October 29, 2020

Episode 266: Jekyll and Hyde Contacts

In this episode (37:41)

In this episode, Sarah, Jennifer and Esteban have a detailed discussion on why some dogs have better contacts in training than in trials, and how you can fix that.

You Will Learn

  • Common mistakes made when trainers try to fix contact issues.
  • How to reward your dog for good contacts at a trial without taking food into the ring.
  • Why and how to leave the ring with your dog for a contact error.
  • Why you should leave the training field with your dog for a contact error.
  • How to properly reward your dog in training during contact work.


- You're listening to Bad Dog Agility, bringing you training tips, interviews and news about the great sport of dog agility. (playful music) - I'm Jennifer. - I'm Esteban. - And I'm Sarah, and this is episode 266. Today's podcast is brought to you by hititboard.com. Hititboard.com has the innovative training tools you need for agility. Having problems with the dogwalk or A-frame? Then hit it board can fix that.

Your dog doesn't like tugging? They'll love the TugIt. Can't move your A-frame around by yourself? The move it can, go to hititboard.com and use discount code a BDA10 to get 10% off your order. That's hititboard.com. Today we're gonna be talking about Jekyll and Hyde contacts. Just in time for Halloween, we've got a scary scary episode here for anybody out there who has contacts who has contact problems.

And I know that that's a lot of people. - We got an email from a VIP member and recently, and he says that basically my dog does pretty well in class but tends to fly off in trial settings. And, Oh my goodness, that sounds like everyone I know in dog agility. So Jennifer, when a student comes to you and they have this presenting problem what are the first

things you like to do? - Well on a very broad sense. The first thing I like to do is see is the handler recreating and training situations that are going to be very similar to trialing. So that can be things like specific handling maneuvers. I think in training, people like to run pass and do all these fancy moves because they know that they can fix it if the

dog comes off or they trust it. But then they get into a trial situation and they hang back. They slow down as the dog comes to the contest. So they're doing very different things with their body. Maybe even their presentation as they go out, they have one of those treat bags hanging around their waists. And it's filled with treats and toys. A lot of people that I will

see will do constant reinforcement of the contact, even if the dog is five or six or seven years old. The dog comes into the two on two off and they mark and run in with food. And then as soon as they get into the trial situation they don't have that food they don't have that reinforcement and it's an immediate cue to the dog. So I think what we've

got to look at is what reason does the dog have to do a two on two off in training? What is the reinforcement for the correct performance or what is the consequence? If the dog doesn't give us the performance that we want. - As usual, I love everything Jennifer that you just said. And what Jennifer's talking about really is the idea of the ring-wise dog. And this is

a dog, if you've never heard the phrase, if you're kind of new to (indistinct), the ring-wise dog is the dog who is wise to your tricks and your training tactics, oh, fearless trainer. They know that you have a different set of rules for the practice field, where you have absolute control and the trial setting where you do not have absolute control, right? So in the practice field you

can re-do the obstacles as many times as you want, for example Jennifer pointed out some very good, very common ones. And I see this in videos that get submitted to us. People using bait bags, treat bags. And I remember being so excited about picking out my bait bag, like a little fanny pack. You put treats in it. That was a long time ago when I was first starting

in dog training. It's been years since I've used one of those, easily more than a decade. And there are a lot of things that you can do in practice that you simply cannot do in trials because the rules don't allow it. You can't take food in the ring. You can't take toys in the ring. You can't take your fanny pack into the ring and load it with treats,

right? You can't do things like that. And so the dog understands and begins to identify very quickly when the rules are different. You know, human children are very good at this too. And there's a lot of emphasis on doing things the same. I know that we've talked in the past about ring sustainability. That's a concept that was introduced to me by Sarah (indistinct). It's a concept that all

of us are very familiar with, but none of us really know how to implement in a very practical way. And Jennifer has just started laying out some of those things for you. So get rid of your bait bags. That's number one but let's talk about rewards and consequences. I really like thinking about it that way, because in practice, what might me do? So let's say my dog flies

off. I remember that when I started in agility, a dog would fly off, and what would we do, in practice, well you would make sure, let's say it was an A frame - right? - What would you do? - I would do a ton of A frames.. - You would do a ton of A frames! Is that solution number one, you would do a lot of A frames.

