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Discussion Starter #641
I took Noelle to rally. I used some of the new techniques I learned in my book and they helped a lot. On the way into the ring, a basset hound lunged at her. Noelle got a little scared. Instead of comforting her, I played with her. I gave her a few good shoves, which sent her flying back to me for more. Then we went in the ring. I had 100% focus and it was great. The only problem was jumping up with excitement at first. Next rally run, if she gets jumpy, I'll stop and fix that and restart.

We did figure 8's in another class. Noelle was able to pay attention all the way around the cones off leash for the first time. We also introduced gloves. I'm at the, no, don't shake it, stage. So, a quick game of take and give is all we're doing. It's a start. I'm pleased.
 

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Discussion Starter #642
I took Noelle on some focus and attention adventures. I discovered the pet store is a level 4 distraction. The vet's waiting room is a level 10. She loves our vet and is always happy to be there. She gets keyed up and excited. She refused my treats and didn't settle in. So, that's off the list of places to train for now. The pet store went much better. After a few moments of noodling, she was able to focus and offer eye contact easily. We will keep taking these adventures on the road.

My other task is getting toys off my body for rally. If I have Mr. Fox in my pocket, I get 100% focus, 100% drive, 0% latency, 0% distraction. Her tail is flying. She's focused and happy, ready for anything. Remove Mr. Fox and... What's a sit? Is that my friend Callie over there?

I wonder what would happen if I put Mr. Fox in my pocket, did rally practice and rewarded with a completely different Mr. Fox by my chair? As in, Noelle never gets the Mr. Fox in my pocket. Would her excitement fade? Can I transition Mr. Fox is in my pocket to an invisible Mr. Fox is in my pocket?

More importantly, can I do this by October 3rd? We trial for Leg 10 of Rally Master and Leg 10 of RAE that day. It's at the Great Lakes Poodle Club trial, under the same judge who handed me my first Rally Novice ribbon exactly one year ago. It would mean a lot to TQ and title RM and RAE where we started.
 

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I feel your pain w/distractions! Otter KILLED last Wednesday, and THIS week, a long absent (due to litter) classmate returned and it was all OH, A PUPPY! OH ZOEY IS BACK!, leap spin twirl and no regard for mom's presence at all.Sigh...:2in1::argh::banghead::bird::boom::dancing2:
 

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Discussion Starter #644
Sounds like Otter would benefit from the same eye contact game I've been playing with Noelle. I got this game from Denise Fenzi's book.

Count out 20 small treats. Give your dog 10 treats in a row for no reason at all.
Stop. Wait for eye contact, click, reward.
Stop. Wait for eye contact, click, reward.

Do this for the remaining 10 treats.

This is one place where a clicker made a huge difference with Noelle's understanding of the game, because I could make the clicking sound at the exact moment she reoriented her attention to me. Looking at a passing cat and, moves her head, eyes meet mine, click. After a while, the click itself becomes a happiness inducing sound, so it's like two treats for Noelle.

It's such a simple game, but it has made a big difference in the two weeks since we started playing it. That and simply making note of all the times Noelle looks at me, and letting her know I appreciated her making a connection.

The biggest problem I've had with Noelle is this behavior chain:
Noelle is checked out-->I do something interesting to get her attention-->Noelle checks back in-->I get boring-->Noelle checks out. Repeat cycle endlessly.

I reward 10 times for no apparent reason-->I freeze-->Noelle seeks my attention-->I reward her attention-->I freeze-->Noelle seeks my attention...

By giving 10 high value treats in a row, Noelle knows rewards are available should she choose to seek my attention. I make it her responsibility to seek my attention, not my responsibility to get her attention. The change in Noelle is remarkable.

Give it a whirl with Otter, in a neutral boring place, obviously, not class. Let me know if he likes the new game.
 

