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Eat Poo and Die
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Has anyone found variances in work ethics in their dogs? Or is it all handler?

I find that Niz really likes the easy stuff-he loves the table in agility. Not so much the jumps. He hates off leash heeling and circle work--he'll lag behind and then just go away, no matter how happy I am and no matter how high value of a treat I have. He'd rather forgo the treats and lay down and sunbathe. When I'm doing training, I use only positive reinforcement and no corrections, and I keep my energy level up and my moods up as well. (Corrections are given when we're walking on leash or off leash hiking/at the park and he ignores/blows off commands he knows and has acknowledged he's heard.) He'll do things he knows, like sit, down, ect., over and over and get super amped over it, but especially doesn't like having to think and learn new behaviors. I can make Niz run over and over to the table and he'll get up on that and down repeatedly, just as excited as the first time and won't get sick of it. If he's hungry, it's a bit easier--I used to feed him his breakfast at agility on class day, but I can't just keep him hungry all the time...

I'm starting to wonder if Niz just doesn't like having to work for things, and that's just a part of who he is.
 

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Huge difference. That's why I went to Flirt's breeder for Flirt. They are other great breeders of performance dogs too :)

She is very very very biddable, but I think a tad soft in some ways. If I'm very very late with commands in agility she can stress sniff.

She even goes ballistic to get her nails done. She has both HIGH food drive and is very biddable.

Part of it is finding the best tone and method and making it as fun as possible. But some dogs aren't as biddable or have "lower work ethics" than others. I think it helps if you start from day 1 also building that.

Have you heard of Susan Garrett's Ruff Love book? I don't know if there is anything newer but some of the techniques may work for dogs like this. It creates a working relationship. Ruff Love

another thing I got when I got my first dog for agility was Building Blocks of Performance by Bobbie Anderson. One of the things I remember most was always stopping when the dog wants MORE. Never waiting for them to end the game.

Niz may need a higher rate of reinforcement when learning new things. You could try some shaping games with him. 101 things with a box. Click for ANY interaction with the box. Get him thinking out of the box (hmm bad pun there!).

Have you ever played choose to heel? It's a game to get your dog to pay attention. That might work for a dog like him. Make it fun, interactive, happy, upbeat.
 

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She is very very very biddable, but I think a tad soft in some ways. If I'm very very late with commands in agility she can stress sniff.

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It's the softness that made me turn to the working bred dog for agility. Don't you hate it when you get to the excellent level and then your dog starts showing the defects in his emotional character? I still love him; we just look for indoor shows which he loves and does better at. Fei is showing enough drive or hardness to not sweat the small stuff, thank heavens.
 

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Eat Poo and Die
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Huge difference. That's why I went to Flirt's breeder for Flirt. They are other great breeders of performance dogs too :)

She is very very very biddable, but I think a tad soft in some ways. If I'm very very late with commands in agility she can stress sniff.

She even goes ballistic to get her nails done. She has both HIGH food drive and is very biddable.

Part of it is finding the best tone and method and making it as fun as possible. But some dogs aren't as biddable or have "lower work ethics" than others. I think it helps if you start from day 1 also building that.

Have you heard of Susan Garrett's Ruff Love book? I don't know if there is anything newer but some of the techniques may work for dogs like this. It creates a working relationship. Ruff Love

another thing I got when I got my first dog for agility was Building Blocks of Performance by Bobbie Anderson. One of the things I remember most was always stopping when the dog wants MORE. Never waiting for them to end the game.

Niz may need a higher rate of reinforcement when learning new things. You could try some shaping games with him. 101 things with a box. Click for ANY interaction with the box. Get him thinking out of the box (hmm bad pun there!).

Have you ever played choose to heel? It's a game to get your dog to pay attention. That might work for a dog like him. Make it fun, interactive, happy, upbeat.
I'll check out the book, thanks! Before I kept writing my post, I just wanted to say thank you--you've been such a great help in my threads. The 101 things with a box seems similar to what we do with wobble boards/teeter boards. He loves new *items* that he gets treated for. He'll prance, jump, everything on those boards to get a treat. The table and wobbley objects are his absolute favorite--maybe it's just easier to him. I treat more when I'm doing heeling work, but for some reason, sitting/downing/jumping/running around all over those contact-y things is just better to him. He's a dog that fell off a dogwalk and onto his back by jumping onto the side of it while I wasn't watching him (totally didn't cross my mind he would try to go on it!), and tried to jump RIGHT back on it again. He won't go and try to jump through the tire jump or reg. jumps or go through the tunnel on his own to see if he gets rewards, but he'll pull towards the table/wobble boards/other contact obstacles to see if he does.