And what would you do for those A frames? - Reward them a lot. - Right, your reward, probably every single one, right? - Yeah. Probably more than every single one. And by that, I mean, they do the A frame and they get like three or four rewards, right? They get a reward for being at the bottom of the A frame, but you don't let them off. And then

you like do a little fake out and you give them another treat and then you do a jumping jack and you do it, give another treat all without ever releasing the dog. - Okay. And you've gotten right to the very heart of the problem. So the dog is awesome. They are perfect. No matter what kind of proofing you do in practice. Why? Because the treats are there. So

guess what happens when you go to the trial, as Jen pointed out and the treats are not there, your bait bag isn't there, right? The dog says, I know you don't have the food. I physically see that you do not have the bait bag on you. I don't smell any of the treats on you. I know people who have tried to smear their hands with dog food so

that their hands, like as if they could fake the dog out, you know, with smelly things. But basically the dog understands that the rules of the game are different. And we say rules, but really we're talking about rewards or the consequences. They simply aren't present in the trial environment. So one of the solutions, it can never be Oh, well, we're gonna reward in the trial environment, right. We

can't bring that food in the ring. We know we can't do that. So as Jennifer said, let's get the food off you. So first you get rid of all the physical reminders. Yes. No bait bags, right? We don't want to carry a chicken leg with us where the dog can really see that. But we do want to reward these A frames. So Jennifer, like the students gonna ask

you and there'll be like, okay, but coach Jen, like if I don't reward any of the A frames when they stick them in practice, like how do they know? Like, isn't it bad if I do the A frame and they do it right? But then I just keep doing the rest of the sequence and all that. Like, how's that gonna work? - Basically. I think about it as

building a chain, right? When our dogs are young, we ask for a single behavior, followed by a single reinforcement, sit, cookie, down, cookie, come, cookie. But as the dogs get older, as the dogs mature we begin to ask for multiple behaviors before we reward. Many of you listening might be able to take your two year old dog three-year-old dog and say, sit, then tell him down and then

give him a cookie. All right. So you're building that chain. So you're still reinforcing the correct behaviors because once the dog sat, the reinforcement for the sit was followed by the next command which was down, and then give them a cookie. So that'll make sense. Well, it's the same thing in agility, except instead of basic commands, like sit, down, left and right, it's going to be pieces of

equipment. So in the beginning, starting with just getting the food off of you, you might do the A frame. And then when the dog gives you that desired two on two off or performance that you're looking for, you would give that marker. But that marker is going to be for going and getting food. So as soon as the dog gets the A frame party, and we run out

to the table that's sitting by your training ring or your bag or whatever, and you give them a reinforcement. So the first thing you are still reinforcing the A frame but it's off of you. All right, you're going and getting that cookie just like you said, but then we're going to build the chain. So instead of A frame directly to the cookie, it's going to be A frame.

Then I'm going to ask for the jump. Then I'm gonna have the party and go get the treat and so on and so forth, until I can get to a point where I can ask for the A frame in several obstacles before reinforcing, building up to what will be a full course of 17, 18, 19 obstacles. So I think it's, we expect the dogs to get it so

much quicker. You know, we teach single obstacles and then we go okay, let's sequence 12 or let's sequence eight. Well, you gotta do it step by step just like you did everything else. And I think that's a big part of what people miss. - That's a very well put. And I love the analogy of the behavior chain. And thinking about agility, its just a really a string of

behaviors. And we're looking at the weak links, but we're also talking about rewarding after random numbers of links, variable numbers. So if you guys have heard of variable reinforcement, right? So as Jennifer said, it's not sit, treat, sit, treat, sit, treat. It might be sit, treat, sit, down, stand, then treat, sit, down, treat, and suddenly the dog has differing numbers of behaviors that are required in order to

earn the reinforcement, right? And so sometimes it's the A frame let's say that you're immediately getting (indistinct). So the first thing we need to do is get the dog doing the A frame properly and you will have to reward immediately following the A frame. So if your dog is like flying off and then you finally get them to do it right, that's something that deserves a reward. Okay.

