Distracted?

Discussion in 'Obedience' started by CiElBie, May 6, 2016.

  1. CiElBie

    CiElBie Registered Users

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    Ok, so Sunni and I were doing really well. It was great, he could do everything perfectly, and we could have taken the test to go up to Gold.

    However, because it was difficult to my mum to take me to this particular training place, and it is much more convenient for this new place that is much closer, we decided to change.

    The only problem is, my dog Sunni gets insanely distracted in this new place. It is terrible, there are strangers walking in the room all the time to get cleaning supplies from closets, people nattering in the background, and annoying trainers.
    And he just can't focus on me at all.

    The funny thing is, he can do everything perfectly in the corridor RIGHT OUTSIDE THE ROOM! If I could take my test in the corridor, that would be great.

    It gets worse each week, and the trainers are getting on my nerves. I feel pressure to show them that Sunni can do the work, he knows everything, yet right now, we cannot do a single thing right. Even his waits.
    Then the instructors say things like "What do you want to accomplish from coming here?", and "Labradors can do it, I've seen Labs complete the gold", as though I can't do any of the work and am failing. He can do everything well!

    Then the stops. She told me today "you have to stop your dog when they take no more than 2 steps"
    What the hell? How on earth can you even do that? Yeah, its possible, but for gold class? Why? All we need to do is stop them in the middle of the recall, right?
    Sure, I can get my dog to walk forwards 2 strides from standing, but thats not a stop!

    Of course I trained it by throwing treats, but she seems to want me to get my dog away from me by throwing treats and then telling him to stop when he comes back to me.
    That would be fine, but my dog is not that type of dog that will have a treat thrown and will look at me after he has eaten it. We had this problem in agility, throw a treat on the floor, and he will look around for many others, and even going off to follow his nose to try and find them rather than look at me for the next one, which is beautifully annoying and I don't want to have that happen here in a room he is already very distracted in.


    Its really frustrating. I used to enjoy obedience, and now, its just embarrassment and failure, and I don't know how to get any form of control or concentration from my dog.
     
  2. Dexter

    Dexter Moderator Forum Supporter

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    Ah don't be down on yourself or Suni,you've done brilliantly.I can imagine you being frustrated though.
    This will be a proofing situation for you.The fact that Suni can concentrate in the corridor outside shows he can do the tasks in different places,it sounds like a very busy interesting room for him.How many sessions have you attended there? It may just be a matter of time...and it will be less and less interesting and distracting the more times you train there .....if it was me with Dexter I would be upping the value of his treats massively....would that help?Is there any possibility of you getting there a little earlier than the rest of the group and having a few minutes to let Suni get more accustomes to his surrounding before 'work' proper starts? To make you feel better I did an agility course once in a boarding room at a dog facility ....dogs in their kennels with their personal food and treats in open containers on the floor....seriously! I was so irritated,the Trainer thought I was irritated by Dexter and took him off me and gave ME a timeout.....honestly! I never went back because they just didn't have the facilities to do what they were taking my money for.
    Someone with more training experience will be able help with your stop whistle issue.Mine isn't very good but I did start using the method you are describing and as mentioned Dex is very food motivated so he looks instantly at me......could you keep doing the same but use a toy ...maybe a tennis ball ?
    It's hard when you've found somewhere you really got on well with but you haven't got control of the transport arrangements but I reckon you are committed enough to make this work.Take no notice of any negative comments .. of course labs can do it and you will definately do it ...don't give up on your agility either ...it might not be something you do now but in the future when Suni is older it may be some thing you can go back to.
    Best of Luck x
     
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  3. bbrown

    bbrown Moderator Forum Supporter

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    Oh I can feel your frustration!!!

    When you stop your dog on a recall it can be easier to stop them before they really get underway or when they're already slowing up in anticipation of stopping at you. Or stay nice and close to him so he takes a small number of paces and then stop.

    One of the potential problems with gundogs and treats on the floor is that they hunt on for food. They're bred to use their noses. If you can throw 'to' your dog you may get round that or use a toy/ball so they don't think there's anything else out there. You could also utilise a helper to keep your dog away from you rather than throw treats to get him away.

