Getting frustrated with off leash work for rally

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Augusta,- CGC, RN

Such a Good Dog!
Barked: Sat Feb 2, '13 3:28pm PST 
So Gus and I are trying to get ready for Rally -O advanced which is off leash. We went to a practice ring rental today to test in a more show like situation and I lost her a few times instead of the usually good heel in class (although she's been known to go off sniffing there too). And on one go, about half way through she started barking at me, like, "uh, where's the payoff?"

I know it's because I haven't correctly weaned her off the treats while working or done a good job of showing her that the pay off comes at the end when we go back to her crate.

Any tips on how to go about systematically weaning us-me off the treats as a crutch would be appreciated! ugh.

The one bright spot is she is at least relaxing in her crate quite well without barking now.

Awesome Dog
Barked: Sat Feb 2, '13 5:32pm PST 
Train clean. smile

If you're using a bait bag, stop. Bait bags show your dog that "rewards are available" and you can't use it in the ring. So you're not training your dog with the picture she's going to see once you step beyond the gating. Start putting treats in your pockets BEFORE you get her out so she cannot see you have food on you. When you reward 'out of nowhere,' your dog starts to believe you always have a reward on you even if they cannot see it. Also be careful that, if you run out, you reload when your dog is not watching.

You can train this way with toys too but it's a bit trickier since, once you've pulled the toy out, you can't put it back while your dog is watching. And there are only so many places you can hide a toy on your body though you can get creative!

Also, be sure to start rewarding intermittently. Vary it up. Sometimes reward after 1 behavior. Other times after two or four. Keep her guessing. Be a canine slot machine.

You can also reward with tactile reinforcements if she likes that. Really get her engaged with you with some nice butt scritches for a reward (or whatever kind of petting she enjoys). Risa is always more focused and engaged after I rub her down after a splendid performance. You can also use real-life rewards like sniffing or games of chase to reward the behaviors you like which can help keep her engaged. I liked to reward Risa with chase because 1) she LOVES to run 2) it keeps her engaged with me and 3) I can always bring ME in the ring so she never knows when a game of chase might erupt. smile
Augusta,- CGC, RN

Such a Good Dog!
Barked: Sat Feb 2, '13 6:07pm PST 
Thanks, Risa!

We haven't been using a bait bag for a while, but I guess I have made a production of getting the treats in class where she can see me, so I guess I should be more secretive instead of obvious.

eta: Also what kind of environments do you use to work under distraction, since you can't set up a show-like setting at the drop of a hat?

Edited by author Sat Feb 2, '13 6:12pm PST


Shayne CGC,- RL2

Shayne- Disc Doggin in- the 'Burgh!
Barked: Sat Feb 2, '13 7:04pm PST 
For the where to train, I, obviously, don't work the dogs OFF-LEASH there, but I do a lot of Rally at petsmart on saturday mornings smile SUPER DUPER busy, lots of distractions, loud w/ barking from the dogs in class/groomer/vet.... TONS of food/toy distractions smile

If we can work there well, we can work anywhere!

Off-leash distraction work is harder because of the limited places dogs can be off-leash. There is a clause in my local park's rules that says dogs in training can be off-leash. So i've got to parks, set up a course and worked my dogs off-leash there a few times--lots of distractions for sure!

Awesome Dog
Barked: Sat Feb 2, '13 7:15pm PST 
Ideally, fun runs and matches are the best for training in trial-like situations without actually trialing. Though they are not always easy to find. Barring that, I like Shayne's suggestion of Petsmart. Pet stores are about the closest thing you can get to training with people, food, and canine distractions. Even if you can't do it off-leash, you're still training her to work around the craziness you'll experience at a trial.

I have also worked outside dog parks and at pet fairs to build up her focus amid distractions. Classes are also good though they aren't quite as hectic and crazy as a trial. Honestly, I'm not sure anything replicates trial conditions perfectly. All we can do is try our best to make sure our dogs are exposed to the conditions they might see there .

Life is supposed- to be fun!
Barked: Sun Feb 3, '13 4:37pm PST 
Have a few treats in your pocket and a big payoff at the end of the course out of the ring. Choose where it is appropriate to reward (usually in a sit or down move.) Over the course of several training sessions, do a snakes and ladders approach to when you feed. When she's completed the entire sequence, then jackpot at the end.

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Awesome Dog
Barked: Sun Feb 3, '13 8:41pm PST 
I prefer to reward IN the ring even though I can't at a trial. After all, you want the fun stuff to be between the ring gates NOT outside of them. You could end up with a dog who's so excited to get that reward that they leave the ring to go get it even if you're not done with your performance.
Maci & Harley & Jigar

Golden butts
Barked: Mon Feb 4, '13 8:46am PST 
And that is what I got with Maci. She has decided that running around and out of the ring is what she wants to do because I did a good job on training no treats in the ring...they are all out of the ring.

In 3 trials, I have not even left the start sign shrug

Been told to work on her confidence, go back to basics like static attention and increase the distractions, noises, etc.