Now you've got the dog they're doing the A frame where you're rewarding them. Now you need to introduce obstacles before, after, handling maneuvers, things like that. And then you put the rewards off farther and farther, but hopefully in a sporadic random way. And every once in a while, you want to reward directly after the A frame. So let's say I'm doing 28 frames. You know, my dog flies

off at a trial. It's not like them, but every once in a while, once a month they fly off and they need a little re-training. What does re-training for me look like, all right, maybe I have a session with 15 A frames, okay, and maybe the first two or three, kind of like a refreshers. And I want to make sure they get them. So I'm gonna reward right

after, right. But very quickly, I'm gonna move to this variable number of links in the chain, where I'm going to have them A frame, jump, jump, reward, A frame, jump, reward. When am I going to choose randomly during the 15, you know, the first three I did the A frame and then rewarded right after. So the next 12, which ones am I going to select Sarah, do you

think to reward right after they do the A frame and before we do the next obstacle? - Probably your best one. - the very best ones, right? So when they're particularly speedy or let's say you have a dog that climbed to the top and then likes to look around the one time they don't look around that's the one I'm not gonna go on. I'm going to reward right

there, right? - I think there's also really good candidates for immediate mark and reward. So rather than having them come down into the two on two position and then have that five count where you see if they really actually did stop when they come down really fast, they hit, you see that they've hit that position and they're holding it. I don't overly wait for those because I want

to be able to reward them. And if they self release I'm not going to be able to reward that speedy performance. So when I see them hit that's gonna be a candidate for me to say, yes, get it. And the get it is gonna be a thrown forward rather than going and meeting the dog at the A frame so that they drive off the A frame to the

reward. - Absolutely. All right. So now I think we have a much better sense of how we're going to make our practice look similar to a trial with respect to how we reinforce and how we can build out that chain, really lengthen the chain, so you're not having to reward after every single A frame because as we pointed out could be a big mistake. - Right. And I

think one thing that I found really interesting this year as it relates to that idea was UKI at home. So we did some of the UKI at home with our dogs. And the interesting thing is you bring a lot of the trial environment into your home field in a way that you may not have ever done before. And by that, I mean, you aren't going to have your

food on you. You're not going to have your toy on you, but you're in your home field and you have your own equipment and maybe there's no other dogs around and there's no other people and there's no judge. And maybe you don't even have to bring them on leash, right? You can kind of just walk out of your house into your yard, press record on your camera and

go. So it was a very very weird hybrid kind of situation. And I think that a lot of people, myself included, discovered that their dogs really did have an expectation about what practice looks like. And when I went out there and did these full courses with my dog, and he would make a mistake, especially, he could go through the whole course. And if he didn't make a mistake,

everything was fine. He could do the entire course, get his reward at the end. No problem. He's fine. But when he made a mistake, then that's when not having that reward available to immediately interact with him, it became apparent that that was a bit of a crutch to how we approached agility. And so if I were gonna do an A frame and he missed it and I wanted

to reattempt I was getting a fair amount of like shutdown behaviors from the dog who wasn't used to having to do that. - Yeah. That was really interesting to watch that happen. And then to see the A frame behavior just disintegrate so quickly, right? It was just really a lesson there. Okay. So this kind of works two ways. Not only do we need to make our practice more

like trials, I think we need to take some steps to make our trials look a little bit more like practices. And here, Jennifer, I'm imagining you leading out from a dog who maybe has had start line issues in the past. Jennifer and I tend to do the exact same thing on our lead outs for these dogs, Jennifer, how do we approach that? And how's that relevant to context?

- Yeah, somehow I've gotten myself quite a name made for myself on this, but what seems to be a bit better on his start lines, when I jog away from him, when I moving my arms when I'm trying to trick him and it stems from this exact scenario we're discussing where in training, I would do all this crazy proofing, I would take off running or I would stand

and ready, ready, ready, or flap my arms. And he would go, Oh okay. We're training. Got it. You know, he got the variable reinforcement and the toy back behind him, you know, releasing at various points. And then I started trialing and it was very calm. I would tell him stay and I would walk out and I'd walk out slowly. And my arms were down at my side and

I quickly developed start line issues. So I solved this by saying, okay, well, I'm gonna let my trialing look like my training and I'm gonna run out there and I'm gonna jump up and down. And I'm gonna flap my arms and miraculously he got so much better. And I've done this at many, many big events. I'm sure if you guys have seen some videos (indistinct), you've seen it.

