Increasing Drive

Discussion in 'Advanced Dog Training' started by Pawbla, Feb 23, 2013.

  1. Pawbla Experienced Member

    Do you have any tips for increasing drive in a dog when training? I know that some dogs are naturally more low energy. But there are just some dogs that are always way too calm. I have a lot of fun training hyperactive dogs (which owners hate!) but I always have a hard time with low-energy dogs. Oddly enough, I have one of those.
    I'm looking more for "tips" than broad stuff. You know, the things that are not "in the book". I know I'm supposed to find a thing the dog really really likes, etc, play with him and all that. You might say I haven't quite found that in what I've classified as low energy dogs. But my dog isn't really a playful dog, and I already know what he likes. I know his favorite food and how he likes to play, but most of the times he doesn't want to play, and he shows a moderate drive. It's pretty good when I want to keep him calm, but the rest of the time it's not that cool xD.
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  2. Anneke Honored Member

    Something we do at our dogschool to create drive is this.
    Put your treats somewhere where you can easily reach it, like on a chair or a table. Then go do the thing you want to train. For instance, you are working on heel. When your dog does a good heel, you run back to your treats and treat the dog.
    Most dogs love it when you run with them, even the not so playfull ones.
    It doesn't work with every dog, but I have seen some dogs, that don't play, go nuts for this.
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  3. Pawbla Experienced Member

    Thanks a lot for the tip! Seems like a cool idea. I'll try it today!
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  4. fickla Experienced Member

    I highly recommend Silvia Trkman's Ready, Steady, Go dvd. Lots of fun ideas for playing with your dog, teaching a dog to stress HIGH, and just having fun together. I agree that training a dog with higher drive is way easier than trying to pull motivation out of them!

    My toller is a high drive dog, but has anxiety issues that cause him to stress down. Because of this, I NEVER do training without him in drive. In the beginning I was trying so hard to pull energy out of him and to get him excited but with some great advice from Denise Fenzi and a local trainer (Nancy Little) I realized that I was doing it wrong. It's my job to making training so fun that he shouldn't want to leave, but I should never be begging my dog to do something,. Vito would still do the behavior so I didn't realize that we had this issue, but I was still begging for more enthusiasm/drive. Here is a blog post I made on my epiphany:

    Since then, I've worked a ton on setting up for "work." If he is not ready, aka slow to set up or looking dull, I calmly walk back out of the ring or put him in a down. A few seconds to a few minutes later we try again. It's not a punishment per say, it's just that I'm not going to beg him to get excited anymore. If he needs time to adjust, then he has time to adjust. Of course when he does decide to give his full effort training is kept very intense and short so that it's easy for him to stay in drive and he is left wanting to play again. This has worked wonders for our practice sessions and is starting to work nicely in new situations where he would previously depend on me to jolly him up or he would spend the time looking for things to worry about.

    Don't know how much of this will apply to you and your dog, but I got on a roll :)
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  5. Jean Cote Administrator

    Two things come to mind:

    1) Put your dog in a peak state before and after training. This will associate MASSIVE PLEASURE to the training which will then get your dog SUPER EXCITED to train with you. You can do this by tugging or playing fetch - whatever your dog loves most.

    2) Reward your dog for making choices. When you make a choice and you are rewarded for that choice, your brains produces a chemical called "Dopamine", which makes it that much more addictive!

    These are some of the things I talk about in my eBook, newsletter and videos.
  6. Pawbla Experienced Member

    Thanks a lot for the explanation. I'm not sure if this will apply to my dog as well. It's true that I have a similar problem but I also have problems since the moments he chooses to "make the connection" are really scarce since he's a very low drive dog. I'll add it to the list of things I'll try :D.