Our trainer is very into the stopping the fun, games, play, ect. and asking the dog to calm down right when the dog gets SUPER into it--for the purposes that the dog will get into drive quicker next time around.

I'll look up choose to heel. He heels well and doesn't pull on leash, but I think it's because he can just use the leash pressure as a gauge and doesn't really have to pay attention to me.

Niz's biggest drive is food, but it's kind of situation specific. He can put it away in favor of his lazy-schmooze around drive.

Thanks again, Colleen. Flirt sounds like a great girl!
 

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Bacchus stands like a rock outside the ring......waiting. He is surrounded by people getting their dogs worked up and yet he stands.....waiting. The barking, the activity has little effect. He waits.

Then we go into the ring and he is "with" me or sometimes he is unfocused but either way he is working. Not for a treat, not for a toy but for me because he believes that is his job. And when we are done he is at his happiest dancing around waiting to hear me tell him "good boy".

That is my definition of a work ethic.
 

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Eat Poo and Die
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Bacchus stands like a rock outside the ring......waiting. He is surrounded by people getting their dogs worked up and yet he stands.....waiting. The barking, the activity has little effect. He waits.

Then we go into the ring and he is "with" me or sometimes he is unfocused but either way he is working. Not for a treat, not for a toy but for me because he believes that is his job. And when we are done he is at his happiest dancing around waiting to hear me tell him "good boy".

That is my definition of a work ethic.
Wow, that's fantastic--we always joke that Niz's job in his eyes is that he's there to be pretty. Niz is not a dog that "wants a job" or ever tries to "help out". He wants to do his own thing, or be petted/loved, ect. Other people say their dogs love having a backpack on because it's a job for them, but for Niz he tolerates it/sees it as a sign we're going on a fun walk. But when I put stuff in it--and we've had it for a long time now, he's pretty disgruntled and will hang his head and slouch around for a bit until he forgets about the 1 lb he has on each side. He's the best companion I could ask for, but that's the extent his "job" goes to.

I really admire Bacchus' focus!
 

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It's the softness that made me turn to the working bred dog for agility. Don't you hate it when you get to the excellent level and then your dog starts showing the defects in his emotional character? I still love him; we just look for indoor shows which he loves and does better at. Fei is showing enough drive or hardness to not sweat the small stuff, thank heavens.
Well we aren't there yet :) but we have really gone a long way with our teamwork switching from CPE to AKC. She's a totally different dog and I am way more comfortable. I also can create my own courses in many of the run and she likes to get out and run vs the tight twisty AKC courses when I'm late.

I have a high drive Vizsla that doesn't sweat the small stuff, however NOT biddable :) Does what she wants when she wants. So I picked a different kind of dog for my next 2 dogs. They already are at the same level she's at. She's 8 and Flirt has trailed one trial a month since November and the other just since February. However, she is my most fun dog to run. we just don't Q in AKC a lot. Mostly because of weaves.

Also as far as working for me or a reward. Well I don't work for free, so I don't expect my dog too either :) I see no problem with tugging with her after a great run as a reward if she enjoys it.
 

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Wow, that's fantastic--we always joke that Niz's job in his eyes is that he's there to be pretty. Niz is not a dog that "wants a job" or ever tries to "help out". He wants to do his own thing, or be petted/loved, ect. Other people say their dogs love having a backpack on because it's a job for them, but for Niz he tolerates it/sees it as a sign we're going on a fun walk. But when I put stuff in it--and we've had it for a long time now, he's pretty disgruntled and will hang his head and slouch around for a bit until he forgets about the 1 lb he has on each side. He's the best companion I could ask for, but that's the extent his "job" goes to.

