Jump to content
BC Boards
Sign in to follow this  
Root Beer

Persistent Difficult Training Problems

Recommended Posts

I'm not really asking for any specific training techniques here, I just want some feedback on a kind of general question.

 

Have you ever had a Border Collie that has a particular persistent difficult training problem that you just didn't seem to be able to change no matter what you tried - even after trying for years and many different tactics to change it?

 

My question is this - if you have had that situation, did you ever manage to train the dog out of the behavior? Or, if not, how did you know it was time to give up trying? (BTW - I don't mean a dangerous behavior like aggression, but more of a performance issue.)

 

I am really grappling with a training issue and I'm trying to decide if it is something I should continue to try to work at with my dog or if the time is coming to accept that there are some behaviors that I can't change.

 

Again, I'm not looking for particular solutions to my own particular problem, but to see the general answers to this question!

 

Thanks in advance for everyone's input!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is there an acceptable way for you to manage this problem? If you can't train it, or are tired of trying, then there are usually tools to manage the problem so you don't have to (e.g. leashes for recall, halti's for pulling, etc...).

 

-laura

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've worked with some behaviors for years. Some can be of a such a nature and history that you can work consistently for weeks and one slip on your part will result in a major backslide. Car chasing is a good example - so is frantic attention barking in a crate/car/kennel. These are self-rewarding behaviors that need a lot of patience and consistency to overcome.

 

I adopted a dog that ran the fence basically his whole life and since I adopted him when he was about six, it was a long row to hoe getting him to a place where I could even get his attention when he was doing it.

 

Yes, it would help more if you'd be specific.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well...not sure if this is along the lines you are talking about but I did have a major problem training Buddy to do that stupid dumb-bell retrieve for Open obedience. The club I train with all had me doing the lip roll, the ear pinch, etc. Horrible stuff. And they sucessufully trained a very soft dog how to bite my hand. Nice.

 

So we stopped training obedience and went into agility. What a change that was! And then, agility introduced us to clicker training! And one day, I tried the retrieve with the stupid dumb-bell using the clicker. HA! I'll just say that a club that had never used a clicker before is now having me teach a clicker/trick class based almost ENTIRELY on my success with using the clicker to train a dog that all the senior instructors COULD NOT get to pick up a dumb-bell.

 

We took a whole year off from formal obedience training and working with any sort of retrieve. I still do not train in Open and will not trial Buddy in open because I think it's way to stuffy. I do train and trial in Rally obedience and both my dogs have a great time. (Which is the most important thing to me!) By trial - I mean, 3 trials a year. That's about as good as it gets here. :rolleyes:

 

Now, as I teach other folks how to train different behaviors I try and stress to them that training is all about how many tricks you have in your bag. If you know and can train a behavior multiple ways, you have a much better chance of teaching a behavior quickly and having a happy dog that still likes to work for you.

 

There is my 2 cents. Not sure if it fits the bill.

 

Denise

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been trying for a whole year to teach Kessie how to wait for me instead of running ahead. Getting a clicker has helped a lot. It's still not perfect, there's still days when I have to call her back constantly, but now there are also days when she waits or comes back without being called.

 

I also have problems with leash pulling, but I don't blame Kessie for that. I'm a chaotic, inconsistent, forgetful daydreamer with a temper, and she still obeys better than any other dog I know, apart from the over-obedient ones that have no life in their eyes.

I'm sure that if I tried just a bit harder, we'd get this pulling thing under control. It's already gotten much better anyway.

 

I agree with the others: why don't you ask the people here for advice with your problem?

I'm sure someone could help you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

BigD has it. If what's being tried isn't working, try another method. There are many, many ways (methods) to teach our dog stuff. Training is all about finding the method that best communicates what we want to the dog.

 

Come on, tell us what's going on. :rolleyes:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In the past I have had to retrain a couple of things and what I did was start back at the beginning of the exercise and give whatever needed to be retrained a new name. An example is the go out part of the directed jumping. When I first trained the dog, when I sent him I told him to "go". When he started not doing the go outs well, I realized that to him the word "go" probably had many meanings.(go poop, go outside, go to the car, etc). When I retrained the exercise instead of saying "go" when sending him, I told him "away". When I say retrain, I mean we started the training as though he had never done that exercise before. I don't know, maybe I made excuses for him, but his go outs were much better after I gave them a new name. He was also my first dog to train in utility and we did okay in spite of me.

