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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-02-2014, 10:13 AM Thread Starter
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Training Observation

I wasn't sure where to post this since it's not advice or specific to any training area. For those of you who train, and go to classes with your dogs, do you find that they act like totally different dogs at the training center then when your working at home? I know they are in a different environment so some differences should be expected but I finally confirmed this behavior this past week. I have been taking a Healing class with Tim, we're in week 4 of a 6 week class. He's been doing really well and I am really enjoying the change. I can be working with him at home on something that I feel needs reinforcement but I'll go to class and he will repeatedly do what's asked perfectly every time. I just think it's funny how he seems to know when it's time to work, like at class, but at home not so much. I'm not complaining, I just think it's funny to have a dog with "work ethics" so to speak. He must obviously learn something from working at home or he wouldn't follow through at class, right?

Mae is coming along as well in her training. We are working on the 3 D's, duration, distraction and distance which is way harder with her than Tim. I didn't realize how much Tim knows until I work with Mae, he's a genius! I am also working on juggling my time between the two with training which can be trying at times. I laugh when I'm working with Mae and Tim is in his crate following all my commands. Now that the weather has improved I have started working outside but I'm not as successful with Mae outside way to many distractions.

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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-02-2014, 02:01 PM
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Hi Jenn, it is absolutely typical that dogs work differently in some settings than in others. That's why it is so important to take training "on the road"... Practicing in stores, parking lots, parks, etc.

What IS different about Timmy, and Kodi too, is that they seem to work better away from home than they work at home. (For kodi, who has spent so much time at our training center, this has extend to him being better in novel environments than he is at home or the training center)

This can be a bit challenging during training and practice, but pays big time during trials, where Kodi tends to do better than in practice. (Which is opposite of most dogs!). I THINK what happens with dogs like Kodi and Timmy is that they are dogs who are very attached to and dependent on their owner/handlers, and in a less familiar setting, they turn to us even more than they do when they are relaxed at home.

I've taken to using Denise Fenzi's approach to work at home. I don't beg, pleade or cajole. At all. If Kodi won't work happily and with enthusiasm
I just say, in a cheery voice, "OK, we're not going to play right now" and I walk into the house (or out of the room, depending on where we are) I am cheerful about it, and don't show displeasure in any way. But I also don't give him any positive feedback. No treats, no play, no attention. He's on pleaasant ignore.

Later in the day, we try again. It's sort of like a more relaxed version of potty training. When he gives me attention IMMEDIATELY, I reward, reward, reward. In the beginning, it may be that that's all you can get. Quit before he loses attention again. I NEVER do more than 2-3 minutes of heeling practice at a time, and that length of time only if it is with full enthusiasm. (In the beginning, I would set a timer to remind myself)

It's really easy to make dogs hate heeling. The trick is to get them to think it's the most fun thing they could possibly do with you. If you don't already follow her, I strongly recommend that you go to Denise Fenzi's web site and sign up for her blog. It's free, and
full of REALLY useful information. She also runs an online training academy and has great online courses for very reasonable prices. I do a few of these each year, because you can work through them at your own speed, as you have time.


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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-02-2014, 03:49 PM
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I can add a little to that, Jen and Karen. Bailey was very much like Timmy and Kodi. He could be quite sensitive and was very, very tuned in and attached to me. Always wanted to please and always watched me with those adoring eyes as kodi does with you, Karen. When he was at classes, he was the star. Always did everything perfectly. At home, not so much! lol Tyler, on the other hand, had Mae's happy-go-lucky, dare devil attitude and when training was, "okay catch me if you can". "I don't want to do that now 'cause I found something more exciting". Boy, they were so different! Come to think of it, though, my first two girls were the exact same way, the sensitive one and the daredevil.


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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-02-2014, 07:18 PM
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Charlie is exactly the same. When he's in "training mode" at class he is near perfect on everything he knows. Not so much at home or out at the park.

