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 Turning around.
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Theo

USA
1027 Posts

Posted - 12/07/2004 :  2:23:50 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I have a lead dog that developed a bad habit of turning around whenever she feels like it.
The habit developed during bike training. I kind of let it go because I wasn't always sure if I was running her too far, so I thought it was her way of telling me it was time to go back.

But once she started doing this each time she would turn around sooner and sooner. Until finally she would turn around at the end of the driveway.
After my bike got destroyed running a couple other dogs, I didn't run her for two weeks.

Yesturday was our first run on snow with the sled. Didn't work out to good.

So today I tried her with an empty sled and one other leader. The goal was to go a mile up a two track adjacent to my land and back.
She turned around five times before we went a half a mile, I just kept pulling her back on the trail, telling her "no" and then trying again. We went a half a mile and then at the turnaround point she turned around again. That WAS where I had planned to turn around but it still was kind of bad because I didn't tell her to.
She ran great all the way back and seems to be taking coomands but hard to tell because it was only two turns.

Any help would be appreciated. She is a good super strong hard pulling dog.

Shawn

USA
522 Posts

Posted - 12/07/2004 :  2:33:30 PM  Show Profile  Visit Shawn's Homepage  Reply with Quote
HI Theo. I know exactly how you feel about that. I had one super leader that developed that same exact thing. I believe it was all MY fault as we did TOO many out and backs and I would call her to "come-haw" . She learned TOO WELL. AS you stated it started getting sooner and sooner. I would stop and pull her back on line when she did it .(if you let her turn around and follow her back you are only telling her that it is ok) You have to stop her and pull her back everytime. I worked through it at other times with putting her in swing and she couldnt turn around But over time and lots of pulling her back out front did we get back on track. So only time and consistent retraining will get her back up to snuff.. This is just how i worked with it I am sure others have different ideas. Dont give in she will come around(Sorry for the pun) Shawn

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Theo

USA
1027 Posts

Posted - 12/07/2004 :  2:40:08 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks Shawn.
I think I will try her in wheel and work on my other leaders for now. Part of the problem is she is so strong and pulled a six dog team around while in swing. Though two of that team were yearlings.
I think I will just keep working on her until it clicks she is a really good dog.

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FaceDragger

USA
347 Posts

Posted - 12/07/2004 :  2:45:47 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Now you know why most mushers never teach their leaders the "gee back" command...The only way my leaders will 180 is if I go up there and physically pull them...I learned this the hard way too. I believe that once you "let" a dog do something she knows she shouldnt, she has to do it the right way 10 times to erase the memory of "getting away with something".

I would do a one way run where you run from a trailhead to your house or something where there are NO turning around involved. Then dont let her turn back. If she starts to turn around without your command at a place you wanted to turn anyway, make her pass the spot and run for a ways before you turn around. You dont want her to think she is turning because SHE wanted too... It will take some time but you CAN change the behavior...Good luck..

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Jake Robinson

USA
773 Posts

Posted - 12/07/2004 :  2:49:28 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Theo-is this Pumpkin?
Maybe the dogs confidence is down. I have had perfect leaders do this to me when they are sick, have aching/hurting feet or just think I have been pushing them to hard.

Do it by dog,
Jake
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Theo

USA
1027 Posts

Posted - 12/07/2004 :  2:50:57 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hey, that's encouraging! I only have 5 more to go to break the habit. Oh wait..I that last time reset the clock!
I hear you though. I think I will do what you say and just keep correcting her. I have a feeling it will work out because I really like the dog.
I was going to just do that keep putting her back on the trail until she learns, but its good to hear it from you guys that it will eventually work.

Thanks

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Theo

USA
1027 Posts

Posted - 12/07/2004 :  2:51:44 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
No it's not Pumpkin, But she drags Pumpkin right along with her.

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Jake Robinson

USA
773 Posts

Posted - 12/07/2004 :  3:04:46 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Do you have a HARD DRIVING DOG that will REFUSE to get dragged back that you can run in lead with her? Not a leader but just something that REFUSES to turn around tat you can run her by? If its an older dog maybe she can't handle the stress of leading, when I was handling for a mid-distance kennel and the guys grade A super star leader just couldn't do it anymore.

Do it by dog,
Jake
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FaceDragger

USA
347 Posts

Posted - 12/07/2004 :  3:12:56 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Yea, I TRY to stay positive and keep thinking of the misdeed as "abnormal behavour" instead of "blatant insubordination" your patience will last a little longer that way

Jakes idea of a hard headed co leader may help also. Just make sure its a leader you are ABSOLUTELY SURE will not cave in and turn with the offender. Or else you will have double the pleasure, double the fun, dealing with two brains instead of just one.

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Cliff Maxfield

USA
2631 Posts

Posted - 12/07/2004 :  4:05:47 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Facedragger - Your comment about teaching come haw is precisely why you DO need to teach "come haw". No Command- No turn around. That's final. Not teaching it is the problem. By not teaching it they figure they can do it anytime they darn well please. A good leader shouldn't be thinking to much and these dogs like Theos obviously are. If they were running at 100% they wouldn't have time to turn around. A good leader needs to stay focused down the trail until instructed otherwise. Oh by the way, 90 % of our runs are made right out of the yard and we pass the dog yard several times in a run.
I do aggree with Shawn though. The remedy is to fire the leader immediately. Don't wait till the next run or till she does it again. Put her in wheel. I purchased a lead dog that did this. She did it exactly twice. Once to show me she could and a second time to learn what it's like in wheel. Then after a few runs in wheel she appreciated the freedom she had as leader.