    At the end of the day it's not a race to gold you might want to take a deep breath and take the pressure off yourself and Sunni. Go right back to the beginning, it won't take you anywhere near as long to get through everything in this new environrment. Having some success will build your confidence in each other in this new place :)
     
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  4. Joy

    Joy Registered Users

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    I really understand how you feel as I've felt like that several times during the last 2 1/2 years. In fact just a few weeks ago I felt very fed up discovering that we have to do our gold test outside on a busy path. However once I'd calmed down I asked myself whether I just wanted a certificate or if I wanted a well-behaved dog - and of course then I saw how silly I was being. Like you I will need to spend longer to enable Molly to do the exercises in a more distracting place, and if we can't pass this time, well it will just take a bit longer. (The chairman of the dog club I attend is great as he's quite open about how it took him 3 years to get his dog through of gold.)

    As regards the stop, I didn't find throwing treats or a toy worked - treats made Molly go into snuffle mode and toys she brought straight to me. So I used a towel as a placeboard and taught her to stop on that, then folded it smaller, cut up a tiny square - and at long last we seem to have got it without the marker cloth - though we haven't yet done it on the dreaded path! You could try that.

    I sympathise with your frustration - I also need to be reminded to keep it all in proportion. ;)
     
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  5. Oberon

    Oberon Moderator Forum Supporter

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    For the stop on recall (we do a drop/down on recall) I marked (click or marker word) when he dropped then walked (actually ran) up to my dog and gave him the treat. Then I walked back to my original spot and continued the recall. Is that an option, rather than throwing?

    It sounds to me like you too are distracted in the new environment. It seems like it's taking up a portion of your concentration and attention (which I can definitely understand!). This will be affecting your dog. Your dog will be able to detect your frustration and tension. So part of the solution is for you to learn to mentally block out the distractions, relax and concentrate on your dog. If it's hard for you to do this then it's definitely also hard for your dog, but for both of you it's a matter of going back to easy things (even very basic things) and getting those right in the distracting environment, and then gradually asking more of both your selves. Just take it steady, slow, relax, make it fun and look at it as an opportunity to proof your training in a tough environment.

    I'm sure it's frustrating after things were so much better in the other environment. But you will get back to that standard again and all your cues and your dog's responses will end up even stronger.
     
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  6. CiElBie

    CiElBie Registered Users

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    Thanks everyone :)
    You've cheered me up!

    @Dexter
    I haven't been counting, its only been a couple, but each session gets progressively worse.
    I could up the value of the treats, that is an option, but I get the feeling his waits and stops may possibly get slightly worse as a result (though his concentration could get better). He is a very driven dog anyway, but perhaps upping the treat value could work, at least perhaps with relaxing me... I don't know, ill try it next time. Though I'll have to be careful not to drop any, or he will be hunting again!
    I already get there 25 mins before the session due to my sister going in a much earlier session with her dog and it saves on trips, and there we practise in the corridor and do well. I would love to be able to practise in a room during that time, but they are all being used. Maybe if there is a room that doesn't have anyone inside it I could ask to work in there before my session... If I could do that, that would be amazing! Not the same as a session, but it may help possibly.
    Sunni is super toy motivated, it would not be a good idea to bring toys into this haha! especially since the floor is tiled and he would just fly everywhere, and into other dogs! With food, he just hunts really.

    We love our agility, definitely not giving up on that any time soon :) We went to a show yesterday, and he got so many compliments, it was very flattering! (Mostly because he bombed around the course like a maddog, and people weren't expecting it from something other than a working sheepdog). Ill keep going to obedience until they kick me out lol, and I just have to hope I can make some good improvements.

    @bbrown
    I actually have a special word I taught him, which is the word "slowly". He basically walks very slowly towards me, like the word implies, so stopping shouldn't be a problem, he just creeps forwards once I give him the command, because.... I don't know!!!
    I really don't, its not very good, I wish he would just stop when I tell him to... He knows the command, just tries his luck a bit.
    Yup, that hunting! It always seems like he is the only dog to do this, and other dogs don't seem to have this problem, in both agility and obedience. When I say I don't want to do what the instructors say and throw treats, it makes me seem rude, but I just don't want that conversation being "he will keep sniffing for other treats if I throw one and wont look at me", with a response from the instructor telling me to do it anyway, causing more stress for me.
    I guess I just need to calm down and take it easy :) everyone is giving me great advice, I should just calm down and try my best!

    @Joy
    Hmm, using a towel or napkin as a placemat could work... though if I put treats on it it would be snuffle mode again, and im not sure of the process of weaning it out... I don't know... Maybe it could work though.

