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tugging at my heart

Stella has given up her tugging.
I know its my fault for taking it for granted and maybe only trying to tug once in a blue moon in training situations. She used to have a beautiful growly tug. I am so sad.
Also maybe i put a damper on it by trying to get her up and out of herself (or maybe deeper in) by trying to get her to tug in situations where she was already shutting down from stress... like the Anna Eifert seminar (she never did) and last summer at MEB camp (yes she did, but it felt like it was just to oblige me)... last week in class she was like yeah so what, I see you creeping that thing along the floor, pounding it over there, snaking it around, meh whatevs... booooor--ing. and maybe so she now associates the tugging games with anxiety?
Today I brought her new beautiful xmas tugg toy to the park and I tossed it (we usually do balls at the park these days and we used to bring tugs occasionally but not for a looooong time) an she chased to it picked it up and dropped it... not even a retrieve. it just felt weird to her. a tug. but Stel, its got a ball on the end... nah, not interested, hey lets go see if there are any squirrels in the woods, ok??

Its possible she will still tug on a sock. she does love that sock game. so much. perhaps socks are my window back...


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 19th, 2014 07:52 pm (UTC)
step one:
Stop trying to get her tug on her time (out on walks, under stress, distracted, when she's engaged in something else)
Start playing with her with tug toys, however she wants to, in the comfort of her home when she is bored, so very bored, please get off the computer and play with me bored. Sit down on the floor in your pjs and just play with tug toys, in a way that feels like play, be playful without agenda, the toys are just your conduit.
Jan. 19th, 2014 07:57 pm (UTC)
You see this is how I have decided the tug is dead. She won't even tug at home with nothing else going on. I poisoned? The tug. Her beautiful growly don't ever stop let's tug forever tug.
Jan. 19th, 2014 08:13 pm (UTC)
that is ok, just play with her, whatever it takes to make her tail wag. Toss the toy, play out elaborate puppet shows with them, just at least try and be entertaining with them. You have to get the play back, not the tug, that can come back too, but not until you are having fun and not trying to rescue her tug. people who have dogs that are not natural tuggers (trust me, been there myself) often get stuck in these "my dog won't tug, and all agility trainers tell me my dog must tug, and my dog won't tug, so I must get them to tug" spirals. Not all dogs love to tug, that is ok, if you love to tug most dogs can learn to like to tug, but if your tug is part of an agenda and the dog is not a natural tugger you are likely to struggle. So if it is part of an agenda- build the dog up, motivation, etc - then you need to focus on what is that dog's most natural interactive play, that is likely to be the easiest to fire up and maintain. If it is for play and not a means to an end, you are showing the dog you find this type of play very fun and entertaining and would they like to join you, most dogs will learn to find the play you find fun, fun.

Edited at 2014-01-19 08:16 pm (UTC)
Jan. 19th, 2014 08:36 pm (UTC)
Yeah I am sure I am all knots and twists emotionally inside so that I am not present enough in the moment for giving myself to play. It's this holding myself together. She's no fool - I am partly just going through the motions. Getting through the day. I should be trying to figure my way out of that...
Jan. 19th, 2014 09:05 pm (UTC)
EXACTLY! Dogs like her, you can't fool them, they KNOW you are not playing, you want something out of it, without giving that. So step one is, throw out all the rules, expectations and what you want out of it, and just have some fun, whatever that looks like. Just try and make her tail wag, and yours too!

Just set aside a few minutes everyday to rediscovering how to have fun together. Once you have the fun you can then start to shape the specifics if you want to. Be silly, it would be very good for you both.
Jan. 19th, 2014 08:02 pm (UTC)
I just tried click and treating for going after the tug with her mouth OR feet and at least she CAN get interested in the chase again maybe. Maybe. This is progress because I even tried fishing the tug around the house like prey on a long rope something never used to be able to resist and she wAs all huh? Not interested at all... so that she is willing to pounce and grab a toy with that light in her eye for reward is hopeful (perhaps this is a mistake the clicker in this situation) But still no hold onto it for fun grrr tug. No hold at all. Kept it short.
Maybe when I take her in for the rabies booster tomorrow I'll ask them to look at her teeth??

Edited at 2014-01-19 08:07 pm (UTC)
Jan. 19th, 2014 08:15 pm (UTC)
certainly have her checked out to make sure her mouth feels ok.
Jan. 19th, 2014 08:37 pm (UTC)
Yes, for sure with the teeth. Jodah started tugging a lot more after I got his broken incisors pulled.

And then, well. I'd say it's ok not to tug. Will she play games for dropped food? Food in a sock? Find different games for a while. Go read through these and see if anything feels right to try: http://denisefenzi.com/2013/11/27/building-engagement-through-play/

Maybe she has a sore muscle somewhere too, so she doesn't want to tug. These things happen.
Jan. 19th, 2014 09:12 pm (UTC)
Yep, the two things I FIRST thought is mouth issue or neck issue. A sore tooth or sore neck could also make a dog say "I can't do that"

But if not injury, Dawn's path back sounds excellent.
Jan. 20th, 2014 03:58 am (UTC)
Stella loves to play ball games with you: soccer and retrieve games with balls and other toys.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )