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Discussion Starter #1
Found myself screwing up yesterday, this is mostly about getting frustrated and caught up in the moment. And finding yourself stuck in a bad loop before you realize it's happened. Bear with me.
First off, we live at the end of a dirt road. We allow barking on our property. Encourage it even. I allowed it to get alittle out of hand recently. So.....had a rough day at work yesterday. Came home. Wife already home. Dogs in fenced in part of the property around the side and back of the house. Generally my wife gets home alittle before me and lets them out. So Beau has been cooped up in the house for about 7 hrs, he's not yet 2 yrs old, he's fairly high energy, and he was INSANE yesterday when I pulled up. Barking and bouncing around like a wild animal behind the fence. This was excitement that I was home. Barking....barking.....barking... He always barks when I get home and he's outside. Perfectly normal. Yesterday was excessive. I was cranky. Should've known better. Did know better. Didn't listen to the sane part of my brain. For whatever reason, the other part of my brain decided that I needed to work on the excitement barking. Did I mention I was already cranky from the workday?
He didnt " hush " or " calm " when told. He knows what those mean btw. Ok then, I'll give him something to do instead of just being told to pipe down. Put him in a down. With the intention of walking around the side of the house ( where he cant see me and he knows I'm heading for that gate )to the backyard gate, entering yard, walking around the back of the house ( still out of view ) over to where he is downed and rewarding him with a game of tug. In my mind at the time this seemed like the right thing to do. Even though there was the little voice in my head saying " he's too excited to control himself right now dummy ". Of coarse he broke the down and met me at the back gate. Told him " nope " ( his negative marker ) and walked back around the front to where he was put in a down. Did it over. Same thing. Did that exact same thing at least a dozen times. At this point my idiot brain has taken over. It became a battle. Before I realized it it had become a sort of battle of wills. Bad training. Not good. Checked the time. We did this sort of loop for a good 40 minutes. I was more frustrated than him I think. My idiot brain was telling me not to give up before he did. After a long time I realized he was going to outlast me if we kept going like that. So then I got the idea to tether him to the fence post beside where I was downing him. ( by this time he was grumbling when downed but still complying. Lord knows why after the 20th time). I figured he'd be fussing up a storm when tethered like this. Nope. Not a peep, held his down. My wife watched while I went around the side of the house. Held his down no problem. No fighting the tether. Got to him, untethered, played tug. Did the whole thing over. 3rd time we did it without the tether. Held his down. Got a game of tug AND fetch for that. So we stopped on sort of a good note.
So the idiocy of all this aside, now I'm wondering....... Was he really too excited to hold his down.....or was he just refusing cause he knew he could- did I start the battle of wills or did he? Was there really a battle of wills? He calmly held his down while tethered, and the 3rd time untethered. Either way it was pretty ridiculous. I think I got determined and had some tunnel vision going on. Good thing for me he's a forgiving dog. Going to have to put some thought into the whole experience. But I thought some people might read this and at least get a chuckle out of my amatuer mistakes.
 

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I understand this is not really an "asking for advice" situation, but I will say this with the hope that it may help you in the future..

I prefer to reinforce the stationary exercises such as sit-stay and down-stay with food rewards if possible. Delivered calmly, and passively, with minimal if any excitement. Using tug and / or playing fetch as a routine reward can have a tendency to engage a spirited dog, who in this case is already in drive, into further drive, due to anticipation and the previous reinforcement history. In other words, the dog knows full well that some form of "action" will be coming, so he is likely to be inherently twitchy and over-eager to actually *move*. Under those circumstances it's extremely difficult to succeed at staying unless the dog has had a TON of impulse control work, EXTENSIVE proofing with toys, etc.

There are many other fundamental mistakes which you seem to be painfully aware of already, lol. So I'll just leave it at that.
 

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I understand this is not really an "asking for advice" situation, but I will say this with the hope that it may help you in the future..

