It's OK to go right back to square one

Discussion in 'Labrador Training' started by snowbunny, Jul 28, 2015.

  1. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2014
    Messages:
    14,807
    Location:
    Andorra and Spain
    Willow has discovered a font in the village. It's a big stone water trough that spring water constantly pours into. We've walked past it probably three times a week since we've had her, but a couple of weekends ago, we were walking with a friend's GR who loves to climb into it and Willow realised it wasn't just a noisy thing - it was an amazing game, too! Now, whenever we're anywhere near it, she starts to pull towards it and absolutely will not walk nicely past.
    The last couple of times, I ended up nearly tearing my hair out with stop/starting. Every single step I took forwards, she pulled, with no opportunity to praise a nice walk. It was a nightmare. The font is too motivating for her to concentrate even a little bit.

    Yesterday, at the end of our evening walk, we took a path that ended up on the road just below it. Of course, she started to pull. I again struggled with the stop/start for a while. Then I had an epiphany. It's one I've had before, but it often eludes me. Here it is:

    In these situations, it is absolutely fine to go back to square one of your training methods.

    I realised I was so hung up with the fact that she can walk really nicely on the lead, even with some pretty big distractions these days, that I failed to step back and think about the enormity of this distraction. She was so focussed on getting to it, that she was even worse than when she had a lead on for the very first time. So, why shouldn't I treat it as if she had never had a lead on in her life?

    We all know that bribery is bad and that we should fade out a lure as soon as possible. I'd already done this months ago, and so had a mental block about going back. As soon as I gave myself that mental distance, though, I realised that this was exactly what I needed to do. Square one. Not square two, trying to stream treats. That doesn't work when the behaviour is non-existent. Square one.

    So, I got a piece of chicken out of my pouch and waved it in front of her nose. Amazingly (not really), she walked forwards two steps at my side. She got the treat. We did this again. Again, success. A couple more goes and then I switched to the lure with one hand, but treating from the other hand. Then removed the lure. You know the procedure. It's exactly what you do when training any new behaviour. In less than three minutes, we were walking backwards and forwards in front of the font, streaming treats with her attention entirely on me. Then, she got to jump in and have her play.

    This afternoon, we'll go and give it another go.

    I just wanted to share because I'm sure that there are other people out there that have times when they get frustrated and, despite knowing that they need to go back a bit, are hesitant to go all the way back to the beginning of the training procedure. It works, though, and helps you keep your hair right where it belongs - still attached to your head.
     
  2. Boogie

    Boogie Moderator

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2014
    Messages:
    6,995
    It just shows how they influence each other too!

    Tatze is a marvellous big sister to Twiglet, but her own behaviour has regressed somewhat. Especially when it comes to greeting visitors, we are back to putting the lead on her!

    You are right - going back to square on does no harm whatever :)
     
    lynnew and Newbie Lab Owner like this.
  3. MaccieD

    MaccieD Guest

    Nothing wrong in going back to square 1. I'm sure our dogs progress faster when there is a problem as they understand what we want more having been through the process before - do something and get a treat, do something and get a treat. It's us that have the hang-ups about going back to basics, not our dogs :D
     
    BevE and Newbie Lab Owner like this.
  4. Pilatelover

    Pilatelover Supporting Member Forum Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2015
    Messages:
    1,799
    Location:
    Coventry
    Thanks for sharing this topic, I've read it with such interest. It was perfect timing, today Mabel has been unbearable at the pub. It was if she was possessed by the devil. I know it's because she can't understand why she is still on the lead. She was so bad I had to put my sunglasses on as I was about to cry. Sometimes going back to stage one is the answer and there is really nothing wrong with it after all we are talking about puppies. Your two are 11 months and my girl is 8 months. I've just realised that actually that was her only fault today. Two snarling staffies no reaction in fact she has never reacted when another dog barks or snarls at her she just ignores them. That's perfect for me. Sometimes taking that step back mentally is just what's needed.
    Let us know how you get on, your two are gorgeous .
     
    lynnew and Newbie Lab Owner like this.
  5. Mollly

    Mollly Registered Users

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2013
    Messages:
    1,862
    Location:
    Thames Valley
    I have gone back to basics several times. It is almost like they need to relearn things at different stages of their development.

    It is disheartening. I think that what you taught them is always there in the back of their furry little brains. Molly always got back up to speed fairly quickly after a bit of back to basics.

