Frustration!!!

Discussion in 'General Dog Training' started by Anneke, Jun 26, 2014.

  1. Anneke Honored Member

    I have set myself some new goals. As I was reviewing what I have been doing for the past months, since I stopped working so much, I realised it wasn't that much. Ofcourse I needed to recharge, get some rest and energy back. But basically I have been doing a whole lot of nothing and walking the dogs.
    So starting this week I set myself a new rule. Do more with the dogs separately. So instead of our midday walk, I take them out separaretly and do some training.
    Now with Jinx there are no real problems. I want to work on heelwork and getting more joy into that, as I hate doing it, so so does she. With a new tug/chase toy as a reward, that is going really well. But then again, she loves to work with me, no matter what I ask or where I ask it.
    With Cooper working outside is a whole other ballgame... All he wants to do is sniff and pee at every bush. Yes he does look at me for a treat, but work for it, no way!
    So I started back at the basics. Look at me. He will do this, but get distracted after two or three times.
    Touch my hand, four or five times, then he will turn his back and sniff the air. I thought bringing a tennisball as a reward would at least get him a bit more excited, but no. twice he will get the ball and then there is this scent that is way more important, so he drops the ball and wanders off. Tugtoy? Really??? Aaarrgghhh
    The only thing that got some response today was having him circle a pole.
    No matter how happy I am( and believe me I jump around like crazy when I get him to do what I want!! Come to think of it, maybe he is ashamed of me:ROFLMAO:) no matter how fantastic the treats are... He will leave me hanging on the other end of the leash, like an annoying kid whining for attention. Believe me, he gives me that exact look!
    It is soooo frustrating! I don't want to give up, but I am stuck on how to get his attention. I have used up all my tricks:(

    Sorry but I needed to blow off some steam. Maybe one of you has some suggestions, I haven't though of yet?
    MaryK, Evie and Tâmara Vaz like this.

  2. 648117 Honored Member

    Don't ask him for attention then.
    Wait for him to ask you to work.

    I used to end up begging Holly for focus during heelwork, she figured out the game and would start looking away/wandering off so that I would have to increase the reward schedule etc to get her to focus. She even started running off at agility because she knew she could get away with it. She knew she could run off and sniff whatever she wanted and then when she finally came back she would get a high reward rate because I was trying to keep her focus. It was not working and she was getting really bad.

    So I had to get tough with her.

    At agility: If she wandered off while we were running a course then I would continue the course without her and then at the end where she would normally get treats I would give all her treats to my invisible dog (pretend to give treats and lots of praise). She would usually run over to see what I was doing, but I didn't give her any of the treats - they were only for well behaved dogs (invisible dog is always perfectly behaved ;) )
    If she continued to behave like this then I would tie her leash to a pole (or get someone boring to hold it) and would again run the course with my invisible dog with a ton of praise and treats. Then I would go and stand away from Holly. She could see she was missing out on all the fun (she would watch me doing all this with a lot of interest, the ground wasn't so interesting any more, haha). Then I'd give her another chance, she was usually very ready to focus after that. If she had continued to be distracted I would have either put her back in the car or tried running someone elses dog.Try not to give too many chances though.
    I think this trick would only work if your dog does like doing agility/being with you.

    At obedience: You can use a similar sort of thing. Also, keep the leash on and if the dog gets distracted put your foot on the leash so it is relatively short and stand there ignoring the dog. It wont take long for you to become the most interesting thing in the limited amount of space that the dog has access to, even if you are just standing there.
    You could also use Jinx to make Cooper want to work. When I started training Lewis I saw a massive improvement in Holly's attitude because she knew that if she wasn't going to focus then I would put her back in the house/car/tie her up and work with Lewis instead (and he would get all the treats and praise which Holly didn't really like). It was especially effective if she could see and hear what she was missing out on. She realised that I had other options than just her so she needed to show me that she wanted to work.
    Again, this will work best with a dog that does want to work but just isn't bringing a very good attitude/gets distracted.

    So, basically, I had to get tough and not accept any slacking off when working. The minute Holly gets lazy I stop now and that is usally enough to get her to focus again. I will not beg her to work with me.