I prefer to reinforce the stationary exercises such as sit-stay and down-stay with food rewards if possible. Delivered calmly, and passively, with minimal if any excitement. Using tug and / or playing fetch as a routine reward can have a tendency to engage a spirited dog, who in this case is already in drive, into further drive, due to anticipation and the previous reinforcement history. In other words, the dog knows full well that some form of "action" will be coming, so he is likely to be inherently twitchy and over-eager to actually *move*. Under those circumstances it's extremely difficult to succeed at staying unless the dog has had a TON of impulse control work, EXTENSIVE proofing with toys, etc.
Yeah. I know it's a sport either of you play, but there is a reason that start-line stays in agility are often MUCH harder to have and keep than a stay in other situation. The reason is this - if you aren't careful anticipation of release toward highly exciting activity results in the stay degrading. Walking back to reward with food outside of trials is pretty common. Or throwing a toy BEHIND the dog, to cut the anticipation of the course being what's released to, every time.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
You know, the worst part in my mind of all this is that there was that voice in my head telling me to just drop it. Didn't listen. You know when you get really determined with something, your vision narrows and that little piece of something is all you can see at the time.
Beau's down command is pretty solid normally. We play games where I'll put him in a down behind something where he cant see what I'm doing. I'll take my time going and hiding an object in the woods, walk back to him, release him to go find it. I work with him in an " in drive " state on a daily basis. We have alot of fun that way. He will hold a down in that game and state of mind no problem normally.
This time, what he was anticipating wasn't the game, it was me coming through the gate into the backyard. In my little mind, I was thinking that if I could just get him to hold that down one time in this situation, I could reward him for it and he'd get it. That's usually how it works with him. Hey, at least we're a good match though- I think he matches me in determination lol.
Knowing him like I do, I think my big mistake here was trying to get him to hold that down right when I got home and he was bursting with excitement to get to me. It turned into a ridiculous loop of sorts from there. But thats what happens when the ole monkey brain takes over. It's alot like a fight with a spouse. It's silly and you know it, but you get so determined to win you lose sight of the big picture.
Lol I should've titled this " when not to attempt to teach your dog something "
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Oh I should've added, I stopped using food rewards with him a long time ago, this dog has zero interest in food rewards. Its all about the game or the chase for him. By far the lowest food drive of any dog I've owned. On the other hand, he works nicely for praise, but I think thats more because the activity itself is very rewarding for him.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Petpeeve, you mentioned impulse work- he's had a ton of that. We have pet mini goats and chickens, Beau is very much safe around them. It took a ton of work to get him to point he could control his impulses to chase them.
I think thats part of what was feeding my insanity- he can hold a down while anticipating a game of tug, fetch, or find it even with chickens flapping around him and goats bouncing around lol.
 

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You simply asked for too much too soon in a young dog who was in drive. Unfortunately, by redoing the same thing over and over you actually reinforced allowing him to break the down when in drive (and you recognize that now.. and did after 40 minutes of showing him he did not have to hold the down). You were also expecting the down when the dog was in drive and you went out of sight. He is a young dog. He just doesn't know. He thinks he knows... because he probably has been running to the gate every other time.

Sooo... the right thing would be to ask for the down with the dog a bit crazed in drive with you right next to him and then rewarding.. (instead of repeating and going out of sight) so the dog is successful. Essentially you use the drive to get what you want and releasing them into the drive they get drive satisfaction and get what they want.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Question- so normally he holds a down when I'm out of sight just fine. Not having a training partner to help, what I did was go around a corner a short distance away and waited, very short at first then increasing duration. He stayed put he got rewarded with a game when I got back to him. He broke the down and came looking for me I told him nope, led him back to the same exact spot and downed him again. Through repetition and increasing duration he's gotten good at staying put. No stay put, no reward game.
So basically I was trying to use the same method the other day during our merry go round incident. At first I thought he was just too excited. Then after him calmly holding his down while tethered I figured he was just being plain old disobedient- blowing off the down. Still not sure......
Very determined when he wants to be.
So I guess my question is should I just let it go for this specific situation and wait until he's more mature? Or should I try going back to basics for this specific situation and decrease distance/duration for this and work back up? Keep in mind this is a dog that can hold a down when he's so ramped up he's quivering, even with farm animals running around him, so I know he's capable of it. Thats one reason I thought maybe it was just flat out disobedience this time. It's not a huge deal, we dont have any big use for a long down, this is actually my first dog I've bothered to try teaching the long down. But we've made really good progress with it so far so I want to keep going with it.
Ok as I typed this something hit me. Sort of. To start with he'll hold a down in places other than my yard with no reward. I can walk away, piddle around and go back to him and release him. Boat landings, parks etc. In the yard we mostly practice this with a game as reward. In the instance the other afternoon, I guess he was rewarding himself by meeting me at the back gate which was what he wanted to do all along.
Apparently the games are not as great a reward as excitedly meeting me at the back gate. How do I work around this?
Also want to ask, if I try this same thing at some time other than right when I get home and he does fine with it when not so excited, how would I then work up to him succeeding at it when he is that excited- right when I get home?
 