 

I have never had problems with out of sight sits and downs, but a few of my friends dogs have had a terrible time qualifying this exercise. Finding the source of and the remedy for the dog's problems with this exercise can take some time and a lot of patience. You would have to retrain from the very beginning of the novice stay exercise. You have to find out if the dog is moving because of stress or does he just think it is okay for him to get up. A dog's stress is a lot harder to deal with than just having a problem with the dog who gets up to go visit his neighbor.

 

Let us know what kind of problem you are dealing with and maybe someone on this board will have a suggestion that will help you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think that you need to find the problem before you should even think of the solution for any behavior. The solution to one problem may make your problem WORSE. And I assume that you don't want whatever behavior it is to become worse!

 

Maybe the behavior wasn't trained properly in the first place, or maybe the dog is confusing one command with another (I knew a dog that confused "Down" with "Wow") or maybe it is one of countless other possible problems.

 

Watch the dog's body language in response to the command, what is their reaction? Do they just stare at you? Do they sniff the floor? Do they ignore you? Do they run the other way in total fear?

 

The main thing that seems to work for just about everything and not mess up anything else is just to start over with a new command and completely retrain it.

 

But as I said before:

 

Only when you find the problem can you find the right solution

 

Hope this helps a bit!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

BigD, that is Awesome! I could only wish my training instructorswould realize what great training methods positive reinforcement and clicker training are! They are still stuck in the stone age and despise both training methods.

 

Most of my problems that I could never fix with "traditional" training methods were fixed very quickly with positive methods. I would never again suggest using traditional methods.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi all! Thank you for all of your replies! I have been able to glean some very helpful stuff from some of you. I'm taking it that none of you have ever ended up with a problem that turned out to be unfixable and that's what I was looking for.

 

Is there an acceptable way for you to manage this problem?
That's kind of what I'm trying to figure out!

 

These are self-rewarding behaviors that need a lot of patience and consistency to overcome.

 

I adopted a dog that ran the fence basically his whole life and since I adopted him when he was about six, it was a long row to hoe getting him to a place where I could even get his attention when he was doing it.

That's helpful. The fence running was self-rewarding, which is an element of the problem I'm trying to figure here. So, you did manage eventually to curtail it?

 

I try and stress to them that training is all about how many tricks you have in your bag.
That is a helpful insight. I very well may not have figured out the right "trick" yet and maybe it does exist.

 

I've been trying for a whole year to teach Kessie how to wait for me instead of running ahead. Getting a clicker has helped a lot. It's still not perfect, there's still days when I have to call her back constantly, but now there are also days when she waits or comes back without being called.
Thanks! So, the problem isn't solved, but you've seen significant progress after a year. That is helpful.

 

BigD has it. If what's being tried isn't working, try another method. There are many, many ways (methods) to teach our dog stuff. Training is all about finding the method that best communicates what we want to the dog.

 

Come on, tell us what's going on

You already know, actually.

 

In the past I have had to retrain a couple of things and what I did was start back at the beginning of the exercise and give whatever needed to be retrained a new name.
I have had to do that, too! It works for most things, but I haven't found it to work yet on the one seemingly unfixable training issue that I have run into with my dog. But it might be worth trying again.

 

Thanks again, everyone, for the insights.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As to what is happening, it's this:

 

Speedy, who is a 4 year old purebred Border Collie, and I have been training together for over three years. He LOVES training. He loves learning new things at home and he loves going to classes even in spite of some fear issues that don't really come into play in this scenario. We have done a lot of different things and we've used all positive methods - treats and clicker and praise, etc.

 

We started with basic obedience and then moved into agility. Whether I trained him wrong or what I have no idea, but after his first agility class, he started to lose his mind around agility equipment.

 

I wish I could describe what happens to this dog in the presence of a jump, but it's difficult. He sees it and fixes his stare on it. That's when I lose him.

 

And it's not like he is just excited to take the jump because he won't even necessarily take it when I send him to it - sometimes he will and sometimes he will just start running around the room in circles seemingly mindlessly.

 

The bottom line is - he checks out.

 

We gave up agility a long time ago for several reasons and that temporarily solved the problem. No jumps or other agility equipment - no problems.

 

We took up Rally-O and we've done great with it. His attention is excellent and he has learned almost all of the exercises in all three levels.

 

And then there's the jump.

 

The first exercise we have to deal with is one where we approach the jump in heel position and I send him to it and run by it and then he meets up with me again in heel.

 

He's wonderful until he either spots the jump or I actually say "jump".

 

Then the eyes glaze over, he fitfully jumps up and down a couple of times and then his mind is gone. Sometimes he circles the jump and jumps it backwards. Sometimes he runs to it and then stops in front of it and runs back to me. Every now and then he takes it.

