retraining drive to gentle

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Postby dlynne1123 » November 24th, 2009, 5:45 pm

Ok, just looking for some suggestions on retraining my girl. Originally when I got her, I worked basic puppy drive skills on tugs and sleeves. She was great, I was still pondering doing bite work or just using it for scent work and motiviational training.

Now we are two cruciate later, a bum knee for life and we aren't going to do a really physical sport. I am looking for therapy maybe and some service dog tasks for mental stimulation.

Ok, i was so excited ot have a dog like to tug of war that we didnt' crush her, we built her up and up, no out of course, just that favorite toy. This became anything in my hands, toy, stick, objects, laudry, etc.

Now.....after getting ot the point where we might get fingers and carelessly tooth smack people, I need to tone down the drive to maybe none with tugging at all. I don't want to squash what was so fun for her, but shes a 60 lb thug that doesn't feel pain and isnt' aware of her power with a toy or stick when it comes to people who just want to play with her, and dont' really understand the drive building we worked hard on. I want to teach her patience and calmness, not excitement. New trainer, she was kinda my experiment dog with scent work and drive building, its worked great. She has no fear! On the end of anything, and has great bite, but its not going ot be her job anymore.

Any ideas? Greatly appreciated!

~Dani in Maine
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Postby dlynne1123 » November 24th, 2009, 5:51 pm

P.S. There is no 'Gentle' in her name!
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Postby mnp13 » November 24th, 2009, 6:00 pm

I would start with "enough" :|

Let her play, then tell her to knock it off, I think that's really the only thing you can do.
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Postby dlynne1123 » November 24th, 2009, 7:06 pm

This is a dog I cant' physically correct. The rougher you get with her, the more she tries. Either I haven't been able to physically get to a level that will teach her enough is enough, or it just doesn't work. I didnt' know if there were some conditioning tricks for easy or gentle, and we'll start from scratch.

She already only has house time when shes calm. The latest is her finding things that aren't her toys for play. Laundry, etc. And she'll use your leg to stuff them into her mouth further if you don't engage in tug. So right now she just gets put away. I'm not getting anywhere.
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Postby maberi » November 24th, 2009, 8:07 pm

I would also grab the book Control Unleashed

I know many people suggest it but it really is a good book and will help in the long run if you stick with it. I don't agree with bullying an already drivey dog because you just end up piling on the stress which is exactly what you don't want in that type of dog. Most of the drive we see, is actually stress
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Postby dlynne1123 » November 24th, 2009, 8:29 pm

maberi wrote:I would also grab the book Control Unleashed

I know many people suggest it but it really is a good book and will help in the long run if you stick with it. I don't agree with bullying an already drivey dog because you just end up piling on the stress which is exactly what you don't want in that type of dog. Most of the drive we see, is actually stress


Thanks, i'll check it out.

As for stress, its more like excitement. I've always called it fight drive, we built it up because shes actually kinda lazy. Its been fun for her, she works for that tug toy, and play. Now, we're cutting it out. Therapy work doesn't allow for accidental teeth smacking.

Tail waggin, confident tugging, chewing, regripping, deeper bite. It was what we were aiming for, potentially leading towards personal protection or french ring. We never worked towards an out. Then one surgery led to another so we didnt' train for it anymore. Then tug of war with me was fun for her, with a retreive in between or a track. And the tug at the end. Its now backfiring. Ugh, if there are no toys in her life shes calm, submissive, easy to hurt her feelings, we need to find a new reward. Even her recalls are rewarded with the tug. ! I used bait!!! ugh, Shes still a lot of puppy too. So, I think its not too bad of a transition for her, I just need to know how to go about it.
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Postby dlynne1123 » November 24th, 2009, 8:53 pm

I guess I see it as frustration, which winds up being stress. *Sorry for the streaming thoughts!* :|
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Gretchen - the red headed cat that thinks shes a dog
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Punchlines Better Than Lojac - APBT (RIP)
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » November 24th, 2009, 9:20 pm

Perhaps do Karen Overall's Relaxation Protocol with her. Also just work on teaching her to be calm and relax. I agree with getting Control Unleashed. Great book.

