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Discussion Starter #1
I'm having an issue with Strauss that I don't know how to correct. He's constantly barking during his routine (if he's not barking, he refuses to heel).

At different areas of practice he's fine...we get to a trial and he won't show. He is either excused for excessive barking or for being inattentive.

I cannot find a balance with this dog...if I let him show "as is" he's flat and extremely laggy/inattentive. If I try and get him and KEEP him in drive, all he does is "Yell" at me. It's especially bad in exercises where he must stop motion (the normal recall, drop on recall, retrieve on flat, retrieve over wall jump, broad jump).

Both Inga and Dogstar have seen both sides of the dog in this respect.

Physical corrections do nothing but make him worse. A calm attitude has no effect (calm rewards and soft but straight forward commands). I will have video available tomorrow for you all to view because I know it's hard to suggest anything without it, but if you could maybe give me some initial pointers it would be good.

This dog is UD material, but I can't even get him through his CDX because he either won't heel or won't shut up. He is currently only being worked in training or match situations, no shows.
 

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I can tell you how I cured my dog from barking on down-stays, but I don't know if you'll understand...because I'm not entirely sure I understand it.

I grab the dog's muzzle (not roughly) and tell him to "shush". The muzzle hold has multiple meanings in multiple contexts (between me and him--I have no idea if there is some instinctive message the dog takes away). It's something I always did when he was a pup if he got scared by a heavy truck going by, or when he barked at somebody at the door, or like that. It calms him and makes him less anxious. Whatever...it shuts him up.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
With Strauss, you get one of two things with that

1. You get louder, more obnoxious, more frequent whining
2. You get bitten
 

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How about trying one of them collars with that spay can that goes off when they bark and train him when it's on. I never used it but it's an idea.
 

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FWIW I can see Atka doing this too. She is starting to "tell me a thing or two" sometimes when working. She does understand "quiet" so that has been working.

Have you thought of working Strauss in Rally where you can talk to him more? Just an idea.. and maybe you can retain the drive but silence the bark?

Have you taught him the "quiet" command?

I have heard that German Shepherds are "talky" but I have never had a problem as I discourage a lot of barking from any dog.

Attention is a REAL problem with Atka too. I have been working on just that one thing all over the place trying to generalize it and to get her to pay attention when requested. I have done this by taking small pieces of Spam and keeping them in my mouth and radomly spitting the spam at her.. so she never knows when it is coming.. and she best keep looking at my face because she never knows when.

I have been taking her to a new place every might trying to generalize this... and I am probably going to be known around town as the "Spitting Dog Trainer.."

Just an idea.. maybe take a step back and just work on focus. Maybe take Strauss to shows and just work on quiet and focus and not actually show?
 

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Xeph

Physical corrections do nothing but make him worse. A calm attitude has no effect (calm rewards and soft but straight forward commands). I will have video available tomorrow for you all to view because I know it's hard to suggest anything without it, but if you could maybe give me some initial pointers it would be good.

Exactly what kind of physical corrections are you talking about. From what I have read on your posts/replies etc you have never mentioned negative stuff(at least I have not read it)These corrections were they done when dog was younger or just started as an older dog.


This dog is UD material, but I can't even get him through his CDX because he either won't heel or won't shut up. He is currently only being worked in training or match situations, no shows.

Explain a match situation and how is he acting in match situation. Is it the same as he acts in trials or is there some difference. Have you done any tracking with the dog? I'm thinking long term and I know you are too. Scenario of getting out of Obed completely and diving into tracking to blow his mind and give him something new to think about. Sometimes a step or two back before you can go forward with your UD plans. This is not meant to help you, as I don't have a clue what will help you. It's just looking at it sideways a tad. He may be going sour on Obed work. If not tracking a 3 month layoff of work completely.
 

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Have you taught him the "quiet" command?
what about..

working on a "quiet" cue just in regular settings, or reinforcing an existing one..

then train "speak"....and use "speak" as a reward for "quiet" since he likes to bark so much...

