Solo and I have started Rally classes at the San Francisco SPCA. It's been too long since we've taken any sort of class and we miss it. Agility is out since Solo's diagnosis with severe arthritis in his right hip. We could still go run courses once in a while I think, but regular training with jumps is a no-no and there aren't really any suitable clubs around here for us to train with anyway. The SFSPCA only has beginner agility classes available and we are beyond those.

The problem with Rally is that Solo apparently thinks it is incredibly boring. The consequence is that my point-and-shoot, always on, raring to go agility dog is a dog I have to dance around and act like an organ grinder monkey to maintain his attention in Rally class. I have never had to do anything like this before. Solo's eyes wander and he gets that five-thousand-mile stare that I get when I'm waiting in line at the DMV. Repetition of any kind totally loses him. He starts looking around at things on the ceiling. He rolls around on the floor and sighs loudly. He starts to fall asleep. When it's our turn to do anything he goes through the motions but that's about it.
I'm glad he's relaxed and all, but yeesh, I am so not prepared for this. Solo would do agility for hours straight if I asked him to and for no extrinsic motivators of any kind just because he thinks it's so cool. He used to think agility classes were a big party. I used to feel sorry for the people in agility class who had dogs like Beagles and Shiba Inus that they had to beg and turn inside out for before the dogs looked mildly interested in anything and now I kind of understand what they were going through.
Someone tell me that Rally gets more interesting? Or perhaps let me in on your favorite motivators? I know all the basic stuff (be more animated, bring liverwurst) but maybe there are some tricks I can try. In the meantime, Solo says, "meh."

Melanie Lee Chang * (Email Removed)
Canine Behavioral Genetics Project
University of California, San Francisco
http://psych.ucsf.edu/K9BehavioralGenetics/
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Someone tell me that Rally gets more interesting? Or perhaps let me in on your favorite motivators? I know all the basic stuff (be more animated, bring liverwurst) but maybe there are some tricks I can try. In the meantime, Solo says, "meh."

Does he like heeling? To like Rally, he has to like heeling. A lot of traditional heeling techniques are really drive-smashers. Of course I have no clue how you're teaching the heel, but to me that's the key.

With Cala, I taught the heel by getting her insanely worked up over a toy then walking along and simply dropping it for a game of tug as soon as she was in the position I want. At first, the desired toy was held on my left shoulder by my right hand, in open view. She soon learned to offer a heel to get a tug game. I also worked her up into drive before ever starting the game. I never gave a heel command or warned her when I was going to drop the toy into her mouth it was up to her to pay attention.

Especially at first, my training sessions were very short, very high intensity, all about "play the game of heel and we get to tug." I gradually started hiding the toy, or carrying a second hidden toy. I still mostly do extremely short sessions, just a few minutes at most.

Heeling is NOT intrinsically rewarding. You have to find a way to make it interesting. I really don't think turning yourself inside out is the way to do it. Find something he keys on and use that as your tool.

Have you read Schutzhund Obedience, Training In Drive? It's got great ideas for getting the dog excited about work.
@netnews.upenn.edu:
Someone tell me that Rally gets more interesting? Or perhaps let me in on your favorite motivators? I know all the basic stuff (be more animated, bring liverwurst) but maybe there are some tricks I can try. In the meantime, Solo says, "meh."

I know it might sound silly to you, but have you tried dancing with dogs with Solo? He might really like it you would keep changing the moves, and he would be interacting with you a lot it might be right up his alley.

Catherine
& Zoe the cockerchow
& Queenie the black gold retriever
& Max the Pomeranian
& Rosalie the calico cat
@netnews.upenn.edu:

Someone tell me that Rally gets more interesting? Or perhaps ... tricks I can try. In the meantime, Solo says, "meh."

I know it might sound silly to you, but have you tried dancing with dogs with Solo? He might really ... changing the moves, and he would be interacting with you a lot it might be right up his alley.

