Thursday, June 3, 2010

"Success" With One Jump?

First things first -- Secret is still made of rubber. I don't think she received the memo that 21" dogs are not supposed to fit under an 8" bed.

The other evening, I watched Susan Garrett's training video, "Success With One Jump." It quickly became clear to me that I would be able to do none of what I saw on the video with Secret until her drive & motivation are built up, so last night I set out to work on that.

Hmm. Yeah...

The unfortunate part about pretty much everything that Susan Garrett does is that it is very, very toy-based training. Sigh. We know how that goes.

So in an effort to bring together Secret's food & toy drive, I brought out the "Tug-It" training toy, filled with Natural Balance food roll pieces. I used the Tug-It a few times when I first got it and Secret did, indeed, go nuts tugging on it -- To the point of ripping it, so I admit to pretty much abandoning it after that. I also find it a giant pain in the butt to clean.

My original plan was simply to use it as a treat dispenser, hoping that Secret would chase it when thrown, knowing that food comes out of it. Let me tell you, that game didn't last long at all. She ran after it a couple of times, then just sat and looked at me when I threw it. Sigh.

I offered it to her to tug and once she realized what it was she went practically rabid. Success, right? Well, no, not for the task at hand. When I threw it over the jump she would trot towards it and hesitantly sniff it -- A far cry from the exuberant attack I would hope for. When I would pick up the Tug-It and wave it in front of her face she would latch on and go nuts (ripping the hole a bit bigger, I might add), but this delayed reaction is going to do nothing to build happy association with the jump obstacle, itself.

The premise of the SWOJ video is getting the dog to drive over the jump towards the reward. I cannot, for the life of me, find anything that will make Secret do that. She seems to think that if I'm not going to move, neither shall she. I can't even follow Susan's instructions for Stage 1 because of this. :o(

Secret ended up shutting down on me during these exercises (no surprise) and completely turned me off. I took her back in the house and put her in her crate while I brought the boys out to play. It's worth noting that Secret had a VERY bad "bratty teenager" day, overall, and this may not have been the absolute best day to work on such things.

When I came back in with the boys, I took Secret back outside with her squeaky Kong ball. There was no setting up in front of jumps, but I tried to direct her over them on her way to chase the ball. This worked for approximately two or three jumps before she figured out this was still "training" and not just "playing." Then she shut down again and ignored me. Back inside and into her crate.

I let her sit there for about 20 minutes or so with all of us in the living room. Then I took her back out again with the squeaky chicken toy. I threw it for her once, tugged with it, sent her over a jump after it, tugged some more and then we were done. I just had to end on something positive with her still wanting to play.

We absolutely, positively need to build up more toy drive and jump drive before we can continue with any part of Susan Garrett's training. For now, that means running with her.

Meanwhile, I really have to get serious about continuing to build Secret's toy drive. Admittedly, when I "gave up" and switched to food, I more or less stopped trying with the toys. I absolutely, 100% want to use Susan Garrett's 2 x 2 weave training method with Secret, so I have a couple of months to work on it. Since we are working on grass, I really have no other option. Secret's ability to find food treats in the grass is next to nil.

Coming up this weekend --- We are traveling to a conformation show & weight pull in Le Center, MN. This is an "all-Kaiser" weekend and Secret & Luke are just along for the ride. There is typically quite a bit of down time at these shows, so I will pack the toy bag and see if I can get Secret to play away from home.


  1. I love your blog!
    Good luck getting Secret to play with toys. I can barely get my girlz to play with toys in the house. Darby is ocd about balls, but can't focus on anything else if a ball is near, including agility. And I've not been able to get any of mine to tug either.
    Have fun this weekend. We are off to Buckner, KY for an AKC agility trial :)

  2. Thanks so much! It's always nice to know I'm not just here talking to myself. :) Secret is a pretty good tugger in the house (not agressive about it in the least, though, she just hangs on and goes for the ride), but we haven't really made that transition to outside. Too many distractions. Good luck at your trial!

  3. Karissa,

    LOL..I read you blog a lot....w/BC's, you might want to just forget about the toy for a while. Maybe you are pushing it TOO much. I've had dogs that have shown zero interest in toys...we quit, and then they get adopted to a pet home. A month later, I get an email about how the dog is a ball/frisbee maniac! The difference is, joe-pet home just throws the ball, there is no set trianing plan, no "goal"...just a game of fetch. If the dog doesn't bring it back, oh well.