I don't know iffn that helps ya cuz I haven't done formal OB...was just another thought...

Just an idea.. maybe take a step back and just work on focus. Maybe take Strauss to shows and just work on quiet and focus and not actually show?
that's a great idea.
 

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Mary has a simliar issue, though her "shutting down" is much worse than her barking. Either way, when she gets to excited or shuts down during training I immediately turn my back on her and walk away and if she doesn't calm down or perk up, then I go and sit down in a chair away from the training area and ignore her until she has the desired composure. I get back up and start walking back to the ring or wherever we are training and as soon as her attitude gets weird again, I turn my back and go sit. I have learned to use prompt but calm and somewhat slow body language when I do this. If I move to fast then she thinks its some new game, but at the same time I want to make sure she knows why we are stopping the training by having good timing. I used to do a "time out" in the kennel but then she got to wound up when I went to let her out and this just made things worse.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
How about trying one of them collars with that spay can that goes off when they bark and train him when it's on.
Dogs get collarwise very quickly. It'll do me no good to put a citronella collar on him for training when I can't trial with it on. Knowing Strauss, he'll bark through it anyway.

Have you thought of working Strauss in Rally where you can talk to him more?
He has his RN...had points deducted for barking then too. Didn't matter if I talked to him or not. It moves too slowly. I don't care for it as a general whole.

Exactly what kind of physical corrections are you talking about.
Mostly in the heel, when he forges too much and ignores a verbal "Zuruck!" And in the retrieves where I need to correct for breaking the stay.

I get yelled at on verbal corrections too. If he sits too far out on the recall, I tell him "Closer" and he barks continuously as he moves closer, whether I have food/toy or not.

In a match he's much the same as training because I can use corrections. His retrieves are the same in a match or a real show though....sometimes he returns to me, sometimes he doesn't. In training his returns are pretty spot on, but we get to a trial and on the way back he drops the dumbbell and goes to sniff or otherwise ignores me.

He ALWAYS sends, but the returns are beyond poor in anything but training.

Strauss is trained to track, and he's very good at it, but I'm NOT good at laying tracks. I've also never been able to train him how to properly indicate articles, and can't afford a 3 hour drive to track with a group.

I can only do a track if it's laid out on chalk lines or where I can see my own turns....I also get very bored waiting for tracks to age...

Maybe take Strauss to shows and just work on quiet and focus and not actually show?
Unentered dogs aren't allowed on the show grounds

I've always used collar corrections, but when he was younger they were used for everything. As I've moved to more clicker stuff, collar corrections are now issued only after the dog understands an exercise.

How about trying one of them collars with that spay can that goes off when they bark and train him when it's on.
Dogs get collarwise very quickly. It'll do me no good to put a citronella collar on him for training when I can't trial with it on. Knowing Strauss, he'll bark through it anyway.

Have you thought of working Strauss in Rally where you can talk to him more?
He has his RN...had points deducted for barking then too. Didn't matter if I talked to him or not. It moves too slowly. I don't care for it as a general whole.

Exactly what kind of physical corrections are you talking about.
Mostly in the heel, when he forges too much and ignores a verbal "Zuruck!" And in the retrieves where I need to correct for breaking the stay.

I get yelled at on verbal corrections too. If he sits too far out on the recall, I tell him "Closer" and he barks continuously as he moves closer, whether I have food/toy or not.

In a match he's much the same as training because I can use corrections. His retrieves are the same in a match or a real show though....sometimes he returns to me, sometimes he doesn't. In training his returns are pretty spot on, but we get to a trial and on the way back he drops the dumbbell and goes to sniff or otherwise ignores me.

He ALWAYS sends, but the returns are beyond poor in anything but training.

Strauss is trained to track, and he's very good at it, but I'm NOT good at laying tracks. I've also never been able to train him how to properly indicate articles, and can't afford a 3 hour drive to track with a group.

