I really don't think he is stressed, he's having way too much fun.
Remington stuck in the tunnel.. yet again...
Stupid question, but how did you train the tunnel?
Was it one of the first obstacles he learned to do???
After you answer that, I may have some suggestions for you!
The fact that he heads straight there screams stress to me. It's self-soothing to him.
Besides, it may be, it may not be. If it isn't your "punishing" him just might work, provided your timing is literally perfect. If it is stress, however, you run the risk of severely harming a sacred trust and making him even less willing to listen and respond to you, as well as potentially creating long lasting tunnel "issues".
Not a gamble I'd take, but as I said, your dog.
Also, I don't know if this is an avenue you've considered, but I would never, EVER take lessons from someone who forcibly yanked their dog from a tunnel in the middle of a trial, regardless of the circumstances. So, I hope there are no potential clients at this trial that think like I do.
Baloo - 5 year old black lab
Peanut - 7 year old minpin
Monster - 3-ish year old frenchie/jack, rescue
Kate, although I appreciate your sentiment, you aren't offering any real fix for this problem. I just talked with an AKC judge via email and she told me that I would not be "blacklisted" but would be whistled off for physical contact with my dog, and that many people do this type of thing. It is considered "training" in the ring, which is frowned upon, but it happens.
Stress to me would be a dog that was not happy or wagging that tail. He's all smiles and extremely pleased with himself.
Okay, how did I train tunnel. Started with a very short tunnel and called him through. Progressed to a longer tunnel, added bends in the tunnel. Reward him on the outside of the tunnel with food and treats, a lot in the beginning, then sporadically as he progressed. We are currently doing lots of "jackpot" when he exits the tunnel (food, ball toss, happy dance, etc).
With the exception of him "rolling in the tunnel" at home, in the field, when I am not running agility, (and I HAVE corrected him for this behaviour so he doesn't do it any longer) he never does this stuff at home, run thrus, or practice sessions at other places. I am not stressed at trials. I think you can see by my demeanor in the ring I'm not worked up about it, I'm not really frazzled either. And if you see him coming out of the tunnel and then heeling off course with me, you can clearly see he's not all that upset either.
So instead of telling me what you wouldn't do, what WOULD you do, given the circumstances I have explained?
Just wanted to post this from the judge I was emailing... she wrote...Also, Kate, in regards to you saying...Yeah, I have to agree from watching him in Columbia...he's playing and toying with you, not stressing out! KYou don't know Remington. He is NOT a "soft" dog at all. I think, from reading your responses, you are dealing with a much softer dog than I have in Remington.you run the risk of severely harming a sacred trust and making him even less willing to listen and respond to you
Last edited by 3TailsWaggin; 10-05-2009 at 08:52 PM.
Besty, I actually think the first obstacle he learned was the teeter because he "self taught" it to himself in the field
Ok, here go my thoughts.
A lot of people start with puppies in the tunnel first because it is fun, pretty easy, and not tough on joints, if that's the case, those dogs generally get a bad case of the tunnel suck disease under a more stressful environment (trial), because they remember being rewarded for that a ton when they were puppies. But that's not the case, so disregard!
I was originally going to suggest that you retrain the tunnel all together, starting with it really short and giving huge rewards for blasting out, the faster the better! But I see you are doing jackpots for coming out, already, so scratch that.
Now, what I'm going to suggest might sound pretty crazy, but go with me on it...
Jackpot EVERYTHING but the tunnel. Every single tiny little jump have a party! Not even a sequence, a random jump jackpot it. Contacts, jackpot. Weaves, jackpot. Jumps, jackpot. Oh did I tell you to jackpot and party at a single jump??? I think because you are having the tunnel issue, you are concentrating on the tunnel and giving lots of "payment" at it. In Remy's mind (now I don't know and could be wrong with my assumption), but he's thinking that if he goes to the tunnel he will get rewarded because it pays so much in practice. I think so often we never reward a jump...we think in agility dogs should just do the jump and we work so hard on all the other things and paying at those that we neglect to pay what they do well. If you pay the most for the tunnel, why should he do any other obstacles at the trial?
I think I would set up whole courses in practice with tons of tunnels and just reward all the jumps and staying with me.
After analyzing the beginning of the video, I think you might also have to work on him staying on whatever side you leave him on and him going ahead. I would work a lot on sending him out and ahead. He totally ignored your hand signal to run with you and went behind you, this is totally unacceptable to me (Stubby did it at the last trial, I realize my front cross could have been better, but going behind me is a NO NO). I also noticed that he was already zoned in on the tunnel when you sat him (when you walked him in did he see it?). If so, I would probably not even put him in a sit...I'd wait for the "go" and then bring him into the ring, drop his leash, and take the first jump!
Another suggestion is USDAA Tunnel class (no clue what this is actually called but I think they have it?) but I'd see if you can get him running through tunnels in a trial like situation, but there are going to be a ton of them, so he hopefully would run straight through them... maybe its a bad idea, but I'm thinking remi just zones into one...if there were a ton, maybe he couldn't zone into it?
