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Old 11-19-2012, 01:05 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by WannaBeK9 View Post
he wears a choke collar up behind his ears and is rewarded periodically (for best efforts) with treats. He will do all the basic AKC OB exercises, and has more animation if he knows you have his Kong, which he LOVES. I do collar correct if needed, but it's not often. Sometimes heeling he'll need one, but is rewarded when he's right.
Okay, ditch the treats and use the Kong for a reward, and not just intermittently. You want to use whatever reward motivates him most, and use it frequently. For now, just to get his motivation and attitude up, throw his kong EVERY time he does something right. Later you can reward him every second or third time, but for now, you want it to be a game of fetch with some obedience thrown in.

Try to approach things this way: pretend HE is the one training YOU... to throw his kong.

Get him excited with the kong, then give him a command. As soon as he obeys it, throw the kong.

When heeling, put the kong under your armpit. When he's looking animated and happy during heeling, and he's in precisely the right position, throw the kong.

Ditch any corrections, either by stern tones or by collar, for now. If he does not obey or perform correctly, he doesn't get his kong. That is his "punishment". Keep it positive and fun for him. You can add corrections later, if needed, but for now what you are doing is re-wiring his brain so that he feels differently about obedience and about you.

Pretty soon his mind will switch over from following commands out of rote with few rewards, to pushing you for a reward, by performing the action he knows will make you do it. Like he is training you.

Keep training sessions short, happy, and energetic. When you see his energy or drive flagging, stop the obedience and just play fetch for a few throws. Then give him some water, and put him in his crate for 20 minutes (or more). No scientific studies have been done to prove that crating a dog after a training session helps things sink in, but many trainers recommend it. My theory is that it helps the new associations and connections form while the dog is in a state of sensory calm, without any influence from other things that may be happening around him.

I assume you are the one who feeds, walks, and grooms him? If not, become that person.

Working with soft dogs can be a challenge.

Is there a Schutzhund club in your area? If so, see if you can join for the obedience part, or at least watch others doing obedience. SchH people have great methods for happy, animated obedience.
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Old 11-19-2012, 01:25 PM   #12 (permalink)
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First off, welcome home!

Secondly I agree with whoever said your dog might miss your parents and be moping a bit. There's a big adjustment going on for both of you right now, I'd just give it time.

I also think an obedience class and/or maybe something fun and engaging like agility would be a great way to reforge your bond with your dog.

Remember these dogs are hugely loyal to their humans, and can be somewhat aloof with people they don't see as their people. Right now he probably sees your parents as his people, and is acting a bit cool with you.

I have no doubt your dog remembers you, but he's spent the last 50% of his life under another person's care, so it's going to take some time for him to warm up to you again.

I really think if you give it some time he'll come around, just keep things fun and happy for him and I'm sure you'll pick back up where you left off.
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Old 11-19-2012, 01:45 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Is he leaving your side to go spend his time with someone else, or is he just choosing to relax where he's most comfortable? My 1 yr. old has finally cut his apron strings with me - he used to be my constant shadow but now he prefers to relax where he can keep an eye on everything, not just me, lol.
He'll relax by himself at times....right this second he's on the back deck sunbathing while the Lab is laying at my OH's feet and I'm on the laptop (doing classwork...this is uhhhh...a mental break ) However in the evenings, when OH, me and J (Roommate) are watching TV he'll seek out either of them to play or get petted on...might be just a little jealousy on my part.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Freestep View Post
Okay, ditch the treats and use the Kong for a reward, and not just intermittently. You want to use whatever reward motivates him most, and use it frequently. For now, just to get his motivation and attitude up, throw his kong EVERY time he does something right. Later you can reward him every second or third time, but for now, you want it to be a game of fetch with some obedience thrown in.

Try to approach things this way: pretend HE is the one training YOU... to throw his kong.

Get him excited with the kong, then give him a command. As soon as he obeys it, throw the kong.

When heeling, put the kong under your armpit. When he's looking animated and happy during heeling, and he's in precisely the right position, throw the kong.

Ditch any corrections, either by stern tones or by collar, for now. If he does not obey or perform correctly, he doesn't get his kong. That is his "punishment". Keep it positive and fun for him. You can add corrections later, if needed, but for now what you are doing is re-wiring his brain so that he feels differently about obedience and about you.