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The best ay of training for the distractions of trial rings is to imitate as closely as possible the conditions of a trial. This means going to matches as much as possible. Practice ring entrances and exits. Practice taking the leash off before you set up and putting it back on after you hear exercise finished.


Working on distractions in many environments is important, but it doesn't always translate to the ring environment. One part of my Thursday morning class is to do heeling with ring entries and set ups, etc. included. We also do figure 8s under trial type conditions including that there are people as figure 8 posts and following as judges while Deb calls the pattern. Even with that pressure of a judge there are still some set ups and such where Javelin can lose his head.
 

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Discussion Starter #646
Once Noelle has assembled the pieces of Open, we'll go to fun matches. Right now we're not even close. She can heel the full heeling pattern, figure 8, broad jump, and retrieve on the flat, stand stay get your leash. She cannot retrieve over a jump, or drop on recall. Are we close, nope, we are months away. My goal is spring for fun matches and enter a trial next summer. Meanwhile, we'll keep on the RACH hunt.

Going to distracting places had more to do with learning to orient to me and focus her attention. Part 1 of the Fenzi book exercises. 10 free treats, wait for the dog to offer attention, reward attention. Noelle really likes this game. I used it in class today and she was so tuned in. I like this game because it's predictable and gets her mind thinking. Ooh, treats. I like treats. Wait, the treats stopped. How do I get more again? Oh, that's right! STARE!

The focus and engagement work we've been doing is working! I'm really pleased.
 

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Oh,we do the Fenzi work,but will be doing more. Here's a funny "take it on the road,subtitle why we don't go anywhere" moment-we worked on the street in a nearby town,including figure 8 around the flower pots/street signs,the decided to rest in the gazebo behind the library. (it is now about 11am) There is a ramp into the gazebo, and when we got up the ramp,there was a stirring in the corner-someone was sleeping in a sleeping bag ! Fool that I am,we still sat down,green bag stirred,Otter growled a big-dog low warning,and I decided to "ease on down the road" (guess the town?:eyebrows:) to the town park! Oy!:ahhhhh:
 

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Discussion Starter #648
OMG, what were you thinking! Ease on down the road is right. Wow!

We haven't had any time for adventures lately. We'll get back to it soon. Mostly we've been working on Pocket Hand and the results have been incredible during rally runs.

https://denisefenzi.com/2016/03/pocket-hand/

Noelle's nose is exactly the height of my hand when I just let my arms hang normally. If I glue my wrist to my leg and open my hand into a small curve, Noelle is right there in the pocket. She puts her head there, click and treat. It's been just a huge help.

We've been doing a lot of work just spinning together on an upside down dog dish. Even though we're not walking straight, this practice is teaching Noelle where I want her to be when we heel. Not too wide, not too far back, right there in pocket hand position. I can use pocket hand in rally in a way I can't get away with in obedience, but that's OK. I can modify it by the time we are ready to show in Open.

We had three rally runs last night. I think she keeps getting better and better. The only mistake was on my end. It was a sit, walk two steps, call to heel. I counted my steps out loud and Noelle thought I was calling her. The second time through I figured out my mistake and didn't say anything. She nailed it.

Yesterday's course was Advanced. I'm signed up for Rally with Liz tomorrow. Oh boy. She'll set up some kind of challenge from hades for us, no doubt. I'm looking forward to it. Liz has rally class first and obedience class second, but my daughter's school schedule has me driving in heavy construction to pick her up after obedience class. I was an hour and 45 minutes late. Click Jr was not happy. By going to rally only, at least I'll be on time to get her.
We'll pick up her obedience class next semester.

For now, I'm working on pocket hand and focus. The change in Noelle is amazing. It's her job to make me pay attention to her, not the other way around. Dare I say it, we're starting to feel like a team in the ring. Onward!
 

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Discussion Starter #649
One thing Noelle did extremely well at our last trial was making immediate eye contact at the start sign. We did six legs that weekend. All six legs, she looked at me without a cue. Leash comes off, stare at mom. Good, good and good. It's been a year since our first trial and wow have we come a long way as a team!