 

Once that's done, I can get him back into heel, but his focus is gone. For the rest of the course he tries to dart out ahead of me and sometimes circles. He gets "leapy". Usually he settles back down after a stationary exercise, but never with the focus he has on a course without a jump.

 

I have worked on this with many teachers for several years. I've worked with him with clicker (which we've used to shape many other behaviors very successfully) to try to shape the behavior I want instead of what he normally does. I've tried removing him from the ring when he starts to "lose it". I've tried correcting him with an "ah ah!" I've tried it with him on leash. I've tried using his ball (which results in him running around the room in circles with the ball in his mouth). I've tried just working other things in the presence of the jump.

 

This is a dog that has excellent attention and focus when there is no jump on the ring. But once he sees or interacts with the jump, it's like someone injects him with a super secret hyper drug!

 

So, what I'm really trying to figure out is this: is it really possible to fix this or are some things reasonably un-resolvable?

 

That's why I didn't post the problem asking for suggestions on how to fix it. I am really interested in if any of you have had training issues - even if they aren't the same one - that you struggled with for years and whether they eventually got resolved.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One thing I'm totally stuck with is the ball biting :rolleyes: . When we play with the basketball, I kick it, she catches it, and then she stands there trying with all her strength to get a tooth in.

I've tried clicking when she's caught the ball without biting.

I've tried saying "no" when she does it and praising her when she stops.

I've tried taking the ball away for a short time when she's done it.

I've offered her treats for not biting, but the ball tastes better.

Nothing has worked so far.

 

So, well, at least you're not alone :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What about disassmebling the jump and try getting him used to the separate pieces.- a single up right, a pole on the ground., etc. Maybe get some jump pieces to have at home. Perhaps with time you can slowly reassemble the jump.

Just a thought.

Donna

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
What about disassmebling the jump and try getting him used to the separate pieces.- a single up right, a pole on the ground., etc. Maybe get some jump pieces to have at home. Perhaps with time you can slowly reassemble the jump.
I've tried something similar. I made a jump out of pvc to have at home and I've left it around the house up against the wall. The thought was that it might kind of recondition him into thinking that the jump is no big deal, it's just a thing sitting around unless we are working on it.

 

He's fine when it's against the wall. In fact, there are jumps and agility equipment along the wall wherever we go to train. He doesn't even notice it then.

 

The minute it's set out to use, he changes.

 

Sandra - that does sound similar. It's that same "he never seems to get it" thing!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What about pieces of PVC set out in your house, in the hallway (not against wall), wherever he's forced to walk? I don't mean a jump, rather one piece of pvc lying on the ground to start.

 

Have you tried different colored PVC? Surrounding his food bowl with pieces of pvc?

 

I've heard of some people getting insight through animal communicators, if you're interested in that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Could Speedy have (or have had at some point) a physical problem that causes pain when he jumps? My thoroughbred had tendonitis in his front pasterns and he got excited or high-headed going into the fence (whether he was sound or not) because he was anticipating that it MIGHT hurt. Just something to think about. It may not be something that hurts all of the time or in any other context.

Lisa

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Could Speedy have (or have had at some point) a physical problem that causes pain when he jumps?
Judging from the way he moves and the fact that he does take the jump - just not usually the way I direct him to - I highly doubt it.

 

Also, he always did the same thing with tunnels and weave poles and the A-Frame.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In a weird way this reminds me a lot of our Jen's behavior around sheep. She gets SO wired, and overcareful, and overcontrolling, that she spends most of the time on sheep in freakout mode. She can't tear herself away but she's, you know, spaced out, and often resolves her tension with seemingly random behaviors. Her biggest stumbling block is the outrun. If she thinks you are setting her up for an outrun, she freaks out.

 

Almost all of this, unfortunately, was caused by my mishandling of her personality. I pushed her too hard too young. I'm glad to report though that her fix was accomplished by me also, though I couldn't have done it without KillerH getting her re-started after a complete shutdown. Karen called her "constantly worried" and that was the perfect description of her.

 

What helped her was making what we wanted very clear, very simple, taking away every distraction, and doing very short repetitions with absolutely now pressure. I had a trainer up north look at her and agree that that was exactly what she needed. He had me do a really neat exercise where I sent her, went through the sheep and met her on the other side, and instantly sent her the other way. We'd do ten reps, I'd let her have her sheep for a short walkies, then we'd be done for the day.

 

If I slack off the daily short sessions, she gets nervy again and we go back to square one. When I'm faithful (or rather now my husband), she can look quite nice.

 

I don't know whether this helps, but there was something in what you said that reminded me of Jen.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Originally posted by sandra s.:

One thing I'm totally stuck with is the ball biting :rolleyes: . When we play with the basketball, I kick it, she catches it, and then she stands there trying with all her strength to get a tooth in.

