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Teaching manners with toys


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#1 RcknR

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Posted 04 October 2005 - 07:59 AM

Hi all,

I am hoping you all may be able to give me some suggestions for teaching my 7m/o BC some "manners" with her toys. Our biggest problem right now, is probably her not being able to understand when her game is over. We exercise her very often, and even after an exhausting day, if a toy is near she will continue to play play play. We would like to teach her a command such as "That'll do", to end the game. I have been trying to do so, but all I get is VERY intense stares on her part, she will literally stare at me for 20-30 minutes as I walk around the house, sometimes shoving toys in my lap, or the occasional demanding bark. How can I get her to understand the game is over and to settle down for the evening?

Any tips are appreciated, thanks.

#2 Columbia MO

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Posted 04 October 2005 - 08:25 AM

I'd love to hear the advice for this too! I have a 6 mos. old (today) BC puppy that is equally intense. He brings balls or other toys to me literally 500+ times each evening despite lots of walks, games, clicker training, etc.

He'll try dropping them near me and staring to try to mesmerize me into throwing them. I NEVER NEVER NEVER will even acknowledge him if he drops the ball on the floor. I turn and walk away and refuse to speak to him or make eye contact. The only time I will throw is once in a while when he holds the toy long enough for me to actually get my hand under it before it hits the ground (under 1% of the time).

However, he has NOT learned to deliver the ball to my hand (he's clueless about that part), but has instead learned that he "needs to bring it at least 100 times and drop it or bounce it at my feet" before I mysteriously decide to throw it.

Normally, I would allow this behavior to extinguish by walking away time he brings the ball. However, I'm so busy trying to trick him into actually putting the ball in my hand that I am inadvertently encouraging the pushiness. It is this very pushiness that kept me from getting a BC for 20 years. My first two BCs were nothing like this, so I guess I'm overdue for the obsessive retrieving behavior!

My puppy has an obsessive desire to have something in his mouth. He cannot even walk without holding something. He'll carry a toy for 2-3 steps, then see another toy so he drops the first and snatches up the new one within a fraction of a second. Five steps later, and he's on to the third toy. Yet if I throw a toy for him, he looks at me like I'm nuts. He just sits and stares at it. When I give up and begin working on my computer, he will then scoop it up and begin the obsessive retrieving and ball bouncing.

I'm 99% sure it isn't so much about the ball or about play as it is about controlling the owner and seeking status. Any opinions on this?

Columbia, MO

#3 RcknR

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Posted 04 October 2005 - 08:40 AM

Thanks for the response. Mine just now started bringing me the ball. We would say "Drop it" twice, and after strike 2, we would make it obvious we are not happy and leave the game. So she just now started actually dropping it. Sometimes she will snatch it from us though when the hand movement excites her.

#4 Rebecca, Irena Farm

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Posted 04 October 2005 - 08:47 AM

The solution is quite simple. Teach another behavior which is imcompatible with manipulating you with toys. The usual is "That's enough, go to bed." Or something similar. No suburban Border collie household should be without this important tool!

Get a bed, bathmat, rug, or whatever you don't mind lying around any room you spend a lot of time in. Teach your pup to lie down and stay WITH you first. Then teach them that "lie down" means lie down where ever they are - you can teach this with a toy - ask for that down before you throw it - some dogs do this naturally anyway.

Then teach them, "Go to bed" means go over to the rug. You can use a clicker, lure them with a treat, whatever - it's pretty easy. Just get them there and reward the pup when he's standing on the rug.

Next combine go to bed and lie down. Don't ask for stay at first. Do this several times in a row, several sessions in a row.

Next add the stay. Short stays at first, reward with play sessions, return to the bed for another short stay, another play session, etc. Gradually make the stays longer and the play sessions shorter, but end with a nice long game outside, a walk, or something else active to balance all that "down time."

You need not worry that you will decrease your pup's desire for the toy. Quite the opposite, as it becomes more fun in its own right and less of a manipulation tool, he'll submit to your rules and start looking for ways to please you while playing.