    Thanks for your answer! I did read your ebook, I liked it a lot. I have a problem regarding reaching what you call the "peak state". Just playing doesn't cut it for him as most of the time he is not in a "playful mood" - that's what I mean by /very/ low energy. I try to find moments in which both of us are moderately active, but 90% of the times I try to start playing chase (his favorite game) or fetch he just doesn't care. It's quite some work to get him really interested, so I'm looking for some tips that might help me making it easier. Once he's in it, he's in it, though. Kinda similar to Laura's problem.
    I have also started shaping a few months ago (is that what you meant by rewarding him for making choices?) and he is a bit more "excited" when we train, but he still needs an extra help.
  7. threenorns Well-Known Member

    just a thought, here: has he been checked over by a vet? you know, just to make sure his thyroid, etc, is up to snuff?
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  8. Pawbla Experienced Member

    My aunt is a vet, she lives with him for a couple of weeks every year (she comes over for Christmas). I'm sure she'd have told me if she found anything unusual or worthy of a full blood work. I originally thought it miiiight be a thyroid problem but it'd be his only symptom, his hair is beautiful and he's not overweight at all.
  9. Golden River of Dreams Well-Known Member

    With my mellow dog, I started using his meal time as training time, and over time he was more excited and energetic when the bowl appeared even more then he was excited for meat treats. I also like to show my dog I have a treat and then tease him with it until he is interested and pull it away in front of him and give him three seconds to come get it. I also used this game to get him to swing faster around me in obedience rather then lag behind. The other thing I do is act very excited about the treat, tease him a little with it and the moment he tries to go for it I pull it away and say oh are you sure you want it (in an excited almost urgent tone of voice), you do?...okay you can have it.
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  10. Pawbla Experienced Member

    I always use his meal times for training hehe. But if I start moving around treats he will just sit and wait lol. He knows he'll eventually get it. I'm keeping my sessions really really short right now, with lots of running and fetching games (I'm trying to teach retrieve) and it seems to be working. But I'm doing less training.
  11. myraellen Well-Known Member

    My friend found this thread. She thought that we would write here about two things because they might relate to the topic of this thread. At least they relate to each other :D :

    1) When Lotta notices that my friend is going to start training her she gets very excited about it. Lotta has different ideas of what she should do than my friend does. Lotta behaves like she would like to play with my friend also after she has been playing with her toys. Then she wags her tail happily and also barks playfully. My friend usually does get Lotta to do things like in the following video:

    However, Lotta apparenlty doesn't know how to distinguish training sessions and play times from each other. How would my friend get Lotta to know when it's time to work?:confused:

    2) Lotta is a young dog that isn't always able to concentrate on things she should be doing in training sessions when there are toys around. Of course my friend would like to use play as a reward but her dog should first learn to take and drop on cue. When my friend is teaching Lotta something new, she might do what she should be doing for some time but after few times she goes to play with her toys. My friend would like to know how to get Lotta to work although there are toys in the room. In case someone suggest it, putting the toys away wouldn't solve the problem because Lotta would still see them. So it would be difficult to start with no toys around. My friend lives in a small appartment with Lotta and her toys are/gets carried to the room where there is room to train her. In case someone suggests to teach Lotta to look at my friend, she hasn't needed to teach it much, because Lotta is naturally that kind of dog that often looks at his/her owner. So, my friend would like to know how to get Lotta to concentrate on what she should be doing.

    Both of those things affects on how well my friend is able to teach those tricks to Lotta. If my friend got Lotta to understand when it's time to work and got her to concentrate on things she should do, she would be able to teach those tricks better to her.
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  12. running_dog Honored Member

    Please could you describe to us what you think your ideal Lotta would be like in a play session and what your ideal Lotta would be like in a training session? What is the difference?
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  13. running_dog Honored Member

    There are two things happening here
    1) Lotta needs to learn to work near distractions.
    2) Lotta needs to understand what you are teaching more clearly, if a dog is uncertain of what it has to do it will choose to do something it knows it can do easily such as play with toys. This is something that I found in a video from Susan Garrett, I'm sorry I can't post it here as it was only available for a short time, it revolutionised my training when I understood the effect uncertainty has on my dog.

    For (1) You could try using the "look at that" training technique, I have used it since reading about it in Control Unleashed by Leslie McDevitt. Basically when using "look at that" you reward the dog for calmly looking at the thing he finds distracting. You can reward very quickly so the dog wants to stay with you rather than go to the distraction. This is a video of Zac doing "look at that" with a passing dog.

    Another useful idea from Control Unleashed is to make yourself the gateway to the distraction. So after getting your dog to do a couple of tricks you tell your dog to go and play with the toys (or in my case I tell Zac to go and play with a dog or chase a squirrel). This makes the distraction into a reward.