And I hate to be the negative one, but some dogs just aren't cut out for therapy work. It's not a ding on your girl, but if it goes against her wild and crazy (in a fun way!) personality, she may not be happy having to be quiet and sedate. Just something to keep in mind. :)
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Postby TheRedQueen » November 24th, 2009, 9:44 pm

pitbullmamaliz wrote:Perhaps do Karen Overall's Relaxation Protocol with her. Also just work on teaching her to be calm and relax. I agree with getting Control Unleashed. Great book.

And I hate to be the negative one, but some dogs just aren't cut out for therapy work. It's not a ding on your girl, but if it goes against her wild and crazy (in a fun way!) personality, she may not be happy having to be quiet and sedate. Just something to keep in mind. :)


I agree...the Relaxation Protocol would be good...as well as Control Unleashed (good one, Matt!). Both good things to work on/with.

And there are many things to do to keep her mind engaged without doing therapy work...so while it's a good goal, if it doesn't work, do look into other sports/activities!
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Postby dlynne1123 » November 24th, 2009, 9:51 pm

Ok, I need some suggestions. We've done scent work, shes a good one at that. But it was for her tug as reward. We've done artical searching, tracking, fun games. Weight pull and bite work were her exhausting sports. With the bad knee, other than pulling in the yard, she won't be able to do much extreme sports. Its a bummer too. Shes a short and wide, built for strength, and just happy all the time. The nicking and nipping is her only being overly enthusiastic. Its not, by any means aggressive behavior. Its poor handling, inexperienced family members, and her not knowing control with the tug games. how do you go from bite work, all in tugging and pulling, to yeilded tug, for fun? I've had dogs, we taught easy to, and drop it at early ages. No way these were going to be sport dogs. I know its harder to build drive once its crushed, than to calm it down. Just not experienced enough to mold it, and I don't train with the same crowd I used to regularly.

She does have her TT and CGC, she can be under control. Just no one show her the toy! its like ball over drive in working dogs. Its over the top. Jumping, lunging, the more challenging the harder she tries. I can appreciate it! The family, not so much. It makes her less desirable to baby sit if you knwo what i mean! Not to mention her prey drive. But I expected that. I want to harness it.

Thanks again, gonna get me that book this black friday!
Ryder - Rescue APBT
Panser on a Roll - APBT (American Bully?)
Gretchen - the red headed cat that thinks shes a dog
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Postby babyreba » November 24th, 2009, 11:09 pm

I know that everyone and their brother has seen the Ivan Balabanov vids, and it seems some folks find them gospel, others think they're overrated . . . but this might be a good use for his "the game" exercises. Since the goal of the game is to help the dog move seamlessly from drive to control exercises, once she learned the rules of the game, she might make the connection that the only way she gets to play is to bring it all under control for you.
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » November 25th, 2009, 8:19 am

Neither I nor my brother have ever seen Balabanov's videos. If somebody had them and wanted to let me borrow them that would be awesome! Or if they're on Youtube, let me know!
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Postby amazincc » November 25th, 2009, 1:40 pm

I sympathize w/you, Dani... I have no advise, but I sympathize. :wink:

It's hard to teach self-control when a dog is REALLY focused on any one particular thing. :rolleyes2:
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Postby katiek0417 » November 25th, 2009, 1:56 pm

babyreba wrote:I know that everyone and their brother has seen the Ivan Balabanov vids, and it seems some folks find them gospel, others think they're overrated . . . but this might be a good use for his "the game" exercises. Since the goal of the game is to help the dog move seamlessly from drive to control exercises, once she learned the rules of the game, she might make the connection that the only way she gets to play is to bring it all under control for you.