Eventually you should be able to turn to your dog, pat him on the head, and say, "That's enough, go to bed." And he'll give you a heart-rending sigh and slouch over to his corner. You'll still get the stare but he'll be a little more busy doing his "job" so it won't be quite as annoying!
Becca Shouse - Irena Farm, Semora, NC
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#5 Columbia MO

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Posted 04 October 2005 - 09:00 AM

RcknR,

We should trade dogs--you want a puppy that will bring you the ball and drop it at your feet. My puppy does that beautifully!

I want a puppy that will hang on to the ball, even when I am tugging at it. I want a very solid "hold" behavior because I compete in obedience. Our puppies must have been switched at birth! :rolleyes:

Rebecca,

Thanks for the great advice. I do sometimes train a "lie down" command, but I haven't done that yet with mine. You've reminded me it's high time to get to work!

Coumbia, MO

#6 RcknR

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Posted 04 October 2005 - 09:11 AM

Thanks Rebecca,

I will try that. She has a bed she lays on in a corner, we just haven't mastered the "lay" part while she's on the bed, she thinks its more suitable to sit up.

Do you suppose its better to give the dog long fulfilling games, or short quick ones to make them temporarily happy? I often have wondered if her obsessiveness comes from maybe her worrying the game will be too short lived. I give her both long and short games, but indoors of course it has to be pretty short.

#7 RcknR

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Posted 04 October 2005 - 09:14 AM

Columbia, she definatly has grip. It is just a bummer when she's tugging on a small toy, then goes to adjust her grip by taking in an extra inch... because there goes our poor fingers! But she's gotten a lot better, and now kind of "flings" the ball at us to drop it, and I usually ask for a "sit" before I throw it so that she has a controlled run to the ball, and doesn't wind up smacking into a wall or something due to the excitement

#8 TessKipp

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Posted 04 October 2005 - 09:14 AM

I solved this using Rebecca's solution and also by keeping all fetch & tug toys up out the way when we are not using them.

The only toys I will throw for a real game are kept in my control, and the only toys I will tug with for a real game are kept in my control. The new pup also has his own game, which we call "Gonna get a PUP!!" where he carries his tug toy around and I chase him. That toy is restricted-use only as well. The dogs are welcome to bring any other toys to us for us to toss once or twice or to tug on once or twice but they know the real game will not happen without the real toys.

When my dogs want to play ball or play tug, they go stare at the out-of-reach toy box. The older dog will give up and lay down and sleep--near the toy box. The little guy does not have free run of the house yet so he is easier to deal with.

We also have a routine here. We throw the ball after we walk/jog (only older dog runs with me), and we walk/jog at certain times during the day. I did not want my dogs relying on specific times, so instead they are allowed to expect activities to follow other activities. (Fetch follows walk which follows me working at my desk for a few hours).

Finally, we have a command here called "All DONE!" and we hold up our hands to show they are empty. This means, the game is OVER. :rolleyes: We do not EVER allow one more throw or whatever after we say "All done."

I got this last idea from my horse vet, who has a border collie named Vern. Vern is a fetching fool. If you are tired of throwing his stick, pine cone, frisbee, ball, whatever, you say "Leave it alone, Vern!" and you have to say it like you mean it. After you say it, he goes to someone else. Once he tried to get my horse to throw it when we ran out of people.

Allie, Tess, & Kipp

#9 urge to herd

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Posted 04 October 2005 - 09:15 AM

Great answer from Rebecca on the "Settle down" cue. My guys will give me the heartbroken looks and then go lay the heck down!

Columbia, I don't think your pup is so much status seeking or controlling, as your other idea, 'he's learned to bring the ball 100 times or so before I mysteriously decide to throw it.'
His experience is that you eventually throw it, he just needs to keep offering it to you. Persistency is a bc trait, or it is for my 3!

Anyway, I taught Sammi to drop the ball in my hand by sitting or standing next to an old bath towel spread out on the ground. When ever she dropped the ball on the towel, I picked it up and threw it for her. Off the towel, I ignored it. She caught on to that really, really quickly.