Same thing happens on contacts. And I kind of use that scenario earlier where in training people get confident with their (indistinct) cause they know that if the dog breaks, they can correct them or they can reinforce, or they have their toy on them and they'll run past or they'll throw their toy. But then they get to a trial and they hang back or they get nervous or the

tone of their hit, it hit it, hit it, gets really nervous. And I think a big part of this is start to trial more like you train, you know, do some proofing go out there, do some things, especially now in AKC with the ability to do NFC or the (indistinct), I guess it's called, you know, you can go out there and you can do some of that. And

if the dog doesn't give you the performance you want, no big deal. You know, you circle them back around. In some cases you may be even have your toy and start to blend what those two presentations look like together. - Yeah. I always find this super interesting, because I think that a lot of times people are causing the problem they are trying to avoid, right? So they are

slowing down at the contact. They're hovering over the dog. And if that's not how they do it in practice, they're doing it because they're nervous about the contact, but they are literally the reason that their dog goes I don't know what you're doing and blows their contact. So yeah, you've got to run it like you do in practice. And then that's going to not only be better for

your contact, it's gonna be better for your handling and the handling that comes right after the contact - And now we're gonna talk about the other side of the coin and that's removing things that the dog likes. And in general, we are pretty anti positive punishment in dog training, in dog agility specifically, we find that we can get all the really great behaviors we need without inflicting any

kind of positive punishment on a dog, positive punishment includes things like yelling at the dog, smacking the dog. - Even a stern no, basically. - Yeah. And so those are the things in general we tend to avoid. Having said that there are some dogs where telling them no is not very punishing, not very positively punishing to them. Whereas another dog it might be devastating and really affect them.

And that they don't want to come out and train anymore, at least for that day. So, you know, punishment is an eye of the beholder. And unfortunately for us, we're not the beholders, right? It's the dog and with what the dog finds punishing. And sometimes they find very weird things in the environment that we don't notice that can be very punishing to them. Things we wouldn't have thought

if they hit a bar the wrong way and for some reason, this one time it like hurts a little bit, give a little bone bruise or something. You know, that you suddenly they might be clearing bars by two or three inches and awkwardly adjusting their jumping style. And you know, that's nothing that we did to them that kind of resulted from the environment, but they found it punishing.

And now it affects their jumping style, for example, weird noises that they might hear, a train suddenly goes by and they're doing the (indistinct) holes. And now at the next trial, they can't weave, right? They keep thinking, well if I hit the weave poles, that noise is gonna come back that train is gonna come back, that can affect their behavior, right? So there are lots of things that

can be positively punishing for a dog. And we kind of have to figure it out in general, we want to avoid it. So if we're saying that if your dog flies off, you shouldn't be smacking them around or yelling at them, like what options do we have? Well, the main one that we use in training is to remove reinforcement. We don't reward the dog, right? So in practice,

this works out beautifully all the time dog flies off the A frame, what do we do? Well, I don't know what we do, but I know what we don't do. And that's give them a treat. - Right. - Right, we don't give them the good stuff, but in a trial setting, right? We already said, we can't have the treats with us. So Sarah, what options do we have

here? - Yeah. So when we talked about rewarding, the dog, we talked about how going to the next obstacle is the reward. And we're going to build that chain until they get to the very end. So if that's what we're using for our rewards then guess what, taking that next obstacle is functioning as a reward. And now if they don't do the contact and we take the next

obstacle right away, we are rewarding that missed contact. And so, the biggest thing that we can do the biggest thing that we have available to us is to not go on. And for some dogs, this is you don't go on at all, for some dogs this is.. - You mean in the (indistinct). - Right in the (indistinct), right. For some dogs, this is a momentary break and flow,

right? But you know, a slight moment of collection between you and the dog before you go on, that can function as a consequence, dogs don't like the flow to be broken. It does function as a (indistinct) - Right. They fly off the A frame, they immediately take the next job. And then they suddenly realize you're not near them. - Right. - You're standing back to the A frame.

So they stop, they look at you and then they start coming back and they're a little confused. The behavior chain has been interrupted at this point. - Right. - Right. - Yep. If we, you know, have the option to fix and go, right? Then stopping right there and then having them re-do the behavior, that is a consequence. So those are the things that we have available to us

in the ring. And, let me point out, we also have those things available to us in training. And the one thing that I just cannot handle as an instructor, is when in training where you do, as you pointed out, have complete control and ability to do whatever you want that people don't stop when their dog misses a criteria on the contact and they go on because they are

so excited to do the sequence. And that is something where you I just don't think that you can do that in training where you have the ability to do so many other things that would be better in terms of training your dog. - Right. Right. I think this is a tricky spot for people because as we just pointed out, right? We don't use positive punishment. So we are,

