Live Training Session with Esteban on Start Line Stays – Bad Dog Agility Academy

Live Training Session with Esteban on Start Line Stays

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  • ollie says:

    Hi. I’m new to the VIP program and one of my reasons for joining is my start line stay. Bruno, 6 year old PyrShep. Start line routine is “where’s my dog” (lie down between my legs) then, depending on the course, either “Okay” release to the first obstacle or leadout with “Okay” release from somewhere on course. His reliability at trials has decreased to 0 over the past few months. He’s perfect at home (have you heard that before?). I get around it at UKI by slingshotting the first obstacle (and I think that alone may have reduced his ability to start line stay) but at AKC that’s not allowed. So…. I have 8 days of AKC coming up. Is there something training-wise that I can try in a FEO setting (T2B or FAST)? He’s highly motivated by food and motivated almost as much by his frisbee (but, in AKC, the frisbee can’t be tossed).
    Thanks for any help.

  • Mary Schultz says:

    Hi Esteban,

    This is both a tugging and start line set of problems. While Quitte has strong food drive, I don’t really like using it in practice because it does not generate the same level of drive and arousal as working in a class, seminar or trial. Balls come closer, but since she hurt herself so badly (10 weeks no agility) going after a bad bounce, I’ve decided to stop using them (she turns 7 years old in a few days).

    A huge problem working with a tug heretofore was that she became over-aroused very quickly, and frenzied (barking) when I didn’t offer it to her after a sequence when she thought she was going to get it, or when I made a mistake and stopped, etc. A lot of her attention was always to some extent on trying to keep track of the toy, and anticipate when she would get it.

    I have made a video with some explanatory notes at the beginning about what I’ve been doing over the past year or so to try to fix her over-arousal problems. It then goes into a recent 8-minute training session (I think you need the whole thing to analyze the problems) that probably is the calmest and most focused working with a toy that she has ever been. However, when looking it over I saw a lot of inconsistencies, and vague sequences of reward, etc.

    So I was wondering if some time – no hurry – you could take a look and reinforce anything in my notes or in the video of what I am doing that seems good, and point out other areas that need work, or the protocol needs to be changed or substituted with something else. (For example, you will see a sloppy reset/redirect that I do after a downed bar that predictably results in another bar down and over-arousal).

    By far her highest value rewards are, in order of value:

    1) Striking the tug out of my hands at top speed and carrying it away.
    2) Striking the tug in my hand and tugging hard (I let go when we are done, never ask her to give it back anymore)
    3) Tugging from a short distance or stationary start (i.e., I let her strike the tug in my hand but immediately tell her to “wait” for a short pause until I’ve braced myself)
    4) Throwing the tug on the ground: “get it”
    5) Tossing the tug to her

    I’m thinking the start line protocol should be:

    1) I line up at start line and wait for her to come to heel position (trusting, for now, that as the protocol becomes more predictable to her, she will do this more quickly); wait until she a places tug on ground; sits, and makes eye contact
    2) I use verbal “close”
    3) I walk away immediately

    After a downed bar (first, I know I should get better at I get better at stopping before the next obstacle). Also, after I make a mistake and have to reset: I ask her for a down or other behavior, and then let her “take it” and carry it around while I set the bar.

    If she is showing symptoms of over-arousal, I use my calming “hand” cue. For “mistakes” that are essentially handling errors, I give her lower reinforcers #’s 4 and 5.

    I should have tightened up all this kind of stuff years and years ago, but better late than never, I hope.

    Thanks for any help. And, again. I know this is a lot, so don’t feel pressured to answer soon or extensively – I’ll appreciate any feedback you have.

  • kpdewit says:

    That was great to watch thankyou. I can see how leadouts would be better and faster with mark and reward off the spot. Ok

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