    For (2) you need to make sure that Lotta understands what you are trying to teach her, make sure she is very successful, keep training sessions really short and have a very rapid rate of reinforcement. If she doesn't succeed quickly take her back to something she knows and that you can reward her for.
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  14. myraellen Well-Known Member

    So, this is one of the things we tried to ask about:
    What kind of cues and signals would you give to the dog so that s/he would know that it's time to work?

    My friend is often able to show quite clearly to Lotta what she should be doing when she knows what to teach to her and how (it's different if she doesn't know it:p ) like in this video:

    So, it's rather so that Lotta gets distracted when my friend is training her. She would also like to know what she could do when Lotta starts playing with her toys in the middle of a training session? How would she get her to come back?

    Of course my friend would like to use play as a reward but her dog should first learn to take and drop on cue. She has already found ideas on how to teach them. :) So, my friend can't use play as a reward because Lotta doesn't know how to take and drop on cue yet. :confused: That's why she would like to discuss about this first:

    My friend has heard about LAT. She has read that it can be used also with dogs that gets too excited about things. My friend has seen tutorials on how to teach the dog to work although there are distractions around. However, in many of those tutorials they talk only about how to teach the dog to work although there are people and/or animals around. One would imagine that it would be easier to teach the dog to work although there are toys around instead of people and/or animals.

    My friend thought that she would try to explain a little better what she would like to teach to Lotta. She already knows that it probably takes a lot of time to teach this and that there are probably a lot of different kind of stages in this. This is not only about dog training, my friend is going to start doing something that consists of several stages and she would like to know what they are and what is the end result.

    Stage 1:

    My friend is already in the stage 1, since Lotta is naturally the kind of dog that often looks at his/her owner. :p

    Stage 2: In the following tutorial Pamela Johnson says that she started training inside the house but not how she started training. How should it be started?

    Stage 3:

    When my friend has gotten into the stage 3 in training, how should she continue? How many and what kind of following stages there are before the end behavior?

    The end behavior:
    There are toys lying around and Lotta is ignoring them. She is doing a trick and is concentrating on what my friend is asking her to do. She is able to work although there are toys around. (y) It probably takes a lot of time before my friend gets there. :ROFLMAO:
  15. running_dog Honored Member

    What is different between what you do when you are training Lotta and what you do when you are playing with Lotta?

    Using the distraction as a the reward is not the same as using play as the reward. Being the gateway to the distraction works in 4 ways and the reward aspect is only one of them.
    1) you remove conflict by permitting the dog to do what it wants to do
    2) you make the dog think you have control over what it wants to do (very sneaky :LOL:) .
    3) you make the distraction less appealing by encouraging the dog to go and enjoy it.
    4) you reward the dog with what it wants.

    By the way, why do you think you can only use play as a reward after teaching take it and drop?

    Why does Lotta get distracted particularly when you are teaching new tricks and not so much when doing tricks she knows well? What is different in what happens when training new tricks compared to practising old ones?

    In most but not all cases this is true.

    All being well I will reply to this another day. Thank you for the description of how you want Lotta to behave. I'll try to help you break that down into small training stages.
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  16. myraellen Well-Known Member

    When Lotta is playing with a toy with or without my friend, she of course concentrates on it since playing is supposed to be fun, Lotta behaves the same way as the dog in this video:

    What my friend would want that would be happening in a training session is that Lotta would learn to concentrate better on what she should be doing.

    However, what the issue is now, is that although
    My friend doesn't know how to answer to those questions.

    My friend just saw a tutorial on what you are talking about above:

    4)At the beginning of that tutorial the trainer rewards the dog with the toy. After that she gets the dog to continue what s/he should be doing since s/he knows how to drop on cue. If my friend tried the same with Lotta, she would steal it and would concentrate on playing with it. :ROFLMAO: Lotta would also behave the same way as the other Cavalier in the video we linked above. That's why Lotta would rather be teached to take and drop on cue first.

    About 1, 2 & 3:
    At the next stage in that tutorial the trainer rewards the dog with the same toy s/he ignores first. She gets her dog to come back and continue what s/he should be doing since s/he is already teached to work although there are distractions around. If my friend tried the same with Lotta, she wouldn't get her to come back easily. O_o

    So, those are the reasons we have asked about the following things:
    What my friend is talking about in this thread is how to teach Lotta to ignore toys when she should be working. It's different then to ignore people and/or animals. You suggested LAT. How could it be used with toys?

