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Discussion Starter #1
I've been looking around and I see a lot of talk about using tug or a flirt pole to improve a dog's focus and attention on you even when there are major distractions and using tug for the same.

I haven't actually been able to find a good explanation of how though, or how to work it.

Seems it might lower value of other prey items and provide an outlet.

Anyone know any good reading about how to improve focus and attention on the trainer using a flirt pole? Exercises and such? Using it in training? Books?

I see the dog whisperer had a little of it on one of the shows I ran across googling for flirt pole ideas, but never went into how to use it in a program to teach focus and attention.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3XrKkrAZpY
 

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I've been looking around and I see a lot of talk about using tug or a flirt pole to improve a dog's focus and attention on you even when there are major distractions and using tug for the same.
Focus on you?

As I understand it, it's not supposed to be used to teach focus and attention on you. It teaches them to focus their attention. Period. At the time, it's on the critter at the end of the flirt pole. :)

That dog whisperer episode is where I first learned about a flirt pole.

I teach focus on me with a clicker. It's WONDERFUL. My dogs will stare me down, focused so hard when I say "look".
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Focus on you?

As I understand it, it's not supposed to be used to teach focus and attention on you. It teaches them to focus their attention. Period. At the time, it's on the critter at the end of the flirt pole. :)

That dog whisperer episode is where I first learned about a flirt pole.

I teach focus on me with a clicker. It's WONDERFUL. My dogs will stare me down, focused so hard when I say "look".
Well look at that video, and the black dog the trainer is working before he starts with the aggressive shepherd and playing tug with. It seems he's using the toy and prey drive to work and build focus and attention on himself. And the dog has total undivided attention on the trainer in a very excited prey driven state. The same unbreakable attention my dog gives squirrels and cats.

Seems to me he's using it to build focus, and to train that focus on the handler over time. To end up like the dog he was working at first.

I have been working on attention/focus and eye contact with behavior marking and food lure, it works well enough and it's improved a lot in a short time. I get great attention if she think I might have a food item, and it's getting better even when she knows I don't. It's when the prey drive kicks in that attention goes right out the window.

Food means nothing when she gets that way, I can rub a piece of steak on her nose that otherwise she would do anything for, and she has zero interest and just want's it out of her way and my voice means nothing.. Aversion is right out, for two reasons. First she's not a good dog to use aversion on at all, second it would take some serious aversion, more than I feel would be good for any dog.

This article makes sense, I may try this technique.. Just looking to start discussion get more ideas I can try.

http://www.naturaldogblog.com/blog/2007/09/dog-training-how-to-redirect-an-excited-or-aggressive-dog-on-a-walk/
 

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I love that blog and have had it bookmarked for a while. I would trust it. As you know, the exercises I have done have worked for me.

When you're working on focus, be sure not to go too fast. A squirrel at 30 yards is easier to ignore than one at 10 yards. Make sure you work at the distance your dog is able to focus on you before moving closer. If you get so close that the dog is unable to focus, take treats or tug, you're too close to work.

Does that make sense?
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
I love that blog and have had it bookmarked for a while. I would trust it. As you know, the exercises I have done have worked for me.

When you're working on focus, be sure not to go too fast. A squirrel at 30 yards is easier to ignore than one at 10 yards. Make sure you work at the distance your dog is able to focus on you before moving closer. If you get so close that the dog is unable to focus, take treats or tug, you're too close to work.

Does that make sense?
On the plus side, now that she's off all the drugs she is starting to play tug with me, and I think I can build that up enough in value I might be able to use that like the natural training site says, and have her tug whenever I can get even a little distraction from the furry critter.

I was thinking of using the flirt pole and demanding attention and work for access to chasing it. A NILIF type of thing, have her actually have to focus on me and work for me while in prey drive before she gets more of it. That seems like what the guy in the vid was doing but I'm not sure.

Maybe both of those methods? I can probably use the same fleece tug toy on the pole and for tugging.

I tried the pushing, but those sharp teeth are painful.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Hold the treat in your open palm, as you would for a horse. :)
I do, but she still pinched me, her teeth fit together in front very well. ;)

The kind of pinch that gives you a blood blister. She was getting a little animated going for the food. That and I can't hold her back with one arm very long if she really starts pushing. With a knee maybe, with my arm no.

I think I can work with the tug though now that she's started doing it a little, I'm just looking for maybe some new theory or methods on the flirt pole that I haven't thought of or seen. I think I'll try to build one tonight with her fleece tug toy.

She's a lot like that shepherd on the video, she wants to play but seems to both not really know how, and is hesitant to challenge me for anything. I'd prefer if she was bit more demanding and assertive, like throwing toys in my lap and demanding I play.

I think part of the attention and focus issue is she actually isn't confident enough to make eye contact a lot, and wants to avert so as not to challenge me at all. It's only been a month and a half though, I'm sure I can bring that confidence out over time. She's good when training with food already.

