Pup - prey drive strongly kicked in...

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Pup - prey drive strongly kicked in...

Postby dmg » Thu Aug 11, 2011 10:40 am

I have an 11month Collie/Springer cross who I started on SAR training about 3 months ago. Up until 3 weeks ago, she would go after and play with my helper no problem on short runs, if the helper hid in a ditch, she'd go into her. Just recently, it's like her nose has suddenly gone into overdrive though, and every scent or smell is a distraction. She'll make as if to go after the helper, might take a quick sniff and then veer straight off after a scent close by. Or she'll bypass completely, nose in the air after some other scent. At home in my garden, if I hide her toy or piece of clothing, she will hunt until she finds it, whether it's in the bush or up on the shed roof (this is still all fine, but I'm guessing it's because the smells are all familiar). She has plenty exposure to woods and different environments, so these smells shouldn't be new to her.

To be honest, I'm stumped.She was doing well for her level and now it's a case of 'oooh what's that on the wind!' (which is what I want in the long run really!). Any ideas as to how I can get her back focused on the person and ignore distracting scents? I've changed around toys to see if some are better than others, I've pulled back the distance of the runs to just very short ones, one of my next steps is to lace her toy with the smell of hotdog and see if that has any impact. But I'm completely open to ideas to try and get her back to the play drive over prey drive. Or are there some dogs that just never give it up?!

Many thanks
Dor
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Re: Pup - prey drive strongly kicked in...

Postby StuartL » Thu Aug 11, 2011 11:25 am

Food is a good fallback if she's getting distracted. To be honest, though, at 11 months she's still young and new smells will still be very interesting to her. I defer to the dog trainers here but I probably wouldn't correct the distraction, only try to trump it with something even more interesting (hot dog, chicken, etc).
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Re: Pup - prey drive strongly kicked in...

Postby Daryl » Fri Aug 12, 2011 12:33 am

I would agree with Stuart with the fact that you should try to find something that the dog cant resist. Personally I would only use treats as a very last resort but would try to find a toy that is the 'best toy in the world'.

Maybe in this instance a squeeky ball would be good as you can squeak the toy as you run away and can also squeek it when ever your dog looks to be shooting off on another scent. I would suggest that correction is needed though but if it can be done in a positive way (squeek of a toy) it would be far more beneficial.

The key with this type of training is to make the helper/MISPER the most sought after thing as this will help with refind training later on.

Let us know how you get on.
Daryl Toogood
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Berkshire Search & Rescue Dogs

"I can explain it in Dog, but you only listen in Human."
-- Gaspode the wonder dog
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Re: Pup - prey drive strongly kicked in...

Postby baileyhilldog » Fri Aug 12, 2011 8:01 am

Just re-reading this a couple of thoughts occur - who has the reward? Do you give it to your helper so that as soon as the dog goes in and finds, the helper plays with the dog, or does she have to wait for you to come in for the reward? Secondly, have you tried changing your helper, maybe something has occured (innocently) which has put her off that person?

Try going back to basics - very short seen runaway, very excitable reward and always finish with a success.

Linda
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Re: Pup - prey drive strongly kicked in...

Postby dmg » Fri Aug 12, 2011 10:47 am

Thanks everyone for your help!

A squeaky toy is a great suggestion, she loves those and I hadn't thought of using it (they tend not to last that long..). I'll try that before resorting to food which is definitely a good driver for her.

@Linda - at the moment, (and when it works well) my helper runs away with her toy, calling her while I'm still holding. On release (& 'go find' command), she runs to the helper and they play with her eventually giving her the toy as reward. I come in behind in the meantime and take the toy away after a little bit. I don't think the issue is with the helpers (both handlers themselves) as she does love both of them and they're both very playful. The recent issues with her appear to be more of a 'sniff sniff, something far better over there'. She gets very focused when onto a scent. I did some hide and seek in the garden again last night, and absolutely perfect again, driven to find it.

The other thing I'm going to try is arriving a good bit earlier at training, and walking her well beforehand, maybe she's not getting enough time to adjust to the new surrounds. Someone did say she's a dog who is very easily entertained and finds amusement in everything, so as you've all mentioned, it's finding that one thing that drives her nuts above everything else! I'll keep you posted.