    I'll just add that although I don't let them slack off while working, we do go for very relaxed walks every day with off leash time where I let them get away with more than I should. They also get breaks while training. I do not ask for more focus/work than they are easily capable of (especially Lewis - he's a bit sensitive and relatively new to training).

    I hope that helps :D
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  3. southerngirl Honored Member

    I will have to still this advice for Piper.:D Great advice 6, that's cool that you thought of a way to get Holly to want to pay attention.(y)
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  4. running_dog Honored Member

    I do understand that frustration, I don't get it so often with Zac now but sometimes it happens.
    There are still occasionally those horrible times when Zac behaves like I don't exist, when it feels like I am speaking but no sound is coming out, or even worse he looks at me, listens a moment and then chooses to do something different. Here are 5 suggestions based on what I've used with Zac, maybe one of them might help, if not at least know that I really know how frustrated you feel and I hope you find a way to get through to Cooper soon...

    1. Severely restrict opportunities to be distracted
    If Zac is going to make choices I don't like than I have limit his opportunity to do that. Off leash time is earned by him choosing to give me attention. And after watching the latest Susan Garret video series, he won't be getting away with giving me half hearted attention either! With Cooper it needs to be a very short leash - no sniffing in the bushes until he is focussing nicely on you.

    2. Make him work for your attention not the other way round
    Don't ask for attention let him offer it, behave like he doesn't exist. Keep the leash short, stand still and wait him out until he chooses to look at you (sniffing the air is fun but actually it gets boring after a while - sometimes it is a long while) and then mark and reward. When Zac gets like this and we are walking towards something he likes (like a place he can go off leash) I sometimes stop walking and wait until he looks at me, then I say "yes" and reward by walking a few more paces, stop and wait until he looks at me, repeat repeat. I sometimes do this when he is paying attention too. I also reward when he looks at me on and off the lead. If he looks at me and I don't call him I mark it and might throw a treat into the grass for him to find. If he looks at me and I call him I give him a handful of treats. He looks at me a lot now. Silent jackpot opportunities are fun too, give a silent signal that means you will pay a jackpot, the dog has to look at you to see the signal.

    3. Build drive and value in rewards by including choices, self control and effort.
    Try building in choices and harness his sniffing eg/ by making him find treats in the grass. Ask him to wait before he gets to find the treats, that seems to build value and drive with Zac. If he tries to wander away put him back into a wait and then give him another opportunity to find the treats, repeat until he chooses to play the game you want him to play. Make rewards be something he has to really earn and make sure he's doing the work not you!

    4. Don't cheapen your rewards
    Having a party jumping around being silly is great for rewarding a dog that is really trying but if the dog is being halfhearted you just cheapened your best rewards to being worth next to nothing because you just told the dog you have a party for him being half hearted. I know how I've messed up by jollying Zac along into doing what I wanted. Now I don't usually reward slow responses - however hard they were to get, I give verbal praise but that's it. And usually he chooses to recall like a rocket the next time I ask him after I've withheld a reward.

    5. Train "Do as I do" :LOL:
    It may be coincidence but I found Zac has offered me super attention after starting the "do as I do" trick challenge even when we are not training it. Ultimately it is about the dog looking at you and watching you so it might be something you can use with Cooper too.
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  5. running_dog Honored Member

    LOL 6 I was typing at the same time as you!
    I love the perfectly behaved invisible dog idea :cool:
  6. 648117 Honored Member

    The first time I did it at agility I think everyone thought I was a bit crazy and didn't think it would do anything. I was super excited with the invisible dog, we had a really fast and clear round! (partly because I wanted it over with as quick as I could - it is a bit embarassing - good thing the invisible dog has pretty good distance control :p).
    But it did work, when I did the same course with Holly straight after she was just as well behaved as the invisible dog and got just as many treats at the end! Our trainer was impressed.
    Ripleygirl, MaryK, Evie and 4 others like this.
  7. running_dog Honored Member

    Good for you being brave enough to do what you thought would work!
    I think I am going to get an invisible dog to play tug with LOL
    MaryK, kassidybc, Tâmara Vaz and 2 others like this.
  8. 648117 Honored Member

    You should get one. They are very cheap to feed, don't make a mess, don't bark or make any noise, you barely even notice that you've got one!
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  9. running_dog Honored Member

    Sounds perfect :LOL:
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  10. Anneke Honored Member

    I can stand there all day and not get a look...:rolleyes: That is the problem. If I wait for him to offer me any kind of behaviour I can reward, I will grow roots first:D He will just stand there looking around. He is a lot more patient an stubborn than me... So if I ignore him back, and just keep walking, he will linger behind me and make me drag him away from all the interesting bushes and smells.


