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Old 11-12-2012, 11:49 AM   #1 (permalink)
Jag
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Talking HA! It worked!!

I've been working more with Grim on focus... and basically ignoring much of anything else. I'll occasionally throw a 'down' in there. This morning after his potty break, I looked down to find him sitting at perfect attention in front of me, his eyes burning holes in me. As soon as I told him "yes" he did a slight head tilt.. like "and my treat is WHERE?" So I got a handful of treats and we did focus rewards. Now as soon as he's got the treat in his mouth, his head comes up and he's starting into my eyes again. I never tried to teach this to a pup his age before (my bitch was older before I taught this), and he's so freaking hard headed that if he doesn't want to (or feels there's nothing in it for him) he simply won't do it. He also ignored my "let's go" when we were outside, but I found out why. He still had to go some more (he got distracted). Thankfully he knew enough to not come with me! He did come running to me when he was done, though!
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Old 11-12-2012, 01:00 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Congrats! I think focus can be one of the hardest training tools for the dog to get.
Especially if you have a hard dog like you and I have!
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Old 11-12-2012, 02:23 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Good boy! It's really easy to teach focus by simply marking and rewarding it, no matter what the age of the dog, so why wait? The younger you start, the further ahead you'll be. Once he's consistently looking back at you again, you can name it by adding a verbal cue right before he does it. And you can also start requiring eye contact for everything, by waiting until he looks at you first. I wouldn't be in a huge rush to increase duration, but if you've got a captive audience you might try adding just a second or two for the mark and reward.

When I'm working on duration I increase the time gradually, using praise as a "good job, keep going" signal, so they don't wonder why they haven't been rewarded yet and look away. I also like to mix it up, so I might do 2 seconds, then 6 seconds, then 1 second, then 8 seconds - you don't want him to guess a pattern and look away right before you mark it.
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Old 11-12-2012, 04:39 PM   #4 (permalink)
Jag
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I honestly don't know why I waited so long with my female. Grim has the attention span of a gnat, so I really didn't know if I could get him to do this. Not to mention he's STUBBORN! He really likes his training treats, though. I'll try to increase it. I have him about 2-3 seconds now. Any longer and he tends to start griping at me. I have made him wait to get his food until he looks at me, but I haven't been consistent about that. (I know, BAD me!!)

I've especially been avoiding training things that I could be doing wrong. Like I'm not using "here" or "come" at all with him, because if I mess it up I don't want those words ruined. So I've been using "let's go" instead. It's hard, because I always used "here" in the past. Trying not to mess up and use the words that I'm used to has been a challenge! I've also been dying to start working on more things. We're going to start some of those 'body awareness' exercises while we're waiting, though.
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Old 11-12-2012, 06:50 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Yeah, I think it's good to save formal cues for later if you're going to be particular about what the criteria will be. It's all too easy to poison a cue and make it meaningless, or to degrade it to the point of sloppiness, and it's just as easy to also have informal cues where the criteria are not as important, so that's what I like to do too. "Let's go" is also what I use for loose leash walking. I've worked on a more formal "heel" command a bit, but honestly, I rarely use my heel command and haven't put all that much time and effort into training it because it's not that important to me.

Another thing you can do in the meantime is just mark and reward any number of things without assigning a cue to them yet - basically building a lot of default behaviors. Since you're not actually using a cue, you're marking what he offers up on his own, there is no "wrong". Sit, down, wait, impulse control, and focus are all great default behaviors to have. While I do also put those on cue at some point, I want my dogs to understand that they are responsible for knowing house rules and manners, and to offer them automatically. It's sorta like the difference between a kid who always does his homework when you tell him to, and a kid who does him homework without having to be told.
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