Thanks again
Dor (&Keela!)
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Re: Pup - prey drive strongly kicked in...

Postby Judith » Fri Aug 12, 2011 1:14 pm

Hi Dor
Just been reading through this thread. If Keela loves squeaky toys, then squeaky tennis balls are definitely the perfect reward toy! My boy Paddy (collie/lab cross) is obsessed with tennis balls and squeaky balls are his extra special treat only for searching, so if you do find these work for Keela only allow her squeaky balls as search reward and nothing else. Paddy gets a normal ball to play with on most walks but this doesn't lessen his enthusiasm for squeaky balls (or balls in general!). Unfortunately, they do lose their squeak quite quickly so I've stopped using the expensive Kong Air balls and just buy cheap ones (Ancol do two for approx £1.89 - google Ancol Squeaking tennis ball) which last just as long (or short!!) but don't put such a dent in your pocket! They also come in different colours so makes it easy to distinguish squeaky from non-squeaky in a rush! Make sure you always carry a spare in case the first one you give her loses it's squeak!

Paddy is ready for assessment and loves searching but he does still get distracted by smells etc and stops and sniffs sometimes. I use a "leave it" and/or "move on" command to tell him that now is not the time and to get on with searching. Sometimes it requires a gentle nudge with my knee on his backside to get him to carry on but normally the command alone is enough. Try not to get frustrated when you need to move Keela on, keep the command fun and light hearted rather than shouting or growling at her! Search has got to be seen as fun and not something she's being forced to do against her will or something that makes you angry. Hopefully her Collie brain will help her to focus soon, she is only young so everything is still exciting and needs to be explored! If she gets really focused on the "wrong" scent, like Daryl said, you could try squeaking the ball from your pocket, to distract her from the scent, then reset her and set her off searching again. That way you are also reminding her of the reward she'll get when she finds.

All dogs are different, but be a bit careful about walking her too much before searching. I find that Paddy is best worked straight from the car (maybe just a comfort stop first if he's been waiting a while). He gets so excited about searching that I only have to put his jacket on and he's leaping around like a lunatic ready to race off and search! I don't want to dampen that enthusiasm by walking him first and using up the energy he needs for searching. I'm sure you'll figure out what works best for Keela with a little trial and error!

We've all been there, so keep at it and have fun!

Good luck!
Judith
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Re: Pup - prey drive strongly kicked in...

Postby dmg » Fri Aug 12, 2011 11:26 pm

First of all, thanks so much to all of you for your advice & encouragement! I had starte thinking maybe she wouldn't be able for it.

But, a stop at the petstore on the way home this evening had me pick up a nice stretchy soft toy with a soft covered ball at one end and a squeak at the other. Keen to try it out I called someone who I wanted to try out as my helper. Keela heard the first squeak and we had 3 almost perfect runs! So happy! It was a new location, open field. First run, I had my helper tease her, run off about 20ft, released Keela,she ran in & played. Second one was similar but a bit longer & she 'spoke' for play. Third one I had my helper run through a gap in the ditch and duck out of sight. Keela ran in, got momentarily distracted, I gave a little tug on her longline & helper squeaked toy, got her to 'speak' for toyplay.

All in all I was both relieved & happy to see she can still do it with the right motivation. It won't always be like that I'm sure but with a bit of thinking something new can always be tried!

Thanks all, I'll keep you posted on how we get on. The way I look at it, she may not make it as a search dog but we'll have fun trying and I'll make my mistakes with her ready for the next one!

Dor
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Re: Pup - prey drive strongly kicked in...

Postby Daryl » Sat Aug 13, 2011 6:44 am

Dor

Glad we could help - We have all been there!

If things start to go a little wrong further down the line, dont be afraid to go back to an earlier stage and then progress later.

Good luck
Daryl Toogood
President
Berkshire Search & Rescue Dogs

"I can explain it in Dog, but you only listen in Human."
-- Gaspode the wonder dog
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