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I would let him come to the gate but be back away from it. Ask for the down. Keep your feet planted and stay back. You do not move (which is what he wants) until you get what you want (the down). When he is "down" start to move toward the gate. The instant he pops up tell him "nope" and STOP moving. If you must, repeat "down" and do not move forward until he is down.

IOW's he must be lying down for you to approach. He must stay lying down even as you get to the gate. If he breaks when you get to the gate you again let him know he is wrong, repeat the down command (if you must) and back up.

I have done this with sit by the back door. I let my dog out of the kennel. He knows his food is in the crate downstairs. He has to sit. Not jump on the door. If he gets up, I stop moving. The same with letting him out of the kennel. He wants out, but if I am moving my feet he better be in a sit or a down (whatever I have said). If he gets up I stop. He is very clever and learned quickly. When I start messing with the latch if he pops up I stop. I will even back away. He wants out so he sits back down, sometimes so fast it makes a sound.

Try that and see if it works for you at the gate.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
lol I think I might not be conveying this well enough. I get what you're saying I think. He'll already do what youre suggesting in you're last post ( thanks for the advice btw!)
Picture this- our fenced area is shaped like an "L" . The tip of the horizontal side of the L is where he meets me at the fence when I pull up to the house. The top tip of the vertical side of the L is where the gate is. Extreme opposite tips of the L. Our house is sort of nestled in the inside corner of the L, so it blocks the view of the two ends from each other. I put him in a down at the tip of the horizontal part of the L. Then walk around the house to the gate. Its when I go around the corner of the house ( thus out of his line of sight ) headed for the gate that he breaks the down and runs to meet me at the gate.
Sorry I'm not being very clear, its hard to convey this stuff via text!
Thoughts?
 

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I would still work it the same way. If you can go to the spot where he is at first (at the base of the "L") and greet him through the fence. Make success there and release there without walking around to the gate.

I would then have the dog down and walk just out of sight around the house and return to where the dog is "down" and again reward and release. I would repeat "Good Down (or platz or whatever)" while walking away and out of sight and then immediately going back IN sight and back to the dog and release. The object is to build duration and not reward where he expects it (at the gate). IOW's he is saying, "I know I know I know" and your job is to show him, "Nope, you DON'T know!"

IF possible I would go so far as to not greet him at the gate at all for awhile. Can you come in the front door (assuming there is a house door outside the yard)?

I would try all that FIRST. I would give it a good try.

The dog clearly KNOWS down. He is blowing off the command cue because he is anticipating you coming to the gate and repeating the behavior he has been doing for quite some time. In horse training this is a prime example of why you do not always "pick up the canter at letter A." Pretty quickly the horse will do it.. and then do if BEFORE letter A and so forth.

If all of this does not work, stop and re-evaluate. Do that first. Try to figure out if you are asking too much too soon to break the pattern.

After giving all that a try, and really working it, if the dog still were blowing off the cue (and it was my dog) I might add positive punishment like a little bit of low level E collar to remind him that yes, I do mean down. However, in that you must be very careful as you don't want to make the "long down" a "hot" spot.

We get this sometimes with long downs on the trial field. The dog knows Down. He is sick of laying there. Maybe it is raining or it is hot or the ground is wet or it is cold. The dog must learn that down is down and there is no other choice. So we build it under all those circumstances with R+ and incremental duration (including out of sight in a blind). Meanwhile, the other competitor team is on the field working (you pick your dog up after they are done with retrieves and before they do the send away).

Some dogs will suddenly decide to go retrieve or come to the person who has called their dog on the field. Again, the mistake is often made due to lack of practice (which starts on lead). We teach the long down as a JOB. No wiggling. No sniffing. No looking around. Just laying there quietly attentive to the handler if in sight (Bh, IPO 1 and 2) or looking at last place they saw their handler go for out of sight down (into the blind for IPO 3). I think it is a hard job when the weather kicks but most dogs do it.

Once in awhile we get a dog that simply blows off the command altogether due to discomfort or desire to get moving. We try to go back and see if we did something incorrect in the training and repeat steps. We might up the quality of the reward. Down is almost always a food reward since we are not building drive into the job.

If the dog has decided on his own to blow it off no matter all of that, then a little low stim may be necessary to retain the dog's focus on the job. Again, the dog clearly knows the position and the job but has elected not to do it. The long down can be more than 10 minutes so hot sun, or pouring rain or wet ground can bother a dog for that duration. That said, MOST dogs do not break the long down and MOST dogs do not need that little bit of stim.

As I said, the last choice is the e-stim and you must be very careful not to make the long down a hot spot.
 
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