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Thanks for indulging my frequent posts here... One big thing I am feeling an urgent need to begin working on is the "off switch" for my 4 mo. old BC. She is so active now, and when play stops she often will trot around the yard for a long while looking for...well, I have no idea what she's looking for. I want to begin to work on the long stay as a means of training in that sense that "play is over, it's time to settle down" I am looking for insight on this because the pup does not enjoy the idea right now. I will call her over and get her to lay down with a "stay" which I might repeat every 30 seconds. Often she will look up at me for a minute and then decide she's through with this task. I have tried a stern "ahhh" as she gets up, or even a body block but she chooses to just ignore me.

 

How are you all training this into you pups? Am I letting her off the hook to easily when she gets up? Is this just too early to expect this kind of behavior out of a pup? I would love some insight on where to go from here. Keep in mind, I do not expect her to be able to do a long stay, but I would love to see progress. Thanks!!

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Are you rewarding her for staying put, even if it's only for a few seconds? By this I mean when she's in the down position, you should be dropping treats right between her legs (far enough back so she doesn't have to lean forward or break her down to reach them) every few seconds at first, gradually lengthening the time in between rewards. If she breaks, take her back to wherever you started from and begin again.

 

These sessions shouldn't be very long at this point, and you can't expect her to stay for too long either at this age. Once she's successfully stayed for 15 seconds to start, release her. Try for 20 seconds after a few successful 15 second stays. Then 25, and so on. Make sure she's solid before upping the criterion.

 

Have fun. She's very young yest, but she'll get there.

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Are you rewarding her for staying put, even if it's only for a few seconds? By this I mean when she's in the down position, you should be dropping treats right between her legs (far enough back so she doesn't have to lean forward or break her down to reach them) every few seconds at first, gradually lengthening the time in between rewards. If she breaks, take her back to wherever you started from and begin again.

 

These sessions shouldn't be very long at this point, and you can't expect her to stay for too long either at this age. Once she's successfully stayed for 15 seconds to start, release her. Try for 20 seconds after a few successful 15 second stays. Then 25, and so on. Make sure she's solid before upping the criterion.

 

Have fun. She's very young yest, but she'll get there.

The trick is getting her back to where she was. When she gets up, that's it in her mind. I see no value in dragging her back to a down position when she's just loathing the whole exercise. Your point about praising her more frequently is a great reminder! I will work on that.

 

GentleLake, I have been trying to work on that. The other night she was sleeping soundly next to my foot in the evening and I read another post here about that and thought "I never do that!" so I reached down and gave her a gentle pet or to and that woke her up and she went into terror mode for about an hour... No fun! That was negative reinforcement for me to ever touch her when she's resting like that. =)

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I do not use a stay for an off switch. Semantics I am sure. A long down stay is an exercise. As such it is an obedience command. That to my use requires the dog to stay actively engaged as I don't want them accidentally breaking it. So as Gentle Lake already mentioned, short time, on lead, more space between rewards etc.

And if they break, putting them back into the same place shows a picture that is easier to understand to a young dog that is still learning!

And once the pup knows, then there is consequences in getting up.

 

I would take a chair, a book, a clicker and a box of treats. Do your normal activities. Stop. While on leash, sit down and limit the pups movement to the end of the lead (I choose a longer line but not too long either). At some point the pup is going to check in with you, eye contact or a lick, click and treat. When the pup looks for you more and more, with hold the reward and wait for another offer. A sit, a down, something quiet. Click treat. At some point the pup will lie down as nothing else is going on. Super reward. I would make sure not to command the dog to settle yet but to wait him out. Later, add a separate command. Like settle, chill, chillax....whatever. No formal down needed.

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I do not use a stay for an off switch. Semantics I am sure. A long down stay is an exercise. As such it is an obedience command. That to my use requires the dog to stay actively engaged as I don't want them accidentally breaking it. So as Gentle Lake already mentioned, short time, on lead, more space between rewards etc.

And if they break, putting them back into the same place shows a picture that is easier to understand to a young dog that is still learning!

And once the pup knows, then there is consequences in getting up.

 

I would take a chair, a book, a clicker and a box of treats. Do your normal activities. Stop. While on leash, sit down and limit the pups movement to the end of the lead (I choose a longer line but not too long either). At some point the pup is going to check in with you, eye contact or a lick, click and treat. When the pup looks for you more and more, with hold the reward and wait for another offer. A sit, a down, something quiet. Click treat. At some point the pup will lie down as nothing else is going on. Super reward. I would make sure not to command the dog to settle yet but to wait him out. Later, add a separate command. Like settle, chill, chillax....whatever. No formal down needed.