    I have tried to give him a time out, by tying him to a lamppost and walk away(even gone out of sight) but he will find something interesting to do, or just lie down and wait for me to return.
    Using Jinx does help, as she will get treats and he wants treats, but even then he will be sooooo slow in executing the simplest thing like a handtouch or a sit. But usually he will work a bit.
    Today he was great on our walk with Jinx. He wanted to work and we had a whole lot of fun.
    And that is what bugs me so much. Yesterday he was in the "ignoring you completely and will only listen when you raise your voice" mode. Even in the house he didn't want to do any work, but he thought he would get treats for just existing. And I wasn't even asking him much, just the usual stuff like sitting at the sidewalk and come back to my side for passing people.
    The invisible dog doesn't work. He simply doesn't care.
    This is something I have been struggling with all of his 8 years. He will only work when HE feels like it.

    When I do training he will be on his short leash, that I tie to my treatbag belt around my waiste. And he is never 0ff leash, unfortunately for him, because he will attack any dog he sees. On our normal walks he is on a flexi leash, to give him some kind of freedom so he can play with sticks and balls and have a bit of a run

    I have been rewarding him for looking at me. Normally I used to feed them in a bowl in the mornings (they get fed twice a day) and my trainer advised me to start feeding by hand. So in the morning I will stuff two meals in my pockets and make them work for their food. With Cooper that means paying attention to me, checking in on his own, or when called. And I have to say that is going very well, most of the time.
    I am not at my best in the morning so i don't do a lot of advanced training(no patience, easily frustrated and I don't want to bring that into the training:oops:)
    So trainingsessions are done in the afternoon or evening walks. Or somewhere in between if i feel like it.


    Never thought of treating him that way. He does love the game as I have played it for fun. I'll try that!

    4. Well, if I don't reward, he will just not do it again. For instance, I play a game to build drive. I run, then ask for a sit. Treat, run again and ask for a bow, treat run and ask for... Jinx loves this game and as we play it she will try to figure out what i will ask next and offer a behaviour on her own. ( no treats for that in this game, that's another game.)
    Cooper doesn't see the purpous of running, so he will hobble along, do a slow sit. So no treat. I run again, he will trot along, I ask for a sit and he will just stand there looking at me. You didn't give me a treat last time, so why would I do it now???
    Yes there are times he does feel like playing this game and be quick with his response and those times I have a party.
    If he doesn''t play along, I'll just walk on, ignoring him. And he will be happy to just hobble along behind me. :mad:

    5. Do as I do is a great game. But it does require a dog who is paying attention...
    I have played this game in the house and he will play along, again, if he feels like it.

    You see a pattern here? ;)
    IF he WANTS to work, he is a great dog to work with. He is quick to understand new tricks, learns from watching Jinx and will take less time to learn it, because he has been watching her.
    He practically did the back to back trick right in one go, because he had been watching me with Jinx.
    And that is the biggest thing that causes me to be frustrated.
    I know he is so very smart. He is sooo much fun to work with when he is in working mode.
    But mostly he is just not wanting to work and then there is nothing I can do to get him to do something or if he does do it, it will be in slow-motion.

    Anyway, I am going to have a go at mantrailing with him. Combining his love for sniffing and walks in the woods and see if he likes that. The lady teaching this lets you have the first lesson for free, to see if you like it.

    Thanks for the tips, guys! I really appreciate it!
    kassidybc, MaryK, Evie and 1 other person like this.
  11. running_dog Honored Member

    I still feel that somehow he takes you for granted, he is making you do all the work. I don't know how to tackle it though!

