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Puppies and teaching self-control

1795 Views 12 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  sammydog
Let me start out by introducing myself. My name is Sarah and I have three goldens: Sage, 12 years (puppy mill dog); Ruby, 5 years (Topbrass); and Piper, 16 weeks (Topbrass). I compete in obedience (Ruby is doing Utility now), Agility, and Hunt Tests (Ruby has her JH and WCX so far). Now the question(s):

My biggest issues with Ruby have been self-control: honoring, walking to the line leashless, even being quietly crated during training sessions. I've managed to work through the first two mostly and to be perfectly honest I've kind of given up on the third (for some reason she isn't insane like that at tests, and my training buddies don't really care). But my question isn't really about Ruby, it's about Piper.

My biggest fear is that because I have control issues with Ruby, I am going to be too hard on Piper and dampen her drive by trying to control her too much. Looking back, I am pretty sure I know where Ruby's honoring and walking calmly issues come from. She was my first "real" dog and I didn't have any sort of training network when she was young. We trained pretty much totally by ourselves for the first year or so. We didn't have any sort of training buddies for field until AFTER we started competing in JH. She got every bird/bumper, etc. all that time. Now, I've got a small training group that meets almost every week, plus I'm working both dogs between times, so I think Piper will have a much better shot at not being crazy (and of course I've learned LOTS while retraining Ruby!).

At what point do I start enforcing self-control, especially about the crate barking/screaming? Piper is just starting to think that this field stuff is super cool and has barked in the kennel a few times now when she watches Ruby work. I think pro-trainers stake out young dogs to watch the older dogs work to build desire? Should I stake Piper out when I want her to watch the other dogs and make sure she can't see the other dogs working when she's crated? Is she old enough to wear a bark collar? Should I use the bark collar only in the crate and let her be a bit nutty if she's staked? Or should she always be made to exhibit quiet control when other dogs are working?

One other control issue: I live on an acreage and have several different species of free range poultry (chickens, turkeys, farm geese, farm ducks). My older two dogs are pretty darn good with the poultry. Ruby can not be trusted if I have mallards or call ducks ranging with the farm ducks, but is fine with everything else. Well, she occasionally likes to chase everyone and hear them squawk, but she doesn't hurt them. The poultry pretty much stays out of the yard, so I can control contact between the dogs and poultry as needed. Piper of course, thinks the poultry is great. She does like to chase them. She has not hurt anything (I don't think she's big enough yet). At what point do I teach her not to harass them? I was planning to use the e-collar and a leave-it command once she's collar-conditioned, but don't want to do it too soon and cut down on her birdiness. She is quite birdy and has been since day one (the first day I brought her home and took her out to feed the poultry, all 6 1/2 pounds of her grabbed onto the tail-feathers of a big tom turkey and tried to drag him around-luckily all my poultry is calm and non-threatening!).

Thanks in advance for any suggestions/advice!
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Now ---- I think it's odd that you have a confessed crate barker/screamer and have "given up" on it --- but yet you're asking about the bark collar for the puppy? Why doesn't the older nuisance barker have one on?????? Barking in the crate is a HUGE pet peeve of mine --- you are lucky she is quiet at a test, and I bet if you really asked your training buddies, they DO care and are quite annoyed with your dog carrying on.
Put a bark collar on the barking dogs and everyone is happy.

Best of luck. What breeding is your pup from? Topbrass has FT breedings and FT/show crosses, so there could be a big difference in temperament from one litter to the other. If you bought from a pure FT litter then I guess you know you're asking for reactive and impulsive! :) I need something less keyed up than that!
She barks even with the collar on! Pretty sure they don't mind because each and every one of them has at least one dog that does the same thing! At least Ruby has never broken out of a crate to get to the action (she doesn't even try that).

Piper is Kuventre You Were Born TaFly MH X Topbrass Drake MH**. Very similar breeding to Ruby (Drake is Ruby's 1/2 brother and Sarah is Ruby's aunt). She was the pick performance female of the litter (as was Ruby) so, yes, I do know I was asking for reactive and implusive! Careful what you ask for!
When examining all of the field skills needed for working retrievers, it's all obedience. The way to guide and shape behavior in puppies from 7 weeks to around 20 weeks is nearly all passive. We do it by way of Operant Conditioning. If that has not begun, it's past time to do so.
We've definitely been training obedience. We just started our second class this week. I have used a clicker to shape most of her commands so far.