Another option is to disregard the actual course at the trial and send him jump, tunnel get him out and instead of going back on course, find the next obstacle. if he does the tunnel correctly, instead of going on run the hell out of the ring and give him a TON of cookies!!!
If you are going to tackle him (don't do it roughly...) but you will just get whistled off...no biggie. I would try to get him before he gets to go in the tunnel! I also wouldn't grab him by the ears, mr. Remi would be running with a collar!
One final question after my really long rambling...
Were you thinking he might get sucked into the tunnel and do the rolling when you walked in the course? If you did, just don't. See him running the course as he does in practice..our mind is a powerful thing.
The opinion of a judge doesn't trump learning theory. For what it's worth, in our short trialling career I have yet to meet a judge I would ever take training advice from. When Peanut refused to do tunnels at her first trial, the judge let me stay afterwards to help her out, and offered to "help" me by tossing Peanut in the tunnel and physically blocking that end so she had no choice but to run through the other way. Needless to say, I chose to ignore that little tidbit of advice. And I meant "blacklisted" more in the eyes of the community, as I know if someone did that here they'd get cold shouldered from every angle (and quite possibly not even know it), especially not good if they run a training facility. People talk.
Soft dog or not, it's still a risk not worth running, IMO. Baloo is as far from soft as they come, and expresses stress much in the same way as Remington - through distract and ignore, find something enjoyable to self-soothe. I know he's stressed when he starts to "check out", just like Remington does in the videos you've posted. Peanut's "stressed" looks much more classic, hunched body, drooped ears, eyes shifting around, so I had to re-learn how to spot the signs of stress in an uber non-soft labrador. And stress can come from many places, not just you. Could very well be something in the environment that sets him off, who knows.
Dogs are much more complicated than wagging tail = happy and tail between legs = sad/fearful/stressed. We attribute all behaviours we possibly can to noncompliance because it's easier for us to conceptualize and address that way, if we end up doing more damage then we say "jeez, they're REALLY flipping me the bird!" and on the cycle goes.
As for a fix? if he were mine I would enter For Exhibition Only (FEO) at a few trials (even if you only get to a couple a year, he's young, there are LOTS of trials left in his career, even more so if you ensure his foundation is solid) and any fun matches you can hit. Ramp him up through a tunnel and reward BIG time when he comes through looking for you, food/toys, whatever does it for him. And then leave the ring. Essentially, regardless of the reason *why* he's doing this, he needs to learn that the reward from you for successfully completing this obstacle is far greater than the reward he gets from rolling in the tunnel.
As for being worried that this will make him head for the tunnel immediately, it doesn't stop there, that's just the beginning. After you've got him successfully going through the tunnel and looking for you coming out, go in the ring and do a few obstacles, and then ramp him for the tunnel. After he's doing that add obstacles after, and build back up to the full course.
You have a unique problem on your hands that requires some serious creative thinking. I think this is what separates the OK trainers from the great ones, the great ones look at all perspectives of the situation and the behaviour, and work out a solution that gives the greatest chance of success with the least chance of negative "side effects". I guess I've been spoiled in that I've had the good fortune to train under a truly great trainer, and read the work of others. It's changed the way I think about training problem solving forever.
Either way, it's just another way to look at it, just another opinion. Whatever you choose, I wish you the best, really.
Baloo - 5 year old black lab
Peanut - 7 year old minpin
Monster - 3-ish year old frenchie/jack, rescue
I train (both in FL and TX) with some really well respected judges. I've enjoyed training under them and only fear trailing under them b/c Stubby might run to "the hot dog men!." They would never shove a dog through a tunnel blocking the entrance/exit. They are fabulous trainers, problem solvers, and dog lovers as well as fair, if not challenging, judges. I've trialed and watched a lot of judges and always remember that they are people who love agility too. They tend to have encountered the same or similar problems that we have and work hard to correct them.
Betsy, some good advice. I am going to ramp up the jackpots on all the other obstacles. Right now we are focused on weaves, and retraining them. Your solution makes the most sense to me, so I definitely will try it.
There is no "tunnellers" in USDAA, that is in NADAC, and we don't have those trials around here.
Remington does not run with a collar. I would never pull him by the ears
Kate, I realize "people talk" and I learned a long time ago to ignore it and be me. I have a great group of students and fill a niche in the training market here in my area. I don't trial to find students. I trial because it's fun. I don't run a training school, I have a handful of students that sought me out because I have fun with my dogs.
I've never been in a trial where you enter FEO. Never heard of it. All I can do is pull him off the course, and that's what I'll do. It costs the same, no matter what I do, and I must follow the same rules in any case. What trials do you go to where you can do this FEO?
Yes, he sometimes locks onto a tunnel immediately when we enter the ring. I try to position myself between him and the tunnel. If you watch the beginning really really carefully, you'll see he not only runs out behind me, but he also gives me a cursory glance and still chooses to go to the tunnel, which tells me he is ignoring me, which tells me we do need to work on that.
Some food for thought. Thanks. We will continue to work on things.