Training and Obedience > Trouble with focus and the independant dog (16 replies)
Trouble with focus and the independant dog
by melba on 20 May 2012 - 12:37
|I have a dog that I've hit a wall with and need some other ideas. Let me give you some background info:|
The dog was imported from Germany at around 2 yrs old, hand picked as a dual purpose police prospect by a K9
trainer in the US. The trainer got a job with a Military K9 subcontractor and the dog sat in a kennel at his boarding
facility for 2 yrs. After doing some work for the trainer, he gave me the dog. I have had her for 2 yrs and have been
trying to seriously train her for Schutzhund (or should I say IPO) for a few months now.
The dog in question is Geena vom Andi
Here are the problems I'm having:
During heeling sometimes her focus is picture perfect, prancing, ears forward, the picture of good heeling, correct position etc..
other times not so much. I've used a clicker with food and the time that I work her here at home. If I take her out anywhere
it's gone. I've used the ball, have done a lot of drive building with the flirt pole and she's really into it. She will work for the
ball at home and *sometimes* at the training field. She will not work unless she can see it. Same with the food. Basically if
there's nothing in it for her, then she has no use for people. She understands what I am asking, as in a sitting position if she
looks away I correct and her focus immediately comes back to me. I don't let her do ANYTHING, like eat, enter her crate, enter or
exit her kennel until she is intently focused on me. I don't move from sit period until she is focused. Unfortunately, I can't maintain
that focus once I start moving.
She is very olfactory oriented, and it seems that when she catches a whiff of something interesting to her, that is where 100%
of her focus goes. I have tried using a pinch collar and she will completely tune me out. I'm having a feeling that I will need to
use an ecollar on low stim to proof off lead obedience.
If there is nothing in it for her then she'll give me the doggy equilivent of the middle finger. Occasionally she'll *ask* to be loved
on, but not horribly often. Usually when she want something.
I do not give in to her *whims* and make her work for the things she wants. I just can't figure Geena out. How can I make myself
the absolute center of her attention? Or has the sitting in the kennel for 2 years prior to me getting her ruined her ability to bond?
I need some ideas bounced around if you guys don't mind. I'm not a novice (though by NO means an expert!) but have been teaching
and training this type of obedience for 7 years and this is the first dog that has stumped me.
by Hired Dog on 20 May 2012 - 13:32
|You may be correct Mellisa, the 2 years in a kennel may have done more damage then you can fix now, however, I would try the NEPOPO method of training her before I gave up. Please google it if you are not familiar with it...it works great.|
by hunger4justice on 20 May 2012 - 14:19
|I could not DISAGREE more than with using the Bart Bellon NEPOPO method with this dog!!!!!!!!!!!!! That method does produce results because the dog is put in a position where it has one choice only to escape an uncomfortable situation and that is to submit/comply. It does work in that the behavior is produced. HOWEVER it can and has broken dogs. What it also does is damage the bond between you and the dog. People who go to worlds use more methods like Balabanov and there is a reason for that. I would never rely on a dog to protect my life in a real situation that was trained under NEPOPO.|
I would do some "extreme bonding" a la Flinks methods he used prior to going to the BSP or winning the WUSV with this dog. Where does the dog sleep and is it in a kennel in your home? What kind of interaction away from the training field do you do? Do you ever do the focus under distraction outside the training area? What do you do when the dog does not comply?
by Kaffirdog on 20 May 2012 - 14:46
|I have a half sister to your dog, same mother and she lacks focus as well. She too was kennelled long term and I thought that was part of the problem, but her son is much the same, far more into nosework and agility than close quarters concentration, though he is very drivy and into the toy, but can't sustain it, I think his social drive interferes when he is at close quarters, he is usually better with breaks for hands on affection than breaks for the toy and he gets easily bored and slows up.|
I suspect it is a genetic aspect of the temperament, probably made worse by the long term kennelling.
I'd try using the social drive with as little correction as possible in short lessons.
by melba on 20 May 2012 - 14:53
|Geena is in the kennel during the day and crated at night. While my kiddos are in school, I'm all about the dogs.... Monday, Wednesday and Friday|
we are conditioning for an AD. I run her (trot, 8 mph) on one side of my 4 wheeler for 5 miles and another dog on the other side for 8 miles.