Then, over several days, I gradually folded the towel so that it was smaller and smaller, so she had to hit a smaller and smaller target. After maybe 10 days or so, a couple brief sessions a day, the towel was actually a washcloth folded in quarters, and she was placing the ball carefully. Then, I added my hand on top of the fabric. Sammi's a bit timid of new things, so I had to go slowly with this, but when she finally dropped that slimy, nasty ol' tennis ball in my hand, we celebrated with throwing the ball, what else!

I had to be careful not to move my hand at all when it was lying on top of the washcloth, or that became part of the cue. And, use a brightly colored towel that contrasts with the ground you're working on, (so, not a dark green towel on a green lawn, it's easier for them to see the contrast of different colors.)

Good luck!

Ruth n the BC3

#10 Loretta

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Posted 04 October 2005 - 09:17 AM

Columbia,

When he brings you toys, just pick them up and put them away....he will get it eventually If everytime he brings you a toy and you take it away when you are not interested--he will figure out quickly that you are not into it.

Also...when you are playing with him...tell him "that'll do" and put the toy up..out of his reach and sight when YOU are done. Eventually he will learn that is the word for not working.

Teach him to settle in the crate or on a bed. When they are younger they don't get this and you will be happy when you teach them this early.

My dog had the same issue with the ball, you have to either get 2 balls and trade them or hold your hand low and work on it, click and reward with the ball immediately from your hand...kind of like playing "hot potato"...he gives you immediately return. Do this a lot and he will start getting it. BUT dont try it when he is being OCD with the ball.

Loretta Mueller

#11 Rebecca, Irena Farm

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Posted 04 October 2005 - 09:23 AM

Vary your games, always "up the ante." Start asking for nicer behavior in return for you playtimes. Create new "rules" but make sure they are fair, of course. She's just the right age for rules - she'll soak it up like a sponge and you'll see her relax a little, too.

Instead of making a quick snatch for the toy, teach her she has to be quiet and lie there while you reach down for it. If she grabs it, stand up and go back to "drop it, lie down."

Teach "Give" seperately from the excitement of the fetch game. Trade toys, or a treat, by saying "Give", then showing the toy/treat. Throw a party when she drops the first item (BEFORE she grabs the second item, though, make sure you are not praising her then).

It's the lack of variation that is feeding the obsessiveness. She's a Border collie, so there will be a certain level of insanity there, but you can ensure that it doesn't take over her life by offering a wide range of games and always adding new stuff as you train.
Becca Shouse - Irena Farm, Semora, NC
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#12 Loretta

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Posted 04 October 2005 - 09:32 AM

RcknR,

Why not just put up the toy totally when she is done playing?

With my BC, if I say that'll do then she is done...when she was younger and I gave her that command and she failed to comply...she was put in her crate for a time out. She got the idea very quickly.

Just a thought,
Loretta Mueller

#13 RcknR

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Posted 04 October 2005 - 09:33 AM

Thanks all. I enjoyed reading all of the tips! I'll give them a try! I like the "all done!" command, that would be very easy to remember. I have one other question though, sometimes when her toys are put up, she will start whining. I have taught her to whine at the door for potty, but she will simply be gazing around the room whining as if she's thinking "Gosh I need to find something to DO!" so its certainly not her potty cue - What do I do for that? What I've done so far, I don't know if it is correct, is I will say "SHHH! Be Quiet!" and I will repeat myself only once, and then I will put her away in her room. Then bring her out to try again a few minutes later. I really would like her to just settle in during the evening, chew a bone, lay on the bed, etc.

#14 RcknR

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Posted 04 October 2005 - 09:37 AM

Loretta, I just posted what happens when her toys are up. She will whine, etc. And I also give her time outs when she doesn't listen to my "Be quiet" command. On her last strike, I'll usually say "Be quiet...or you'll go to your ROOM".... And then if she continues to whine, I say "Ok, your going to your ROOM" and then immediatly put her up. So, I'm trying to teach her words so that I can give her little fore warnings before I actually have to "punish" her.