I guess we consider ourselves positive trainers. I understand that, you know, the term can be somewhat loaded and the political environment of dog training. And if you're not going to use positive punishment but you're going to give a dog say I guess, functionally a timeout or to leave the ring and the (indistinct) you know, a lot of people don't want to do it because they view that as

a bad thing. So I'm not gonna call it negative or positive, those have very specific meanings, when we looking at these psychological training frameworks I'm just saying like good or bad, right? So, Oh, it's a bad thing. And I'm a good trainer. And I don't want to do bad things to my dog. Well it's as if you were running a marathon, someone halfway gets on a bus, rides

the bus around, gets ahead of everybody else, hops off. And then they're the winner of the marathon. And they hold the world record now and they get all these TV endorsements. Then they make all this money. Okay. When you let a dog go and finish the course, as if nothing happened this can definitely be one of the outcomes. And in fact, it's the most likely outcome that whatever

behavior was reinforced is much more likely to happen again. Now it is possible if your dog flies off for the first time you go and you practice in the way that Jennifer is in great detail, told you to practice that when you go back to the ring, the problem will have gone away. But at some point, especially when you get an email, like the one we got from

our VIP member the dog tends to do pretty well in class, tends to fly off in trial settings that implies to me history. - Repeat offender. - Right, repeat offender, there's confusion on the part of the dog or even worse there's no confusion at all. The dog is quite clear on the rules in each place. But if you reinforce that behavior, if our marathon winner is allowed to

do that, there's no reason for them to change their behavior, right? Because what they gained was so valuable and what your dog gained was so valuable. They got to the end faster, they got to their treats and rewards faster, okay. But if I interrupt their run and put them in their crate, they don't get access to that. Where's the happy fun times? Where's the tugging at the end?

Where's my special container of food that I so carefully left hidden near the finish line of my run? You know, all of those things are denied to the dog. And so the dog is really gonna think about their behavior, right? And be less likely to (indistinct) behavior in the future. And all we're dealing with in dog trainers is probabilities. They're more likely or less likely to give a

behavior. And our only option is to reward it or not reward it. And so we're making the case here for not rewarding. A couple of details that I think are worth mentioning. When you walk out of the ring, you want to do it in a nice, friendly way. It is not the act of leaving that the dog is finding positively punishing that is getting you what you want.

No, no, no. It's the denial of all the good stuff that normally happens at the end of the run. The dog is losing that. And they're gonna try and get access to that. So what this means is don't yell at your dog. Don't be mean to your dog. Don't be like, "Oh, you're crazy fool" and jerk up on their collar. You've seen people do that. Almost like they're

dragging the dog out, you know, like just, you can call your dog over. I just go to my leash and then call the dog over. And when they come there, I say, good girl. Why? Because they came, right? But the run is done. So even though they're getting praised and you can pet him and say hi or whatever they're not gonna get their normal reward routine, right? Whatever

you telling them good for coming to you is not gonna outweigh all the stuff they just lost, right? And so is okay to be nice. In fact, I advise that when you walk out of the ring with your dog. Okay, now we talked about pausing or taking a little bit of a timeout. Some dogs that alone will be enough. They find the flow so disruptive. They don't want

that to happen again that they will modify their behavior. I find that for repeat offenders, that is not the case. You actually need to leave the run because if I'm a dog and I can just delay my run two three seconds, while you throw your little (indistinct) temper tantrum that I missed my contact. Now we get to finish. And then at the end I get my (indistinct) and

my toys and my tug and all that stuff, guess what, I win and you're the sucker, okay. And there's a group of dogs that are like that. So you kind of got to figure out what kind of dog do I have, right? And this is why it's very tailor-made, very individual and no one can give you a one-size-fits-all. Even though we're giving you the real general principles. So

you can take that and then apply it very specifically to your situation. Okay. That's what I have (indistinct), Jennifer, do you have anything to add about leaving the ring, not leaving the ring? Do you have a variety as far as your students like some want to, some are very against it. What are your thoughts on that? - I think you hit the nail on the head with the

idea that it's not a one-size-fits-all for every dog. And that the big thing I always tell people is the stopping, the not continuing, the not allowing the next obstacle is what we're aiming for. You don't need to be pointing your finger and talking to them and, you know, carrying them off necessarily. If we're building the chain where the next commander, the next obstacle is the reinforcement for the