Ah, I love this! How I failed to consider using the leash is beyond me. I'll try it tonight!

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Oh, I just remembered.....if your pup is like mine...there will be some attempts at gnawing on the pantlegs and stuff...

Mine got downright evil for a bit as she simply did not appreciate me having the audacity to not play with her...now!!!! <3

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The "off switch" isn't about training a single behavior, but about how you raise a pup and your expectations. It's about teaching a dog when it's appropriate to let loose and be goofy vs when you need to them to be quiet and respectful.

 

time outs in the crate

sleeping quietly at your feet at a trial

maintaining a down stay

being polite when greeting new dogs and people

go to bed command

self control

relaxing in your arms for nail trims, being brushed, etc

that'll do

outside is for wrestling, running, fetching while inside is for chewing bones, cuddling, sleeping

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The trick is getting her back to where she was. When she gets up, that's it in her mind. I see no value in dragging her back to a down position when she's just loathing the whole exercise.

With the caveat that she is 4 months old, and I would not expect such a young puppy do do a very long down, if you want her to stay then that is exactly what you need to do, If she is loathing the exercise you need to rethink how you are training it. Putting her back (quietly, without anger) is how she learns what stay is. Do I give puppies treats for staying? Yes, I do, But if she gets up you must put her back.

 

Also remember to add only 1 element of difficulty at a time when training. With stays these are the 3 D's: distance, duration and distraction. If you want her to stay at a distance, walk away and return quickly to reward (no duration) and don't add too much distraction. If you want her to stay in a distracting place, stay close by and keep them short. Working on holding a long stay? Start where its quiet and stay close.

 

Once she starts getting the idea then you start doing two things at once.

entleLake, I have been trying to work on that. The other night she was sleeping soundly next to my foot in the evening and I read another post here about that and thought "I never do that!" so I reached down and gave her a gentle pet or to and that woke her up and she went into terror mode for about an hour... No fun! That was negative reinforcement for me to ever touch her when she's resting like that. =)

 

Shes 4 months old, "terror mode" is part of the deal. :)

 

I teach an 'off switch' by not really training anything. I do 2 things that help, though:

 

I don't give in to demand behaviors and with puppies - if I know they have had their needs met (exercise, potty, food, attention) and they paw and pester me with toys etc. I ignore them.

 

Also, as puppies and young/new dogs they get a lot of quiet time in some degree of confinement (crate, x pen, tether nearby) with a chewie and they get ignored for a while (I know they are empty and won't need to potty and they have had attention and exercise) while I do other things. Eventually they just settle on their own when I get busy. Not very helpful maybe...

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To me, 'stay' means stay still in the position you are in, whatever that may be. No taking two steps towards me, no crawling, no changing position. A 'stay' requires focus. You have been given good advice on teaching stay. Remember to gradually increase your duration (over several sessions). Also remember that your pup is only 4 months old. 30 seconds is a LONG time when you are young.

 

As others have said, I would not consider a long stay an 'off switch'. As Liz P said, its more about your expectations and the dog knowing when to be calm. I don't have a specific cue for the off switch. In the house, I say 'go lay down'. That means find a spot, get comfortable and lie down. No more playing, no pacing, no wandering. Just chill (and leave me alone).

 

To end a training session or play time, I say 'all done' (my version of 'that'll do'). For me, this just means 'We're done. Go do what you want.' Not so much an off switch as just a release. If we're playing, Meg will often continue playing, just on her own, without involving me. After a training session, she usually finds a quiet spot to contemplate.

 

I don't use the crate at home anymore, but Meg knows in class or at agility trials, being in the crate means she quietly waits her turn. No barking, whining, digging at the crate, spinning, etc. Just chill and wait.

 

Much like children have to be taught that there is a time to go crazy and a time to be calm and quiet, so do dogs.

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I'm still trying to figure out the off switch. I've googled for it, read my books, and I haven't figured out a way to learn it, to teach it.

I /have/ read about playing with the pup just to the point of where they lose concentration, then stopping the game until they chill out, even for a second, then to mark that behavior and then continue the game. I /think/ this is part of the "off switch game." Not sure.

When I stop play like that he just turns into a thug and a bully and I end up putting his toys away. :/

By thug/bully, I mean that he jumps on me, snaps at the toy, circles me to nip-- no settling at all. Then it's "TOO BAD" and I put the toys away. Maybe soon he'll figure it out. :)

Good luck to you too.