I definitely agree. I think the goal is to teach the dog that they can have drive, but it needs to be controlled...and Ivan's vids are great for that...

Liz, let me try to find my copies!
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Postby dlynne1123 » November 25th, 2009, 3:52 pm

Yeah, are those something the library might have? Or on line somewhere! Thanks everyone. Going ot get a book this week!
Ryder - Rescue APBT
Panser on a Roll - APBT (American Bully?)
Gretchen - the red headed cat that thinks shes a dog
Prudence - the new cat on the block to put the dogs in their place!
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Postby TheRedQueen » November 26th, 2009, 12:13 am

I see a lot of flyball dogs that act like this too...the handler/owner never installs that "off-switch" or "pause button". I can tell you the number of times I've had to wait for the other start dog handler to pry the dog's jaws off the tug toy...as my good puppy outs on cue after tugging like a fiend...and we're just waiting and waiting. Or those dogs that come crashing through the other dogs to get their ball.

We have a pit bull running in our region that LOVES balls. The first time we ran against that team, she came barreling into our lane...and tried to swallow a small squishy ball. The owner came running after her yelling "you have to pick those up faster! She'll eat them!" We were all..."um...no, you need to train your dog better!" :nono: (esp. being a pit bull...I'm sure some folks don't appreciate a large bully crashing around the lanes...out of control) :rolleyes2:
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Postby dlynne1123 » November 26th, 2009, 11:55 am

She was such a squishy puppy, easily discouraged to tug, at first, and easily distracted off the toy, etc. We just worked on confidence on the bite, and the want for the toy. This helped with her socialization and agility too. She'd jump picnic tables for the toy, where as before she was afraid of a random object. (Ithink that fear stage) She matured very slowly. At 2 now, very bully, now she seems to be pretty darn confident, so calming will be easier without discouraging her. (I hope!)
She has her obedience down, and great skills, just edgy for the toy, looking around my shoulder seeing if its there!

We started some other techniques with her too, for rally. Target training, and I don't want my fingers becoming food! AT first she would put her mouth over anything I pointed to. Extremely rough, knocking things over. A bull in a China shop. We are taking the toy away for this, its too stimulating. I'll read and watch and see what we can try. Shes pretty resilient despite my experimental training with her!
Ryder - Rescue APBT
Panser on a Roll - APBT (American Bully?)
Gretchen - the red headed cat that thinks shes a dog
Prudence - the new cat on the block to put the dogs in their place!
Punchlines Better Than Lojac - APBT (RIP)
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Postby furever_pit » November 29th, 2009, 1:55 pm

katiek0417 wrote:
babyreba wrote:I know that everyone and their brother has seen the Ivan Balabanov vids, and it seems some folks find them gospel, others think they're overrated . . . but this might be a good use for his "the game" exercises. Since the goal of the game is to help the dog move seamlessly from drive to control exercises, once she learned the rules of the game, she might make the connection that the only way she gets to play is to bring it all under control for you.


I definitely agree. I think the goal is to teach the dog that they can have drive, but it needs to be controlled...and Ivan's vids are great for that...

Liz, let me try to find my copies!


+1. Great videos!
I have a 6 month old puppy that is training for protection sports and we are starting to introduce some control because he is a freaking gator. If you want to build food drive: at the beginning of the day put her total amount of kibble for the day in a tupperware container and make her work for it throughout the day. I do several short OB sessions and keep some in my pockets so that when Gator gets rowdy I can give him a command and also mark and reward him for channeling his drive. I use very little physical correction with him for being mouthy partially cause he is so young and partially cause he tends to escalate with correction. I have found that obedience and ignoring him when he behaves this way helps a lot.

I would also teach the out. And, don't worry, my pup gets put away when he is being "too much" too. We are just working on ways to help show him that being calm is fun too. Giving him stuff to chew on helps a lot too.

ETA: You could also go to a club and ask the TD to help you. It could be a good opportunity to learn from the trainer and the helper how they think you should handle the situation.
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