I can only do a track if it's laid out on chalk lines or where I can see my own turns....I also get very bored waiting for tracks to age...

Maybe take Strauss to shows and just work on quiet and focus and not actually show?
Unentered dogs aren't allowed on the show grounds

I've always used collar corrections, but when he was younger they were used for everything. As I've moved to more clicker stuff, collar corrections are now issued only after the dog understands an exercise.
 

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By any chance do you subscribe to Front & Finish? There was an article in an issue about a year ago that covered this problem. It jumped out at me because I had the same issue minus the barking. The real issue is one of confidence and not having learned how to work through stress....trials, new locations and performance issues. It's a trap that positive trainers can fall into....me included. We 'help' too much during our training....trying to make it easier for them. All of our little 'helpers' are gone when it comes trial time. Related to this is the fear of making a mistake....molasess slow retrieves, lagging.
I changed my training tactics. I stopped ALL corrections even if it was the wrong article, wrong glove, wrong jump or no sit. We went to pure play. I had to remove all fear of making a mistake. It took 3 months to see the old energy/drive come back and we started qualifying again. Heeling improved from minus 7-3 but, is still obviously a weak point. The other approach of course is hard correction. That also takes the stress off....no indecision involved...do it or else....they usually choose to do it.
I suspect the barking is stress (performance) related.
Forgot to mention that I also took a tip of Sylvia Bishops...when something goes wrong...speed it up. She does everything at warp speed.
 

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By any chance do you subscribe to Front & Finish? There was an article in an issue about a year ago that covered this problem. It jumped out at me because I had the same issue minus the barking. The real issue is one of confidence and not having learned how to work through stress....trials, new locations and performance issues. It's a trap that positive trainers can fall into....me included. We 'help' too much during our training....trying to make it easier for them. All of our little 'helpers' are gone when it comes trial time. Related to this is the fear of making a mistake....molasess slow retrieves, lagging.
I changed my training tactics. I stopped ALL corrections even if it was the wrong article, wrong glove, wrong jump or no sit. We went to pure play. I had to remove all fear of making a mistake. It took 3 months to see the old energy/drive come back and we started qualifying again. Heeling improved from minus 7-3 but, is still obviously a weak point. The other approach of course is hard correction. That also takes the stress off....no indecision involved...do it or else....they usually choose to do it.
I suspect the barking is stress (performance) related.
Forgot to mention that I also took a tip of Sylvia Bishops...when something goes wrong...speed it up. She does everything at warp speed.
Good post, makes sense. Not being a overly positive type trainer I have always wondered what happens when push comes to shove and the dog who has never had any corrections all of a sudden is corrected.

I have always personally thought that there are many good trainers who handle dogs poorly and there are also good handlers who train poorly. Obviously the best is a good trainer who is also a good handler. Training a dog is hard work lot's of time involved etc. Handling a dog needs a person that does not spook under pressure, just has the ability to remain calm under stress. Amateur handlers sometimes just do not realize signals sent to dogs when handlers are nervous. Many times in bird dog trials an amateur would handle a professionally trained dog in amateur stakes. It would be interesting to see what Strauss would do with a different handler. That being said I do believe that a pressure release program would help a bunch. A step back before you can go forward.

This is not questioning Xeph's handling ability just throwing stuff out here.
 

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Xeph, just be happy. As you saw on Saturday.... It could be worse. :D:D:D

Also, about the tracking. There are whispers that tracking classes will be moving much much closer. Maybe to Packerland. I keep pressuring and there is more and more interest. Lets get it going so we can both be working on it.

Since Carsten is my first dog ever that barks at all without command, I can't say I have a lot of "stop the barking" experience.
 

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Tooney you always have the best advice. ;) This is what I have been doing with Mary for agility but I don't knwo why I have never applied it to obedience.
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)

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I'm just curious what does he do before you go to a show? Does he get to burn off steam? Is it the same routine as when you go to training class. I'm just wondering if there's something you do differently that tells him, okay we're working, do you act different? I do notice Strauss is quite different in class then at a show.