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I'm still trying to figure out the off switch. I've googled for it, read my books, and I haven't figured out a way to learn it, to teach it.

I /have/ read about playing with the pup just to the point of where they lose concentration, then stopping the game until they chill out, even for a second, then to mark that behavior and then continue the game. I /think/ this is part of the "off switch game." Not sure.

When I stop play like that he just turns into a thug and a bully and I end up putting his toys away. :/

By thug/bully, I mean that he jumps on me, snaps at the toy, circles me to nip-- no settling at all. Then it's "TOO BAD" and I put the toys away. Maybe soon he'll figure it out. :)

Good luck to you too.

 

Crate time. Or ex pen. Or outside.

 

But if he's being a snot when you end his play, time him out. Not just put his toys away - put him away.

 

Don't wait for him to figure it out. Start establishing boundaries now. Best of luck! :)

 

~ Gloria

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Totally agree with Gloria's advice above. And I also second the comments that the off switch is trained through expectations and "house rules" rather than training a specific behavior. I credit finding the right routine of free time, play time, training time and down time with helping Quinn learn a fabulous off switch (though not at 4 months old!). Since I work all day, he spent a lot of quiet time in his crate as a puppy and youngster and I think that also helped him learn to be comfortable chilling out.

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I also agree with putting him up by the way.

In my view "teaching" him an off switch while in your presence is an almost separate additional task. One that is a bit tough as your simple being there could be a stimulation.

To me though, the confines of a crate or the limits of a lead are both boundaries that are legit. So that he learns to essentially match your energy.

But the most important thing that has been said, is that it is about your expectations. How you go about communicating your expectations to your baby is the trick and often depends on lives circumstances and experiences.

I have two pups that are two months apart in age. Both raised with crates. One with significantly more shaping (more than I ever did and I am so thrilled with her <3 ). Totally different breeding and temperaments. Both very drivey and intense though. One can quietly sit with me off lead while I teach riding lessons. The other, let's just say, not a good idea! In my book this goes toward the very obvious fact that different dog certainly can require different approaches.

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Definitely use "alternative" means of occupying. Some dogs (mine included) view a long down stay as an obedience exercise; they focus on me, b/c that is what they are trained to do when we are working! And food itself is very arousing for the older one, so she doesn't really relax if it is around (unless I tell her she isn't getting any, and then she takes herself off and lies down, because she knows I will not renig). I give a pup ample opportunity to occupy herself: bones, chewies, antlers everywhere. Toys too, because i want them to learn that toys can be out and that doesn't mean playtime (when I say, "let's play" that means playtime). They have beds to rest on, and are confined or tethered if they are too young or too busy to find inappropriate items to chew. Then they are given a cue that means the human is done engaging them ("all done"), and that is it, on my part. Toys can get shoved in my lap (and at first, they do), I can get nudged or nibbled on, and it all gets ignored (unless it is too annoying, and then they get confined in a kennel). Normal dogs figure out pretty fast that bones are more exciting than the boring human, and most fall asleep after awhile (that comes quicker and quicker as they get older).

With the caveat that she is 4 months old, and I would not expect such a young puppy do do a very long down, if you want her to stay then that is exactly what you need to do, If she is loathing the exercise you need to rethink how you are training it. Putting her back (quietly, without anger) is how she learns what stay is. Do I give puppies treats for staying? Yes, I do, But if she gets up you must put her back.

 

Also remember to add only 1 element of difficulty at a time when training. With stays these are the 3 D's: distance, duration and distraction. If you want her to stay at a distance, walk away and return quickly to reward (no duration) and don't add too much distraction. If you want her to stay in a distracting place, stay close by and keep them short. Working on holding a long stay? Start where its quiet and stay close.

 

Once she starts getting the idea then you start doing two things at once.

 

Shes 4 months old, "terror mode" is part of the deal. :)

 

I teach an 'off switch' by not really training anything. I do 2 things that help, though:

 

I don't give in to demand behaviors and with puppies - if I know they have had their needs met (exercise, potty, food, attention) and they paw and pester me with toys etc. I ignore them.

 

Also, as puppies and young/new dogs they get a lot of quiet time in some degree of confinement (crate, x pen, tether nearby) with a chewie and they get ignored for a while (I know they are empty and won't need to potty and they have had attention and exercise) while I do other things. Eventually they just settle on their own when I get busy. Not very helpful maybe...

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Good comments above!

