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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After about 6 months of vigorous obedience training using food with my 2 yo male GSD I decided Id like to integrate tug /retrieving into our training sessions to boost motivation and enthusiasm. Bixler has a very high prey drive, which tends to distract him when we are out working in a few of our usual fields. He seems to be always looking for rabbits, smelling around, etc. and although he will focus for a piece of food, do any command that is given, as soon as we are not doing something his attention goes to everything else around us. I want him to keep coming back for more, hence my idea to use a toy. He *can* be toy motivated, but again, it is only spur of the moment, and he is easily distracted, he will tug for a little bit, but if I take the tug away while he is still interested, he doesnt care and will happily do something else...(smell around the ground, look for rabbits)
I will toss the ball for him a couple times, on the 2nd time though he will usually run out to get it and instead, just keep running to go look for rabbits, etc. He will come when I call him, BUT he is just not interested in me 100%, or even 90%, lol. Ive tried racing to beat him to get the toy, Ive tried holding him back before releasing him to get the toy, Ive tried playing ball with my other dog who is very much so ball driven while he is watching, but he just doesnt care.
Any suggestions on how to get all the energy/motivation he has for everything else around us, and get him focused on me? My trainer has suggested the things Ive already tried, and nothings really worked.

If we are playing with his ball inside the house, he is concentrated on it entirely. But I can't get him focused on it outdoors, even in my own yard!
He knows the *watch* command, and its very reliable, but again, as soon as im not asking something of him he isnt focused. He performs all his obedience exercises beautifuly, but lacks enthusiasm... I want to use his toy, to make it as fun as possible, but just can't get him interested enough in it to motivate him to work. Its always on * his * terms.

Thanks in advance for reading!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
ok, well he has *some* drive for rabbits then if thats what you want to call it? There are many rabbits outside every morning and evening, and its taken me a lot to get him to not bolt after them. He definetley gets into drive when he sees one, and Id like to get him into that drive for working.

I need to get whatever kind of drive he has, high or not, directed towards the ball, instead of the rabbits, thats all he wants to do is look for them.

Sorry to call it high drive, I know he is not a high drive dog, I kinda meant that he has a much HIGHER drive towards animals, etc, then he does to work, either way, high drive or not, my question remains.. he does have some drive and Id like tips for redirecting it.
 

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I think it will be tough (maybe even impossible) to achieve what you're trying to do given that he's 2 years old. Did you ever do any tug/rag prey type work with him as a puppy?

If you're really set on building his drive for the tug, try this:
1. Prevent him (through leash restraint) from ever chasing a rabbit or animal again. Correct him if you see him sniffing the ground where they've been. Always have him on a leash outside.
2. Restrict his free-time outside of the crate. No free toys or self-entertainment.
3. Take him out of the crate only for specific drive-building or exercise/socialization sessions. Keep these sessions short. He must be on-leash. For drive-building, use a ball on a rope or a rag. You want to build frustration and make the only release for that frustration be the tug. End the game when the dog is at his highest level of frustration and put him immediately in his crate. I could probably dig around and find videos of what I'm talking about. If you're interested, I'll do that.

I've learned that doing this type of drive-building is an art. For dogs who inherently focus their drive on the tug/toy, it is easy. For dogs (especially adult dogs) who don't, it can be very difficult. And in this situation you're working with a dog who has low drive. Personally, I would stick with the food and correct him with a prong collar for being distracted.

What are your goals for this dog's training?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I knew it wasnt going to be an easy task...

Thank you for your suggestions, I will be sure to try them.

I want to compete in OB with him..


The problem with correcting him for being distracted is, sometimes he doesn't even respond to my corrections (using a prong) if he is really focused on something.
Also, Id rather be motivating him them correcting him all the time.
thanks again we'll give it a whirl!
 

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Everything Konnie says.

Plus - you have a bit of prey drive and enough food drive. You can clicker train the prey drive. You might be lucky and uncover some reall drive and motivation.

Click and treat for all interest in the toy. Click and treat for chasing, catchin, biting, tugging.

Remember that the click ENDS the behavrior.

Here is a video clip of my dog that has clicker-trained prey drive. We switched to a prey object that she really does not like so I brought out clicker and treats again. She now has drive for this disc wihtout the presence of clicker and bait bag.

Don't expect too much from clicker training drive. You won't get enough to do bitework under pressure. My dog started with ZERO prey drive - not the slightest bit, but now she will do OB and tricks for a tug reward. I'd put her at a 4.5 - 5 on a scale of 1 - 10 (1 being nothing and 10 being a hypothetical perfect that can't be reached).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwL6MydtOPU
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
oh guys thanks so much!!!! I have been working so hard the past couple weeks to become more fun and interesting with *little* results. Im very appreciatve to have some new things to try.

Although right now Im at work so I cant watch the videos.. I CANT wait to go home and check them out :)

I dont expect nor need to have extreme drive from my boy, but any level of drive that is semi consistent would be great.

I will post again once I watch the videos, and thanks again!
 
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