"ruff Love"

Discussion in 'General Dog Training' started by Gordykins, Feb 2, 2014.

  1. Gordykins Experienced Member

    Has anyone ever read Ruff Love by Susan Garrett... or implemented the Ruff Love program with their dog?

    I ordered the book, and just started reading it. Basically, the mantra of the book is "Positive is not Permissive." She recommends taking away anything in your dogs environment that they can use to self reward, then as they start to learn that pretty much all of their rewards in life come from their person, and are not sought out independently in their environment, you add privileges back.

    Somebody recommended that I read it because Gordy isn't as focused as I think he can be, and he does a lot of self rewarding behaviors when I'm working (or trying to work) with him. I think that maybe there are some ideas that I can pull from the book, but there are others that I'd have a hard time implementing. I get the feeling that that is not at all the point of the book though. I think what this book is going for is this is a "do all of these things, get these results" kind of a thing, and not at all geared towards "let me pull some ideas out of here that I think would work" ideas.

    So, I was just wondering if anybody has had any experience with it.

  2. freedomdreams Well-Known Member

    I'm interested in knowing the responses from this and your experience- I definitely am considering to order the book.
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  3. brody_smom Experienced Member

    I haven't read her books, but I am a member of Puppy Peaks, her website that shows her weekly training sessions with one of her dogs starting from about 1 month old. Her methods are excellent, and she has a well-proven track record with many of her own dogs as well as others who have trained with her "Say Yes!" approach. Watch her videos! Her love for dogs and her desire to help others is undeniable. I highly recommend her!
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  4. kassidybc Experienced Member

    I don't have experience with that specific book, but I have experience with some of Susan Garett's other stuff, and it's great! She is an amazing trainer!
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  5. Gordykins Experienced Member

    I finished reading it, and while I think it could work, it does sound really overwhelming. I think I might see if I can find some other training methods to compare and contrast, and see what else is out there before I start. If there are less life altering approaches, I think I'd like to try those first. It just sounds a little extreme for the minor problems that I am having with him. If nothing else works, I will revisit the Ruff Love idea.
  6. brody_smom Experienced Member

    One thing that I have found about Susan Garrett is that I have an easier time understanding her videos than her writing. Maybe that's just me; I tend to be a visual learner. I read about half of her book, "Shaping Success", and felt that I couldn't do most of the things she was describing. I since joined Puppy Peaks and took a Recallers class online, and found that the games are very simple, short and light-hearted. I haven't been able to do some of the exercises the way they were designed due to lack of space or human helpers, but, even done "wrong", they have made a big difference in Brody's attentiveness and willingness to try again. You can do some simple things like making a list of things that distract River and rating them from 1 to 10. Make another list of things that reinforce him (some of them maybe the same as the first list!) also rating from 1 to 10. You need to use a high value reinforcer if he is in the presence of a high value distraction. Play games that build YOUR value. One of the first things she taught me was not to leave any toys other than chew toys lying around. The tuggies and balls only appear when I am ready to play with them. You can play games with his toys where you only play with the toy you are holding, even if he wants to play with a different one. The toy you have becomes more valuable, regardless of which toy it is. She always keeps her tone very light and fun. I didn't expect that, but she talks a kind of baby talk to her dogs, and doesn't apologize for it one bit.

    I will have to read "Ruff Love". What about it did you feel was "life altering"?
  7. Gordykins Experienced Member

    The biggest change is that there is lot more crate and alone time than Gordy than I would like for him. Aside from that, there are just a lot of lost privileges, and it's a pretty restrictive life for Gordy for awhile.

    I know there are reviews out there that make Ruff Love sound all but inhumane, and I don't think that at all. I think it's appropriate for a whole lot of situations, and I pretty much do follow the Ruff Love rules almost to a T when I bring a new foster to my house. I use the same rules as a way to introduce foster dogs to my house rules, and a way to earn their privileges (sans the specific documentation). Gordy has already earned privileges... and taking them away is a lot harder than starting with none. Some people who have higher aspirations for a dog like Gordy would certainly say it's exactly what he needs. But for me... I don't quite know how to describe what I'm trying to say... I guess, I'm not that competitive, and Ruff Love for Gordy would probably only be necessary if I were dead set at competing at a level that I can't even imagine is attainable for us at this point. Well, more honestly, a level that I don't think I have the time, or the finances to compete at! He's a great dog, I can take him anywhere, and we only compete for fun. We'd be giving up a lot to reach goals that I don't really need him to reach... so why make him give up so much when I just want a little tweak in his focus.

    As long as I see even small improvements just by adding games/exercises, and paying attention to my own handling, I'm happy... so something along those lines is more what I was looking for with Gordy... and in comparison, Ruff Love is a total life transformation.

    So anyway, just to stress... I think it IS a good book, just not what I was looking for in my situation with the Gordster right now.
    brodys_mom likes this.
  8. brody_smom Experienced Member

    Sorry I called Gordy "River" in my previous post!

    I know what you mean about the high aspirations. Much of the material in Susan's programs is really geared for those who are interested in competing at high levels. For myself, I keep that in the back of my mind so that I remember that my criteria need not be the same as hers. However, I can say with no reservations that her games and methods are very easy to implement and are valuable even to dog owners like me who have no plans to compete at all. I enjoy training Brody, and our team work has improved greatly in the few short months that I have been using them. She knows dogs, and she knows people, and she still has a lot of fun training, which is very inspiring to me. My local library system does not have "Ruff Love", but it does have several of her dvds, including "Crate Games", "2x2 Weaving" and "Success with One Jump", which I have requested. Maybe you can find some of her dvds in your public library. If you get the chance to watch any of her videos (check out clickerdogs.com) you can learn a lot about timing and placement of rewards. Also, she has really opened my eyes to the power of shaping over luring as a way to get your dog to learn better.
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