    @Oberon
    That's what I already do, but instead of stopping, my dog will almost stop, then see if he can get away with creeping up to me (which is really annoying :rolleyes:) I am not sure why, he knows the command, he just isn't in a hurry to obey it. I mean, the treats are over here in my hand after all lol

    Yeah, I guess it is up to me to block out the distractions, but its difficult :( I guess I just have to try my best and not get so worked up over it...
    Thanks for the motivation, i'll try my best! ^^
     
  7. bbrown

    bbrown Moderator Forum Supporter

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    It's no surprise he creeps towards you if you have all the good stuff ;)

    You probably need to find a way to reward him remotely either with food or toy if you're going to cure this. When he almost stops you want to reward him then and gradually up your croteria to get a full stop out of him. You could maybe try asking the instructor to reward your dog in position so he's not looking to you for all his rewards......

    Deep breaths and remember it's supposed to be fun :D
     
  8. Joy

    Joy Registered Users

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    I'm getting Molly to lie down rather than just stop to prevent the creeping forward. I didn't put treats on the mat, I started right next to it, told her to drop (lie down) and clicked and treated. She got the idea of going away from me to it very quickly (with a click and treat each time). Then I put the mat between me and her and practised that, then gradually made the mat smaller till it was only a couple of inches. Now she will do it without the mat, but haven't yet tried with the amount of distractions there will be on the test.
     
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  9. CiElBie

    CiElBie Registered Users

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    Today we had another lesson, and Sunni again got distracted. Everyone had their toys, their treats, their squeaks, and Sunni was launching off in random directions.
    The instructor saw this and said "First, we need to get his attention". And she failed utterly. So she had the idea of getting a squeaky toy from the toybox, and it worked perfectly. Other instructors have told me off for using toys, so I was excited to begin to use one.

    So we were waiting our go, and everyone was having theres. I was working with Sunni to keep his attention, as between our goes, that is what I do, and it works well.

    Then this lady with her Gordon Setter looks at me and says "you're distracting other people". And that got me so mad.

    During our goes I have the most distracted dog in the class, and have been fighting against it this whole time, working myself up and getting emotional over it. No one stops doing the things which is distracting him, no one cares about it.

    But the moment I get a toy and am begining to feel happy, to finally begin to make progress, and I was enjoying myself and about to have fun, I get this comment, and it ruined my entire session.

    The other dogs there do not launch themselves in the direction of the squeak, the dog having their go had finished and was also not reactive to toys, and then this woman strikes my nerve.
    I try so hard during obedience. I love it, and work hard at it, and when I fail, it really stresses me, and when I succeed I feel really happy.
    This type of comment just ruined it.

    The ironic thing is, after I stopped doing my attention training with Sunni, this other dog having their go was using their toy. Sunni began whining and launching towards this toy and I had nothing I was "allowed" to do to stop him, which caused another dog to start growling, and another dog to start barking, which all combined distracted the dog having their go much more than the toy would have.

    After this I got too emotional and left before I could cry, I just take this type of thing far too seriously. I can't help it.

    They distract me constantly during my go, they make me stressed and upset, but I get told of if I distract a dog that isn't getting distracted....

    If it was the person having their go, I wouldn't have cared, I wouldn't have felt anything. If someone mentioned it to me in a nice manner, I would probably have not cared either. But its the fact this woman said it as though I was the bane of the class, and as though I was an idiot, that it really got to me, because I have been so stressed these past few sessions and never said a thing, and then she accusingly tells me I am distracting others as though I am causing the whole class to fail and always have been that it just ruined what was about to be a great lesson.

    Gosh, I have taken it so seriously, but I can't help it. I take dog training very seriously and I cant stop myself from doing that.
     
  10. drjs@5

    drjs@5 Moderator Forum Supporter

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    Aw so sorry you have had a bad experience.
    Are you getting support from the Trainer?
    Sounds like you maybe need to try out some other training classes.....its supposed to be a positive experience and fun.....
    :(
     
  11. Oberon

    Oberon Moderator Forum Supporter

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    So sorry you have a thoughtless and rude person in your class.

    It's great that the instructor encouraged you to use a squeaky or tug toy - that sort of thing is very underused as a reward but it really works for many dogs.

    Why were you not allowed to use a toy to keep your dog's focus while another dog was doing an exercise? To my mind, you were doing an exercise too, which was keeping Sunni's focus on you, and so you needed to be able to use your rewards (treats, toys, pats...) during that time.

    There is no shame in leaving the class if it's not enjoyable..... Hope you are ok.
     

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