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I knew I should have quit while I was ahead but I didn't and by the time our training session was over I was in tears.
My dear 2 y/o Golden boy has this habit of "getting small" when he is confused or doesn't find something to his liking. I have worked very hard trying to build his confidence and work in small increments but today it just didn't happen. We were only working on foundation skills. Nothing fancy, just basic simple doodling type exercises and some jumping.
Apparently, it was more than Baxter could handle today and by the end of our session I was so frustrated that my eyes welled up in tears.
I am having a difficult time overcoming Baxter's moments of shutdown but I just think we both had enough tonight...<sigh>
Oh well, tomorrow is another day!
 

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Barley & Mira's Mom
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I am sorry... It's so easy to say quit while your ahead.... Dogs, like people are entitled to bad days. Tomorrow you can both wake up and give him a big hug. Take a day off from training!
 
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where the tails wag
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I am sorry .. I have had dogs who shut down and it can be difficult I know. Folks say to train in small increments, or to apply pressure, or to never apply pressure etc. You need to build their joy and confidence but at the same time learning is stressful.

I do hope today is better for you both.
 
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I hope today is a better day! You are so patient with him, I so admire that.
 
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Casey and Samson's Mom
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Spend the day doing something fun with Baxter that doesn't remotely resemble training...it will help you both to get your groove back!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Spend the day doing something fun with Baxter that doesn't remotely resemble training...it will help you both to get your groove back!
This is exactly what I plan for today. We both had a good nights sleep and today will be all about fun.

This silly boy of mine can be such a challenge. I, also, think the pressure has been greater since I retired Baylee. I was so disappointed that we ran out of time before Baylee could qualify in utility that I think I may be trying to rush Baxter along...my bad!

Today we just enjoy the day!
 

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Where The Bitches Rule
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I will preface the following with I am NOT an expert but have had a dog that would shut down very easily. So take this with that in mind.
I would go to the same location you trained yesterday and PLAY with him. Make it a VERY happy place/location for him. Be sure to go the very SPOT(S) that the issues occurred and make them GOOD spots for him. Dogs at times will associate the spot with being a negative spot and will avoid them because that is where the BAD happens. Do not train again till he is comfortable and not associating it with anything negative. Even if it is several days.
The other thing to remember is you can NEVER stop too soon but it is very easy to stop too late. Always end with him WANTING more and not when he is beginning to shut down.
Now to the cause (reread my first paragraph before proceeding). Some "softer" dogs handle repetition as a correction. In their mind why else would you make them do something over that they did correctly. So they figure you want them to do something else and then that is NOT right. So now they are really confused. I have tried to EXTREMELY limit my vocabulary in training. Ideally only three word (outside of the command words). Good, no and YES!!!
"Good" means they are doing what you want and to keep doing it.
"YES!!" means the same as "good" except it is uttered with more excitement, and ALWAYS includes a reward (treat, toy, play) and you stop the exercise at that point. (Don't say "YES" and expect the dog to maintain what they are doing. It is a release word.
"No" means not what you are looking for and stop and fix it. Usually I go back and break down the problem to the simplest form to be successful. I was once told that the definition of "insanity" was doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
I am now seeing that the biggest problem (and I have MANY :doh:) with my training over the years was truly communicating what I wanted from my dogs and clearly telling them when they were right and wrong.
My Keeper was probably the "softest" dog I ever trained and I wish I had done these things with her.
 

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I will preface the following with I am NOT an expert but have had a dog that would shut down very easily. So take this with that in mind.
I would go to the same location you trained yesterday and PLAY with him. Make it a VERY happy place/location for him. Be sure to go the very SPOT(S) that the issues occurred and make them GOOD spots for him. Dogs at times will associate the spot with being a negative spot and will avoid them because that is where the BAD happens. Do not train again till he is comfortable and not associating it with anything negative. Even if it is several days.
The other thing to remember is you can NEVER stop too soon but it is very easy to stop too late. Always end with him WANTING more and not when he is beginning to shut down.
Now to the cause (reread my first paragraph before proceeding). Some "softer" dogs handle repetition as a correction. In their mind why else would you make them do something over that they did correctly. So they figure you want them to do something else and then that is NOT right. So now they are really confused. I have tried to EXTREMELY limit my vocabulary in training. Ideally only three word (outside of the command words). Good, no and YES!!!
"Good" means they are doing what you want and to keep doing it.
"YES!!" means the same as "good" except it is uttered with more excitement, and ALWAYS includes a reward (treat, toy, play) and you stop the exercise at that point. (Don't say "YES" and expect the dog to maintain what they are doing. It is a release word.
"No" means not what you are looking for and stop and fix it. Usually I go back and break down the problem to the simplest form to be successful. I was once told that the definition of "insanity" was doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
I am now seeing that the biggest problem (and I have MANY :doh:) with my training over the years was truly communicating what I wanted from my dogs and clearly telling them when they were right and wrong.
My Keeper was probably the "softest" dog I ever trained and I wish I had done these things with her.
This is so helpful! The person I train with told me I wasn't giving a clear enough "non-reward marker". I took that to mean I wasn't informing Baxter of the times he wasn't doing the right thing clearly enough.
I am working on foundation activities and keeping things small so I don't lose him but I think you are right! I think he may have thought that he was wrong because we were doing some repetition and he didn't get the best info from me indicating the wrong. I use YES! (which is right on, behavior ends) and Good (which means you are on the right track, keep going) but I don't have a good, clear message for the incorrect. He tends to lose his momentum with No.

