Saturday, March 19, 2011

Are you a Pez Dispenser???

The seminar today was great- Carolyn is a fantastic speaker, and had lots of valuable information to share. 
Carolyn is a former obedience person turned Schutzhund trainer- so drive and motivation is very important in her sport. She uses mostly toys as rewards and had some good ideas for everyone as to how to play with the dog, when to reward, marker words, and just general training stuff.
 The morning was all lecture and videos. We talked about the different types of motivation, and examples of why/when they would work. After a yummy lunch we got to work our dogs- each person/dog team got the floor for some individual feedback.

One of the things she talked a lot about is the fact that we often become "Pez Dispensers." Handing out food for the dog even if she doesn't deserve it, and often without much thought. The dog quickly becomes completely reliant on the sight of the food to perform, or starts acting out in an effort to get the food. Not to pick on her, but my friend Jo is having problems with her Collie Kort in this aspect. He demands cookies, and in the ring of course you can't have any- so then he starts flaking off, or biting her, or barking, or being silly in an effort to illicit a response...It is a vicious cycle, and I am happy that Carolyn talked about the steps to get away from that. I think that lots of us are quilty of this.

Carolyn demonstrates a way to get a good tug from Kort

We also talked about changing the dogs lifestyle to increase drive. When Pixel was younger I took away all the toys in the house to increase her toy drive. I blogged about it and many of my readers were horrified about it. lol. But it works. If the dog has free access to toys, why on earth would they work hard for one? I am a big advocate of that, I know that it worked for Pixel. And now that Brit is here and is learning how to play all the dogs are on a toy diet aswell...Also- working for food. How many of us just put the bowl down and leave the dog to eat in peace? I try to make the dogs work for their food as much as I can, although probably not as often as I should.

Everyone in attendance got some great one on one advice, and I learned a lot just watching the other sessions- it was nice to hear that I am on the right track as lots of what she said and does I already do. I think it was great for my friends to hear some of the same stuff from someone else- sometimes just hearing it from someone new is enough to make it sink in.

She had some good advice for me with Pixel- I use play a lot already in training, in fact I rely on that to get her "up" before I train. Carolyn suggested that I start asking her to do simple things before the play to help wean away/reduce the amount of play Pixel needs to be "up." It makes total sense- can't believe I didn't think about that before! Pixel is an awesome worker- when she is in the mood, and I won't always have the opportunity to play before training so I have been struggling with how to fade that a bit...

This is Daisy- who belongs to Wicca's breeder. She is super duper cute, and a very happy worker- but had no idea how to play.
This is Lore "Making Prey" as the germans I took lots of photos of her as I think she is adorable. I will post them later this week..

And the reason I brought Wicca was for a photo op. I am sick of the same scenery, and knew that the tracks in the small town where the seminar was would be awesome. I didn't anticipate just how cool though- with the snowy backgroun it turned out pretty incredible!


onecollie said...

LOL!, I know you aren't picking on me :) I am so a Pez Dispenser !!!!!

K-Koira said...

Those sound like some great tips. I know in the flyball world most of our dogs get toy/tug rewards, and for me, training a tug drive is an important step in flyball training. However, a lot of people have never used toy drive to train before, and have huge problems transfering from treats. Or end up just tossing treat whether the dog did something right or not- don't have that problem with a tug or toy reward. Wish I could have been to the seminar to hear it all.

^..^Corgidogmama said...

great post Amanda! Fantastic photo and background using the train tracks!

Papillon Penny said...

Sounds like a great seminar! Wish I could have been there!