I've tried clicking when she's caught the ball without biting.

I've tried saying "no" when she does it and praising her when she stops.

I've tried taking the ball away for a short time when she's done it.

I've offered her treats for not biting, but the ball tastes better.

Nothing has worked so far.

 

So, well, at least you're not alone :D

Kellie did something like that for a while. I finally figured out that she was inticing me into a game played by her rules. The way I combatted that was to sharply away and ignore her until she spat the ball out. Then I would wait a few more seconds before finally turning back, picking up the ball (turning away again if she grabbed it), and throwing it. (or kick if its her soccer ball)

 

Kellie has decided that chasing the ball is better than chewing it. Just something you might want to try.

 

That's almost how I got her recall to improve as well. I think I'm gonna add some puppy squares and tracks into the mix (huge reward!) and see if she continues to improve.

 

Sorry I can't help with the agility jump.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's exactly what I tried doing the last time we played!

I turned away and walked in the opposite direction as soon as she started, and turned back as soon as she stopped.

The problem was that she thought the ball was being a baaad sheep for not following me when I walked away, and she let it know what she thought of this sort of misbehaviour.

 

I can't really help with the jump either :confused:

I guess I'd go back to the start, starting from scratch... but apart from that, I don't know.

Kessie doesn't really like jumping over things, she always has to put in a little landing on top of the object, as if she's worried about potential surprises on the other side, even if she's seen the other side lots of times.

But that can't be the problem with an agility jump, so... :confused:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's an idea for dealing with this--

If he is OK with the jump against the wall but does the "uber-focus" thing once it is away from the wall, try moving it away from the wall in tiny increments (like an inch at a time). See if you can note at what point he starts to notice it in the way you don't want, and make a note of that.

 

Next you'll need his most favorite thing in the world--a favorite toy, raw fresh liver, steak, a sheep :rolleyes: (which you will now reserve for only this situation for a while). Have it at hand, then go by the jump at a bit of a distance while it is in the position just before where you earlier noted that he noticed it. Reward him for ignoring it, have a party with the special thing or treat! Repeat a few times, perhaps doing your heelwork, each time getting a little closer to the jump. Then move the jump a centimeter further from the wall--repeat, and if he can ignore it or even if he can turn his attention back to you, again "have a party" with the special treat or thing. If you lose him, you've moved too fast and go back a step (maybe moving yourself further from the jump. Also, if you lose him, just turn your back and ignore him completely until he stops (perhaps someone else can get him and bring him back to you, or remove the jump itself when it happens).

 

The idea here is two-fold--classical conditioning of "jump nearby means really yummy favorite thing" and operant conditioning of "when you pay attention to me instead of the jump, you get the really yummy favorite thing". But you've probably got to do it gradually. If he is clicker trained, you might be able to include that when he doing what you want (ignoring the focus on the jump) as part of the operant conditioning.

 

We do Rally and Agility, and Tenaya our BC has her RE (we would do APDT Rally-O if there were ever a trial within 100 miles). She doesn't have quite the distraction with the jump that Speedy has, but she always barks when she goes over the jump in Rally and wants to be crazy, but we can get her back in heel soon enough to make it through the rest of the course. She definitely wants to take the jump when she shouldn't (out of order on the course) so we really have to read her body language and communicate more with her on the course if we are heeling past a jump to keep her attention.

 

Do you have an "attention" command? It might be her name, or "heads-up!", or something that you train independent of all else. You need something that is ALWAYS rewarded with high value treats when he looks at you, especially from heel position. It's also very useful when there is popcorn on the Rally course (I encountered this in our 2nd trial!), or horse-poop on the course (3rd trial!) or other distracting smells like the dog before who peed on the course (c'mon, stewards, sprinkling a bit of water over it won't get rid of the smell!).

 

I think you can re-train his behavior around jumps as long as you are patient, take it in very tiny steps as a distraction, and start over from scratch EVERY time you encounter a new version for a while (a new PLACE, a different-looking jump than you started training with, etc). Try to do your training with the actual kinds of jumps used in Rally (panel, bar and broad)--they look different to a dog from a PVC jump used in Agility.

 

I could also suggest some practice that includes a shorter long-line and a pinch collar, but try the purely positive methods first--they are better at maintaining the relationship with your dog, which is why you're doing Rally, right?

 

In the meantime, if you can at least get his attention back to you at a Rally trial, you should be able to get through it--maybe not placing but at least qualifying! Moving up from on-leash Novice to off-leash Advanced (and to the evil jumps!) is a big step!

