Passing TDI test

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Passing TDI test

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Old 05-17-2014, 08:53 AM
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Passing TDI test

I just completed a four week TDI (Therapy Dog International) class with my mixed breed. The last class was a practice test, and he did just fine with everything that should have been difficult, such as refusing to take any food when I told him leave it, having me leave him with a stranger, sitting quietly while I did paper work etc., but when it came to the last basic obedience exercise, the recall, he simply stayed perfectly in position from his stay and stared at me, almost as if confused, and then finally came when I called me while jumping up and down.

He did come directly to me, ignoring the person who was supposed to the distraction, but I'm flummoxed as to why he didn't come in the first place. I did basic obedience with him myself and then put him through an Adult II obedience class before the TDI class. He knows what come means. He simply didn't do it. I don't know if he was tired (it was the end of an evening class that had gone on for over an hour) or distracted (17 dogs and handlers in the same large room with multiple exercises going on at once) or just decided to be abruptly stubborn.

He can test for the first time June 7, and the various trainers who have been working with the dogs at the TDI sessions have been very complimentary and encouraging, saying things like "Old ladies are going to love him" and "You really know your dog, which is great." I realize many dogs don't pass the first time, and that it's not at all expensive to test more than once, but they don't test more than four times a year or so in my area, so it would be a long wait to the next test, and I miss doing therapy work. My previous dog, who died in May 2013, and I did therapy work for over ten years, and he was volunteer of the year at a nursing home, though he wasn't certified. I just want this one to be certified, as more places are requiring certification, and I have friends with TDI dogs. I also really like the idea of the insurance that comes with the TDI certification.

Any suggestions on getting a more reliable recall? I thought he had that down, but apparently he doesn't. Or didn't that night. Understand that he didn't run away and has never shown the slightest interest in doing so in the nearly year I've had him (I adopted him from a shelter on June 15, 2013). I guess having been a stray, he has no interest in being one again. He just didn't want to come at that moment, so he didn't, until I made a big fuss at the trainer's suggestion.

P.S. I initially came on this site when I was grieving the loss of my last dog and haven't really been back, due to keeping so busy with this one, who's now approximately 18 months old.
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Old 05-17-2014, 09:19 AM
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I'd try practicing your recall with some treats that he never gets other than the recall training. Acting over the moon excited when you call him also helps sometimes. Naturally you don't want to act that way during the testing but it never hurts to put some happy excitement into your voice on the recall. Good luck. I bet you'll both do fine when you test. He probably was tired at that point and maybe distracted too, as you said.
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Old 05-17-2014, 09:23 AM
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Something about the exercise was likely out of the norm which confused your dog.

My initial thought is to think about how you normally release your dog from a stay... If you've done a ton of work with stay and always released him with a specific word or even returning to him, that may have been the issue.
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Old 05-17-2014, 09:34 AM
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I'd try practicing your recall with some treats that he never gets other than the recall training. Acting over the moon excited when you call him also helps sometimes. Naturally you don't want to act that way during the testing but it never hurts to put some happy excitement into your voice on the recall. Good luck. I bet you'll both do fine when you test. He probably was tired at that point and maybe distracted too, as you said.
Actually, the trainer for that portion of the practice test said it was okay to act more excited on the recall, even on the test, but perhaps she simply meant a little more excited as opposed to over the moon excited. She also suggested going back to using treats for that exercise, as I started with treats and then slowly weaned him off treats.

It also may help that at the exam there won't be more than four dogs in the room at a time, at most, as opposed to the sixteen to twenty dogs there have been in the classes. It is a large training facility, but even a large training facility gets crowded at that point, and at least one of the dogs there was not one I wanted my dog around, as I did not feel the owner/handler had adequate control of her (the dog was just to strong for the handler in question). I was not the only other owner/handler who felt that way either.
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Old 05-17-2014, 09:37 AM
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Originally Posted by kmes View Post
Something about the exercise was likely out of the norm which confused your dog.

My initial thought is to think about how you normally release your dog from a stay... If you've done a ton of work with stay and always released him with a specific word or even returning to him, that may have been the issue.
I hadn't thought about a release word. I don't know that I've used a specific one, but of course I say "stay" firmly. Maybe if set up a very specific release word for stay, he'd know it was definitely okay at that moment to move. He's a quick learner, so I should have time to work on that.

