1 2 3 4 5
But we train every day by heavily rewarding/praising even the ... to respond even faster, or better, etc., down the line.()

The slowdown causes the handler to start cheerleading, which puts more pressure on the dog and can slow the dog's performance down even more for the reasons I brought up in the other post.

Right. But the slowness per se wouldn't be coming from to the R+ the dog is receiving, in my opinion, it would be coming from the resulting confusion, distraction, pressure, etc., which is the point I was trying to make.

Handsome "Jack" Morrison
*gently remove the detonator to reply via e-mail
Q: Because it reverses the logical flow of conversation. A: Why is top posting frowned upon?
Somehow, along the way, I inadvertantly reinforced his slowness,[/nq]I've made that mistake myself and had a devil of a time fixing it, but it is fixable. Conventional training wisdom is to shorten the distance when a dog is slow when working away from you because the slowness comes in when the dog is unsure, stressed, or anxious about making a mistake. The mistake that I made was to instead encourage the dog with verbal praise, inadvertantly teaching him to look for a second signal. That's probably the most common cause for the problem in agility (overhandling) but it also comes up in other places like recalls and sendouts in obedience work.

In my case, it was on sendouts and retrieves. The cure was to shorten the distance, keep my mouth shut until the dumbell was in mouth or the sendout point was reached, then give my attention command (Watch) and praise all the way in. The reason I chose to use the attention command instead of a recall was that I was also working on getting a very tight turn instead of a big old loop. No idea if the cause of your problem is the same as mine was, but we were able to work through it.

The other cause can be distraction, including your voice as a distraction. We see this all the time when people are working on jumping. Their dog gathers for the jump and the handler just can't seem to stop themselves from verbally praising or even adding some sympathetic body language to "help" the dog over the jump. The dog gets distracted, pulls in their body and clips the jump, or even refuses it. Enough of this kind of distraction and the dog learns to never physically commit to anything because they're waiting for that handler's voice. Again, slowing the dog through overhandling.

HTH,
Lynn K.
()
IME, it's much harder to put the enthusiasm/speed back in, once lost, than it is to fine-tune control.

I'll second that. You can slow them down a lot easier than you can speed them up.
()
He had an unnerving habit of yelling "Whoo!" and "Whee!" in a falsetto voice while on-course.

As Shelly might say...eeww.

Handsome "Jack" Morrison
*gently remove the detonator to reply via e-mail
Q: Because it reverses the logical flow of conversation. A: Why is top posting frowned upon?
Confusion = slowness.

Bingo. Another factor is inadvertently training the dog to "check in" with the handler too much; you want the dog to be aware of/tuned in to you, but not slowing down and looking AT you for direction all that much.[/nq]Right. And to expand just a bit further, cheerleading in agility is often counterproductive because of the timing (forgive if this has already been said.) The dog is already feeling unsure and confused, and is slowing down because of that. Cheerleading can either be taken by the dog as praise for feeling confused and slowing down, OR it can actually come to be associated with the feeling of confusion. For instance, I know of a dog who was enthusiastically praised after she made a mistake and as the person was asking her to do it again.

It was done with good intentions, to not punish the dog for the mistake. But what ended up happening is that the dog came to associate that particular enthusiasm with being wrong and having to do it again. The praise itself became a conditioned punisher to the dog, who started to shut down completely each time she heard it. The handler moved to totally silent running, then to more properly placed praise when really deserved, and the dog is doing much better.
IME, it's much harder to put the enthusiasm/speed back in, once lost,than it is to fine-tune control.

Absolutely. It's far easier to work with a dog who is insane for the sport and needs to add a bit of maturity and control than it is to try to motivate a slower dog.
Which leads to the additional observation that "cheerleading" tends notto be specific praise for a dog doing one thing right, but sort of general verbal chatter & encouragement. Some "cheerleaders" literally cheer- they yell things like "woohoo!" as they go along.

Just got back from a NADAC trial, which I'll post about later, but a note about the above. I found that when I stop the constant chatter (come on, lets go, yeah yeah, etc.) and instead ran quietly, with little verbal direction or cheerleading, Bodhi runs better. However an occasional whoop, yahoo or woohoo when he's already going well definitely works to give him a boost - I can actually see him speed up on video when I do this. I think in that case, it actually serves as a reinforcement of his speed as well as encouraging him to go faster, because it isn't mixed in with babble.

Christy
The praise itself became a conditioned punisher to the dog, who
started to shut down completely each time she heard it. The handler movedto totally silent running, then to more properly placed praise when really deserved, and the dog is doing much better.

This is pretty much exactly what I'm doing now, with similar results. I hadn't thought about the conditioned punisher aspect of it!
Absolutely. It's far easier to work with a dog who is insane for the sport and needs to add a bit of maturity and control than it is to try tomotivate a slower dog.

Oh, man, is it ever. I really didn't believe the folks who said they'd rather run a ballistic, super driven dog than a nice consistent slower dog until I got a ballistic, super driven dog. I absolutely understand now. I have a blast running Wylie even when we have issues because I can see that once we figure out certain things (weave entries at speed, certain handling moves, and those blasted yellow zones) there is wonderful potential for us as a team. It is actually far less work and even less running with Wylie, because I am not spending so much energy just trying to get a performance out of him, as well as having a shorter handling path as he gets more confident working away from me. It just gets better and better.

Christy
Yes, I've seen quite a few of them (handlers) take some pretty nasty tumbles, too.

A friend of mine broke her arm this spring in a nasty fall. I took a tumble in my first run this weekend, wearing my spiffy new Dita turf shoes for the first time in the ring. Not the shoes fault, though - I zigged, Wylie zagged and I ate grass. No harm, no foul, no blood, no ambulance, and we finished the course!
From what I've observed in the training of retrievers, you can't do much about a dog's speed. As the old ... will eventually translate into increased speed in the field, at least to the extent the dog was born with it.

But if a dog has speed and simply doesn't use it in a particular venue, there must be a reason, eh? Bodhi can run at pretty blistering speeds when he's just running for fun or after a ball or frisbee. I simply haven't had any luck translating that to agility.
Do they wear short skirts and jump up and down a lot, too? If so, I may have to look into this agility thing a little more. Emotion: smile

Well, just visit a trial sometime. Not many short skirts, but you'll be one of the few men there, and you'll figure out pretty quickly which ladies are wearing the sports bras and which ladies are not - and not just from the black eyes, either.
Christy
Same in agility, with of course the difference that all sorts of dogs compete. And there's the universal factor of keeping the dog fit, as well; quite a few of the slower dogs I see in agility could benefit from taking off a few pounds.

I once thought this was a factor - Bodhi had been quite heavy before thyroid meds, and had a devil of a time losing the last 5 pounds (he had been about
15 lb. overweight.) After that came off, he sped up quite a bit and we hadsome nice Q runs but the new speed didn't last.
I've decided to put him back into classes. We've had over a year off from formal classes, with just a few seminars/camps and working at home. Perhaps regular class work will help.
I'm not looking to put any agility championships on him or anything, I just want to have fun with him and make sure he's having fun too! Hence, trying out the flyball - I'm bored to tears so far and so is Wylie but Bodhi seems to like it!
Christy
Yep. When you have a highly driven dog you start with a huge advantage, because you can totally subtract "motivation" issues from your training regimen. You still need to keep enthusiasm up and you get other training issues (dropped bars, off courses), but to me it's sure a heck of a lot more fun. Like trying to merge onto a busy highway with an ancient Mazda or a Porsche. One you worry about, the other you just press the accelerator and go!
Show more