Hmm you know I think he may be a little bored. Five years of the same routine, I think you need to get really creative. Make him HAVE to look at you, keep him guessing. Like on the retrieve over the jump or retrieve on the flat when he gets the dumbell and starts returning have him sit or down. I bet that'll blow his mind for a bit. Same with heeling, change it up have him heel backwards, circle around you. I really think he's bored and knows everything he's supposed to do so he's getting a bit frustrated and is voicing it. I could be way off but it's worth a try...right. I mean you do have a Shepherd and he knows his stuff now have fun mixing it up not the same old same old.
 

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In reading all this I am sort of concluding that maybe.. just maybe.. obedience is NOT what this dog is designed to do. Now this is not to say you cannot work thru this and you cannot train this... and succeed.

In my experience with animals of all kinds I have found that animals that can work and be companions, like dogs and horses, often have a talent special to that individual. IF you can figure out what that is, and train and build on it, your animal will succeed at that one thing like nothing else.. be a real star. This is not to say other things cannot be trained and that the animal can only do one thing.

Here are a couple of examples:

Had an Appaloosa mare. Trained her in dressage and in hunter jumping (show ring hunter classes). She did it. Then one day we got invited to fox hunt. This App was, IMO, learning challenged.. but when she fox hunted she was perfect. Brave and smart. It was her "niche" and I have to say she saved me on some hairy fences with the hounds blown "gone away" like no other horse I ever had. She EXCELLED at this. She did other things, but as a hunter she was the best horse you could ever have under you.

Kazi, my last dog. I did obedience with her and she did it. However, when I introduced her to cows she was much happier.. and just excellant. However, when I sent her after my husband she showed REAL natural ability in Attack type abilities. She would run and hit him in the middle of the back (and sometimes knock him down) and then grab his arm and hang on (not hard.. all in play). It was amazing.

The dog I have now does do obedience much better than Kazi but she loves to herd sheep.

In reading this I think you will work Strauss thru these issues and he may work fine for you, but I think he doesn't really 'enjoy' what he is doing. I am not sure WHAT he would enjoy.. but I am wondering if he has a talent such as herding or schutzhund or some other ability that has not been tapped. Just my take on it. Not saying I am right at all.. just sort of reading this and reading the dog.

And remember.. I have 5 cats so what I am saying may just be pure insanity... :eek:
 

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Have you tried going back to just one step at a time?

Heel one step, mark/reward/release and thats it. Do that for a few days, then do 2 steps and then 3. Or does he start barking right off the bat? I was able to reteach Allie to heel better by just capturing it, she would occasionally look up at me as we were walking and I would click and treat her for it. Perhaps you could do that with him, and retrain for a quiet heel.
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
Have you tried going back to just one step at a time? Or does he start barking right off the bat?
I can get about 30 seconds worth of the above mentioned before he starts barking like "This is effing boring, seriously, get with it". He'll maintain focus and watch and follow me, but he barks while he does it. And if you see in the video, I do quarter turns. I get barks in both (Why aren't we moving? This is boring). Every step = 1 bark. I've tried doing one step stop and only marking and rewarding for the quiet ones but that can take 10 minutes or MORE for each one, and he loses interest/doesn't seem to be getting that I only reward when he's quiet. I'm getting great attention/focus in the eyes, but I'm not sure it's in the brain.

I KNOW he enjoys obedience in general....he's got great responses, happy wagging tail, ears up in practice....but the showing he tends to show with ears back unless we're in the sit...sometimes they're back then.

Here's some pictures from the match a year ago:




I can't tell if this last picture is "just waiting" or stress.


Ears back a lot of the time in one of the videos, lots of lip licking, and at around 1:00 what I believe to be a stress yawn....but I could be comepletely wrong.
 
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