I really admire Bacchus' focus!
LOL that is too funny! That is exactly what we say about Kyrah. She is here just to be loved and looked at. Her stride does change with her backpack but if you put too much weight in it. She cant walk anymore. (I dont believe two 16oz bottles of water on each side is too much)

Kyrah will do somethings just for me just lagging behind or going as slow as a turtle. There are times she will just shut down. She is looking at anything but me or she may lay down. There are times we are at agility that when we are waiting around or listening to our instructor. She will lay down on her side and go to sleep. Geez does she have drive or what? LOL Her favorite is the tunnel! Next it is the jumps. Since I have stopped the contact equipment she is doing way better! She does all her runs happily! :) So far Kyrah isnt very biddable. I was hoping it would change when I left her for 3 days. But no she's still the same.

ETA: The couple things she does without complaining and with some excitement is; fetching the remote control and helping carrying a piece of clothing when I do laundry.
 

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Has anyone found variances in work ethics in their dogs? Or is it all handler?
Absolutely! Just the same way you find variances in ambition in people.

However it is a bit of both... genetics and handler. My male dobermann came out of the crate at 10 weeks off of a 14 hour flight, ready to train with a huge focus. I had a malinois that had a very short attention span, and I could only work her 5 mins as a puppy. I have a sibe that, genetically has very little work ethic that works very well for me because I have raised him to know no other way than to work for me.

Some dogs can build focus fast, and some it is a very hard road. While it is much easier to imprint focus/work ethic in a young puppy it can be done with an older dog. However the handler must make a committment to change not only the training regime but usually some or most of the daily living as well.
 

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this may sound mean but...
i despise a dog without work ethic. and i will actively work to create it in any dog i have, because i want the only thing the dog wants to do, to be what i want to do. my "jobs" i give these dogs need to be the most fun thing in the world, and i will absolutely manipulate anything i can to create it.

if my dogs were so so about toys, they wouldn't be able to play with them without me. they would get chew toys only, and any interactive tugs/balls/ropes etc would be something that came out with me, played briefly with and only to the point of frenzy and nothing else, and then put away still wanting more.

cant keep a dog hungry all the time - you absolutely can. berlin worked for every single meal before i got her CD. my dogs LIVE hungry - i do NOT keep fat dogs, and my dogs eat once a day. before a show i will feed only half the amount if i need to. the food drive i built into all of them is immense and i can use food anywhere for anything - they will stand on their heads for food. i wont accept a dog that just goes "meh" for food. i wont tolerate sitting around and taking 20 minutes to eat, or wandering away from your bowl in the middle of a meal. if i put a meal down, you better put your face in it ASAP and don't move until you're done. in fact, rah reminds me when meal time is and cherry screams the minute the bowls come out. i dont want a dog that when i offer something yummy looks at me and says "what else ya got" or requires me to change up the food in the middle of a training session. as i said, for months berlin trained with ONLY her kibble.

i also wont tolerate a dog blowing me off to play with other dogs. working with me and being with me should be better than anything else - if i cant call you off the pack of dogs i have, then you cant be with the pack yet. when i am working a dog, i should have to physically block the other dogs from being with me because THEY want to work so much. they fight to get into heel position, they compete with each other for my attention and who gets to be with me. if i take one dog out of the yard to work, the others are screaming at the gate banging on it trying to get there. they will try to escape and go outside to be the next one to work. this has been the hardest thing because some of my dogs genuinely REALLY like each other and want to be together, and i feel guilty sometimes keeping them apart or in a crate, but it also made for a VERY good puppy that i raised that would have been hell on earth (since she's rah 2)... the most i've lost to her is a crate mat, and just 2 seconds ago she BOLTED from the kitchen to her crate on my words and sat in there barking at me, expecting her handsome reward.

some dogs require more manipulation than others. i wouldnt say ANY of my dogs is particularly biddable. but ive been able to convince them that what i want IS what they want, to some degree - because those activities are the most rewarding. what *i* want them to do isn't always on their forethought, but molding their lifestyle means that what i want becomes what they want...
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Niz most definitely isn't fat (he actually just lost 6 lbs even though I was scared he was gaining because of his huge caloric intake increase recently), but I do feel that we have supported him in his resistance to work for the past two and a half years. Suddenly asking him to work is probably "wtf" to him--he enjoys not having to do anything other than pleasing himself and SO is fine with the fact that Niz doesn't want to work for anything (all SO wants in a dog is health and manners; the rest he pays for because I want to do it). I don't know if I'll be able to successfully create a different relationship and lifestyle with Niz particularly because it's been a struggle to even get SO to practice NLIF, but I have asked my agility instructor if I could borrow a few of her books (including Ruff Love). She commented, "I think that the concept of Ruff Love is good and I have used some of it but most people are unable to do it completely and then it does not work."