Focus has become an issue again, so just like Karen, he's getting rewards for focus more than anything else at the moment. I even had to revert to rewarding "sit" because he seemed to forget what it meant for a while.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-03-2014, 09:02 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by krandall View Post
Hi Jenn, it is absolutely typical that dogs work differently in some settings than in others. That's why it is so important to take training "on the road"... Practicing in stores, parking lots, parks, etc.
We seem to be in constant "training mode" anywhere we are because of Mae. I've gone back to the very basics no matter where we are in terms of "sit" and "stay" and I think it's helped Tim too.

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What IS different about Timmy, and Kodi too, is that they seem to work better away from home than they work at home.
Timmy loves class he even knows when we're going because he sees my bag. I think he likes it because it's our "one on one" time, plus the treats aren't too bad either.

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I THINK what happens with dogs like Kodi and Timmy is that they are dogs who are very attached to and dependent on their owner/handlers, and in a less familiar setting, they turn to us even more than they do when they are relaxed at home.
He is so attentive to me anywhere anytime. He checks in with me constantly when we are just out for a walk and sometimes wakes up and looks for me and goes back to sleep. I think this is one of the reasons he's taken to heeling so easily, it just comes natural to him, he wants to be next to me. I'm in class with several different breeds, retrievers, collies, mixes and yes even a beagle needless to say Timmy wins the most attentive to handler award. LOL

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I've taken to using Denise Fenzi's approach to work at home. I don't beg, pleade or cajole. At all. If Kodi won't work happily and with enthusiasm I just say, in a cheery voice, "OK, we're not going to play right now" and I walk into the house (or out of the room, depending on where we are) I am cheerful about it, and don't show displeasure in any way. But I also don't give him any positive feedback. No treats, no play, no attention. He's on pleaasant ignore.
This sounds like me I have become very aware of "my" feelings during home training sessions. If I find myself getting frustrated and not having fun, like sessions become more of a chore, then I stop. Depending on time I'll try again later. Since I'm splitting time between two of them sometimes I feel obligated to get another session in with the other dog and I'm just not feeling it. If I'm not 100% with each dog it's just not worth it, they can read me like a book.

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I NEVER do more than 2-3 minutes of heeling practice at a time, and that length of time only if it is with full enthusiasm. (In the beginning, I would set a timer to remind myself)
I should set a timer that's a great idea. I start sessions with a list in my head on what I think we need to work on. Timmy's hardest part now is standing, not sitting, while in the place position (my left side). He just doesn't like to stand and thinks he can sit without being released. The action of walking next to me comes pretty easily to him, I'm the one who needs to practice with my pace like slowing down around the cones so he can keep up.


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I can add a little to that, Jen and Karen. Bailey was very much like Timmy and Kodi. He could be quite sensitive and was very, very tuned in and attached to me. Always wanted to please and always watched me with those adoring eyes as kodi does with you, Karen. When he was at classes, he was the star. Always did everything perfectly. At home, not so much! lol Tyler, on the other hand, had Mae's happy-go-lucky, dare devil attitude and when training was, "okay catch me if you can". "I don't want to do that now 'cause I found something more exciting". Boy, they were so different! Come to think of it, though, my first two girls were the exact same way, the sensitive one and the daredevil.
Our similarities are eerie. I say it makes like more exciting and keeps me on my toes.

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Focus has become an issue again, so just like Karen, he's getting rewards for focus more than anything else at the moment. I even had to revert to rewarding "sit" because he seemed to forget what it meant for a while.
One of the benefits of working with Mae is that it makes me go back to the basics constantly. I'm in awe to see how far Tim has come after working with Mae.

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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-03-2014, 05:23 PM
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Charlie is exactly the same. When he's in "training mode" at class he is near perfect on everything he knows. Not so much at home or out at the park.

Focus has become an issue again, so just like Karen, he's getting rewards for focus more than anything else at the moment. I even had to revert to rewarding "sit" because he seemed to forget what it meant for a while.
Just remember that it's not JUST about focus. If you want brilliant heeling, the dog has to not only be focused, but engaged and enthusiastic in his work. Obviously, you need a basic level of focus to do ANY work. But from then on, it's all about building and keeping enthusiasm, especially when working the precision bits of heeling.

