Saturday, April 2, 2011


I have been having a hard time getting Tibby to work with me.

This is what I asked Silvia and her reply

"How can I keep Tibby interested in working with me?
After one click/treat she will walk away. I took a private lesson this week and our instructor said when that happens I should turn my back and wait for her to find me and make eye contact.
I know Tibby is hungry, because she only eats what I hand feed her (doing tricks, recalls and exercises). It doesn’t seem to matter if she hasn’t eaten all day long and we are working in the boringest place (bathroom) she will look at the wall or sniff the floor and ignore me.
She’s 11 months old, so she should have some attention span.
What am I doing wrong?"

Silvia said, "
Often, the problem is people try too hard to get the dog’s attention. They will bring the best treats, make funny noises, trying really hard to keep the dog’s attention. I think many dogs will understand that as a pressure, as a request to work with you. To this request, they can say yes or no, depending on how good treats one has, how hard one tries and how they feel at that moment. That’s why I prefer to not even ask questions. I will wait for the puppy to come to me herself, asking for attention. If I feel like saying yes, I will do a little something with her. If her focus waders off, that’s perfectly o.k., no hard feelings, no pressure, but the option to interact with me and earn treats is over, sorry, but I have other things to do as wait for the dog to notice I exist. – About what your instructor said, only that I usually give them even longer break (impossible in normal class situation, but definitely possible in our class!), if just coming to you for eye contact is enough, then she can still choose to first check out something and then come back to work some more. As I always say: don’t ask the dog to work with you. Let the dog ask to work with you. Don’t push for more. Let the dog push for more."


Sagira said...

Sounds like good advice. Always amazes me how much some people know about dog behavior. :)

K-Koira said...

I think that is very much a Tibetan thing.

A game we play in basic flyball training is the "switch" game, where the goal is to teach the dog that whatever toy you have is the most exciting thing in the world. It might be a fun game to play to help Tibby pay some attention to you.

WonderPupsMom said...

Tibby looks great! Have you attended a 'Clicker' training class? I knew nothing about it and learned a ton when I actually attended a class. At that time, Gilda was not food motivated AT ALL. It took a little time working with her for her to realize that treats=reward. Later, I had to teach her that toys were good rewards too. Check out for some clicker resources. Karen Pryor is well known in the 'clicker world'! Stay patient. Tibby is a great dog with no resource guarding issues so you're getting a lot of things right!

WonderPupsMom said...

check this out too...

Catalina said...

K-koira- we play a game called 'live toy dead toy' sounds like it might be similar to 'switch'? Flyball looks like a fun sport - too bad we don't have any classes around here.

Dee- Thanks for the links :) No I haven't taken a clicker class. Everything I've learned is from online, books or videos. We don't have ANY training classes around here. The only class (25 miles away) is a very traditional choke chain class. The next training place that teaches agility, but not with a clicker is an hour and 40 mins away. I drive 3 hours one way once a month (hopefully) for private lessons at a place where they use clicker and teach agility.
That's why I'm taking Silvia's Trkman's class. I don't have to drive! And she is awesome!

Loretta Mueller said...

Catalina--where are you located? There HAVE to be other trainers near you? I HOPE anyway!!

Email me at fulltilt05 @ leave out spaces...I would love to help you find someone closer if I can! :)

Catalina said...

Thank you so much! I sent you an email.