Thursday, March 24, 2011

Some thoughts on tugging....from a TUG-tard


First off let me say I was hesitant to even post this because I do not want to sound like an expert or like what works for us would work for everyone else. I was always a tug-tard and felt like I squashed all my dogs play instincts-not that I wanted to, I just did not understand how to inspire play with my dogs, even though I really wanted to. Ricky's mom asked a few days ago how we found our tug, esp. with Chloe and Breeze who would not tug. Liz was a good tugger but at some point in her life decided she would choose not to tug most of the time, I figured that was me working my non-play magic, ahhhhh... hers was mostly gone. It took me awhile to answer but I had to think....So ya can all groan...hahahahahaha, but I am going to do a few posts on some of what we found worked for us. OF COURSE I DO NOT CLAIM TO BE AN EXPERT, I was just a frustrated trainer who tried a few pretty simple things that for us made a lot of difference-but I definitely have no masters in dog play but I can say I am pretty happy with what we have now. My dogs are FANTASTIC TUGGERS now and I really treasure what we have- because the dogs have more excitement when we train, even if it is training with food.

When I had non-tuggers, I found the whole thing intimidating. You know it seems that everyone tells you you have to get your performance dog to tug and tells you how much you are missing out of if your dog is not a tugger. It seems like a lot of training videos or seminar presenters assume we all have a great tug. If your dog didn't tug they do not always tell you how you can create some of that excitement with food or tell you how to get it, so often then just tell you how much you NEED it. Hummm...I always resented that talk to tell you the truth. My dogs did not tug and I tried a lot of things to shape it, different things to tempt them, lots of different toys and toys with different textures and toys that were supposed to bring out the tugging instinct, I worried about it and tried to get my dogs to tug.. but it just was not happening. To tell you the truth it ticked me off to keep hearing we should have this great tug but no one would give me any clues about how to get this. I wish I had a good answer and could market a formula because I know a lot of people feel like I felt. Unfortunately I can only share what I think made it easier for my dogs and for me to be in a place where play flourished a little more and tug sort of came out of that.

The interesting thing is that we were not actually working on a tug and not really trying to get a tug per say when we finally were able to find out inner TUGGERS and bring them to life. So I am not the expert on tugging but I do think it is worth perhaps sharing a little of some of what I think made a difference, because even if we had not got tugging, it made a huge difference in the excitement level of our training. So anyone can take it for what it is worth...I will probably make a few posts...but these are just some things that worked for us.

I know what I would have said earlier B.T. (before tugging ;) ), like why do I care or why bother-we do OK without it? Hey, I do not think tugging is a necessary thing, although it is a really nice thing to have because a lot of times I do not have to use food, or find as many treats....I enjoy feeling like we are playing and not like I am just dolling out treats-it is more fun for me, but I do notice even if I am training with food now there is a new level of excitement that really makes things more fun for all of us.

I will go out and try to get some video today of one of the things I think really helped us one of which is TREAT DELIVERY, or how I learned to reward behaviors with food that helped us add a little more playful behavior and excitement. So how is that for a teaser? ;-)

My AMAZING dogs at the park!

WHOWZA!!!! Have I said lately how much my dogs just blow me away! For the last few days during our recall practices at the park, Lizzie has been so spot on and done her recalls so well-- straight out of the car. This is the dog that had no recall for so long, I think repeating the recallers course is going to be so good for her. Breeze of course is fantastic and loved chasing the Orbee, and looked so fast until I saw Cricket taking her turn. Cricket just hunkers down and runs- I can not believe how fast she runs. It is AMAZING-she just looks like she is flying. Of course Crickets recalls have always been amazing and to see her running full speed at me when I call, boy it makes every minute we put into practicing recalls seem so worth it. I can not tell you how fantastic it felt to be out at the park,enjoying the fresh air and just watching how happy the doggies were.

16 comments:

Sara said...

When I went to my "break out of your shell" seminar, our instructor told us not to worry if we couldn't get our dogs to tug. She said that for the "Soft dogs" having them fetch, instead of tug, is a preferred activtity, because it teaches the dog to move away from you and get rewarded for doing so.

Looking forward to all your tug/play series. Especially since I have a dog who LOVES to tug, but can't let his guard down enough to do it anywhere but home.

Sam said...

I, too, am interested in your tug/play series, as Marge really isn't all that into either of them. I do wonder how it would affect her agility if she learned to enjoy tugging as a reward.

LauraK said...

I am SO excited to read about your tugging series. I love to hear about how other people got started with it- it is such a useful training tool. Riley was kind of a tugger when we started agility- but man, I tell you that tugging saved our agility career and increased our bond. Who knew such a simple thing can do so much for an agility team?! She's a tugging QUEEN now :)

I think I'm going to break down and do the recallers course. It's a little painful on the wallet right now, but I think long term it will be a really good thing for Riley and I (and my future dogs). Riley's number one flaw is definitely her recall, so I am hoping that I won't be disappointed. From the sounds of your testimonial though, it was well worth the time and money! Please don't tell me that I'm wrong! Hopefully I'll soon be writing about Riley's "brilliant" recall :) Thank you for inspiring me!

