Hi--I'm training my first dog (6 mo old) and new to the forum. I've got a ton of questions, and I'm very glad to have found a place with knowledgeable people to ask.
I am using Smartwork, and started formalizing "here" today. The dog did pretty well through the first couple levels of pressure, but then he started refusing to leave my side. Okay, I connected a second rope and looped it around a pole and used it to keep him in place until I was ready to call. Problem was, I couldn't handle two ropes and the remote all at once. Doing so resulted in the dog getting hopelessly tangled in the ropes, me getting tangled in the ropes, and general chaos (pretty much the opposite of useful training). So I changed tactics and removed one of the ropes, using only one rope wrapped around a pole to keep the dog far enough away. I gave the command, giving some friction on the restraint rope, and he came right to me even without a "here" rope to guide him in. Great so far. A couple levels later (3.5 low, and showing a head turn in response to the pressure) using this same technique, when I call "here" instead of coming straight to me like he had every other time, he wandered around confused, head turned sideways, until I could scramble for a piece of the restraint rope on the other side of the pole and tug him to me.
Now, this dog also has an annoying tendency of bouncing away whenever anyone tries to pet him (then bouncing back to force his head under your hand immediately afterwards), which I've been handling by just turning my back on him whenever he does it. At this point in the session, this annoying habit became suddenly much worse, to the point where providing positive reinforcement for successful reps became very difficult. Also, out of the blue, he started following me and play-nipping the back of my jeans, which he hasn't done for three months. The second time he nipped my jeans I gave him a "no" and a strong nick and it (mostly) stopped that behavior. I re-connected the "here" rope to provide more guidance and things went more or less okay. I didn't go any higher on the pressure and backed him down the levels until we stopped at 1-medium.
While he appeared to understand what we were doing, I never saw the noticeable increase in devotion to task that's supposed to happen during this process.
Edited to add: Some background on the dog. He is a 6 mo. old standard poodle. Very eager to retrieve, very birdy, very high-energy. He has been doing obedience with positive reinforcement since 3 mos. and understands "here", "sit", "down" and "cage" (kennel) very well. He has been wearing an e-collar since 4 mos., which we used correctively to stop a play-nipping problem that was fixing to get him an eviction notice from my wife if not stopped. (Believe me, we tried everything else, and he was incorrigible).
I'm sure I did wrong just about everything that could be done wrong. So, a few questions for anyone willing to share some knowledge with a total newbie:
(1) Did I ruin my dog?
(2) Should I wait a couple of days and re-try this session (figuring out a way to manage all the ropes and the remote by myself in the meantime), or just go to reinforcement?
(3) Should I worry about his sudden reversion to play-nipping?
(4) Was the head-turning a sign of too much pressure?