    Your pups are going through their teenage, Fiona. Human and canine teenagers are a pain and I am a veteran of 3 humans (and at times I doubted that) and 2 canines.
     
    lynnew and Newbie Lab Owner like this.
  6. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2014
    Messages:
    14,807
    Location:
    Andorra and Spain
    Hehe, oh, I know they're teenagers! Although I do feel I'm being let off very lightly compared to some (famous last words that JulieT will remind me of at some point).

    It was gratifying to see that, when I took the right approach, the results came fast because she already had the knowledge in her head, it just needed bringing to the fore, and that's what the tactic of going back to the start did really well.

    It just goes to show, that we need training at least as much as our furry friends :)
     
    lynnew and Newbie Lab Owner like this.
  7. Naya

    Naya Supporting Member Forum Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2013
    Messages:
    8,640
    Location:
    Bristol, UK
    I went back to basics with Harley today and she is 2 next week! She decided to pull like a steam train to get to the field. I went back to stopping and waiting until she sat by my side then taking a few steps forward. It took 10 minutes to do a usual 2 minute walk, but we got there. I kept her on lead for a few minutes in the field and she walked perfectly right by my side . It really does take consistent training, I don't think it ever stops.
     
    Jenn K. and Newbie Lab Owner like this.
  8. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2014
    Messages:
    14,807
    Location:
    Andorra and Spain
    I've just been back to the font - we didn't make it there yesterday - and Willow was a lot better. We still needed to do some work, but she didn't need to go back to the lure, just streaming to start with and gradually slowing it down. To be honest, she didn't seem overly interested when she did get in the water today!
     
    Newbie Lab Owner likes this.
  9. Lucy

    Lucy Administrator Forum Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2013
    Messages:
    502
    What a great post, thanks Fiona! It's something we all need to reminded of once in a while.

    Really glad to hear that Willow is doing better thanks to your sensible, positive approach :)
     
    lynnew and Newbie Lab Owner like this.
  10. Pedro 75

    Pedro 75 Registered Users

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2015
    Messages:
    9
    As I am just about to set out on the journey with a new pup I will keep this thought in the back of my mind as I am sure I will need to follow your example at sometime!
     
    Newbie Lab Owner likes this.
  11. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2014
    Messages:
    14,807
    Location:
    Andorra and Spain
    It's still a challenge for her to walk past the font, even though the water in it is freezing cold now and, once she jumps up onto it, she looks disgusted that it's too cold to go in and even to drink. Still, she remembers how exciting it should be, and that remains a huge distraction to her. By now, this means that, when we walk past it, she looks up at me, completely focussed on me, with big, pleading eyes. It's hard to say no to that! I ask for a few behaviours and then release her to play. It's certainly not perfect, because she's nowhere near "giving it up", but I can cope with where we are for now.
     
    Newbie Lab Owner likes this.
  12. Brittany Samaniego

    Brittany Samaniego Registered Users

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2016
    Messages:
    2
    thanks for sharing this post.....
     
  13. Newbie Lab Owner

    Newbie Lab Owner Registered Users

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2015
    Messages:
    1,487
    Location:
    UK
    I have just re-read this post and I'm grateful that you wrote it. I'm taking Dexter right back to basics as the last couple of weeks his recall away from other dogs or balls has gone from 99.5% to almost zero :mad:.

    Friday and today were horrendous :rolleyes::rolleyes::oops:.

    I've been questioning myself as to wether I'd stepped back far enough, I had not. I went to steam treating but only with kibble :rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes: at first. Then remembered chicken and had that with me. Today I have bought prawns and smoked salmon, so why oh why did I forget to take some with me on our walk?????:eek:.

    I did manage to get out of the field when a man turned up with his Alsatian and a ball chucker but boy was it hard work. My treat bag got snapped off my bum bag, my shoulders were nearly ripped from their sockets, my 8 month old puppy was completely beyond his limits. On the plus side, I did manage to retrieve my treat bag from the ground and the spilt treats (Dexter was trying to get them too, which for a few seconds took his mind off the ball chucker), then I tried getting him under control but no, his interest was back on the ball chucker which the man had just put into action. I noticed an exit close to us so I just had to grab his harness to help lead him out and away, not something I'd ever done before and didn't like doing it today but it was so muddy and slippery at this exit I was at risk of ending on my behind and Dexter being a sled dog :mad:.
    He's never been over threshold like this before, totally unable to do anything with him. As soon as I got him out of sight of the distraction he calmed down and I got him back on focus.