Also, Charlie is still VERY young. I think it's very unusual to have relaible attention that is really proofed in most situations before a dog is at least 2-3 years old.


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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-03-2014, 06:43 PM
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Thanks Karen and yes you are right that he's still very young. I forget this sometimes because he's done so well with his training.

The focus I'm working on is to get him to respond to the command "look" (at me) and also check in a little more frequently, rather than nose to floor all the time we are out walking.

Most of the time he thinks all training is one big game but if any of his BFFs appear while we're in the park training he gets frustrated that he can't go play with them. So we end quickly on a command he knows then he gets his release word "free" and knows he can run off and play. Even before he hears "free" his little bottom is fidgeting madly with frustration - so cute to watch.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-03-2014, 06:56 PM
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We seem to be in constant "training mode" anywhere we are because of Mae. I've gone back to the very basics no matter where we are in terms of "sit" and "stay" and I think it's helped Tim too.
Ha! Kodi is working on utility level, and we are in constant training mode... I have found that dogs are no different than horses. You are always training them, for good or bad, whether you mean to or not. So IMO, it's better to be a "conscious trainer"

Another thing I didn't mention before, is that sometimes a little rivalry is a good thing. Once in a great while, if Kodi has been a little less tahn enthusiastic in agility, we've put him in his crate at the edge of the ring, and let him watch as I run my trainer's dog using HIS COOKIES!!! . It's amazing how willing he has been to run with me after that.

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He is so attentive to me anywhere anytime. He checks in with me constantly when we are just out for a walk and sometimes wakes up and looks for me and goes back to sleep. I think this is one of the reasons he's taken to heeling so easily, it just comes natural to him, he wants to be next to me. I'm in class with several different breeds, retrievers, collies, mixes and yes even a beagle needless to say Timmy wins the most attentive to handler award. LOL
There are different challenges with all kinds of temperaments. A lot of people have no trouble getting their dogs to wait for a recall, but then the dog either plods back without enthusiasm or runs off like a wild man, and doesn't ruturn to the handler when first learning formal recalls. With Kodi, I had to slowly work up to a full-length recall, because he didn't want to be that far from me, but once we conquered that, we have had NO problem with a fast, enthusiastic recall, becuase all he wants is to get back to me as fast as possible! The recall itself is the reward for having waited.

With heeling, some sensitive dogs get laggy, some enthusiastic dogs get forgey. (this is a problem I have with Kodi) some dogs blow their owners off and run around, while others run around from stress. Some sniff the floor hoping for food, others (like Kodi) do it as a displacement behavior when feeling stressed. Dogs often do a mixture of behaviors, and it can be challenging to figure out why, so we can fix the problem. ... And some heel beautifully for a while, then lose interest in it as time goes on.

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This sounds like me I have become very aware of "my" feelings during home training sessions. If I find myself getting frustrated and not having fun, like sessions become more of a chore, then I stop. Depending on time I'll try again later. Since I'm splitting time between two of them sometimes I feel obligated to get another session in with the other dog and I'm just not feeling it. If I'm not 100% with each dog it's just not worth it, they can read me like a book.
Yes, that can certainly happen too, and you are very wise to put it away for later if you are getting frustrated. But that's not quite what I was talking about. I was talking about stopping the moment you sense any lack of total committment to the game in the DOG. I think many people practice too long. (I know I did in the beginning) you can get more done in 2 or 3 2-5 minute sessions a day than you can with a half hour or even 15 consecutive minutes with each dog.

It gets a little easier to keep things fresh with dogs who are futher along in their training and know a lot of different exercises... Especially when you find some that the dog finds very self-rewarding. Then you can work a LITTLE longer at a stretch, because you can sprinkle those exercises the dog really likes in with the others. But even then, it's easy to over do it.

