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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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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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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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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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