I had to trick her to get her to play tug, she just wouldn't pull and challenge me for the toy. I finally got her to start by putting the toy under the coffee table and pulling it under from the other side so it was obviously going under the table, and she couldn't see me holding the other end. She grabbed and yanked it out of my hand.

I slowly did that and alternated to a visible hand so she started seeing me hold it after she pulled hard on it (and yanked the coffee table around a bit) and she's got the idea shes can pull and play tug and there are no bad consequences.


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EDIT:

Well I made a flirt pole out of a fiberglass rod, some 1/8" rope and the fleece tug toy I've been working on her with.

Boy oh boy, she was on it like white on rice the instant it hit the ground. Running, leaping, a few awesome mid air catches. Good tug of war when I let her catch it. Ran through all the commands she knows while I held it to my chest, every bit as good attention and response as I get from food.

I had to stop before long as she probably needs to take to that strenuous exercise a little at a time till she's used to it.

She ran around rolling in the grass, vocalizing and rubbing her face in the grass in a big long happy dance, and is still looking up at where I stashed it away even after I did a little training session with some cheese.

I think she likes it ;)
 

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actually a flirt is an excellent tool for teaching focus in extremely distracting situations.

I posted quite a bit on how its done a while back...ill see if I can find the thread
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Please do, I want all the info I can get. I have never had to do this type of work before and I don't want to screw up.

I also read this article, but they stop right where I need the info and I can't find a second half of the article.

http://www.thedogathlete.com/playing-with-prey-drive/

I guess my concern is that she's really well tempered with people and other dogs, and I don't want to trip into any pitfalls and make her more aggressive.
 

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well...I couldn't find it. but..here goes...

I strongly believe that fully supressing a dog's natural instincts is a sort of recipe for disaster. I feel like a better approach is to find an acceptable outlet for those drives and teach the dog that there is a time and place for those urges.

my dog Bolo came to me very violently dog aggressive in a very peculiar manner. she neither snapped, snarled nor showed any tangible warning, no threat display at all. she stiffened, crouched and lunged, with intent to kill, tail wagging.

one of the things I did and still do to decrease this behavior pattern is use a flirtpole.

her behavior patterns during her aggressive incidents have always been very similar to prey driven behaviors in other dogs, like the chasing of squirrels.

so. first things first...

build drive.

I selected a brand new toy. carried it around all the time, tossing it, squeeking it, etc..and clicked and treated everytime she so much as looked at it, but never actually let her touch it.

it got to the point where she would drool, crouch and go for it the instant it came into view.

so then I started taking it outside and tying it to the flirtpole, letting her chase but not catch...and click/treat for every time she stopped moving.

I sometimes took her out and had her downstay, c/t for holding the downstay as I moved the flirtpole about. then after a good long downstay, I clicked and released her to chase as her reward.

this took a ton of work.

I added to the downstay exercise a focus cue. watch me and downstay and if you hold it long enough you can chase.

I kept at this for a good long time until I could cue her mid chase to downstay and focus. at this point she had never set teeth on the toy..not once. I still kept it with me often and c/t her interest in it.

I started to vary the location of the flirtpole exercise, breaking out a smaller flirt/same toy mid walks.

I kept my eyes peeled for the approach of other dogs on walks. it was Vital to the plan that I see them first.

I also did some observational stuff with her to pinpoint the threshold. first sign is she gets what I call shark eyes. its like they sorta glaze over. that is all...the only warning really.

so if a dog approached, she would start to go sharkeyed and I would whip out the flirt and show it to her, cuing her to downstay and focus. boy she would whimper too like "omg the lovey AND potential dogmeat!!! what's a girl to do?!?!" if she held the dstay/focus for even a second(at first) click, release to play with the flirt AND get to catch and tug on the toy...and I gradually increased the time I asked her to be chill for me until a dog could pass fifty feet away without incident.

since then I've been working on decreasing that distance. its going pretty well...hope that helps..its the basic gist of it. :)
 

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Wow, it's like a giant cat toy for dogs. It seems like it would be fun just to play with. Do people ever just use it as a toy?
Hmm... Or to train cats?
I hope this post isn't too silly for this thread.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
well...I couldn't find it. but..here goes...

I strongly believe that fully supressing a dog's natural instincts is a sort of recipe for disaster. I feel like a better approach is to find an acceptable outlet for those drives and teach the dog that there is a time and place for those urges.

my dog Bolo came to me very violently dog aggressive in a very peculiar manner. she neither snapped, snarled nor showed any tangible warning, no threat display at all. she stiffened, crouched and lunged, with intent to kill, tail wagging.

one of the things I did and still do to decrease this behavior pattern is use a flirtpole.

her behavior patterns during her aggressive incidents have always been very similar to prey driven behaviors in other dogs, like the chasing of squirrels.

so. first things first...

build drive.