We're officially done trialing for the year. Noelle and I both need a break. Today we went to rally and we just had fun. No pressure to perform. Nothing to get ready for. Just fun. It felt really good.
 

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Discussion Starter #650
At my last trial, I watched dog after dog NQ the same exercise in Open, at the exact same spot. It's during the command discrimination, the sit from 30 feet away. I decided Noelle and I needed to work on that. Open A orders are Stand, Down, Sit. The transition from a down to a sit needs to be rock solid. Today, after a lot of practice, I had Noelle in a stand. I walked 15 feet. Told her to down. Walked 15 more feet and asked for sit. And she sat!

I almost started bawling. We've been trying so hard to get this right and it paid off. First time from so far away, she did a lovely tucked sit. Sometimes, training dogs is just the best.

We've also been training drop on recall using a fun game I found on youtube. Basically, it's treat throwing left and right, left and right, like ping pong. And after a few rounds you add a down cue in the middle of the game before throwing the next treat. Run for a treat, down on cue, wait for it... run for a treat! After a few weeks playing what is now Noelle's favorite game, I decided to see what would happen if...

What if I told Noelle to sit in heel. And what if I told her to wait. What if I walked away, turned around and called Noelle to come. And what if, in the middle of her run, I called out, "Down!" What would happen?

Without thinking, or hesitating, Noelle flung herself into a down from a full on run, just like she's done in the fun game. I called Noelle front, and she came front for her treat. We did a formal drop on recall twice, and then went right back to her favorite game. Run for a treat, down, run for a treat, down... I think Noelle would play this game all day long. With the formal version, she understood what I wanted her to do without any problem at all. I think we're going to practice drop on recall 80% silly game, 20% formal. I want her to pick up speed on her recall and then drop into a down like she was magnetized to the floor. It's fun to watch.

As far as Open is concerned, Noelle understands all the exercises. What she doesn't know is how to do them under all circumstances, any place, no matter what is happening. We're still not ready for a fun match. Heck, we've only trained this stuff in my house for the most part. My goal for 2020 is a CDX, and maybe a RACH. But, definitely a CDX. Can we do it? I'll keep you posted.
 

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Discussion Starter #651
Being a steward at an obedience trial over the weekend really made me want to continue this journey. I was a steward for Utility and Open, which was awesome because I've never competed in either. The judge was accommodating of two bumbling ring stewards with zero experience in Utility or Open. My job was high jump and gloves in Utility. I got into the flow after a few dogs and felt like I knew what I was doing.

This morning, I got out Noelle's dumbbell. I also got a rude awakening. Noelle was anticipating my throwing the dumbbell and released herself a few times to fly after it. I made a very foolish judgment call and decided to work on the stay part of the exercise. Throw the dumbbell, stay, then go. This turned into a disaster because when I finally released Noelle to get it, she was way too cranked up. She turned into a crazed kangaroo and wouldn't stop jumping and bouncing all over me. She went berserk.

It took me all day to figure out what went wrong. Then I remembered how guard dogs are trained. No, you can't get the bad guy. Nope, not now, no, wait, wait, wait... GO! And the guard dog puppy explodes forward and runs to the bad guy. So, by practicing stay, while throwing the dumbbell, I was inadvertently feeding Noelle way too much drive to get the dumbbell. It overflowed and she lost her mind. Someone get me a rolled up newspaper so I can smack myself. Bad trainer! Bad!

To fix this series of mistakes, I've come up with a training plan.

1. If Noelle becomes a kangaroo, the dumbbell disappears and so do I. Calm dogs get to play fetch with the dumbbell. Kangaroos do not.
2. Separate stay while I throw, and fetch and return, into two unconnected exercises. Like how we train front and finish separately to prevent auto-finishing.
3. To practice stay, leash on, throw, stay, exercise finished, c/t.
4. To practice fetch and return, dumbbell begins stationary, fetch, front, give, finish, c/t
5. After a thousand repetitions, connect both games.