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Jessica Doherty

USA
126 Posts

Posted - 12/07/2004 :  4:10:12 PM  Show Profile  Visit Jessica Doherty's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Hi Theo,

I had a dog that would do this on occasion about 12 years ago...the result of training on out and back trails.
Today I will never trail on out and back trails and will only let them turn around if I am lost or if it is an emergency and I have to turn around. I think this should be the first thing you do - find a trail system where you can do loops only. You need to get the turning around thing out of the dogs head.
Secondly, I would run this dog out of lead position for a while, especially if you have other dogs in the team that are impressionable (young dogs, etc...)You don't want a pile of your dogs developing this behavior.
Thirdly, I would stop a lot just to rest and work on training "out front" and "stay". If most of the time you stop to turn them around, then they will think that stopping means it is time to turn around.

But again, I think training on loop trails is the most important thing for you to do from now on--it will be hard for this dog to get out of this habit if you keep training on these types of trails.

Good Luck...

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hank

USA
135 Posts

Posted - 12/07/2004 :  4:18:15 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I've been through this, and yup, it sucks. Takes a lot of time and patience to get a dog to overcome this behavior. You absolutely cannot turn this dog around on the trail for a long time. Regardless of where she is in the team, she's going to think that turning around is where it's at, and why wait until she gets to the end of the trail. This will influence the other dogs, whether you can see it or not, and then you'll really be in trouble. IMHO, you need to do one way runs (probably starting at the other end of the trail you use now) and/or get on some loops. There's no way I would put her anywhere but wheel for now. I wish you the best of luck, but I'm reminded of something someone told me a long time ago, "once a cheater, always a cheater". You may think she's over it and then comes a real high pressure situation, and she'll revert to the easy way out by turning on you. I don't mean to discourage you, but I think you really have to consider the reality of what could happen.

As for training gee and haw come commands...well I agree that most mushers don't train their dogs for those commands, but I think they should. I think the problems typically come from never training anything BUT out and back. You can (somewhat) overcome the obstacle of limited trails to train on by turning them repeatedly before the end of the run. Go out a mile, come back a half mile, go out another mile, etc... In that way, the dogs are not being trained to turn around and go back to the truck (or house), but they are learning to turn around on your command. A team that will reliably follow commands when, and only when they are issued by the driver is a thing of beauty. And a team that will come gee on a trail with scant snowcover, a hook won't stick and there's no place to snub may just save your...uh, tail someday.

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Cliff Maxfield

USA
2631 Posts

Posted - 12/07/2004 :  4:49:53 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I read my own posts back and sometimes I guess I seem unduly harsh. Theo - I know you've often said your not so much into the racing scene but want dogs to go camping with right? Imagine the nightmare scenarios once all six of your dogs are ready to go.
You live in an excellent area to run dogs. Is there a place you can truck them to and have your wife/handler take off with the truck(so they know it's not back there)? This really wakes the dogs up. There is nothing they can do but trust your good judgement. Little do they no your truck may be just down the road. It's similar to the concept of never walking your pet in your own neighborhood. Get them into new areas and they will have to put their trust in you.
One other thing. Yes young dogs are impressionable but that's a two way street. If this pumkin dog is willing to lead ,leave the other one home or put her in wheel. Have a young dog run point. I've had many a young dog that absolutely didn't want to turn around and would love to follow the leader with the will to keep going. Good Luck!!

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Theo

USA
1027 Posts

Posted - 12/07/2004 :  4:50:12 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hey, Thanks for all the responses everyone. The good news is she is a super hard pulling dog. So She is a good dog to run in other positions. I am going to run her in wheel for a while.
I think the one way runs is a good idea. I know where some loops are too but I have to drive there. I actually could run a run kind of shaped like a lolly pop from my property but it is an eight miler and we aren't there yet. I don't have an atv yet so this is kind of like early fall conditioning still. Before this I was just running two dogs at a time on my bike.

What I did betwewen posting here is start two new dogs from scratch in lead by themselves with a weighted down sled.
A harness broken yearling, that had gotten up to five mile runs on gravel with the musher I bought him from and my one year old 80 lb pet German shepherd husky mix .

We actually had a better 2 mile run than we did earlier today with the Turn around beargrease leader and the Newly bought iditarod leader.
These are two dogs that have led for other people and are good quality dogs. But it looks like they aren't my leaders yet.

The advantage with the two yearlings though
is that even though they don't know anything yet, they don't know what I don't know. Know what I mean.
The yearling husky even has "Gee" and "haw" and "on bye" down prety good all ready. It went pretty good even though we ran into two gut piles.
So I am going to work with these Guys in lead so they don't learn bad habits and then run four dogs with the weight on the sled tomorrow. Give the Lead dogs a break and then work them into other positions.

I'm just going to take it slow.


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Theo

USA
1027 Posts

Posted - 12/07/2004 :  5:03:44 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Cliff,
Pumpkin is a good dogs with commands but can't run by herself in lead and gets drug by the turn around dog.
My other leader is a male named Fir, doesn't know me that well yet, but ran 500 miles of the iditarod. So he is probably testing me because he knows I am a newbie. He is a hard pulling dog too, so will work in other positions well.

I ran him by himself yesturday with my wife but with the female, JJ, he does whatever she does and turns around.

So like others have said I am taking these Guys out of lead for a while.

I think I will run them in wheel and keepm working with the yearlings.

This one yearling thinks I am God because he doesn't know any better, I really feel he has potential. Very responsive and eager to please. I am pretty sure he had been tried in lead by his previous owner.

The German shepherd mix is very obediant too. and strong.


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Jake Robinson

USA
773 Posts

Posted - 12/07/2004 :  5:18:48 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thats the key, obediance. The dogs I train for command leading are not the dogs that have logic or are smart enough to figure their own way. Its the dogs (that are usaully dumb as doornails) that I Know will listen to me. My command leaders will not make a turn unless given the command.

Do it by dog,
Jake
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