    We asked about this:
    Stage 3:See the video.
  17. running_dog Honored Member

    I need you to think very hard about what differences there are in what you do and what Lotta does when Lotta is learning new tricks compared to when you are doing tricks with her that she already knows, as well as thinking about training sessions it might help to watch the videos you have made so you can see what is happening. Compare the sessions and tell me what is happening when Lotta runs off compared to when she doesn't.

    LAT, It's yer choice, rewarding with the distraction, teaching hold and drop are all part of teaching Lotta to pay attention around distractions. But you need to do some of the work too, you need to think and tell me the answers to my questions, it is really important that we both understand what is happening in the training sessions and to understand properly I need you to tell me.
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  18. running_dog Honored Member

    Myraellen, these are some questions I ask myself to analyse Zac's training sessions and that might help you. You just need to answer the questions for both new and known tricks training sessions and then compare them.

    1. What was I training?
    2. What mood am I in?
    3. Training location?
    4. Type of rewards?
    5. Number of rewards given per minute?
    6. What progress (if any) was made in training?
    7. Time until Zac Lotta starts to lose interest?
    8. Source of distraction?
    9. How distracted was he she?
    10. Length of successful training session?
    11. Total length of training session?
  19. myraellen Well-Known Member

    My friend can now try to answer to your questions. :) So, you asked, in addition to those questions above, what is the difference between the situations where my friend asks Lotta to do things she already knows and what she doesn't know yet.

    Those things relates to each other. One of the differences is that my friend doesn't use a clicker when she asks Lotta to do something she already knows outside of training sessions like to sit for example here:

    When my friend is going out with Lotta. She has managed to teach Lotta to sit at the door although she hasn't teached actual stay to her yet. Since Lotta isn't so good in it yet, she may not sit right away and/or may get up without permission. (Of course my friend asks her to sit again then.) Lotta may get up also if/when she sees people on the other side when my friend is at the front door with her. So, the another difference is that if/when there are distractions they are different than in an actual training session. The third difference is what kind of rewards my friend uses. My friend has read that the reward doesn't always need to be a treat. For example in this it is that my friend gives Lotta a permission to go out. The time it takes for my friend to get out with Lotta depends on how well she gets her to sit.

    What happens in actual training sessions doesn't depend on what my friend is teaching to Lotta. So, this is what is happening in them:

    Lotta sees that my friend takes a clicker in her hand, she thinks that it's a play time and after that:

    The first questions ^^^^ :
    What kind of cues and signals would you give to the dog so that s/he would know that it's time to work?

    After that my friend often gets Lotta to do something. The lenght of the training session depends on how well my friend gets Lotta to do things. She uses treats as a reward then. At some point she may see a toy and start playing with it. It would be difficult to start with no toys around since my friend lives in a small appartment with Lotta and her toys are/gets carried to the room where there is room to train her. Putting the toys away wouldn't solve the problem because Lotta would still see them. So, the next question is how my friend gets Lotta to come back if she started to play with a toy in the middle of training session?

    For example in the following video those dogs concentrate on doing what that trainer asks them to do no matter what ever is happening around them because they have been teached to do so:

    They don't break the eye contact or wander of even when that trainer throws toys on the floor. So, they do alone or together what the following tutorial is about:

    Let's put it this way: you take one toy and you put it somewhere where the dog can't get it. The question is how do you get/teach the dog to look at you although the toy is there?

    You can of course tell us if there still is something you want to know.
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  20. southerngirl Honored Member

    My dog Piper does this. Personally I will train in my bedroom so I put all toys outside of the bedroom door. And if she starts getting over excited and playful I will wait for her to stop playing with the toy. Than I will ask for a trick she knows such as shake. When Piper shakes I end the training session by saying "All done". I end training because once she gets that excited it's hard to get her to calm down and come back to training. I find it best to end training when the dog gets over excited and come back to the training when Piper has calmed back down.
    So when Lotta goes of playing with a toy it could be she is bored with training. You should shorten the length of training if your training for 10 minutes than try 5 minutes. Another thing you may want to try is play with Lotta Before you train her to get all that playful energy and maybe take her on a walk too before training. That way Lotta is calm before trainingl
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