Kathy said...

Laura, hope if you take the course you are happy. My hubby is a school teacher and I am a stay at home mom so it was a HUGE hit financially -that just seemed like sooo much money....and there was a time in the first few days where like one day I opened up the lesson plan and saw we were going to do hand touches, and I thought you have got to be kidding, and was really worried I had wasted my money, but then SG showed how to take a simple thing like that, do reward placeemtent just a little different, and wha laaa we had the type of hand touch in two min. I had always tried to get. There were a lot of things like that, things I could have done but never got around too and knowing how much money I spent boy I was diligent about doing it every day, and at the end Lizzie who had never been able to do a agility class without running off was able to do a class, and I could get her working around all sorts of distractions, Breeze who has always been pretty perfect ended up being more tuned into me and way more excited even in agility, and Cricket well, she has the best recall and just seems to think I am the most interesting thing she has ever seen, and I love that, LOL. I thought the coaching calls would be silly, but loved those and those had so much info, so anyway, if you have any questions email me mochos@charter.net.

Diana said...

So interested to hear what you have to say. Miley will tug but as soon as we do agility, nope, forget the toy. only food please. Ugh, how did I do that. So Im slowly trying to work it back in. But its like teaching an obstcale all itself. I also was thinking about the recallers class. I really want to but man thats a lot of money.

Ricky the Sheltie said...

I am beyond thrilled that you are going to do several posts on how you got your dogs to love tugging! I know you have given me advice before - esp. on how to make the treats more exciting - and I haven't forgotten but sometimes I do forget in the middle of training that I should keep moving when delivering the food. I was doing that today and it really made Ricky more engaged. It's funny because he has always liked to tug but I didn't incorporate it as part of agility or as a reward for behaviors so I can't get him to see it as a reward. And like Oreo, he doesn't feel comfortable tugging away from home! Thank you so much for taking the time to help!!!!

I was going to sign up for SG's recallers course and then saw how much it cost and I just couldn't do it! She is a great trainer but an even better marketer and self-promoter - she's gonna make a ton of $$!!

Kathy said...

ps, after I say all that did you see how much that inner circle level is? OMG, almost a thousand dollars, that seems crazy, LOL, it sounds like a cool thing except for how much it costs...they did not have that last time I did it.

Ricky the Sheltie said...

I really just meant that I admired her marketing skills - I didn't really feel manipulated (well, not until you mentioned it, LOL!). She has amazing training skills, knowledge and advice and she should get paid for it. I could pay for it too but I just couldn't do it. I agree that she should've given all of you finalists something more than just a free e-course (like how about the most expensive level for free!) because she did blatantly use your videos to promote her course. But I guess you all knew that would happen. Any way I am happy for you and for all the people who will take the course!

Ricky the Sheltie said...

Oops, I just saw your last comment - I know - I could not believe the price for the inner circle level!!! For that SG had better come to my house and give me lessons in person! LOL!

Kathy said...

It would be neat to do that highest levl, lol, but I almost choked when I saw that price!!! Knowing SG she will probably throw in enough things for those people to make it worth it, but boy that seems like she will have to throw in a lot of things, LOL!

Nat said...

What a great idea for a series! I'm sure we can all learn from it. Definitely looking forward to it!

Sagira said...

I agree, I am happy that you are sharing this information. Even the "experts" have to start somewhere, right? :)

Jules said...

Cool! I am looking forward to reading about what worked for you. Bug loves tugging and I have painstakingly reinforced it with Ike - to the point that he truly enjoys it at home and will occasionally do it in public. I'd love to get Ikey comfortable doing it elsewhere. Maybe some of your tips will hold the secret! :)

Morganne said...

Interesting thoughts. I look forward to reading about your tugging series. I am one of those who thinks tugging is very important for agility but then again, I have BC's and a Sheltie. I like to use food when I want my dog's thinking about a behavior and I use tug when I want them to perform at top speed and in drive.

Marie said...

Looking forward to your videos! With Zoe I didn't use tugging at all in training, strictly treats. Then with Twist and Raven I started experimenting more with toys and by the time Dare came along I was determined that she and I would be able to use both food and toys as reward. I know we could still improve though, so I look forward to your suggestions.

Cynthia said...

ahhh tugging, so much controversy surrounds it. LOL. My DSF, Jet, is a great tugger... except when a ball comes out. So for flyball, he wants that ball more than a tug. And I have worked that tug from DAY 1. Believe me, when the flyball people say I'm an idiot (okay not in so many words LOL) because he wants the ball more than the tug, they don't understand I've done everything I can think of to get him to want that tug more than the ball. But sometimes... well, sometimes dogs choose their own rewards! :)

Anyway that's my rant about tug. LOL None of my collies tug, but maybe when I get another, in some 4 or 6 years, I'll be able to get him to tug. :)