When I tried to make Niz work for his kibble--entire meals, he would work for it, but after a while (a skipped "proper" meal or two) he would act like he wasn't fed and ended up being grumpy and losing drive overall.
 

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i think working relationships with dogs are very hard to maintain and above all, i want to have a relationship with my dogs. while im sad that berlins retired, i think she's actually happier than ever and wants to be my running partner - she comes to training and she's in nosework, but lack of expectation makes her happier.

but so much of it is the energy and expectation we bring. i cant work my dogs for 45-60 minutes in class with the energy that i need - so they go away or we take breaks. i dont ever want to train blah.

in the beginning berlin just had to show me EFFORT> i reward effort, not precision. if you try or give me something cute, that i will reward. i also am making a huge effort to have ME be the reward - i use food and toys all the time, but at some point *i* need to be enough for the dog (because im all they get in the ring). for some dogs this is absolutely easier than others, and it took me three years with berlin to get to the point that if she was happy i could interact with her and play with her without anything else in the world and she was 100% into that - and in fact she wants that more than anything and she begs to play with me (not with toys, but actually with me).

so in the beginning any effort or offering of behaviors was rewarded - she did that for 20 seconds (a long time for dogs) then she could have meals. then i extended it and after MONTHS i introduced it into obedience - to this day i ask her "you hungry?" or "wanna eat" and she better put some effort in - a bounce, a jump, a bark - something that lets me know that she's not done and has more to give. precision comes from repetition, but attitude comes frmo effort. i wont do repetition without attitude.

cherry is in a class right now that i think is much above her focus levels - our super puppy class ended and the only option i have is to not have her in class at all, or have her in attention 1. half her puppy class is in there, but she's the youngest and some of them are almost a year old. so she does what she can, and we spend much of the time that my trainer is talking playing off to the side, perfecting the worlds most adorable spin and twist and keeping attitude. because i want her to perform with pizazz and joy - im less concerned that she has perfect heel position all the time (i CREATE heel position if its important). and we spend a lot of time wrestling and cuddling. i want her to seek me out as something fun to interact with.

i dont use ruff love 100% and i still found it helped me a lot. for starters, i refuse to use a head halter :)

it all depends on how much you want to put it and how far you want to go. for me, ill be honest - just playing the game isn't enough, i want to win. i want my dogs to want to do this, and i want to be out there kicking butt. so its important to me.
 

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One thing that my mentor taught me about "work ethic" and drive was that a great deal is genetic.
When she was teaching me about evaluating puppies we were playing with puppy agility equipment. She taught one of the girls to go over a baby A-frame. That same puppy continued to go over and back on the A-frame with no encouragement and no cookies/toys/praise. The puppy was doing it because she thought it was fun! She looked at me and said "now THAT is drive." This is how I came up with my definition of drive, at least working drive in referrence to ethic, "The act of doing is the reward."
 

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When I moved to Delaware a year ago I bought some agility equipment for my son for his backyard. He wanted to get into agility with his malinois. I rented a big truck and drove to Carlisle's in PA to pick up the stuff. There was an agility ring next to the building and I put Bacchus in there so I could take care of business. When I was in the building I looked out a window and there was Bacchus doing agility all by his lonesome. He seemed lost in his own little world trotting from one obstacle to another......going over the dog walk, over some jumps and up the A-frame. It was then I realized how much he enjoyed running a ring........enjoyed working. There was no treat promised, no toy wiggled in his face.....and no praise waiting at the finish. Is that a definition of work ethic? I would imagine some saying yes, some saying no. Me.....I think he believes there's agility equipment everywhere that needs to be "worked" and he better get started. ;)
 
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