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So Stella and I went to our first agility workshop this past Saturday. It went...ok. She did most of the actual agility stuff well but she was a complete brat and barked A LOT and had to be put in another room. Then of course a few times she decided to run off on her own and steal toys she found, not coming when called. I was pretty embarrassed, especially since pups half her age was doing better. She really does seem to be on her WORST behavior when I take her to school.

It really frustrates me because I've worked on recall since the day I got her 8 months ago. She still only comes sometimes or when she knows I have something. I've tried to also work on doing it with distractions but it's still just a "Sometimes" response. It seems the things I've worked on most (recall, jumping, being polite, etc.) she seems to still struggle with most. I guess it's because those are really hard behaviors? At least I have a friend visiting so we're making progress on not jumping on new people and being quiet/settled when people are relaxing, watching TV.

But with recall I think I also get discombobulated because going through dog training school, reading so many books and talking to so many other trainers has given me too much information and maybe I'm not being consistent because I'm trying to follow all of it. I'm thinking of trying to just do my best to pick on "method", or my own and go with it. But either way I still feel like I'm screwing up.

I'd really love for Stella to come when called every time, and if she doesn't come when called we won't be able to do agility. :-/ I don't know. I don't know if I even want more "tips" (though I won't turn them down), I just hate feeling like I can't even train my own dog.
 

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@traciek88

Bummer!!

You sound like you already have a ton of info so I'll just tell you what has worked well for Aspen and I.

I did mostly all of her basics myself, without a trainer. Since I did everything myself, my cues were always the same. I used oral and hand signals and I would mix them up. Even when we're just putzing around the house, I randomly tell her to "watch me". Sometimes I give a treat, sometimes just a pat.

If there were any commands that she would only SOMETIMES give me, I didn't work on those. I felt like it meant that she didn't fully know what I wanted. For us, this command was "down".

I shopped around for a training facility that I felt like we could grow with. I didn't want to hop around and break the consistency. I spoke with the trainer and told her what we had already accomplished. She did not push HER cues on us. If I had a cue for something and it was working, she left it alone. If I had something that needed work, we started from scratch.

This facility offers agility classes but they don't let anyone into them unless they've proven to be solid on the basics. You called it a workshop, is it a one day thing or a multi week class? Do you have any good training facilities near you?

I hope this makes sense- I tend to ramble! :)

Good luck!
 

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Re-reading my post, I wasn't clear on why I have her watch me so much...

I feel like it's good practice for her to constantly check in with me. If I ask her to watch me at home, in the yard, on walks, etc, she's more apt to do it when we're hiking - which is always off leash.
 

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Thanks. Sometimes I randomly call or or have her heel on walks or in the house but she doesn't always listen. This was a one day workshop at a really good obedience school where she did a puppy class and basic one. I dunno, I worry I've made her name background noise. :-/
 

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@traciek88 I empathize with your trainer struggle very much. I'm also going through training school, and everyone has slightly different methods on what works best. I too, feel like I am confusing Levi sometimes because I'm trying too many things.
Levi is the opposite of Stella, absolutely spot on in school. My trainers always tell me they think I must be lying when I say he misbehaves at home, because this little trickster is an angel at school. I've noticed he's been getting a little slow about listening to cues, so I feel like I have to go back to square one.

It's frustrating, but you are a great pet owner, and you and Stella will come through the other side. :)
 

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You can always pick a new recall word, if you're not happy with what you've been using! Picking a new cue can be a way to start from a "blank slate" and build the reinforcement history you want (and for a behavior that's already been reinforced, so it's usually easier than actually building from scratch).
 

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I think you touched on something important. Consistency.

Also if you're not using aversive methods, set your dog up to succeed, not to fail. When your issue a recall command and the dog doesn't come you're weakening that command.

If you know she's probably not going to come, don't call to her and especially don't endlessly repeat the command.
 

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I haven't really had any issues with recall, mostly just solidifying it around distractions like other dogs etc.

I have a few different cues for recall depending on how fast I need him to come back. Including 'come' for general come here, 'see' to break his focus of a possible distraction and 'Buster here' for a proper sprint back to me.

He has a special recall only reward toy, a Kong Wubba, that I also pair with his recall as he's really big on tugging. It's what works for us, he breaks land speed records to get back to me to play with that toy, I hold both ends of the toy so he can see exactly where to take it from, seems to make him run back faster I have no idea why.