I selected a brand new toy. carried it around all the time, tossing it, squeeking it, etc..and clicked and treated everytime she so much as looked at it, but never actually let her touch it.

it got to the point where she would drool, crouch and go for it the instant it came into view.

so then I started taking it outside and tying it to the flirtpole, letting her chase but not catch...and click/treat for every time she stopped moving.

I sometimes took her out and had her downstay, c/t for holding the downstay as I moved the flirtpole about. then after a good long downstay, I clicked and released her to chase as her reward.

this took a ton of work.

I added to the downstay exercise a focus cue. watch me and downstay and if you hold it long enough you can chase.

I kept at this for a good long time until I could cue her mid chase to downstay and focus. at this point she had never set teeth on the toy..not once. I still kept it with me often and c/t her interest in it.

I started to vary the location of the flirtpole exercise, breaking out a smaller flirt/same toy mid walks.

I kept my eyes peeled for the approach of other dogs on walks. it was Vital to the plan that I see them first.

I also did some observational stuff with her to pinpoint the threshold. first sign is she gets what I call shark eyes. its like they sorta glaze over. that is all...the only warning really.

so if a dog approached, she would start to go sharkeyed and I would whip out the flirt and show it to her, cuing her to downstay and focus. boy she would whimper too like "omg the lovey AND potential dogmeat!!! what's a girl to do?!?!" if she held the dstay/focus for even a second(at first) click, release to play with the flirt AND get to catch and tug on the toy...and I gradually increased the time I asked her to be chill for me until a dog could pass fifty feet away without incident.

since then I've been working on decreasing that distance. its going pretty well...hope that helps..its the basic gist of it. :)
Yes that is a whole lot like the natural dog training link earlier, except that article didn't include any commands.

I think I'll work with the flirt pole a bit more, I do let Hope catch it some, but I make her chase hard for it. As soon as I get it's value built up a bit more, or rather get her confidence up to grab and tug with me, I think I'll try taking the tug off and taking it on my walk. She's not that bad on leash so I think it might actually be pretty easy to work that strategy with her.
 

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Premacking other behaviors onto predatory games is a very good practice.

@2:40 Ivan demonstrates "the game", a drive building tug game, with a popular protection dog breed.
Of course it's always important to reiterate the rules when playing tug games.
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
I sure hope it can work and doesn't make things worse. Hope was more reactive on leash this morning on our walk than she's ever been. Pulling to the point of her front legs off the ground.

It didn't help that within 300 feet of the door she had to meet two pretty excited dogs, another a half block away, and almost every yard in the neighborhood had a squirrel in it this morning though...

I hope I can get the toy to a level she'll even notice it if I pull it out on a walk. I really need to find a place without other dogs and furry critters to walk her I think and get this established a bit without the major distractions before this will work well..

Or maybe walk at night and work on it when nobody else is walking dogs and the squirrels are all asleep and only a cat or two are up and around.

I did notice yesterday evening after a good session with the flirt pole and tugging she was the calmest I've ever seen her on a walk. I may just start doing that before every walk. Also seems to get her to relieve herself in the yard so I don't have to pick it up on our walk. ;)

She's really showing me a lot more energy and playfulness after the month of prednisone and zenequin effects have now worn off.
 

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she should be fine.

you will likely notice more excitable behavior in the beginning of this...you want that.

basically you kind of build an on/off switch into her prey drive.

but you have to turn it on before you can turn it off.

I would keep notes. I use a handheld recording device and talk out my observations so I can go over them later and plan out how I want to deal with any little snags. it also helps you maintain a clearer picture in your mind of the progression of events.
 

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ok im gonna spill the beans

99% of all my training stuff is modified shutzhund stuff.

you may want to look into how shutzhund is done...its fascinating stuff and the HIGH levels of ob required to succeed in shutzhund is applicable in pet dog training.
 

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Here's one site on schutzhund training I found:

http://www.schutzhund-training.com/obedience.html


Just what I need, another dog training website to flood my brain with :D
(I think Wally's laying on his bed thinking "oh boy, I hear that mouse clicking and the keyboard going, what's he cooking up for me to do next?")
 

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Discussion Starter #19
ok im gonna spill the beans

99% of all my training stuff is modified shutzhund stuff.

you may want to look into how shutzhund is done...its fascinating stuff and the HIGH levels of ob required to succeed in shutzhund is applicable in pet dog training.
Don't they train defense and biting and such in that training? Not sure I want to train that with my GSD, I'd rather she never bites a human in training or otherwise.
 

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Don't they train defense and biting and such in that training? Not sure I want to train that with my GSD, I'd rather she never bites a human in training or otherwise.
they also train in tracking and rigid obedience.

the exercise I posted with the flirt was something I modified from pre bitework shutzhund exercizes I found on the web.

because to teach proper bitework, one must teach the dog excellent drive, focus and self control.

and bitework in shutzhund isn't exactly true bitework.
 
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