previous one, then stopping that is what all you need, right? So you can, like you said, walk over to your leash, just call them over, put it on, walk off. I find that that is a big one I tell people. The only thing I'll add is from a kind of a reinforcement. We talked about building this chain. And I think sometimes when people go back to trialing, they

get in a dilemma where well, what if the A frame is the third obstacle? And it's an 18 obstacle course. And now I have a really long follow-up after the A frame. That might be a scenario where you need to modify the course and do your one two A frame, reinforced by releasing to the next jump tunnel and then run out and reinforce and kind of add that

variability. So, you know, we think about costing the cue when we walk our dog off, but that's a reactive maneuver. What about being proactive and costing the cue in a way that we sacrifice the cue to then go reinforce our dogs. And again, not right after the A frame, but maybe a jumper or two so that we're not asking the dog to give us that perfect day for

him, especially in the case of a re-train and then do 17 other obstacles before they get the reinforcement. So I think kind of that leaving the ring can work both ways both for the reinforcement and for the consequence - That's a really, really really good point that it doesn't always have to be negative and that leaving the ring can be a positive. And I love that idea of

giving your dog like basically a speed circle, right? Through the course, get their excitement, enthusiasm up. And it really depends on your goals for that run. So don't take the goal that somebody else is giving you which is, you know, AKC has rules on what a qualifying run is, right? Set your own goal. And that may or may not include qualifying on the run. - Yeah, absolutely. Okay.

And just like with our rewards example, when we look at things were taken away, we want to make the two similar. So we've talked now about what you do in trials, but guess what? People aren't doing that in practice, Jennifer, how many students do you have ever ever walk and hug off for missing a contact in practice? Like how common is it? - Well, it just happened about

three hours ago in my latest class today. - Yes. That's high quality training going on at that place. You need to train there. - Yeah. We had a couple of dogs in the same height. She knew she was dealing with some A frame issue. So she asked to go first. Her dog bailed off the A frame and she just stopped and looked at me and she goes, okay,

the next dog can go. And she just walked off happy as can be. And you know, not yelling at the dog and the dog kind of looked around and looked a little confused. The next dog went and then she came back out. So, you know, I tell people, if you know you have a contact issue, go first and your height so that, you know you can just let

somebody else go and come back at it. So actually it happens a little bit more than maybe you would think, but you know our students are pretty, know that they're very welcome to do that. You know, obviously they can't get mad at the dogs and yell at them in that sense, but we have made it clear that maintaining criteria, consistent criteria and training and trialing is very important

for us. - And that's the benefit of training with Jennifer at a top level facility. Most people, what they're going to do is, when the dog flies off the A frame, they're gonna get another chance to be the A frame again. - Right - Right? And again, and again and again, until they get it right. And the person's gonna use that positive reinforcement only to try and do

that. - The reward, the treat at the end. - But eventually You need to wean them off assuming they know the behavior. So if you're dog's in a state of mind where they miss, they fly over five right away, you know that's not quite, you need to somehow capture the behavior first, a little bit of retraining is in order, but assuming that the dog offers the behavior that

you want, yeah. You want to cut it down to, okay, maybe only two tries, so if you get on the second try, we'll go on. And then eventually, even from there you need to get down to one try, you know, it's one shot. This is especially true for start lines. So again, just keep in mind, eventually in practice, you want to give your dog just the one shot.

And this is for repeat offenders, re-trains, things like that. Certainly keep that in mind - And it's not just giving them one shot it's the entire chain of taking them out of the ring. How are you going to do that? How are you going to get their leash on? How are you going to go straight to the crate? They need to know what that series of events looks

like and what it means before you do it in the ring. - Right. I mean, yes, that's, that's a very good point that definitely should be made. So, you know, you don't want the very first time to be like at a trial, in general, there should be just clear consequences. And then they're like, Oh, you know what? Practice, trialing same rules, I guess on getting my (indistinct) position

and do this the way mom and dad want this done. All right. I think what I would like to close on is this idea of the ultimate no-no. So what's the ultimate no-no when you're retraining a dog. Well, in my opinion, based on very sound training principles, it's doing it sometimes, okay, so that means you leave the ring sometimes but other times, like when you have a double

Q on the line and your dog is just barely in the yellow, you accept that behavior and then you go on. So what's going to happen is these are the dogs that tend to creep, and these are the dogs they become lifelong problems with contacts at ages six, seven and eight, because you have essentially put their stuff on a variable reinforcement schedule - Their bad behavior (indistinct). -

Their bad behavior right, right. So, you know, if you're getting rewarded for something every single time like, you know, you use a Coke machine soda machine, you put your money in there, and every time you hit that button, you get a soda, right? And then a hundred times in a row it work, and then five times in a row it doesn't work. You're, hey, this machine's broken, right?

