"Getting Away" with ... "Stuff"

I hear it a lot.  "My dog is getting away with (insert x, y, z)" so the owner feels compelled to correct the dog, rather than correct the training.  I definitely don't discount that a history of intentional and/or unintentional reinforcement makes changing the behavior difficult, but I also know that "allowing" an annoying behavior to happen once or twice impacts you, more than the dog.  

Last night I got home from work, packed up both dogs (along with an insane amount of "stuff") and we headed to a Nature Park about 20 minutes from our house.  I took Buzz walking there once, and it was beautifully large, secluded, and had a LOT of things for us to work through.  I laid Bailey's track, laid Buzz's track and then ran Buzz.  The past couple times I've taken him tracking, he hasn't offered the article indication I want to see.  He's been "taught" to pick up the article (since he won't sit or down reliably on wet/otherwise yucky grass... and I need a reliable indication), but just hasn't lately.  Sometimes I waited for the correct indication, but other times I just let him "get away with it" (said tongue in cheek) and we continued on.  At the UGSDA show this weekend, we worked on our article indication.  Yes--in the midst of a conformation show, I trained my dog for tracking.  *gasp*

1. Find suitable article
2. Get dog playing "101 things" with it
3. Reinforce the desired response
4. Reinforce some more
5. Take dog out tracking almost two weeks later and see that training the dog has a positive effect... whoda thunk?

I let Buzz "get away" with not indicating in previous tracking sessions and yet he... indicated (arguably) better?  Yes!

I also chose not to work on Bailey's LLW after we tracked.  LLW takes work (imagine THAT), so instead I put her x-back harness on, put my skijor belt on, and off we went.  She happily pulled ahead, I was happy to be pulled... and neither one of us was hurting ourselves.  Best invention and suggestion ever (the x-back and skijor belt with line that is).  I guess I let my dog "get away" with pulling then, and by that I mean I encouraged it! 


Lauren said...

But it's so EASY to let them get away with stuff! :p

Do you happen to know if they make x-back harnesses for smaller dogs? LLW is death with Frodo, and if I don't have an alternative for daily walks we'll never have a LLW.

Megan said...

I would imagine they do... but I almost wonder if a "regular" pulling harness would be better due to him being so low to the ground. Hmm, now I need to think about that!

It can be quite easy to just allow things to happen... for some people. Not type A/OCD (ahem, CDO is in alphabetical order) people though. Yeah, that's not me... noooope!

Lauren said...

Yeah, that would probably work as well. Plus I already have one of those so it would be "free" lol

And yeah, I am a total Type A personality, but the dogs are the one thing that I could never win at!

Laura, Lance, and Vito said...

hmmm. I hear the similar statement, "he's blowing me off" a lot. I would say that most of the time the dog is either not trained completely, too distracted, or the rate of reinforcement is way off and the dog has no clue how to earn a reward.

In your first example though, I would say (without knowing Buzz that well and the level of training you've done) it's stress and/or not really knowing what you want. I know if my dogs are stressed or confused there is no way I would force it, it would only make it worse.

I suppose I would hear those statements a ton more if I trained at a more traditional club with a completely different outlook on training.

Kristen said...

"the owner feels compelled to correct the dog, rather than correct the training" I really like that! Very well put.