His sit stay really was spot on too. Nice and straight and still. Didn't move a hair when I walked away and returned to him and then walked away again. He just didn't want to come on the recall.
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Old 05-18-2014, 02:07 AM
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Curious @Tilden, were you a clicker trainer ? Thinking along Kmes line of thought here :-)
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Old 05-18-2014, 10:13 AM
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Curious @Tilden, were you a clicker trainer ? Thinking along Kmes line of thought here :-)
No, I've not used clickers. I started with treats and then gradually phased them out. That doesn't seem to be a problem with other obedience commands, and it truly isn't on recall under what I'd call normal circumstances--that is, if he's out in my fenced yard, with all kinds of options not to come when called, he still does, unless I've not noticed that he's in the middle of eliminating and honestly can't come running just that second.

I have noticed that if he's asked to wait for a longer period of time on the twenty foot recall that he seems not to know if he should really come or not, so I'm working on that, along with using a special treat just for that command. I've also started to say, "Okay! Tully, come!", so that he hears a release word before the command. I don't think they'd allow "Treat! Tully, come!" Too bad. That would definitely evoke a response. I actually know someone who saw her dog running toward the street and yelled, "CHEESE!", because she knew that would get him flying back to her, even if it sounded ridiculous. The dog in question was in hot pursuit of a rabbit, and she wasn't sure if "Come!" was going to be enough under those circumstances.
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Old 05-18-2014, 11:37 AM
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Exactly where my thoughts were going, I don't use clickers either, then again I don't teach "stay" technically :-) My primary positive reinforcer"yes" is also my release word, so if I down or sit my dog, staying where they are "stopped" is not only expected it's conditioned from the very start. I also never feed the treat at the dog when "yes" is marked, but move the treat away from the dog to chase, this is more to build motivation, but the consequence is when the dog hears "yes" it always moves toward me looking for the reward. Depending on your release word, maybe you could work it in, "yes, come" for example.
My other suggestion, if you have a partner to help, is a heavy dose of restrained recall, nothing like a bit of frustration to build motivation to get to you :-)
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Old 05-18-2014, 01:52 PM
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Exactly where my thoughts were going, I don't use clickers either, then again I don't teach "stay" technically :-) My primary positive reinforcer"yes" is also my release word, so if I down or sit my dog, staying where they are "stopped" is not only expected it's conditioned from the very start. I also never feed the treat at the dog when "yes" is marked, but move the treat away from the dog to chase, this is more to build motivation, but the consequence is when the dog hears "yes" it always moves toward me looking for the reward. Depending on your release word, maybe you could work it in, "yes, come" for example.
My other suggestion, if you have a partner to help, is a heavy dose of restrained recall, nothing like a bit of frustration to build motivation to get to you :-)
I've been saying, "Okay! Tully, come," which I suppose isn't that different from "Yes! Come!"

I do wonder if part of it was that it was the very first time I did that long stay with him at the facility, and I only had one chance to practice it, as we were the last dog/handler team in the last group to go through that exercise, and the class was running late, because other dogs had had trouble with the stay and had to start over. They may have practiced that exercise at the first class, but we had to miss that one, because I had another commitment which I could not break (final rehearsal for a concert that was the next evening). I was told not to be concerned about missing that first class, since it was an obedience check, and he'd already done a lot of basic obedience. In fact, we were fine doing what was asked of us at the second class, so I guess they were right, but I wish I'd had more of a chance to practice that one exercise that was the only problem he had all night. He certainly had no issues with any of the other dogs or any of the people he was asked to approach, regardless of age, gender, or simulated disability (crutches, wheelchair, walker etc.).

I do have some friends with untrained (in other words, little to no obedience training) but friendly dogs set up to help me with the meet and greet exercise, so perhaps they could help with the recall too. I figured if he could handle behaving himself around a dog who wasn't necessarily behaving as well, then he wouldn't have an issue with the test--and I know all the dogs I've recruited well, and none of them are even remotely dog reactive, so while they might show friendly interest, they won't get upset. He did do well in class with a meet and greet with a young golden who did everything but stand on his head with excitement while he sat beside me on a stay and with an Airedale who behaved with a bit more decorum than the golden.
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Old 05-18-2014, 02:19 PM
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The words aren't really important, "okay" or "yes" , what is important is how the dog interprets it. Yes being my release, has been conditioned so intensely into the dogs they are compelled to respond. But yes has been conditioned as the release word since 8 weeks old. This is one of the fundamental reasons I don't use clickers :-)
We could explore a lot of reasons why your dog may or may not come have came, which is interesting and with the people who previously responded contributing would be awesome, but you are pressed for time, so I would do a tonne of restrained recalls and *drag recalls, there is nothing that builds desire quicker then frustration/agitation work.

*Drag recall (hopefully you have a regular harness and longline)
Basically a helper, doing a restrained recall, also has a longline attached to the harness, when you say "come" , helper releases dog, but put some tension on the leash so the dog has to exert a bit of effort to get to you. The more effort, the more frustration, within reason of course :-)
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