I think this an awesome idea.
a) its creative, and Melanie can make it as interesting for Solo as she has to
b) it would totaly crack me up that she has to cha-cha with her dog (hey, if I have to dress mine up, she should have to do something ridiculous)
Tara
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Agility is out since Solo's diagnosis with severe arthritis in his >right hip. We could still go run courses once in a while I think, but >regular training with jumps is a no-no

Have you considered training with the bars on the ground, or at 4-12 inches? Bren's left hip and knee have started to give him trouble (not suprising, as he'll be 12 in five weeks and has always used his body extremely hard), so I've moved him to the Skilled category in NADAC, where as a Veteran he can jump 12" - he's been doing fine at that height. Whether you could do that (train, not compete) with Solo would depend on exactly how severe the arthritis is, of course, but bars at 4" or 8" wouldn't really be jumping, while letting him run.
Someone tell me that Rally gets more interesting? Or perhaps let me >in on your favorite motivators?

Robin got there before I could WRT using a prey-drive motivator rather than a food motivator, and with the recommendation of "Schutzhund Obedience".
I know it might sound silly to you, but have you tried dancing with dogs with Solo?

Solo has always appeared to me to be the brooding, tortured artist type. All about purpose and deep thoughts. Not exactly the Benji of 'Dancing with the Dogs'. Fly OTOH..
Suja
Solo has always appeared to me to be the brooding, tortured artist type. All about purpose and deep thoughts. Not exactly the Benji of 'Dancing with the Dogs'. Fly OTOH..

He could go for Apache dance - wear a beret and the traditional striped shirt... (ducking & running for cover...)

http://4dsgn.com
I know it might sound silly to you, but have you tried dancing with dogs with Solo?

Solo has always appeared to me to be the brooding, tortured artist type. All about purpose and deep thoughts. Not exactly the Benji of 'Dancing with the Dogs'. Fly OTOH..

See? I think he'd be perfect. AND Melanie could be the first Freestyler who choreographs to Morrisey.
Tara
Does he like heeling? To like Rally, he has to like heeling. A lot of traditional heeling techniques are really drive-smashers. Of course I have no clue how you're teaching the heel, but to me that's the key.

He sort of likes heeling. We haven't practiced a whole lot of heeling and never for more than maybe 30 feet at a time. He does like it better when we heel fast, or when we vary speeds. I taught it with a sloppy "Choose to Heel" type method (not that the method is sloppy; my implementation is sloppy). I hardly ever ask him to really heel unless you count when we're walking by someone on the sidewalk that he considers scary, and he walks real close to me looking up at my face. Then it looks like a really nice heel, but it isn't a formal heel and I don't know that I'd say he's enjoying himself.
With Cala, I taught the heel by getting her insanely worked up over a toy then walking along and simply dropping it for a game of tug as soon as she was in the position I want.
Gotta get back to tugging. Solo has always been able to take or leave tugging. He was more into it when he associated it with agility. If only I could use Ball in training. The problem is that it has to be Ball, which is the racquetball. I need a racquetball on a tug. I tried to make one once, but the ball got shredded immediately.

Especially at first, my training sessions were very short, very high intensity, all about "play the game of heel and we get to tug."

Good point. Solo was a lot more interested when class first started. It took him about 20 minutes to start counting tiles in the ceiling.

Heeling is NOT intrinsically rewarding. You have to find a way to make it interesting. I really don't think turning yourself inside out is the way to do it. Find something he keys on and use that as your tool.

Thanks for the advice. It didn't occur to me to focus on heeling but you're right, it is a hell of a lot of heeling.
Have you read Schutzhund Obedience, Training In Drive? It's got great ideas for getting the dog excited about work.
I've recommended it to a bunch of other people but never read it myself. I never needed it or thought I'd need it. Shows you how much I know!

Melanie Lee Chang * (Email Removed)
Canine Behavioral Genetics Project
University of California, San Francisco
http://psych.ucsf.edu/K9BehavioralGenetics/
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