Now. All that changes with age and maturity is the method of correction, and level of skill and compliance required. At 16 weeks, it's not panic time. It's time for bonding, socialization, and largely fun retrieving.
Pretty sure the bonding is going well. She is quite social. She has been to a big dog show, a big agility trial, and come to work with me every day (I'm a veterinarian). She seems to like retrieving, but still gets distracted occassionally. I'm keeping the sessions short, just 3 or 4 retrieves then I put her up and work the other dog. I will usually get her back out again and do a few more retrieves.

Some do. Do you see a lack of desire in Piper? Is Piper being compared to another dog, or are you just objectively assessing Piper?
For the life of me I can't remember exactly what Ruby was like at that age. I seem to think she had more desire, so unfortunately I am comparing Piper to my memory of Ruby at the same age. I know this is not a good thing and try hard not to do it, but I don't have the experience of having trained several puppies to see that while they may be different in their desire as puppies, they all turned into fine retrievers.

I will say that if I were to use 100% birds, I would have no question whatsoever about desire. It's the bumpers/paint rollers that aren't as high value to her.

I don't think we know enough yet to advise staking out. But I would not generally think it would be good. Crate her where she cannot see the activity for now. When you're focused on another dog, you are not positioned to correct a noisy dog that is staked out.
Will do.

I am not at all a fan of bark collars for the same reasons I don't like electric fences. I'll be glad to go into detail if you like.
Yes, please.

Now. And be firm about it. This should be achieved through obedience.Looks like we're going to need to lay out a plan for this dog.
Alrighty. Thanks so much.

ETA: I did just get your DVDs this week. I haven't been all through them yet. Just the puppy one. Thought it was very good.
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Welcome from Cedar Rapids, you can find great advice on this forum, I just have lap retrievers :).

I will say ignoring the barking in the kennel should lead to extinction of the barking. My dogs are not barky at all unless they sense something threatening.
Thanks. I live near Maxwell (between Ames and Ankeny) and work in Des Moines. I get over to CR/Iowa City at least once or twice a year for different events. I usually like to go to the agility trial at Kirkwood in December, but will be gone this year. Oh well. Last year it iced one of the days and I was stuck on the interstate/parking lot for a couple of hours before they got the jack-knived semi off the road.

Ignoring hasn't work with Ruby! Field is the only thing she acts like that about. We can go to agility or obedience trials with nary a peep and she is crated at my office every day. Field is just too rewarding for her. The only threatening this about it would be me trying to put a stop to it!

I recently asked several OTCH trainers a very similar question about self-control in a puppy for my obedience training. I don't know how much field work would differ, but I can share with you what they said about training a puppy for the obedience ring.

Almost all of them said they would not teach any kind of formal skills that took self-control at a young age. At that age about the only thing that I was working on that took some self-control was to hold a treat near him and teach him he couldn't get it until I had given him permission. We've just started working on short (8-10 second max) stays at five months. He has a whole repetoir of skills he's already learned, but none of them involve staying still yet!

My puppy is a big barker. A spray bottle of diluted vinegar water has done wonders for him. I'm going to switch to a bottle of Binaca so I can conceal it easier in my hand while we're working.
Thanks for the reply. I do have some of the same questions about obedience and agility training, but since I have resources (i.e. classes I can take) to work on those issues/questions, I don't worry about them much. Unfortunately, my field training group is quite informal and comprised of mostly golden obedience/agility people. I have the highest field titles and the highest aspirations. The local "big boy" field group has a couple of disadvantages: #1 They are not terribly accepting of women (not just my observation); #2 They are not terribly accepting of goldens; and #3 They often met on Saturday mornings when I have to work. I wish there was some sort of field class we could take.

Leave it is pretty much the only control thing we done so far. I laughed at the instructors of my 1st class when the leave-it "test" on the final night was leaving treats placed on the puppy's paws alone (puppy was in a down). By the end of the session we could do it. Stays are definitely beyond us though yet.
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