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Old 05-12-2014, 08:16 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Pup not interest in doing commands if food isn't involved

Title pretty much says it all, but that's what I'm dealing with. I'm not sure if it is because he is still so young, but the few commands he knows (Come, sit, stay) he will do with about 85% accuracy as long as he knows he's getting a treat out of it. When I do the commands, mostly come, without a treat he will look to see if I have one and then if I don't he probably isn't going to obey. He isn't content with only praise as a reward. Anything I can do about this?

Another thing I'm noticing is he usually ignores me saying "No". I try to deepen my voice when I do it, but I'm a woman and my voice is high pitch - so it usually comes out loud instead of deep. What can I do?
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Old 05-12-2014, 10:27 AM   #2 (permalink)
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What about toys? Is there a special toy that he loves that he will work for?

Having a food driven dog isn't bad in any way; you've found something that he's willing to work for. But you can build up other drives to compensate for when you don't have food, he's pretty young to really understand and respond to praise so it doesn't really surprise me it's not effective yet. Delgado was a 'show me the money' pup from the start but by 5 months he would work consistently without treats or toys, just praise.

It's a combination of switching up rewards and timing, one thing I had to learn with praise was when you start you REALLY have to make it a huge party. High excited voice, a mini wrestling session, whatever makes your dog just wiggle with excitement using just your voice and body. That's how you build the value of praise

One last note, if I noticed Delgado was getting flat I knew it was time to stop and try again later. Obedience should always be fun and engaging, otherwise itís just a chore and the dog just gets bored and expects boredom. Both are counterintuitive
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Old 05-12-2014, 11:07 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Perhaps you have already tried this....wean him off of the idea that he gets a food treat every time he obeys....keep him guessing. If you get positive results and treat every time...then try only treating 9 out of 10 times, then 8 out of 10 times etc.... and keep the times he gets a treat vs not getting a food treat random...dogs will figure out a pattern rather quickly. Also, when your pooch is "listening"...don't always make the treats visible if at all....keep them in your pocket or more hidden..chances are he'll smell them anyway.

I transferred from using food treats to using my dog's frisbee as a reward...works equally as well..and it's a ton more interactive. I use the frisbee as the reward and lure for most all of our off leash training at this point...and of course a ton of praise and excitement as Shade mentioned.

Even though I feed my dog raw, I still have half a bag of puppy kibble and I use that as treats...so every time my dog performs her recall when I call her into the house, she'll get a few pieces of kibble...she knows coming back into the house gets a reward and praise 100% of the time....since this is of a high priority to me..to always get the dog to come into the house when called..I perhaps do not follow the previous approach I mentioned....mixing up the frequency of treats etc.

Also, do you ever treat your dog ( in one fashion or another ) when you say "no" and he reacts accordingly?

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Old 05-12-2014, 11:23 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I have a highly food motivated dog. He has high prey drive. It is difficult for him to always remain focused on me. He is two now.

I always carry treats with me where ever we go. I praise him for everything he does correctly. It might be a quiet "yes!" or an over the top "That's my Boy!!!!" I'll treat when I know he's had to work really hard to obey. Like if there is a major distraction and he still remains complies. Even if it's for a simple sit.

As example is: I was at my Agility class. My dog was sitting next to me as we were getting ready to run the course. Another handler's dog wouldn't come to her and ran past us. My dog remained quiet and at my side. I threw a big party and treated him. I know it was very difficult for him not to react (even in play) to the dog running amuck.

All my dogs will comply. They never know if a treat is involved. But they always know praise will come. Even if it's a simple "Thank you."
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Old 05-12-2014, 11:25 AM   #5 (permalink)
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How old is your pup? that sounds normal depending on age and amount of training.
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Old 05-12-2014, 01:15 PM   #6 (permalink)
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What I imagine is that you are showing the treat before you get the behavior. If this is the case, transition to (while you always will have the treat for quite a while) getting the behavior before you show the treat. I quickly add a focus while in the behavior before a reward is given. I try to remember to praise before the reward, too. So to start with it goes something like "doofus! Sit!; good sit; reward; good sit, good sit, good." Then "Doofus! Sit! Good! Look! good look! reward; good, good, good." And then you build the focus for longer and the "hier" means come, sit it front and focus on my eyes.... Common means come and it can mean come in the house, come on lets go for a walk - and treats have become intermittent.

Out in the yard with a youngster a long line helps enforce the recall....

Some pups catch on sooner than others. My 4+ yo came with focus; my 7 month old - I needed to build focus. We're getting there. Our "fuss" we can get maybe 7 strides with kibble in my hand. If I had a bigger hand, we could do more strides... She, too, is very food driven --- a bit different from training a toy driven pup.
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Old 05-12-2014, 02:14 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Good advice given already. To add... At first when teaching or practicing a command, the hand with the treat is always closed so that your pup learns to follow the closed fist with the treat inside. Once that is consistent and the dog can follow the closed fist, keep the treat in the other hand and treat with that hand immediately. Once that is consistent, you can begin to fade the luring fist all together using the verbal command and treating with a treat from the pocket. Fading the treats and then fading the lures is a process in and of itself with each command/trick that you are teaching.

For example, when you are teaching heel, at first treat every 2 steps they are in a heel and then work your way up to treating every 10 steps and so on so they never know when the treat is coming and will keep working. When we first taught fetch, dog got a treat every time he returned the ball. I did this for a week. Then every other time he brought the ball back, and then every three times sometimes with two treats back to back. Point is that your pup doesn't know. When you are working in distractions, you will need to up the quality and frequency of the treats again (like starting all over). Also keep up the excitement/praise and fun and eventually those treats can be faded...but still never leave home without them! ;-). I swear my purse has turned into a puppy diaper bag. Right now, it has two bags of treats, a tug toy, a tennis ball, poop bags, and a doggie water bottle!
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