 

Deanna in OR

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My trainer has a border collie like this - she actually has pictures of him sitting in front of the jump with eyes as big as Elijah Woods - just focused on that jump.

 

Usually he will take the jump and she'll loose him after that. He goes totally wackoo. Always circles to the left. Non-stop. Runs, runs, runs.

 

She's got many titles on this dog and he's only 2 and a half. Her secret? Lots of focus work on her, lots of tricks. She'll go out to train her and all she'll do is reward the stay in front of a jump with focus on her. Maybe 3 treats, a toss of the toy behind him with a bit of tugging and she's done.

 

It's tedious.

 

Make some caveletti. Start with just the PVC flat on the ground. I'd pepper my yard with PVC poles! :rolleyes: And shape it all with a clicker. Do not use the same commands you used before as the command "jump" may cue him to get all wonky on you.

 

After you have shaped the jumping/walking over PVC you can name it...but something new. It's going to be all about baby steps and you need to make sure you RUSH NOTHING. It may take a year. It may take 6 months, it really depends. If you are just going to push on with rally only, I'd work with the slat jumps too as they can use those in rally and not the PVC.

 

Good luck!

 

Denise

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow! Lots of good ideas here.

 

Here's my 2 cents-

 

At home put the jump in a hallway or a doorway so that Speedie has to go over it a lot during normal day-to-day living. Set the bar at its lowest height. Speedie will have to step over it or jump it to go where he wants and having it in a doorway or a hallway will prevent circling the jump. You'll have to leave the jump at the doorway or hallway for a long time (hope you and hubby can jump ) If you have more jumps, put them in other hallways & doorways too. The goal is to desensitize him.

 

Ignore Speedie when he jumps it - no commands and no reaction from you at all. Maybe in time he'll start thinking of it as just another piece of furniture.

 

Once that happens you'll have to transfer this to the training building. Put a jump in the doorway into the training building so he has to go over it everytime he goes in and out of the building. Again, say nothing and no reaction from you as he goes over the jump. Keep the jump set at its lowest height.

 

Without seeing what he's doing it's hard to advise, and whether this can be "fixed or not, the future can only tell us. But trying to figure it out will make you a better trainer! :rolleyes:

 

Jill was a tad manic in agility too. She didn't check out but it seemed like she was trying to herd me into being faster, which wasn't going to happen :eek: .

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are a lot of good ideas. I need to kind of think through them and assimilate them in my brain.

 

A few thoughts:

 

Do you have an "attention" command? It might be her name, or "heads-up!", or something that you train independent of all else.
We do - it's "watch!" or "Speedy, watch me!". He's pretty good with it, and when there isn't a jump in the picture, he's excellent with it. That's something we've been working around the jump and he has improved. There's a long way to go, but there has been improvement.

 

It's also very useful when there is popcorn on the Rally course (I encountered this in our 2nd trial!), or horse-poop on the course (3rd trial!) or other distracting smells like the dog before who peed on the course (c'mon, stewards, sprinkling a bit of water over it won't get rid of the smell!).
I know what you mean! In our first trial, there was a curtain flapping onto the course (which did cause Spedy to decide to try to heel on my right causing us to NQ) and squeaky toys being sampled on the other side of that curtain (which didn't cause us to NQ because I was ready the second time!!)

 

There's a real difference with him between big distractions that are still just distractions (very interesting horse poo, people shouting, etc) and this jump fixation. But working the attention might still help with it in the long run.

 

Try to do your training with the actual kinds of jumps used in Rally (panel, bar and broad)--they look different to a dog from a PVC jump used in Agility.
Around here they do use the PVC jumps like in agility. If they used a panel jump, I think we would fare much better! They can - I know it's allowed - but I've never seen anything but the PVC in competition.

 

In the meantime, if you can at least get his attention back to you at a Rally trial, you should be able to get through it--maybe not placing but at least qualifying! Moving up from on-leash Novice to off-leash Advanced (and to the evil jumps!) is a big step!
You're right there! We got our first Level 2 qualification on a course that had no jump (love those!) and the second qualification on a course with a jump with a low low score!! But we got the leg, which is good.

 

My trainer has a border collie like this - she actually has pictures of him sitting in front of the jump with eyes as big as Elijah Woods - just focused on that jump.
That about describes it for Speedy, too!! LOL!!

 

Ignore Speedie when he jumps it - no commands and no reaction from you at all. Maybe in time he'll start thinking of it as just another piece of furniture.
It's worth a shot. We have just the place in our house to set this up, too.

 

And you're right - it's all good training-wise.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...