I'm not gonna use it. But if it's random, like a jackpot machine, your behavior, in this case of pulling on the lever for your jackpot in Vegas, is much more resistant. You're like, Oh look but, you know, I know it doesn't reward me every time. It only rewards me sometimes. So I'm gonna do the behavior more and more and more, and it's resistant, it's resistant to being extinguished,

right? That's what's happening with your dog. They're like, you know, it's like the lotto here. Sure, every once in a while I get walked off but sometimes he's gonna let me run all the way to the end. You know, I'm just basically gonna do the same thing. You've made the behavior more resistant. It is the ultimate no-no. I feel like you got to go all or nothing. You

know, you're gonna either catch a hundred percent of the behavior or not. People run into real problems around big events especially. I remember talking once with (indistinct) about it. And he was always like yeah, the month or two of trialing after (indistinct) and Olympia and all the other big events over there in the UK is about retraining contacts and getting the dog to mine the contacts again. -

And even that we're really talking about, you know, hundreds of times of rewarding or not rewarding correctly to offset the one time you let them go, right? - (indistinct) National final. - Right, this is the level that high level trainers are training to. If they let that go once they're gonna counteract that with hundreds of times where they do not let it go. And now contrast that to

what's more typical with somebody who you know, does let it go when the double Q's on the line, but when they've already knocked a bar they're willing to do it. It's much more like half and half or 30% 70%, Right? You're nowhere near this one, let's call it bad training episode, one bad training to 99 good training, right? Now you're like, you know, 30 times, you know not

the best training strategy against 70 times doing it well, that's where you're gonna really run into problems. - Okay. And actually, no, I wanted to end on this. Jennifer, you talked a little bit about kind of throwaway runs, right? And so for people who are new to agility, and they're very excited by getting in there and doing everything and they're dicing the yellow, they don't meet criteria. They

go on, we've all learned by our fifth dog. Very much the hard way, why this is bad. Can you give kind of like a summary to the newcomer to agility, what should they be on the lookout for? How bad is this really? what's going on here? - I think it's really hard as a seasoned competitor to tell the new person you know, you have all this insight but

as you said, you've learned it. You've been there. You've lived through it. And as a newbie, you know, you can tell people as much as you want. And sometimes it's still hard for them to believe it or want to do it. But you know it's a series of deposits and withdrawals and you can give up the performances, meaning, you know your (indistinct) was in the yellow, but did

not meet criteria but you didn't do anything because you cued, right? You had that $20 on the line and that's fine. And you can do that two or three times and you saved yourself 20, 40 $60. But guess what's gonna happen down the road. It's gonna cost you hundreds of dollars in cues, right? You're gonna be in cueing you're going to be having problems. If not the contact,

these series of obstacles. And you're gonna go months and months without a standard cue. So give up the little for the lot down the road. You know, I remember walking into a facility years ago and on the wall, they had plastered "Do tot give up what you want most of all for what you want right now." And I thought that was so amazing as it pertained to so

many things, but especially contacts. You know, we want the short-term you know, the short term fix, you know, I want this like, I want to finish my innate title. So I let it go. And then down the road, two, three years down the road, it's gonna get you in trouble. So put in the work now for the long-term gain, right? The deposit deposit, deposit deposit. So you can

take that vacation to Mexico. But if you're living paycheck by paycheck, putting them in, taking them out, putting them in and taking them out, you ain't going to that vacation to Cancun, right? Because you have nothing left for AKC nationals, right? AKC nationals or whatever, the invitational, that's your big vacation. That's where you want to be depositing all year long so that when you make that withdrawal, you

get around, and then as you were talking about, you know, with (indistinct) you fix it afterwards. But if you're doing it day in, day out Monday through Thursday, and then letting them get away with it on the weekends, come nationals, come invitational. It's gone. So take the time now. Do not give up the big picture for that short-term victory. - That's right. - All right. And that's it

for this week's podcast. We'd like to thank our sponsor hititboard.com. Happy training. (playful music)

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