    Note to self, remember what you're training and where you are in that training and never never forget some high value treats!!!!! :oops:

    I'll save my questions for another thread, when I can think about how to word them.
     
    lynnew likes this.
  14. MaccieD

    MaccieD Guest

    Sorry to hear that recall problems have raised their ugly little head :(; unfortunately when a dog is over his limit there isn't always a lot you can do apart from hold on and weather the storm. I think we've all been there at some point. The main thing is you've identified the problem so you can work on an action plan to get through it and back go brilliant recall :)
     
    Newbie Lab Owner likes this.
  15. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2013
    Messages:
    22,884
    There was something I read recently (in one of Pippa's articles) - it was "take control of what happens to your dog".

    I realise that might sound a bit blunt, sorry, but there is a useful thing in this. If you have things to work on, then working on them on walks when strange people arrive with strange things, and strange dogs - all of which may 'happen' to your dog - that makes life very difficult.

    When you are working on something, you need to go out into a controlled environment, with the right treats, and with a plan.

    For me, this involved 'stopping walking the dog'. By that it didn't mean stop exercising my dog, or stopping spending time outside with him. It didn't even mean him stopping meeting other dogs. But it meant I stopped 'just going for walk'. I also couldn't find a totally controlled environment, but I did my best...

    I think this was really between the ages of 8 months to about 2 years, with Charlie (but with a long break from any form of training in the middle).
     
    Newbie Lab Owner likes this.
  16. Newbie Lab Owner

    Newbie Lab Owner Registered Users

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2015
    Messages:
    1,487
    Location:
    UK
    Thank you @MaccieD, I suppose if I'd got Dexter's ball out of my pocket I may have got his attention but I thought it would be unfair as I wouldn't have been able to then let him have it to play with as I knew he would then still have tried dam hard to get to join in the other dogs game and backfired on me. If only they'd turned up one minute later or not thrown that ball :rolleyes: but at least I know what I'm dealing with. It's going to be hard work, I'm sure.
     
  17. charlie

    charlie Registered Users

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2012
    Messages:
    11,363
    Location:
    Hampshire, UK
    Donna, think we have all been there without exception. When we got Charlie as a rescue I was lucky enough to be able to use a neighbours paddock to do lots of training as it was totally enclosed and I had total control so I practised recall, long sits/wait, stop whistle, follow me, retrieving, heel work he also got to go off lead to stretch his long legs and I got to play games with him which was lovely :) This worked so well to get my training under way with Charlie but he was still walked on lead every day. Unfortunately the lady has moved but I was so grateful for the use of it for almost 2 years, it saved my sanity or what was left of it :rolleyes:

    Is there anyone you know with a field/paddock that you could maybe use with less distractions to do some training with Dexter? difficult I know.
     
    Newbie Lab Owner likes this.
  18. Newbie Lab Owner

    Newbie Lab Owner Registered Users

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2015
    Messages:
    1,487
    Location:
    UK
    Yes it's really hard to find a controlled environment to set up scenarios and we also do not have that many places where I live for off lead times.

    My plan today was his lead walking and if the park was empty to let him have some off lead time with just me and his ball. He was brilliant the other day at this park, staying whilst I placed the ball before going back and releasing him from his stay to go and get it. Mind you the weather was horrid that day and it was quiet and a school day. I had taken the ball chucker but didn't use it and we had a good training session.

    When you say you had a break from training in the middle, was that because of Charlie's surgery or do I need to take a break from training?
     
  19. Newbie Lab Owner

    Newbie Lab Owner Registered Users

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2015
    Messages:
    1,487
    Location:
    UK
    @charlie, I'm going to do some hard searching to see if I can find somewhere like you mention. Until the last 2 maybe 3 weeks, Dexter was brilliant with recall, bringing the ball back and everything we had learnt together, then wam, someone switched my pup o_O.

    I think if I can hire an enclosed paddock and work 1-2-1 with him and then ask my friend and her lab if she would like to join us so that we can work undisturbed by the public together, it would help us both out.

    I have another friend with a calm dog but couldn't ask them as they train totally with aversive methods :eek:. I know what advise they'd give me :rolleyes:
     
  20. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2013
    Messages:
    22,884
    My Charlie? I had a long break (several, actually) because of surgery, I wouldn't have stopped training otherwise.

    In London, I have no space free from other dog walkers. So I used to go super early and super late to the off lead places I had access to. Later, I managed to find a private playing field, generally dogs banned, where I negotiated for a small payment to use the land at the side of the pitch. I had to promise my dog would never have a poo and I'd rinse off the grass if he even had a pee....:rolleyes:
     
    Newbie Lab Owner likes this.

Share This Page