    The only thing I can think of right now - leading on from what you said about food - when I first started really trying to tackle Zac's training problems I cut his morning food down a lot so he was quite hungry through the day. If he didn't work he stayed hungry until teatime. It was a real fight because it seemed harsh to my family but it was that or him be leashed all his life as he was unresponsive to anything else I knew of at the time. What about going a step further with Cooper and feeding all of his food as rewards and making him work for every piece/handful throughout the day? Though from what you have said Cooper might well prefer to starve than conform :rolleyes:

    With the standing looking at you saying, "you didn't give me a treat last time why would I obey this time" have you tried tricking him? If you say "sit" and he sits slowly so you withhold the treat. But you know he won't sit next time so instead of saying sit, say "stand", he's already doing that you can reward him for his instantaneous response. That might reset him to do sit the next time... or maybe not :LOL:.
    MaryK likes this.
  12. running_dog Honored Member

    Or is it the repetition that is boring him? Does he need more difficulty/challenge? Maybe then the mantrailing will help...
  13. Evie Experienced Member



    I think this is a wonderful idea!!! Since you say he loves sniffing so much, putting this onto a cue and doing it as a sport might just be what the two of you need!

    I know that finding a sport that Evie LOVES completely changed her view on training and her enthusiasm for training in general - although that could have been partly due to her maturing with age too..... but still! It added aspects to our partnership that we couldn't have achieved without a sport we both love.

    But in saying that, it wasn't an instant change. It took a while for Evie to build up a love for it and it was only then that I started noticing the difference in her behaviour else-where as well.

    Good luck!
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  14. MaryK Honored Member

    LOL just LOVE the invisible dog!!!!!!!!!!:love: Seriously, it's a good 'trick' to keep in mind. I've never seen or heard of that one before, love that I'm always learning something new here, but will keep it in mind for future reference. Leaf will have an 'off' day once in a blue moon, so roll on invisible dog!
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  15. MaryK Honored Member

    I think Cooper is an ultra smart dog and is (a) working you and (b) get's bored very quickly! Leaf will get bored and show it, usually by offering her default trick though, if I attempt to do a trick too many times. I usually change up her training, i.e. if we're learning a new trick and she shows 'boredom' I will do a trick she loves, hasn't done for a while or something totally different just to break up the session.

    Maybe try to 'ring the changes' a LOT with Cooper. Ask for different tricks all the time. For example, on his walks ask for sit then next time stand, then drop. If he doesn't do a trick you do need to be 'hard' and not reward, just move on and ask for stand, if you asked for a sit which didn't happen last time. Keep mixing up the sit/stand/drop/stay etc. don't get into a rhythm with him, keep him 'guessing' as to what you're going to ask for next. And only reward him when he does what YOU ask for. By the sound of it he's got you really well trained to do what he wants, so you're going to have to be a bit of a 'tough Mom' in the future.

    And it may take him a while to relinquish his 'training' of you, so don't give up.

    Good luck, he sounds a wonderful dog!
    running_dog likes this.
  16. Anneke Honored Member

    Mary, you are so right. He does get bored easily, and I have been doing what you say. No more than 2 repetitions, trying to be unpredictable. Doing unexpected stuff. I'll be walking in a normal pace and suddenly run around a corner. We play this game every once in a while when we(my boyfriend and me) are walking the dogs together. I'll go hide and wait to be found.
    But Cooper knows me too well. He knows I won't go far and I'll probably be in the bushes or around that corner or behind that tree. And he will just walk in his normal pace, go by and look at me with a look on his face that says: I knew you where there, you silly woman!:D And I try so hard to hide when he is distracted, so he doesn't see where I go.

