s 38 lbs now!
I am assuming that when I go on dog walks with friends to do the same thing? Get the excitement out, training a bit, then free play, and recall and training again etc?
I may have to limit our visiting for awhile because there’s usually very little dog control going in in friends’ houses (who have dogs) and on dog walks it’s 100% off leash - we do practice recall, but not much else. At least that’s how it has been;)
Do you think it’s a good idea not to take her to a friend’s if it’s just going to be dogs in the yard playing the whole time?
 

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I would not just put a young dog out in a yard to play like wild with other dogs. I would supervise and recall Saffy out of the group a few times and then send her back to play. If things get too high energy wise then it stops all together. Choose who you visit carefully and perhaps have a conversation beforehand about what you are looking to accomplish and only go to the homes of friends who "get it." In the long run you will help those people and dogs to ask for some limits on wild behavior.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I would not just put a young dog out in a yard to play like wild with other dogs. I would supervise and recall Saffy out of the group a few times and then send her back to play. If things get too high energy wise then it stops all together. Choose who you visit carefully and perhaps have a conversation beforehand about what you are looking to accomplish and only go to the homes of friends who "get it." In the long run you will help those people and dogs to ask for some limits on wild behavior.
That’s what I think too as I saw how it worked with Sage. One of his top favourite things to do is play with other dogs and he thinks he should be able to;) I’m just lucky that he’s extremely non-confrontational and he adores people too. He’s a good boy but not great recall when playing (or salmon around...)
 

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Recalls should always be practiced without ending fun. You could do a few recalls and then play tug for example if it is just you and one dog. If it is both of your dogs recall them and then release them to play with each other. The way to keep recalls fresh is to pay well for them and to keep the dog guessing how they will be rewarded: play, a really good treat or a really nice massage of a belly rub. This makes you more interesting than other environmental business like dead salmon heads to roll on or toss around.
 
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