Tuesday and Thursday is tracking and obedience, Saturday is either tracking or obedience and protection.
She can not live in my house with my other female, both extreme dominant personalities with other females.
I spend 8 hours per day working the 3 dogs I am competing with, Geena Nero and Cera.
I have *tried* to do focus under distractions outside the training area, but it seems there are so many other smells that she says f u I'll do what
When she does not comply and I absolutely know I'm getting nowhere but frustrated, I'll ask her to do something I absolutely know she WILL do and
put her up. Always end on a positive note with me getting something I want from her.
I'm grasping at straws and have never given up on a dog before. I don't plan on doing that now, it's just a matter of finding what will work, if anything.
On a side note, she LOVES to track and is quite good at it.
I'll research the NEPOPO method. I'm all for learning something new.
by melba on 20 May 2012 - 15:02
|Kaffirdog, that is VERY interesting. Thank you for the insight!|
by Hired Dog on 20 May 2012 - 16:41
|Hunger4justice, please research the NEPOPO method better before you make any more assumptions on it. It is used by the top trainers on the planet to win. It is also true that it was created by Bart Bellon, but, he is one of the top 10 trainers in the world and his record in the NVBK with his Zodt still stands to this day. |
Another dog trained by Bart using NEPOPO won two years in a row, at the age of 9 and 10 I believe, or maybe 11...do you think he maybe on to something with it?
I have used it with excellent results in most of my training and no fall outs. Ivan is indeed a great trainer and he is also smart enough to use a variation of NEPOPO.
I have never seen it "break" a dog, but, may I suggest that if it does, you may have the wrong dog to begin with? As far as depending on a dog in REAL life as you put it, if your training is sound, it will work. Would you want to take on Mr Bellon's dog, Egbert or his sire, Zodt, on the off chance that they dont like their trainer, Mr Bellon, and therefore wont defend him?
Its one thing to have truly tried a method and then speculate on it, but, its another to have simply heard about it and because of some issues you do not agree with to put it down. Have a great afternoon.
by hunger4justice on 20 May 2012 - 19:33
|Mark Chaffin said that (about breaking a dog) after he said he came to realize no matter how hard a dog was any dog can be broken.|
Every dog is different and every person wants different things out of and for their dog and some people are willing to sacrifice certain things for others. i never said the method does not work.
I don't like it for myself nor my dogs and points are not the most important thing to me in dog training. They are to some people. I have a right to what I want and am willing to do for and to my dogs to get it just as you are with yours. It is not a method I would use for my dogs.
by brynjulf on 20 May 2012 - 20:42
|Words from the father of the breed himself :Pg 452 - "We then once more arrive at the conclusion: work is an indispensable necessity for the shepherd dog; but kennel keeping will be a curse for him mentally and physically . . |
Now I am not anti kennel in any way. I have had some very very damaged dogs arrive. I had a young WL male around 18 months come in for training. It took me close to a month to get eye contact from him. When we went on walks he would just look at everything with awe. He would look up into the trees and just look. Honestly it almost broke my heart. He did come around but it took months and months. I do not believe he every became the dog he could have been had he been raised in a home environment. He had enough breeding to overcome the lack of stimulas.
by melba on 20 May 2012 - 21:23
|Personally I believe that being kenneled for 2 yrs with minimum, and I do mean minimum human contact (only feeding, she smelled SO bad when|
I picked her up!) with the staff, not being bonded to anyone has extremely affected her ability to bond and WANT to work for and with a human. The
glimmers of potential I do see make me wish I had received her sooner. Geena has come a long way from absolutely paying no attention to me
whatsoever to doing very nice focused heeling, on her terms of course. Maybe she just needs more time as I have seen improvement in the past few
months, it's just very very slow.
Me personally, I believe that I spend enough time with my dogs doing things that living in the house is irrevelant. The kennel is a resting place for
when you are not doing anything and need down time. JMO Here it is at least.
She will track no matter where she is... if I lay it she will find the end :)
Damaged beyond repair? I don't know.... I'll just keep working at it and if I can get somewhere with her training then good and if not, then oh well.
