Friday, March 9, 2012

Tough Tunnels

I'm feeling pretty sucky about our tunnel/distance/discrimination skills training tonight. I asked Silvia what we could do to train this. Then I tried it and it went exactly the way it has always gone. Tibby decides which end she wants to go into and she ignores my directions. Or I have to go right up to the entrance I want her to take.

Silvia said, " What you would need is a better send to a tunnel – lesson 1, exercise 2… You can practice sends from the wrong (back) side and similar to teach her to search for an entry no metter what, even when it’s hidden some as in this situation with an A-frame.

Try a straight or only slightly curved tunnel, so that she can’t choose a wrong entry and you can focus on distance first! Try also strange approaches (tunnel curved away from you, tunnel hidden some behind weaves/see-saw etc.) and similar to have her search for it more on her own. There are so many things you need to try out in training first to be prepared for everything that it’s really not easy… But I’m sure it will just get easier&easier! You came a really long way already."

I said about our newest tunnel video (above), "What am I doing wrong here? Tibby really doesn’t like to be restrained, so I sometimes push back on her chest. She was maybe a little tired from our long hike yesterday (and getting a bath and full blowdry/groom).
It seems like I either have to go all the way up to the tunnel entrance with her or she will just decide that she is going to do the tunnel on her own.
Could this be because we have done a lot of shaping? So she is trying to offer something that she thinks is right?  

so that she can’t choose a wrong entry and you can focus on distance first!”
Oops missed that part – so I should just let her choose whatever end she wants?"

Silvia said, "No, it’s not shaping, I do tons of shaping with my puppies and they still understand the body language really well. I think it’s partly because you’re both still learning about the body language and because she doesn’t have a will to please that herding dogs poses. Try to use a longer side of a room so that you can set the entries even further apart and she doesn’t see a wrong one. So no, I didn’t mean letting her choose, I meant taking one option out of the picture."

I hope know that someday we will get this and I'll laugh at how worried I was about it. I mean I thought Tibby would NEVER be potty trained! But it's still tough that this is lesson ONE of the foundations class and we are taking the class for the THIRD time and we still don't have it.


Diana said...

When she went into the right side of the tunnel and you didnt want her to, she was on your right side. I know you had your left hand up but if she is on your right side, youve probably taught her not to cross in front of you or behind you, so she is doing the correct thing. Did you use tunnels when teaching running contacts, that really helped build sends to the tunnels with my dog.

Jenn said...

Also you might want to 'help' her a little - stop well back as you have been, but watch where your shoulders/feet are pointing - focus your body on the tunnel entrance you want her to take.

At the distance you are working, it only needs to be a slight turn to the right or left - think of it like a being a pointer for her.

Newdrim said...

I feel for you... I also have a dog that doesn't have a will to please anyone else but himself. But the good thing is that he REALLY wants to please himself, so I can use that :)

Don't feel bad about yourself. You are learning a lot of things all at once:
- how to motivate a hard-to-motivate-dog
- how to teach agility skills to a dog
- how to handle agility courses - what Silvia called "body language" (this is the one that was source of most of the trouble in this video)

You are doing great at prioritizing - fun comes first, behaviors come second. The only thing that I might change is to devote more time on getting Tibby crazy. I used to run up and down the apartment with toys in my hands until Ruby's eyes sparkled with enthusiasm and he looked like he was smiling (the same look they have when playing with other dogs). Then we played. It was exhausting, but so worth it. I did this every day for months and eventually I started doing it before training him.
I also put it on cue. I ask him "Are you ready?" and he jumps at me and barks. Barking is a good response in this instance because it heightens dogs arousal. No bark - I walk away and we don't play (that happens very rarely now). If he does bark we do the aforementioned crazy running, then we train. In this way every time we train his cue to get crazy gets more conditioning.

Here is the first agility-related video of Ruby that I could find: We are learning Cik&Cap. Do you see his smile? That's from all the craziness with frisbees before we started :) I can spot a lot of technical mistakes now, so don't copy any ideas on Cik&Cap from this vid :)
If you're curious there are quite a few videos of Ruby doing whole courses on my channel page: http:\\\newdrim

For now since Tibby doesn't have distance skills I would reward her for "doing her own thing" if that means going through a tunnel and looking for a reward. I wouldn't reward a Border Collie for this, but I would certainly have a party with Tibby :) I would want her to be bold and happy about taking far away obstacles.

An exception to this: I wouldn't reward going behind me to the right if I'm holding out my left arm AND she starts on the left (see the paragraph that talks about 0:50).

At 0:28 I would look at Tibby the whole time over my left arm, calling her to the left side when I would notice that she is crossing behind me. When she would come to my left I would reward immediately. I would turn to the left if necessary to help her choose correct side.
How is her recall around distractions? Can she do Cookies in the bowl from Recallers? What happened if you put her in a sit, put the bowl on your right side and call her over your left shoulder? Would she go for the bowl? If this is the problem you can work it out away from tunnels, which is great because she won't have bad experiences with agility equipment.

At 0:50 she is on your right and you're moving towards the tunnel... she is doing the only logical thing. If I wanted to get her in the left entrance I would call her to my RIGHT hand and make sure she looks at me at least briefly, take her to the left entrance and only say tunnel when we're really near. Even with a seasoned agility dog a handler must call their name before pointing out the entrance in this situation.

I think she did really good at 1:04! She could have easily crossed behind you if she wanted to.

- Andreja