Soft doesn't even begin to define this dog. He can be so excited and eager but this is a dog that when I brought him home he crouched down on the ground when I introduced him to a ramp to get into the car. (He loves the ramp now). He was 10 months old when I brought him home and had some insecure behaviors at that time. He has come a long way but I can see that I need to give him very clear messages.

Thanks again!
 

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Where The Bitches Rule
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And remeber the "no" should not be given with any tone. You can can even use another word (wrong, oops) if "no" is a crusher for him.
 

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Kate
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What are your training sessions like?

How many things do you work on in a training session?

How long do you work on things before moving on?

Do you reward with play in addition to treats?

How many times a day do you informally train?

What is he enthusiastic about... or what really gets him excited?

*** I'm just thinking that you might need to reevaluate how much you train him in a day, how many repetitions you do before moving on...

And then maybe dip into the "nothing in life is free" thingy.

So instead of doing formal training sessions that are packed with everything he needs to be working on, break it all apart and do a little at a time. Like scoot sits or scoot fronts in the kitchen before meals. Stays while you are eating or watching TV. Quick heeling sessions when he's up and really into "playing" with you (use a visual reward like a toy or treat).

And then when you do the formal training sessions (only every other day), make sure you have a major league play session afterwards.

^^^ These are things I do with my soft chicken boy. The only other suggestion is I try to train him when I already have his attention or he is really geared up in "play mode".

I've gotten advice to train him during thunderstorms or situations where he might be fearful, but I would NEVER do that. It seems that training at those times would link training to something scary and bad. This when I want training to be linked to rewards and excitement.
 

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Humankind. Be both.
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Another tidbit you might find helpful ... According to Bob Bailiey, there really isn't much truth to the idea of "end on a good note" in terms of how an animal will learn a behavior. Although, he does point out that repeatedly working to the point of failure sets up a bad pattern in the dog's mind.

That said, if he's made the mistake a couple times, just stop ... (in case you were trying to keep at it, thinking he needed to end on success); go back to it later.

Bad days happen; we're only human. Our dogs love us anyway! ;-)

Have fun with him today!
 

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Riot's mom
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Just to add, since I didn't see anyone say it yet...

I have trained to tears MANY times. You are not alone. Sometimes the pups are great and sometimes they just frustrate you to no end. I think it's worse that way, because you KNOW they can be brilliant, but they aren't acting like it. It's hard to remember that they are just dogs. Silly, lovable lugs who try to do as good for us as they know how. Don't beat yourself up. Thankfully, they also tend to forgive very quickly.
 

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All I have to say is dont forget that it is suppose to be fun for both of you. Yes ribbons and titles are nice but dont forget to have fun. If you are in tears you know your dog isnt happy either. Hug him and pet him and let him know that he is doing just fine. He will get it it just might not be on the schedule you would like.
 

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I think we have all been there at some point to some degree. Conner was a mush pot of a dog to train. I can remember when he was young, he would pee every time he was examined. Once when our trainer was dragging a bottle on a line during stays for a distraction, we saw a stream of urine flowing out of the line up. If he started to lag at all, he would crumple flat to the ground rather than figure out how to get back to heel. I have no doubt if Conner didn't fall apart so easily he would have had his OTCH. He knew how to do the work, and how to do it well, but he stressed too much over the smallest things. I'll never forget the time we drove all the way to Florida to show and he completely froze up in the utility ring because there was a baby stroller outside the ring. I mean he literally froze and would not move.

Flip is my first dog to get with the thought of doing competition (I already had my others as pets when I first got started). My priority with him from the day I got him was teaching him to be confident and be able to work through stressful situations without falling apart. I might have done a little bit too good of a job on that with him LOL. I'm not all that crazy about puppyhood but I do appreciate getting to use that time to help do what I want to with a dog while they are young. If it weren't for that I'd probably just get older dogs and skip the nightmare of puppies. Of course I think a large part of it is also just a matter of who the dog is. With Flip I also went for the puppy that showed the largest amount of confidence and fight in him when we did litter testing.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Hi there all,
Yesterday was all about fun and today was a much better training day. I kept it short and upbeat and basic and avoided repitition. We both enjoyed the day even though it was raining.
I had a friend of mine work with Baxter a bit to see what type of adjustments she might make. She is far more dog savvy than I am and her skill gave me some insight.
For today, we didn't work on those things that makes Baxter tend to "crumple" and just made it a day of successes. We both needed that!
I know there will be days ahead when I may be frustrated but hopefully I will remember the reason I enjoy this sport. I cherish my dog and the teamwork this hobby develops between us.
Thank-you everyone for your in-put and support...
 
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Glad to hear today was better. I am sure that both Baxter and you needed that. I know what you mean sometime we are too close to see that a little change actually makes training so much easier. I love training with others...I like watching others train too I can see what works what doesnt and hopefully dont make too many mistakes myself with my dog.
 

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Casey and Samson's Mom
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Hooray! Glad to hear that today was better. It is ONLY a dog sport, not life! It should be fun for both of you. With my first obedience dog, I was work, work, work. I've learned! Now it is play, fun, play, fun! Dogs love us and love to have fun with us. That is the key to successful training!
 
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I don't know you or your circumstances with your dog (I'm kinda new here) but I would like to say it sounds like today was a better day for both of you.

I think all dogs can frustrate us at times some more than others. When I get frustrated with my very soft female dog who turns into jello with any type of correction. I just stop. I take a couple days off, no stress, no training, just some fun stuff and do as you did, go back to the stuff she likes and is good at, no repetition, and just have a good time.
 
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