Right now, the flying dumbbell is too exciting for Noelle to handle.

After watching the dogs compete in Open and Utility, I shake my head and wonder if we'll ever get there. But, we will. If I am patient and give Noelle room, we'll get where we need to go.
 

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I always appreciate your training analyses Click, and often find a parallel in what I’m doing in agility with my dogs. The parallel in agility is the stay at the start line, and it’s something I have struggled with proofing.
 

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Click, Babykins is anticipating the exercises in open and utility. My very experienced trainer says that’s a good thing because she is understanding them now. We are working on varying our timing of all exercises. So for signal exercises I think of a number in my head, say 10. So I walk 10 steps then count to ten to down my dog, then walk 10 more, count to 10 and sit her. Next time I do 3 or 8 etc. I do this for all her exercises.

For dumbbell she taught us to have the dog look back at us in heads up heel position after the throw and then give the command to take. I found that stopped our problem of runaway train immediately after a dumbbell toss. I noticed all the very experienced handlers were doing this. It was easy to teach using a treat. Do you have Click doing this? Looking at you after watch the dumbbell fly and before sending her?

I like your approach to taking the fun away. It also works for agility start lines.... you don’t hold your sit then we leave the ring and forfeit our run.
 

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Discussion Starter #654
Skylar,

Noelle is too cranked up by the throw to eat a treat right now. She'd probably bite one of my fingers anyway. I think what we need to do is learn, slowly, that it is possible to watch a dumbbell fly and remain calm. Then shape the eye contact piece of the puzzle. This will take a while. Her drive to get it is way too strong. Bouncing, leaping, and frolicking is not what I want. Especially since the JUDGE will hand me the dumbbell. Imagine if she went crazy and jumped at a judge? That would be beyond disastrous. This is going to take a lot of time on our end. And a lot of fun matches to make sure the training sticks.
 

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<snip> Imagine if she went crazy and jumped at a judge? That would be beyond disastrous. </snip>
Yep. Or at least not so beneficial to a smooth performance. I've seen judges deliver a dumbbell on their clipboard, held high and, hopefully, out of the dog's line of sight. I've done it myself, or held it behind my back, especially if the two retrieves are separated by another exercise.

One gets a feeling for which dogs might love the dumbbell a bit too much.
 

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Click, you are so good at identifying problems then breaking them down into the smallest part to train.

I’ve been ring steward when people hand their dumbbells from behind their back and beg you to keep it hidden until the last moment because their dog is obsessed. I know you will work with Noelle so she will be level headed in her approach.
 

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Discussion Starter #657
Judge's orders are, "Throw It, Send Your Dog, Take It, Finish." It's one exercise, but in reality it's a lot of behaviors.

1. Heel to chalk mark on ring floor.
2. Set up in a close sit with calm eye contact.
3. Judge hands me the dumbbell.
4. Noelle and I stand calmly waiting for the judge's order to throw.
5. I throw the dumbbell.
6. Noelle has no reaction whatsoever to the throw.
7. Judge tells me, "Send your dog."
8. I say, "Get it."
9. Noelle is fired out of a missile launcher straight to the dumbbell
10. Noelle snags it, whirls around, and races back.
11. Sit in front with dumbbell.
12. Wait for judge to tell me to take it.
13. I reach to take the dumbbell.
14. Noelle calmly allows me take the dumbbell.
15. Finish and sit straight

So, it's a 15 step exercise. And honestly, the throw and the retrieve are separated by the judge's orders. I can train them independently of one another, just like I trained front and finish. To make the stay cue clear as a stoplight to Noelle, I'll change the cue from "stay" to "freeze."

