Faze out the treats? - German Shepherd Dog Forums

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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-19-2014, 03:17 AM Thread Starter
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Faze out the treats?

My pup Yogi (born 9-1-13) is completely dependent on treats while working. Training is going great but when I've tried slowly weaning him off the treats, he won't listen. Now I've gotten to the point where I can just hold one treat in my hand and only give it to him at the end of the session but geez.
I've been having some success with using a toy also. I bring a tug out and when he does a few commands well, I either tug with him or throw the ball around a bit with him.
My question is will I ever be able to depend on consistent behavior without treat or toys or will I always have to is these? He likes to please but I'm not sure he does the commands because he wants to please me or if its because he gets something out of it. Sorry. This is my first GSD.

*-*Summer*-*
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-19-2014, 07:19 AM
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Are you showing him you have something to reward him at the start of the session? If you are doing that it is part of the problem. Hide rewards. If you are holding the reward where the dog can see you are more or less bribing the dog. Rewarding the dog and bribing the dog are two rather different things. Nothing wrong with bribing the dog in the beginning while teaching a new behavior (luring is more or less bribery by the definition) but it shouldn't continue like that.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-19-2014, 10:05 AM
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I have a highly food driven 2 yr old dog. I ALWAYS have treats with me. He just never knows when I'm going to give him something. Therefore, he always complies. I may give him a treat for something simple and then go onto more complex commands and just provide a "yes!" or "good!". If I start to lose him, I might quit and do some play instead of treating to bring his attention back to me. There are still days that I'll treat often. I keep him guessing, fresh, happy to comply.

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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-19-2014, 10:32 AM
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Here's a pretty good blog post on distinguishing between lures, rewards, and bribes, and phasing out the use of treats for basic pet obedience: Rewards, Lures & Bribes | Suzanne Clothier

If you're training for competition then this eventually gets pretty complicated, but for basic household manners and everyday life skills, it is not difficult at all to wean off food rewards.

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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-19-2014, 10:40 AM
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I hit that kind of thing from multiple angles.

When theyre young positive reinforcement comes fast and furious and we train in drive usually. The stuff isn't obedience at that point it is just a game. Theres some classical conditioning for obedience=fun happening here.

Then when they're a bit older i add duration and stability but rewards are still coming pretty frequently.

When theyre around 6-7 months old they start learning all the stuff with a combo of negative reinforcement and positive reinforcement. Eventually the positive reinforcement starts to fade more and more but the negative reinforcement stays fairly consistent. The escape of pressure makes the behavior itself a reward and they're happy they know how to escape pressure. Negative reinforcement or punishment for inattention appears at this stage too.

Then when the behavior is fluid and they are fluent in it i punish if they don't perform or for distraction. Rewards are random and fairly infrequent here but do happen and will always happen.

Done right they love the work they look happy (because they are happy) but they do their job despite distraction.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-20-2014, 02:00 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Merciel View Post
Here's a pretty good blog post on distinguishing between lures, rewards, and bribes, and phasing out the use of treats for basic pet obedience: Rewards, Lures & Bribes | Suzanne Clothier

If you're training for competition then this eventually gets pretty complicated, but for basic household manners and everyday life skills, it is not difficult at all to wean off food rewards.
This was a very handy link. Thank you! I've started hiding the treats and giving one only every once in a while. It's going ok but kind of rough because he's waiting before doing it. Example from this morning:

"Yogi, sit" (sits)
"Down" (waits expectantly for treat, when none come he turns away. Correction on prong collar, he downs)
"sit" (he sits)
"Yogi, down" (said in a firmer voice. Looks at me for a couple seconds then slowly goes down. Treated.)

Does this sound ok?

*-*Summer*-*
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-20-2014, 02:19 PM
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So, you aren't willing to reward at all? Not even a "Good sit!"?

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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-20-2014, 02:20 PM
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If you're having problems with him depending on treats being present, then he doesn't fully understand the commands and isn't proofed in them, so I would be rewarding each time, just not with treats present. Have them in your pocket, hand signal with and empty had for a sit, mark and pull a treat out. Same for down. Do this 10 or so times, then only reward every other time. Then start rewarding for each command vary irregularly, so that he never knows when it is coming!

don't get into the habit of always asking for something harder without a reward, or only rewarding certain commands and not others when you're still proofing them all.

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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-20-2014, 05:37 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Lilie View Post
So, you aren't willing to reward at all? Not even a "Good sit!"?
I am willing. Just do it verbally though. Is that going to work? He looks happy when I say "Good sit!" by wagging his tail.

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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-20-2014, 05:38 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DJEtzel View Post
If you're having problems with him depending on treats being present, then he doesn't fully understand the commands and isn't proofed in them, so I would be rewarding each time, just not with treats present. Have them in your pocket, hand signal with and empty had for a sit, mark and pull a treat out. Same for down. Do this 10 or so times, then only reward every other time. Then start rewarding for each command vary irregularly, so that he never knows when it is coming!

don't get into the habit of always asking for something harder without a reward, or only rewarding certain commands and not others when you're still proofing them all.
Thank you! I think you're right. I'm getting ahead of where he actually is. *embarrassed*

*-*Summer*-*
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