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bait diving in agility

Running, catching, leaping; this is the forum to discuss dog sports and agility training with other active pups!

  
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Bruno CGC

Honorary Kelpie
 
 
Barked: Wed May 16, '12 7:45pm PST 
Hi all, Bruno and I have been taking a weekly agility class for about 4 weeks now- Bruno is doing pretty well on the obstacles so far, so that's not my question.

The problem is that he spends WAY too much time looking for food the other handlers have dropped, even digging in the dirt floor for hidden morsels. I try to keep him focused and do heeling exercises when it's not my turn, but if I don't directly engage him for even a second, he starts pulling me towards whatever he smells. It's really irritating. I love that he's very food-motivated in training, but I think he's being rewarded every time he finds something, and has less incentive to pay attention to me!

Do you think this behavior will go away as we advance in class and he gets more engaged in the courses(I plan to keep taking more classes after this one ends, even competing eventually) or something I need to address right now? It's really hard to avoid dropped food because as mentioned, it's a in a dirt-floored arena and anything can hide on the ground. smile I'm really worried that the first time we trial, he's going to ignore me and just look for food. silenced (Though that's a very long way off right now.) He is not normally like this in public, he's just learned it pays off to sniff around in agility class. confused

I do carry treats for him in my pocket, but they just can't compete with dirty bites off the ground. wink And I really DON'T want to be constantly saying "LEAVE IT!" anymore.

Did any of you have this problem, and how did you fix it? I know I should work on "leave it" training, but every time he finds one I didn't see first, it undermines that.

PS- I hope it doesn't look like I'm complaining about my dog- I love Bruno, and otherwise this class is going GREAT- I look forward to it every week- I just have a little pet peeve.
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Maggie,- Tika, &- Porter

Aussie-tastic- Trio
 
 
Barked: Wed May 16, '12 10:35pm PST 
I have an OPCs (other people's cookies) lover in Maggie - drives me insane! She used to be very sniffy and would happily chow down on whatever dirty bit she could find, but as agility in itself became rewarding it started to lessen and go away for the most part. She still roots around when we aren't running (or she is getting into mine or other's agility treats cause she is a "no-no" dog), but her on course behavior is much different.

I worked hard with Tika to prevent this and so far a lot of attention work seems to be helping. Not really heeling work, but tasks that prevent the nose from going down - like stretches, paw awareness, etc...she still loves to eat dirty cookies, but I know that I can call her off of it as she knows that I will have an even better treat than the one she just found.

I hate food filled arenas though - such a pain for the baby dogs!
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MACH, C-ATCH- Bailey RN,- CGCA

Is today agility- day??
 
 
Barked: Thu May 17, '12 5:41am PST 
What kind of treats are you taking to class with you? Figure out what's the highest value to Bruno (steak, cheese, etc.) and use that only for agility. If you up the value of yourself, you'll make yourself more interesting than the ground.
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Member Since
01/04/2009
 
 
Barked: Thu May 17, '12 7:01am PST 
When it comes to drives, have you worked on his other drives? For example, my dog has a really high toy drive. It's actually much higher then her food drive. If I really need to amp her up, I bring her favorite squeeky toy and tease her with it.

She ignores everything else but me and the wubba, and in agility class, I switch up the two. If there's an obstacle that for some reason she shows uncertainty for, then I get out her wubba and use that to encourage her. If it's an obstacle that we need to work on perfecting (like hitting our contacts when we come off the A-Frame or Dog Walk) then I use treats as markers and say, "HIT IT!"

And she does ;-) ;-)

Hopefully you figure it out. That would be frustrating!

You know...just as another note as I was thinking about this... She only ground surfs if she's bored in class. If she's engaged, she's fine. I would add that you don't want your dog to get burnt out in between waiting to run... so whatever you do choose to do, make sure that your dog gets a bit of a mental break in between doing the course and working for you.
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Cohen CD RE- ADC SGDC- FDCh CGN

The Monster
 
 
Barked: Thu May 17, '12 7:08am PST 
Work on some Its Yer Choice type exercises during class and at home so he's better equipped to control himself around the smell of crumbs on the floor.