I'll second the idea that the "off switch" isn't a trained behavior - it's part of the dog's lifestyle.

See, here's the thing. If one has children, the children are sometimes expected to simply chill out, go read a book, watch TV, draw pictures, do puzzles, play with toys or games, etc. but stop pestering Mom and Dad. The point is, well-reared children are taught (or should be!) from the beginning that there are just times when they should go off and not bother the adults. It should be no different with dogs!

No, Johnny, you may NOT scream around the house all day or throw balls in the hallway. No, you may not ricochet off the furniture and jump on the bed. No, you may not endlessly pester the parents who are just trying to relax in front of the TV, and no, you may not demand attention when guests are over or Mom is on the phone.

Same for dogs. It's not training, it's lifestyle-shaping. It's how you want them to be. It starts from the beginning and continues all their lives. Expect good behavior, reward good behavior, shape good behavior, but don't look at is as something you "do" like training a Stay or Sit or recall. :)

Best of luck!

~ Gloria

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^^ Very much this.

 

I do, however, think that training pieces of that lifestyle can be very useful.

 

When I adopted Tansy at ~6months of age, she was a perpetual motion machine, easily excitable and with a lot of demand behaviors.

 

We worked extensively on relaxation exercises, which look a lot like a stay, though are not. While with stay you want the dog to remain in the exact location where you put her for a specified period of time that you determine before a release, what we did was work on a go-to-mat cue. At first Tans would go to her mat and be rewarded for that. Then we worked on duration, and later still for relaxation in addition to duration. IOW, she not only had to go to her mat and stay there, but she also had to relax and not be like a coiled spring ready to leap into action as other dogs in the class worked around her. We did this by shaping for any more relaxed position, like softening her body, shifting her weight over to one hip or lowering her head a little, and then a little more until she was lying in a comfortably relaxed position watching what was going on around her. At home, this eventually translated in a dog who I could tell to go to her mat and she'd chill for a while.

 

At a little over 2 y.o. now, Tans is still a dog who's quick to jump into whatever's going on around her, but she's definitely got an off switch and if I tell her to go lie down she will.

 

So, wholeheartedly agreeing that an off switch is a lifestyle rather than a behavior, I do think that training for behaviors that are compatible with and components of that lifestyle are very helpful in achieving it.

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Just because I am in a mood, what is the difference between teaching and training? Or between well rearing and what people struggle with when they ask questions like this? Are they not asking about how to "rear those pups well"?

Off switch or any other term is secondary I would think. And the million approaches to doing it again would depend on an owners understanding, level of skill and the dog.

And how do we communicate our expectations to them if we do not show them? Even well reared children where shown the expectations at some point. This pup is 4 months old...

For me the difference would be in one person having to make an effort because they themselves are not sure about what they can expect and how to get there....and the other person that almost does it as part of a well oiled routine. Fair statement?

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I like thinking of this as a lifestyle training rather than an actual exercise. She's a pretty hard headed dog, so as it is now I can't imagine how I'll get her to go lay down, but then she's surprised me with everything else along the way. She has not yet pestered me with toys. Actually it seems that I am the toy. She loves to get cranky and stuff her face under the couch when I'm sitting there and growl and roll around. All very puppy like, but definitely annoying after a while. This seems to be the case when she's either too tired or not tired enough.

 

Knock on wood, today is the first day that I let her sit around the house while I did all the mounting computer work for my business. I she has been relaxing in the living room all day and i have gone out to either treat her if she's chilling, or go run in the backyard for a session. No terror mode, no chewing or pester. It's been such a wonderful day that I cancelled all my appointments to soak it all in. =)

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......

 

So, wholeheartedly agreeing that an off switch is a lifestyle rather than a behavior, I do think that training for behaviors that are compatible with and components of that lifestyle are very helpful in achieving it.

 

 

Absolutely! Things like waiting at the door, sitting politely for their supper or not jumping on people are all trained aspects of the lifestyle shaping. :)

 

I guess what I was trying to say is that the expectations between trained behaviors, per se, and lifestyle shaping may be a touch different. Lifestyle is stuff we want the dog to learn to govern its everyday life, until things like not begging at the table, resting quietly in the evening or taking treats politely are second nature to the dog, and may not even require our active participation. The dog just knows that's how things are and incorporates those aspects into his daily behavior.

 

The trained, verbally-enforced components though are every bit as important, so the dog knows how to sit politely while we serve their supper or how to "wait" at the door when asked. It's all part of the same package, however we get them there. :)

 

~ Gloria

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