#15 Loretta

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Posted 04 October 2005 - 09:39 AM

RcknR,

She is a 7 month old BC pup :rolleyes:)) Mine didn't settle during the evening until she was 2 :D Mentally and physically work her. Train train train :D Ignore the whining IMO, ignore the behaviours you don't want (as negative is still attention)...and praise the behaviours you do..give her one of those treat balls to work for her supper, stuff kongs with treats and have her work.

Something that also worked well for my girl to learn to entertain herself in a constructive manner was to put her in an x-pen with toys and let her learn to play without me. She can entertain herself quite nicely without me now

But I would not expect any of that if she had not been worked well.

Loretta Mueller

#16 Columbia MO

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Posted 04 October 2005 - 09:42 AM

Hi everybody,

Wow! Thanks for all the terrific advice. I'm going to try lots of these, as they are very compatible.

I especially love the idea of the towel target. I've been putting my hand on the ground, but he always "just" misses it. It is getting frustrating for him as he only gets a 1% rate of reinforcement. That is a great idea to expand the target and work my way smaller gradually.

Thanks everybody!!!

Columbia, MO

#17 Loretta

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Posted 04 October 2005 - 09:43 AM

RcknR,

Yeah I responded before I got that post! :)Sorry!
Why give her warnings on the whining? Just get up and put her in the room. She is just being pushy and trying to take that inch and get a mile or 2 out of it ...I did this with Zip when she wanted to herd the cat..worked very well, if I warned her she would stop..but still eye her, once I stopped warning her and just did it....that stopped. Just a thought again.

Smart dogs Outsmarting them is the hardest part! Good luck!

Loretta Mueller

#18 RcknR

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Posted 04 October 2005 - 09:52 AM

Originally posted by Zip and Ace:
RcknR,

Yeah I responded before I got that post! :)Sorry!
Why give her warnings on the whining? Just get up and put her in the room. She is just being pushy and trying to take that inch and get a mile or 2 out of it ...I did this with Zip when she wanted to herd the cat..worked very well, if I warned her she would stop..but still eye her, once I stopped warning her and just did it....that stopped. Just a thought again.

Smart dogs Outsmarting them is the hardest part! Good luck!

Loretta Mueller

LOL I guess you are right with that. On the subject of cats, we are constantly saying "No!" or "Leave the cats alone", etc. because she STARES. Luckily my cats don't run, but her staring makes them a little uneasy. So in that situation, I should just put her away as soon as she does it, and she'll understand what the punishment is for?

And maybe someone can recommend a good treat toy that she can work at. We have a kong and I fill it with a mix of peanut butter, bits of carrots, and meaty dog treats but thats sometimes too messy for the floors outside her room, and she works her kong so well that the game is done within 5 minutes.

#19 Loretta

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Posted 04 October 2005 - 09:59 AM

For the whining I would tell her Be Quiet ONCE that is what I meant (although now that I read it that is NOT what I said! LOL)...tell her once, then after that she is put up. Same with the cat. Since she is not totally understanding the "stop working" command "that'll do or enough etc" then I would teach her that first. With playing and then putting the toy away and saying that'll do. Then transfer it over to working the cat as well...that command just means "stop working what you are working" period. And give her that command and if she doesn't..THEN put her in the crate. But ONLY after she knows what your stop working command is. If you have to help teach her...tell her that'll do and offer her something else (aka a kong, a cookie etc)to help her understand.

Take cream cheese or PB and stick the kong in the freezer...would like to see her get THAT out in 5 minutes! LOL

Loretta Mueller

#20 Loretta

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Posted 04 October 2005 - 10:04 AM

I guess now that I am posting I might want to introduce myself eh??

My name is Loretta Mueller and I am in Minnesota. I have 2 BC's an almost 7 year old named Ace and a 2 year old named Zip. Ace is a rescue I got when I lived in Missouri and Zip is a pup I bought from Kathy Knox.

Lots of good stuff on this board!
Loretta



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