I like to change cues when I see Noelle is unsure what I mean. For me, a stay is a stay. To Noelle, a stay while I walk away is not the same as a stay when a dumbbell is flying. If a very interesting object flies in the ring, freeze means freeze your posterior to the floor.

I'm also working on drop on recall. We'll use a target on the floor and make it smaller and smaller until we don't need it anymore. I like to make the right choice obvious. Setting things up so Noelle cannot make a mistake speeds up training. Trial and error is slower. Which sounds crazy, until you unpack it.

Say, I want to teach you to press a yellow button. I put you in a room and there is table with a yellow button in the center that says press. You press it and I hand you $10. We repeat this until you have earned $100.00. Then I add a green button. You press the green button. Nothing happens. You press the yellow button. I hand you $10. You repeat pressing the yellow button until you earn a second $100.00. Suddenly, I add a pink button. You press the pink button, nothing happens. You go back to pressing the yellow button and earn another $100.00. Next, I add an orange button, a purple button, a blue button, and a white button all at once. Now you have a lot of choices. Which button are you going to press first? Congratulations, here's $10.00.

You've been reinforced 30 times for pressing the yellow button. After that much reinforcement, you know the yellow button is the right choice and the others do not matter. That's error free learning, or as close to error free as you can possibly get.

How much longer would it have taken you to earn $300 if I presented you with all those colors the first time? You accidentally press yellow and earn $10. Would you guess that yellow is the only color button you're supposed to press? Or would you push all the buttons and hope that one of them would work? Would you wonder if this was a puzzle and you had to hit a combination of buttons in the right sequence? How much longer would this take to figure out? Would you feel calm and confident, or confused and frustrated?

We frustrate our dogs and ourselves needlessly when we train using trial and error. Set your training up so the right choice is obvious. Yellow button your training. Yellow to be cautious, because you may have to change your plan. Yellow to warn you not to lump expectations all together. And lastly, yellow to slow down and notice that training dogs is... FUN!
 

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Almost all open and utility exercises are really many tiny parts and have to be trained as such at some level. For the dumbbell there is the set up, not anticipating on the throw, a good hold, returning and making a nice front, giving the dumbbell politely when given the order to take it and finishing without trying to take it back....


Excellent trainers will keep the dog in a head's up attention mode until they throw at which time they let the dog watch the throw to mark where the dumbbell lands. As they like the retrieve better they will anticipate the order to get it more often. To train away anticipating most people I know either put the dog on a slip lead or a flexi and proof sending the dog with body gestures or saying get it more than once or having the judge say send your dog more than once. Over excitement in the form of wanting to control the dumbbell (not give it or trying to take it back) can be dealt with by swapping for it. I might have Javelin come to front and release him to a jump up while he still is holding the dumbbell. I'll say give and then a nice big good by just as I then give it back to him or give him a cookie (randomizing the rewards). Or I might take it and make an informal toss as I ask him if he wants to get it again as he gets it I go off in a different direction to turn it into find front with that dumbbell so it isn't part of the formal work on the complete picture of the exercise.
 

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I wish too much drive was my problem. Raven looks like Eeore. She will politely go get it and bring it back to a nice front, but there is is no speed or drive. I have the same issue with recalls. Somewhere I did something to kill her enthusiasm because early on she would come flying and launch herself at me. I think it was when I started asking for mor precision she stopped seeing it as fun. I am not sure how get any of that back. I have tried the throwing treats game to try to whip up energy and it doesn’t work either. I love they way you are able to analyze everything so well. I am trying to learn! I never used a clicker but I am trying to learn with my new boy. Right now he has lots of enthusiasm and I do not want to make the same mistakes.
 

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Discussion Starter #660
Ah, you got serious, Raven's Mom. As soon as I get serious, Noelle tunes out. Serious training and Noelle blend together like peanut butter and sardines. Just a bad combination.

How are you addressing recalls? Maybe I can help you figure out a training plan. Raven has a rocket booster. We just need to figure out how to ignite it, that's all.
 
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