On days that Kodi doesn't have a class, we have one slightly longer session in the training room where we work on a lot of different things with TINY bits of heeling mixed in. But every day, except for trial days, we do little tiny bits of things, usually for no more than 30 seconds at a time, and often things I can do sitting at my desk. Or in the kitchen while I'm working in there, I'll get a handful of about 10 treats and do ten fronts or ten finishes or ten pivots. I've almost always got treats in my pocket for these little training moments.

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I should set a timer that's a great idea. I start sessions with a list in my head on what I think we need to work on. Timmy's hardest part now is standing, not sitting, while in the place position (my left side). He just doesn't like to stand and thinks he can sit without being released.
Why are you working on this? If your goal is competitive obedience and/or rally, you really want an automatic sit while heeling. While you CAN tell your dog ro sit in rally, you can't (without losing points, anyway) in obedience. The dog is supposed to sit every time the handler halts. The ONLY time that you ask for a stand without a sit first is the moving stand in rally and utility level obedience. And these are both very different from the dog's perspective, because the handler's feet never stop moving.

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The action of walking next to me comes pretty easily to him, I'm the one who needs to practice with my pace like slowing down around the cones so he can keep up.
Just remember that in both rally and obedience, adapting your speed to the dog will cost you points. If you do it consistently within an exercise in obedience, it can be an NQ. This is especially true on the figure 8. The whole purpose of the figure 8 in obedience is to show that the dog will adapt to the HANDLER, by speeding up on the outside turn and slowing down on the inside turn (because the dog has to cover more distance on the outside turn than they do on the inside) to remain in heel position while the handler walks at a steady pace.

Of course, it takes some practice to come up with a walking speed that is "brisk" but right for your dog. You can take faster or slower steps or take shorter or longer steps. You need to figure out what works best for your dog, then learn how to produce that consistently. My trainer has us practice with a metronome. (There are lots of free metronome apps that you can put on your phone). It's annoying as heck, but the best way I know to learn a consistent pace.

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One of the benefits of working with Mae is that it makes me go back to the basics constantly. I'm in awe to see how far Tim has come after working with Mae.
I can't wait to have a puppy to lwork with too. I keep thinking of things I'll do a bit differently with my "next" dog. But with the book project I'm working on, a new puppy can't happen before next year.


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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-03-2014, 10:12 PM
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Thanks Karen, as always such great training advice - is this what your book is about?

Charlie loves recall - he loves the game of racing back to me as fast as he can. In fact sometimes he's so over-enthusiastic that he doesn't stop in time and clatters into my shins

Gosh I hadn't realised the difference in requirement. Over here training is to a standing heel position and dogs should only sit on command. In fact one of the things our trainer talks about is the difficulty in un-training the sit which is over-used when people first get their puppy.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-04-2014, 11:27 AM
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Thanks Karen, as always such great training advice - is this what your book is about?

Charlie loves recall - he loves the game of racing back to me as fast as he can. In fact sometimes he's so over-enthusiastic that he doesn't stop in time and clatters into my shins

Gosh I hadn't realised the difference in requirement. Over here training is to a standing heel position and dogs should only sit on command. In fact one of the things our trainer talks about is the difficulty in un-training the sit which is over-used when people first get their puppy.
Ha! Kodi used to slam me on the recall too. That was something we had to really work on. Now he's funny. He knows he's not supposed to slam me, but he comes in so fast that he rears up like a little horse, then settles into his front!

I think it IS important to teach the stand from the beginning, or it gets much harder later. But here, it is ALWAYS (except for the moving stands) asked for from a sit. The reason I wouldn't actively teach a stand in position before the dog was REALLY confirmed in an automatic sit (based on US/Can obedience/rally rules) is that when a dog is stressed in competition, they often don't want to sit (makes them so vulnerable) so their automatic sit just "goes away". So you want the sit at heel to be very, VERY automatic. You don't want the dog to have to think about it at all when he's under pressure.


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