Thank you for your replies!
by Bhaugh on 21 May 2012 - 00:21
|What does SHE like to do? Am I guessing her age right at 6? Not that you can't teach an old dog new tricks, the time to bond with someone tight for the competition you want from her just isn't there anymore. Ive had more than my share of dogs that for whatever reason didnt think humans were around for any more than a meal. I personally didnt waste my time on them and placed them into a pet home. And from Kaffirdog stated, your trying to change genetics. Hard uphill battle. Have you considered that maybe she would do best in a pet home?|
by melba on 21 May 2012 - 00:48
|Geena likes to track. She's a lean mean tracking machine LOL. I've thought about placing her, but her|
personality is difficult. She is too much dog for the *average* pet home. She likes protection as well...
it's just ob that I'm having trouble with.
There's a saying I've been living by for a long time... train the dog you have and not the dog you wish
Uphill battle or not, I'll give it my best and see how it turns out. It's good to know the genetics have a
lot to do with it. I still want to keep trying.. I'm no quitter.
I did have an idea, and I'll let you guys know tomorrow if it works ;)
by hexe on 24 May 2012 - 00:30
|Well?........[tapping foot on floor]|
We're waiting.....what was your idea, and did it work????
by melba on 24 May 2012 - 01:26
|Honestly I haven't had time to try my idea LOL Sorry to leave ya hanging :) My idea was to take a small section of|
garden hose to use as her reward since she is absolutely obsessed with the hose and water.
I believe I have figured out some of her problem and it's not necessarily her. I'm freaking boring LOL! I've upped
drive work with the flirt pole and have become her "cheering squad" and so far she's a completely different dog.
Fun fun fun even if I feel like an absolute moron. I've had good focus at a run which I have NEVER had before with
her, good sit in motion though I would like it to eventually be a bit faster I'm not complaining, awesome right turn
no lagging, still teaching the sch about turn so won't pass judgement as of yet, very fast military finish which was
very pathetic before and is now for the most part a jump in air and turn at the same time. I know that is what it
is supposed to look like. She has an all around better attitude toward training so far. I've ended each training
session with more ball/flirt pole drive work. Also, I've started doing more drive work out and about while I run
I'm hoping the improvement continues and she eventually gets to a point that I don't have to act like it's Geena
party time as much.
If there is anything anyone would like to add, please do :)
by Dobermannman on 24 May 2012 - 18:07
|Forget about training and concentrate on having fun and building a relationship/bond with the dog.|
This may be hard with her extended kennel time and you trying to train two other dogs at the same time.
If she doesn't work out for you. I'd think a rehome to a an experienced handler and no other dogs,
NOT a pet home.
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by hexe on 24 May 2012 - 22:58
|Melissa, all I have to add to this discussion is my sincere admiration of you for not just tossing this girl aside, as has clearly been done with her up until now. One of the many reasons I could never be a 'top competitor' in any dog sport is because I could never bring myself to 'wash out' a dog I'd brought into my life for any reason.|
I think it's beyond commendable that you're working to figure out how to communicate with her...
"Whoever can find the answer to the question "How shall I say this to my dog?" has won the game and can develop from his animal whatever he likes."
--von Stephanitz, Chapter Six, "Schooling and Training", The German Shepherd in Word & Picture
by melba on 24 May 2012 - 23:15
|Hexe, that is my absolute favorite quote :)|
I will never be a top competitor (that I can forsee as of now, anyways). I feel like she has been tossed around so many times,
that it would not be fair to her to just give up. I'm no quitter and I can see that spark occasionally when we are working that
makes me believe she CAN do it and WANTS to do it, there's just something I haven't figured out yet. When she is focused,
it's a thing of beauty, there is a sparkle in her eyes, ears very high, tail wagging in time with her footsteps and I believe that
if I can figure her out, oh I don't know how to put into words what I am trying to say. When she's at her best it's like watching
dressage, or for the guys, like watching an intricate piece of machinery. Poetry in motion.
I'm in no hurry, and every dog should teach you something.
Cera has taught me to get my darn hands out of the way faster LOL, Nero was SO easy I think he spoiled and tricked me, Deuce,
the boy I donated to my very good PO friend at Transylvania Co So when his dog was unexpectedly retired due to PF taught me
patinece and I believe Geena is teaching me to be creative, don't forget to have fun and that all dogs are different.
Anyways, I need to post up some video. Thank you!