    Also, w/some dogs, the drive doesn't develop until they are a bit older. I've had pups who showed zero interest, but were crazy as adults.

    My last comment is, why do you have to train w/toys? I have 5 shelties...only one is toy driven. All of my shelties have done exercises from Success w/One Jump. I'm also teaching Steele his 2x2 weaves. Steele is my main agility prospect right now. He's not toy motivated at all. That doesn't stop us from training. We just use treats he can see (and I've gotten good at tossing them LOL). I'm training 2x2's on my driveway (concrete) so it's easier for him to see the treat (we are using BilJac right now, as it's big and visable). When we work jumps in the yard, I'll use cut up string cheese, because it's visable in the grass. I also have found that cheese-balls work good too (you can get a dog variety as well).

    Anyway...just "food for thought" LOL...but yeah...maybe forget the toy for a bit and focus on what you've got. You aren't the only person to have a dog who isn't toy motivated; they can be trained! LOL (and coming from someone w/several dogs who are HIGHLY toy driven, sometimes food is easier! LOL).

    Good luck!


  4. I really appreciate your thoughts, Melissa -- Thanks for taking the time to share them!

    I *fully* admit that I was plumb full of pre-conceived notions about "toy-obsessed Border Collies" long before I got Secret. I thought I would be bothered night & day by a needy dog that wanted to play, play, play -- But I looked forward to harnessing that drive and using it to my advantage. It seems that many of the BC you see at trials are tugging lunatics, and of course all of Susan Garrett's dogs are toy fiends. I just thought that's how it was supposed to be. ;)

    Luke is toy driven and I find that using toys REALLY helps with distance training (and I am, after all, a distance nut). Kaiser has never shown any interest in toys and I have never let it bother me -- because he's a Klee Kai, and they aren't known for being driven dogs. lol I've done all of his training with food and never thought twice about it. Funny how I let stereotypes bother me so when it comes to Secret... lol

    She has certainly improved in the toy department, and for that I'm happy. And using food in her agility work has made her happy. For the most part I keep them separate and hope that one day the two shall meet. :) I've had several people tell me that their dogs didn't get drivey until they were older, and apparently it rings especially true for females.

    I want to get her on sheep in the coming months -- I have one friend who thought she had a completely dud of a BC until she put her on sheep at a year -- then she suddenly had a firecracker on her hands. It would be an interesting experiment. Ruth and I are curious to see if the kids have any herding instinct, since we figure they came from farm country down in Kentucky.

  5. :-)

    Well, just a note, but I'm working w/my herding instructor (in Cannon Falls) to try to schedule a BCRMN "Herding Fun Day" would be an instinct evaluation. We did one a few years ago and people LOVED it.

    I'm dropping Reckon (one of my personal bc's) off at her place tonight for 2 weeks of training. He's SO close on having a nice outrun, but when you can only get down there every other week, it makes progress super slow. Reck comes from solid working lines, it's the one thing he does really well. Herding is fun, that's for sure!

    About the toys...I'll be honest that w/Tag (my other personal BC), he is SO toy crazy, that often we have to use treats instead of the toy, in training, just to keep his head in our atmosphere. He is so over-the-top-crazy for a toy that he'll blow through things. He can't have a toy in obed any more as it's just too much. We can't use a toy reward for jumping as he'll blow through a jump. He looses his brain. I attribute most of that to 2 wasted years in flyball, but yeah. *ugh*

    My malinois is a beast and, while we are still working w/a toy reward for somethigns, she's in the same boat of being SO overly-driven it makes training about a billion times more work.

    So yes!'s finding the oh-so-coveted "happy medium."

    Have fun in conformation this weekend!


  6. It would be awesome if you could arrange a herding day -- Ruth and I were saying how fun it would be just to have a BCRMN reunion picnic or something, but to combine it with herding would be perfect! :o)

  7. Building a rabid interest in a toy in a dog that isn't interested takes time. Have you tried Susan's technique of building toy drive? Here's a link on Susan's site:

    The other thing that comes to mind is shaping toy drive with a clicker. I recently had a foster who had no idea what a toy was for, but he did like treats. I took him outside with a toy. Initially I was C/T for just looking at it. Soon he was willing to play with it for three or four tosses. The day he left me, he surprised me by grabbing a squeak toy in the house and taking it outside and tossing it around himself and zooming around the yard with it.

    However you choose to build toy drive, you have to do it separately from agility. Once the chasing after a toy or tugging with a toy becomes an arousing activity, then you can use it as another reward (or lure) for performance.