I reckon you'll eventually just find something that works best for you and Stella, that's how it happened for me, she's only a pup still anyway right? Still learning, she'll get there :)
 

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Don't beat yourself up too much, she is at "that" age. My dog is fine at home with no distractions, then add another dog or a squirrel and she turns into a whining barking ball of craziness (like you saw the other day when I made her wait to go in the yard!)

She is actually perfect at the training place though because she knows I have chicken and peanut butter!

I am not going to suggest anything new, because I think your answer is in the first lesson of the classes... attention.
What might help is just going back to basics and attention work, like just saying her name once and rewarding her for looking at you, before you can even think about working on her recall, you need her attention.

Another thing you can do, is use whatever is distracting her, as the reward, if she listens, she gets that toy she was trying to steal, or you let her run after that squirrel etc
 

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I agree with Esand and maybe in that token, try re-teaching with a different word. I had to train my BF because at the dog park he would constantly yell, "Nala! Nala! Come, Nala! Nala! Nala, come!" until my ears would bleed. I finally got him to understand that if you KNOW she's not going to listen or if she's focused on ANYTHING else when the cue is not at least 90% proofed, why bother? All it's doing is reinforcing that they can ignore you if they want. So we started over with "let's go" since I was using that already using that cue during walking to mean no smelling, no stopping just follow me. I make sure that if she's not directly looking at me (ie. smelling, running around) then I won't ask her for anything. It's made a HUGE difference in her recall. I can now be out of sight at the dog park (not un-supervising, but there is a hiking trail in my area that doubles as a an off-leash dog park so she often is in the bushes exploring) and I just say once, "Okay Nala, let's go!" and continue walking. Within seconds she's back with me and then she get a treat or a "Good job, honey!" and is free to go explore again. Just recently we've been working on a more "formal" recall, where she comes and sits right in front of me. We use "front" with a hand gesture (both fists closed side by side, palm facing inward, hanging in front of me) and her response is way better than it's ever been. Now "come" is basically a bogus cue that means absolutely nothing to her.
 

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I think you touched on something important. Consistency.

Also if you're not using aversive methods, set your dog up to succeed, not to fail. When your issue a recall command and the dog doesn't come you're weakening that command.

If you know she's probably not going to come, don't call to her and especially don't endlessly repeat the command.[/]

I really like your comment about setting the dog up to succeed and not weakening the command. Roscoe and I started puppy classes last week and our trainer suggested the use of long leashes when working on recall, and only working on recall when the dogs are on leash that way success is guaranteed. So, each time I say "come", if Roscoe doesn't respond, I gently pull him into me via his leash so he succeeds and receives tons of praise and a reward. This is definitely providing more consistent results for me than the off-leash come (although I may have been trying with too many distractions off leash).
 

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I really like your comment about setting the dog up to succeed and not weakening the command. Roscoe and I started puppy classes last week and our trainer suggested the use of long leashes when working on recall, and only working on recall when the dogs are on leash that way success is guaranteed. So, each time I say "come", if Roscoe doesn't respond, I gently pull him into me via his leash so he succeeds and receives tons of praise and a reward.
That sounds like a great technique (I mean it!) but it isn't quite what I meant by setting the dog up to succeed. You have a contingency and are teaching whether the command succeeds or fails.

The long lead technique you mentioned is almost exactly identical to how most people train recall with e-collars, using the lowest working level on the collar you "reel" the dog in and when he comes you reward with praise and treats.
 

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That sounds like a great technique (I mean it!) but it isn't quite what I meant by setting the dog up to succeed. You have a contingency and are teaching whether the command succeeds or fails.

The long lead technique you mentioned is almost exactly identical to how most people train recall with e-collars, using the lowest working level on the collar you "reel" the dog in and when he comes you reward with praise and treats.
So, what do you do to set your dog up to succeed in this instance? That's actually one of the biggest challenges for me in this whole training process.
 

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Setting up to succeed in this instance is giving him the command when you're pretty sure hell obay.

Maybe pick up his toy or pull out a treat. Like I said I don't think your reeling him in is a bad idea. Keep up the treats when he comes
 

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Setting up to succeed in this instance is giving him the command when you're pretty sure hell obay.

Maybe pick up his toy or pull out a treat. Like I said I don't think your reeling him in is a bad idea. Keep up the treats when he comes
Okay, thank you. I was hoping maybe you had some miracle to share. :D
 
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