Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Stress and the cookie

On Sunday I decided to see how Miley's rear cross to the tunnel was doing. Was it a fluke that she got it in the end of the initial practice?  So instead of back chaining or starting really easy, I thought I would just send her through the long tunnel that was laying next to the a-frame ( not underneath it yet). Why did I choose to do that? I dont know. I just want to do  a few minutes practice.  So I sent her through, rear crossed and she went the wrong way when she came out. So no little cookie as a reward. Her "cookie" is a tiny piece of Natural Balance roll.  I mean a tiny piece.  So I put her through again, rear crossed and again she went the wrong way. Again, no little cookie reward.   Ok, problem.  So let me make it easier right.  I put her in the tunnel and STRESS!  Ugh! She wouldnt even go into the tunnel. What the heck?  I tried again, and again  she starts spinning and refusing to go in. Holly Crap!  Ive wrecked my dog. Now not only do I have a table problem , I have a tunnel problem.  I cant avoid tunnels.   This time she goes in but pops right back out and doesnt go thur the tunnel.  At this point I think Im going to cry.  I didnt mean to cause her stress, I was just trying to teach her something.  Could that little negativity of not getting the cookie after the tunnel have that great of an effect?  I guess so.   She did get a cookie at the beginning of the tunnel when I put her in a sit-stay.  Ok, I need to make it really really easy.   Very short tunnel straight ahead.  She went through and got a huge jack-pot of natural balance.  We did it again and another party. Then the long tunnel. The I did a curved tunnel and she was lightening fast , banking off the side when coming out. Again, huge party.  The we worked on jumping box work with an occasional tunnel thrown it.  No problems.  OMG, I hope her tunnels are ok.  I still felt bad about what happened and how easily she was stressed by that tiny mistake.   No wonder her table is screwed up.   It probably happened like that and I didnt even recognize it happening.  So I probably wont RC any tunnel under the a-frame for quite a while.

I saw this lady running her dogs when I was in Raleigh.   She was running Masters Gamblers.  She ran once border collie and he didnt get the gamble and she was mad.  You could tell her dog knew.  Head down, walking that slinky type walk.  She put him in a down and went and got the leash. Put the leash on and walked out of the ring. No happiness there.  Then I see her run the same class again with her next border collie.  This dog runs the gamble the same way and didnt get the gamble. Again , she was mad.  The dog and her are walking out of the ring , his head is down and he is slinking along knowing he did something wrong.  This time she takes this dog out of the ring, puts him in a down, then walks back in the ring to get the leash.   Comes back , put the leash on and walks away. Again, no happiness there.  Watching this made me soooo mad.  What the heck was wrong with her.  Both her dogs ran the gamble the same way.  Two different dogs, same handler.  So guess where the problem must be. But she blamed the dogs.  I asked this girl sitting near me if she knew that lady.  She said she didnt know her but knew who she was.  She then told me the lady's name.  She is known and puts on seminars.  Well you better believe I would never go to her seminar.   Can you imagine if I did that to Miley. She would never enter the ring again.     But that is beside the point. You shouldnt do that to any dog that is trying their best.  Jeez people, its dog agility.

Lots of sick kids at school.  Lots of fevers and sore throat.  Guess what?  Now I have a sore throat. Just great.


Sara said...

Oreo shuts down if he doesn't get a treat after trying something. He usually bounces back quick if I start treating him for things he can do successfully. I hope its the same for Miley. Boy, they can be so sensitive.

I hate when people get mad at their dogs at trials. It makes everyone else's skin crawl. Poor dogs.

Kathy said...

In the course I took from Susan Garrett she talks about problems like that and says the dog needs to do a LOT more shaping, just basic shaping and you dont use a no rewards marker and you dont use luring or helping the dog just some good shaping and lots of it-shape lots of tricks and that helps dogs to understand working through things without stressing, lots of work where they will do a lot wrong and just not get a cookie but have it be no big deal to be wrong. I have been using that with Lizzie and it does seem to be helping. I have a good guess who you are talking about, I am thinking of someone from my area that was in your area at about that time.....now I will be awake all night wondering ;-), maybe someone should do a lot of shaping with me so I can handle being wrong or not knowing, LOL, hahahahah.

Ricky the Sheltie said...

Miley will be ok - you did not ruin her tunnels. Ricky gets all weird if I don't give him a treat too but he gets over it.

Such a shame about that handler at the trial and to think she gives seminars? So many people are WAY too serious about an activity that is supposed to be fun.

Ludo van Doggy said...

That's the joy of shelties! I'm lucky with Ludo that he gets over his quirks quite quickly. I have had to change training schools though because they put a long lead on him to do the emergency down and it freaked him out soo much, just shows they didn't understand the fragile sheltie nature, but then again, I should have realised the strangeness would have stressed him. The new class I took him to thought he'd been abused by them for the first couple of weeks, he was so afraid to go in. He loves it again now.

That woman was horrible and doesn't sound like a good person to be teaching seminars. I agree with Ricky's Mom, people take the competition aspect too seriously.

Sophie said...

I think the fairly quick shut-down and bounce-back is common with shelties and terriers (or at least, my little JRT pup). She gets frustrated quite quickly, but bounces back immediately if you take a step back or start over with basics.

Hopefully her trial tunnels don't suffer!

Anonymous said...

I don't think you "ruined" Miley's tunnels by not giving her a cookie. I think she was just getting frustrated because she couldn't figure out how to do the exercise right. I think she was just telling you she didn't understand the exercise by refusing to go in. Like a kid called on in class to answer a question he doesn't know the answer to, so says nothing for fear of being wrong. I like what Silvia Trkman says about treats- it doesn't matter what kind of treats you use to train, the treat just tells the dog they got it right, which is what they are truly working for.

One thing that helped when I was teaching Marron about RC on tunnels was a left/right command. I taught her left/right initially when we were having trouble with RC even at jumps (there was an article in CR a few years ago that went into detail about it). Then I just replaced the jump with a short, straight tunnel, then started curving the tunnel in various ways.

Another thing that someone along the way taught me was that if you want the dog to turn (doesn't matter which direction) out of a tunnel rather than go straight ahead, call their name before they exit. That should help her locate you when you RC too, so eventually she might learn to read the RC on the entry to the tunnel.

Nicki said...

I hate when people don't act happy at trials. If I acted that way to my dogs they would shut down in an instant. I always try to act like they never did anything wrong. I'm not always successful,but I try. Dogs that are not happy don't run well and besides, who wants an unhappy dog?

Nat said...

It makes me so mad, and sad, when people blame their dogs. Their dogs try so hard, and what do the people do? Correct their dogs, or even just show their anger or disappointment, which can be just as bad as correcting...ugh!

Morganne said...

If I'm working through an exercise and my dog has failed several times, I will ask for a quick behavior they know (like a hand touch) that I can reward. Then I will ask for another attempt.

I have noticed that Soleil is a bit softer than Summit when it comes to being wrong.

Katie, Maizey and Magnus said...

Well this was medicine at the right time for me, Diana! After listening to me whine about Magnus class tonight and reading my post about it Marie found me this link, and I thank her for it!

This is pretty much how I felt at class tonight. When you say, "Holly Crap! I've wrecked my dog." That was exactly what I was thinking and wanting to cry? Yeah, that was me too. Our instructor is awesome, but I don't know what she would have done if I just sat on our mat and had a good sob.LOL

But not only did you not ruin Miley's tunnels, she is doing great with her table work too! Maybe there is hope for me after all!;) Thanks for sharing this, it made me feel a lot better!