The sniffing normally means that your dog isn't sufficiently aroused - he's not excited enough about the game, or about whatever you're doing. Work some tug into it, and other fun tricks, etc to keep him amped up between exercises.

Over time, as he develops a love for the game, he'll have an easier time focusing on the task at hand and his nose will wander less.
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Bruno CGC

Honorary Kelpie
 
 
Barked: Thu May 17, '12 7:10pm PST 
Thanks guys- I will look into Its Yer Choice, I've heard of it but don't remember what it actually is.

Bailey, I will try to up the ante next week- I'll get some of the gross commercial treats he'll do anything for (Beggin Strips, Pupperoni, etc... I have no idea what they put in those things, but they drive him crazy when someone else has them.) I've been using homemade chicken/parmesan chewy bites, and Zukes minis.

I WISH Bruno loved to tug or fetch! That would make my life a little easier. He has never been very into toys of any kind, I can get him to tug a little bit at home but he's pretty lukewarm about it and either gives up or walks away with the toy to chew on it after a couple seconds of tugging. I don't think a tug would be even be on his radar in class, with all the OPC (thanks for the phrase, Maggie smile ) on the ground to sniff out. It's weird to me that he's not toy-driven when I KNOW he has mondo prey drive, but hey, maybe he just didn't learn to play when he was a puppy or something.

I do suspect, like some of you mention, that he will get more interested in the game and less food-focused as we advance and he gets a clear understanding of what this is all about (which I don't think he has yet, we're still in the one-obstacle at a time, with treat reward after, stage). So hopefully that will help.
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Maxwell

I'm triple- superior MAD- now!
 
 
Barked: Thu May 17, '12 11:10pm PST 
Try using a bait bag. Max is on his fourth one in 10 years. "Stuff" with whatever he likes best and play with it. Max is huge on chasing lunge whips so dragging it past him gets him interested and once he grabs it and tugs it out of my hand he gets what is inside. Max hasn't much of a prey drive but playing with him like he is an extra large kitten really gets him going.

I put Max away when he isn't working. He gets down time and when we are working he is more likely to be on for me. At trials getting warmed up I am amazed at how light on the leash he is, ready to do his best for me.

Try the reverse of distracting him. When Max is being the incredibly irritating sniffy dog I freeze, take up the leash so he hasn't any slack and wait. When pulling doesn't get him anywhere he looks at me and CLICK[or yes]+cookie. Pay attention to me and good stuff happens but I don't tell him not to sniff. Start out by rewarding your dog whenever he looks at you. Use praise as you give the cookie and your voice will become a pretty decent reward itself.
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Abbey

Feisty- Girl
 
 
Barked: Fri May 18, '12 10:36am PST 
I prefer to crate between exercises, that makes it very clear to her when we are working and when we are not, and there is just no way she could stay focused on me for the whole class.

I'd also bring this up to your instructor, in our classes dropping food on the field is a big no-no and people are usually pretty careful about it.
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Bruno CGC

Honorary Kelpie
 
 
Barked: Fri May 18, '12 10:49am PST 
Abby, Bruno came to me with a strong aversion to being crated, he spreadeagles on the ground and then pees himself if you try to force him in one, and won't set a foot in one voluntarily even for his favorite foods in the whole world. I think he's had bad experiences with them before I got him. He will go to and lie on a mat no problem though, so maybe I could use that.

I think part of the problem with dropped food is that we are in the last class of the day, with another level-one beginner class right before us, so there are lots of smells lingering in the arena.
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Abbey

Feisty- Girl
 
 
Barked: Fri May 18, '12 11:16am PST 
Ah I see. Would he be okay with an x-pen, or maybe you could put him back in your car between exercises? If not I think the mat is a good idea.
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