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Connor’s agility training – to be or not to be?

Home Forums Training Connor’s agility training – to be or not to be?

This topic contains 6 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Pat 6 years, 8 months ago.

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  • #9731

    Nano
    Participant

    I’m still uncomfortable with all the treats Connor is getting at agility class. Nor have I been convinced about the merits of clicker training. For example, the other night I accidently clicked the silly thing and Connor came running into the room. Not because the clicker means ‘jump’ or ‘down’ or ‘look at me’ but b/c the clicker means he gets a treat. Why do trainers think the dog associates the sound with the activity or behaviour? Even I associate it with treats. Ha! Ha! It means, ‘hurry up and get a treat in your hand before you click!’ It’s not that I’m against food rewards – but the sheer number of treats he gets in one class makes me feel nauseous!

    Last week we were supposed to show how well our dog could do a fast down. Connor has always been excellent at that command which I know isn’t the most popular with dogs. He downs and doesn’t get up until I say ‘up’. That’s b/c of a trick we do which is ‘sit, turn, down, up’ then reward. I worked with him the week before – in the kitchen, in the yard, in the lliving room and he had it cold.

    When he was asked to perform at class – you guessed it – he looked at me like, “Huh? What? I don’t know what you want.” The instructor shook her head and murmured to the other instructor “That dog needs to work on his fast down.” When he did finally down the instructor urged me to treat him. “He gets a treat when he gets up,” I explained. “He knows he has to stay down until I give the command.” Since the dogs have to down for 5 seconds, I thought Connor was way ahead of the game. “NO! You have to treat him for the down.” Of course, once I did, Connor figured the game was over and got up without permission. They shook their heads at me again.

    Then we were doing a restrained recall. The trainer held him and I was supposed to get him all excited. “Does he prefer treats or toys?” she asked. “Treats.” WRONG! I tantalized him with a bunch of treats while the trainer held him. Then I ran ahead calling him and she released him. He trotted off to inspect the teeter totter. She looked at me like, “You don’t know your dog.” And Connor embarrassed me again when she insisted I use a toy instead. Then he performed perfectly. ARRRGGH!

    The rest of the class he was well behaved but not performing at all. I know Connor and it was b/c he was bored. And even treats didn’t induce him b/c he gets them constantly at class and they’ve lost their cache. I said that and the instructors gave me that tolerant little smile that means, “She making excuses again.”

    This week they will ask me if I want Connor to sign up for the next level agility class. I don’t know what to do. I enjoy going to class with him b/c it’s something different we do together. I enjoy watching him perform the stunts and he likes it too. But I don’t agree with the training methods and I can’t believe all that treating is
    healthy.

    What to do? There isn’t another training facility that I can go to b/c they are all either across the city or full.

    Any suggestions? Comments? Advice?

    Thanks!

  • #63324

    Marianne
    Participant

    LOL Connor must be related to Sally!! I have seen that look too. I think it’s Sally’s way of telling me I am not really in charge!! There are so many training methods it is hard to find one that suits. And of course each dog is different so what works for one dog may be a failure for another. Sally is very head strong and there are not enough treats to bribe her if she doesn’t want to cooperate whereas Jackson (so far) is a pleaser. Treats for Jackson are hardly necessary just a Good Fella!!! seems to send him to seventh heaven.

    You’re on the right track though. No treats until the exercise is over and done properly. And to keep it interesting I don’t treat every time just a lot of praise. Toys do not work for us either. They have so many at home that one little one in class is just not interesting enough.

    I don’t know what to tell you. It must be hard to work with the trainers if you do not like their method or they are not open to trying something that might be better suited to Connor’s temperament. If he is refusing treats its because he has had enough. Have you tried not feeding Connor before going to class and then using his favorite treat. Training treats are a hazard of the game so I alternate between their regular food and some type of duck treat cuz both of mine think they are the best…. Sometimes on training day I cut the amount of food to make up for the added calories in the treats.

    Let us know what you decide to do…..

  • #63327

    Nano
    Participant

    I think Connor and Sally are related, too! (Closer than all their other ‘golden cousins’. Aren’t they ALL related somewhere down the line?) 😉
    She sounds exactly the same temperament. I’m happy with Connor and the training and work I’ve done with him. I taught him to close kitchen cupboards and put his toys away in a basket without a clicker and staggered treates/praise. (Sure, he’d rather have the treats but like you I don’t believe in a treat every time. In class, they want him to have a treat every time he blinks. At least it seems that way).

    I don’t feed Connor before class for the very reason you mentioned. I bring the tastiest, high value treats and try to rotate them so its not the same old every time. I also agree about not giving a treat until the exercise is complete. The problem is, they won’t let me explain that for Connor, the five second stay is already accomplished. We don’t have to treat each ‘shape’ because he already knows that. They are not good listeners.

    Very frustrating. Thanks for the vent. I just don’t want to give up an activity we both enjoy b/c of the instructors’ methods.

  • #63329

    Pat
    Participant

    Nancy from what you describe, I wouldn’t be happy in that class. Carmel had some clicker training but that was never the focus of her training. We where just given the basics encase we wanted to continue along that line. Carmel loved agility, but got bored easliy, and needed lots of challenges, we took 3 sessions, in total. But decided to take GCC instead, so changed directions. I would feel fustrated in class, as what you describe happen with Connor, would happen to Carmel and I. Too bad Sharon is so far for you to travel, (northeast of the city) she always tried to find something that would work for you and your dog trying different treats etc, and never feeding Carmel supper until after classes, so she was always hungry as Carmel is very food orientated. Good Luck with whatever you decide.

  • #63325

    cheslyn1
    Participant

    Yeah, they do not seem to listen or want to work with what they have. Crappy the others are too far away from you.

    If the fast down is needed for a down on the table – you might want to reward ‘the fast down’. It is not getting the dogs to stay for the 5 count but getting them to down in the first place that is hard when running agility. They do not want to stop :crushed: all the fun. And that awful count does not start until they are down (or sitting – judges choice). So a plan would be to teach each part separately – fast downs and staying down. But if that is what they wanted, they should explain better 🙁

    And really everyone should try and alternate the rewards all the time. So trying with the toy and seeing what you get and then trying with food, etc is not a bad idea. But rolling their eyes, etc is not.

    Someone you might want to check out is Denise Fenzi. She does use the clicker but talks lots about play, food or toys as rewards and where she uses which.

  • #63328

    Nano
    Participant

    Connor is actually very good at the fast down AND staying down until I tell him ‘up’. He just wouldn’t do it in class. I think he was yanking my chain. 🙂 More likely, he was distracted and/or hot and or bored. You know how Goldens get bored quickly.

    They asked if I’m coming back in January for the next set of foundation classes and I said I would. Mostly to hold the spot while I decide. I so enjoy doing activities with Connor so if that can cancel out the frustration with the handlers and my own defensiveness about Connor’s abilities (which are AWESOME but they don’t believe that) then I’ll keep going.

    We’ll see how Monday and next Monday go.

    Thanks for the advice!

  • #63326

    cheslyn1
    Participant

    Just one thing…although I know you are probably not doing this but in case, because we are humans 🙂 You might need to go back a step in class and retrain something you know Connor can do and does well but is not doing it at class. I know frustrating, hate being embrassed, etc, etc (been there 8 times with Maci now in a trial) You need to keep the frustration out and keep it fun for him…yeap the goldens have won…it is all about them 🙂 That means make it easy for him, start from scratch, reward the little things although you know he can do the big things.

    He is mostly likely just distracted and hot but if the frustration does not leave, he will become stressed and that they seem to carry over very easily to everything and everywhere.

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