    Running_dog, yes that is it. He does take me for granted. And he is almost always one step ahead of me. Nothing about his training is normal or by the books :p
    I have had dogs all my life and Cooper has taught me the most. Just because he is so difficult. He is the very reason I keep searching for different types of trainingmethods.
    And you know, it's not like he doesn't keep an eye on me, he does, he watches me from the corner of his eye. But he chooses not to do things. And I have no clue how to get him engaged. I can't count the times he just left me standing there acting like an idiot, to go sniff at something. But when I turn around to walk away, he will follow me before the leash reaches the end:rolleyes: He knows all my trainingmoves:D
    I have said, he is just too smart for me...
    And it has been like this since I got him at 10 weeks.
    I spend a whole bunch of classes just waiting for him to look up at me. While I was looking at his back. He would glance at me, I would treat, he would turn his back again. At that time I thought it was just puppy puberty, but it has become a pattern, I don't know how to break.
    I don't have this prolem with Jinx, or ever had this problem with any other dog we have owned.
    I call him authistic and schizofrenic, jokingly, but I really feel that there might be some thruth in that.
    As one day he can love to work and do anything I ask, even offer behaviours, while the next day he can completely refuse to do anything but go for a walk.
    Like yesterday, this morning he was great. Giving me attention all the time, doing everything I wanted him to.
    Maybe I just have to accept, that that is the way he is and take it as it comes.:rolleyes:
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  17. running_dog Honored Member

    Zac was like that often, there are some things he just doesn't see the point of - like stacking dishes, he figured out what I wanted on the third attempt but he wouldn't repeat it for weeks no matter how much I praised him for it, he literally threw the dishes under the furniture, just missed stacking them dozens of times, and got worse not better. I thought he didn't understand... but he was just being too clever for me. In the end I accepted it for that trick. Look at this video I made of him tricking me, beating me at my own game and generally just being now like any of the "how to train" videos/books imply dogs are...

    Zac is too clever and simply doesn't see the point of this trick. I call him an intuitive learner. But as I have built up a better relationship with Zac and he doesn't so much take me for granted he is happier to work. If you can crack one of the two problems the other will probably resolve itself.
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  18. MaryK Honored Member

    :ROFLMAO: Zac's priceless!!!!!!!!!! Your vid had me in stitches (wipes tears from eyes) - that's Diva Leaf at times when she considers a trick all too easy or is just plain bored:whistle: !

    Leaf's actually got a very good work ethic, but she too has her 'moments' and I just either ignore or give up on that trick - yep she's got me well trained - but I rarely (will not go so far as to say never) treat for a failure, especially if I know full well she can do the trick!
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  19. MaryK Honored Member

    Leaf also gets bored very easily but she does have (generally) a very good work ethic, though she can have her 'moments'. When this happens I either ignore her completely - resulting a sad faced, questioning look from her - or change onto something completely different. You've obviously tried that with Cooper without any appreciable success.

    Cooper does know you too well. I feel that hide and seek is all too easy for him, he needs more of a challenge. That can of course be tricky as there are only so many places you can hide - unless he liked to shut his eyes and count to 100 and somehow I don't think he'd be into that.

    Running dog is right, Cooper does know you too well. He's not taking YOU for granted but he is taking YOUR ACTIONS for granted. He loves you but he's a smart little cookie and knows it!

    As you say, he's watching you and follows if you walk away. He wouldn't do that if he took you for granted. But "Hey Mom I know you so well I'm up to all your moves" is his attitude.

    You may well have to accept Cooper for himself, because he's a dog with the courage to be himself!!! Personally, I'd enjoy the ride, because don't forget he's also picking up on your moods and will react accordingly - i.e. by making you look like an idiot - smart dogs seem to love doing that at times to their long suffering companions.

    Try to just enjoy Cooper, warts and all, don't allow yourself to feel frustrated, go along with the ride. That may be something he's just not expecting and it may - no promises - after a while bring about a change in his attitude. Have fun and learn your lessons well - he's a grand dog love that independent spirit of his!:love:
  20. Anneke Honored Member

    Mary, that is exactly what I have been doing for the past year. Just take him as he comes. You want to work, nice, let's have a party! You don't, fine, I'll do funstuff with Jinx. And it seems to work.
    But every once in a while I fall back into my old way of thinking and I try... and fall flat on my face:LOL:
    I think somehow I put too much pressure on him and he just ignores me. And then when I give up, there he is, being all hey, let's work! Like he has been over the past few days, since I posted this thread:rolleyes:
    I have been doing some execises with Jinx on a fitnessball(I'll post about that later) and he just loves it so much he will push Jinx aside to get his turn :rolleyes::D
    MaryK likes this.

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