Pretty soon his mind will switch over from following commands out of rote with few rewards, to pushing you for a reward, by performing the action he knows will make you do it. Like he is training you.

Keep training sessions short, happy, and energetic. When you see his energy or drive flagging, stop the obedience and just play fetch for a few throws. Then give him some water, and put him in his crate for 20 minutes (or more). No scientific studies have been done to prove that crating a dog after a training session helps things sink in, but many trainers recommend it. My theory is that it helps the new associations and connections form while the dog is in a state of sensory calm, without any influence from other things that may be happening around him.

I assume you are the one who feeds, walks, and grooms him? If not, become that person.

Working with soft dogs can be a challenge.

Is there a Schutzhund club in your area? If so, see if you can join for the obedience part, or at least watch others doing obedience. SchH people have great methods for happy, animated obedience.
Freestep, thanks so much for that thought out advice. I will definitely try that. Do you think it would be better to keep the Kong from him when he's on his own? So that it's just around when we're interacting, whether it be fetch or OB or walks? I do feed walk and groom him. There is no SchH club near me, the closest is 1.5 hours away, but maybe there'd be a way to get there a couple times a month...I'll look into it.

I just want the best for my dog, I have no HUGE goals for competing, I'd love to do SchH, but I know in my heart that Jax doesn't have the nerve. He's my first GSD after having Labs my whole life (minus dad's working K9's when I was a kid). I just want him happy is all.
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Old 11-19-2012, 01:53 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Freestep View Post
Okay, ditch the treats and use the Kong for a reward, and not just intermittently. You want to use whatever reward motivates him most, and use it frequently. For now, just to get his motivation and attitude up, throw his kong EVERY time he does something right. Later you can reward him every second or third time, but for now, you want it to be a game of fetch with some obedience thrown in.

Try to approach things this way: pretend HE is the one training YOU... to throw his kong.

Get him excited with the kong, then give him a command. As soon as he obeys it, throw the kong.

When heeling, put the kong under your armpit. When he's looking animated and happy during heeling, and he's in precisely the right position, throw the kong.

Ditch any corrections, either by stern tones or by collar, for now. If he does not obey or perform correctly, he doesn't get his kong. That is his "punishment". Keep it positive and fun for him. You can add corrections later, if needed, but for now what you are doing is re-wiring his brain so that he feels differently about obedience and about you.

Pretty soon his mind will switch over from following commands out of rote with few rewards, to pushing you for a reward, by performing the action he knows will make you do it. Like he is training you.

Keep training sessions short, happy, and energetic. When you see his energy or drive flagging, stop the obedience and just play fetch for a few throws. Then give him some water, and put him in his crate for 20 minutes (or more). No scientific studies have been done to prove that crating a dog after a training session helps things sink in, but many trainers recommend it. My theory is that it helps the new associations and connections form while the dog is in a state of sensory calm, without any influence from other things that may be happening around him.

I assume you are the one who feeds, walks, and grooms him? If not, become that person.

Working with soft dogs can be a challenge.

Is there a Schutzhund club in your area? If so, see if you can join for the obedience part, or at least watch others doing obedience. SchH people have great methods for happy, animated obedience.
I really like this! Excellent!
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Old 11-19-2012, 02:03 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Do you think it would be better to keep the Kong from him when he's on his own? So that it's just around when we're interacting, whether it be fetch or OB or walks?
Oh yes, I meant to mention that. The kong should be his super-duper-special toy that he gets ONLY when he's working with you. When you're done training or playing fetch, put the kong away. He can have other toys to play with by himself, but the kong should be golden, and controlled only by you.

Quote:
I just want the best for my dog, I have no HUGE goals for competing, I'd love to do SchH, but I know in my heart that Jax doesn't have the nerve.
Well you don't need to COMPETE in SchH, but the obedience part could be useful for your personal training goals. Most competitors these days use positive and motivational methods for obedience, which would be great for him. You don't need to do bitework or anything like that (unless he wants to).
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Old 11-20-2012, 12:54 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I totally agree with Freestep's advice. Keep it totally positive and FUN for now!

In my area at least there is a big SchH club where most people aren't actually competitive, they just like doing the sport with their dogs. It's a lot of fun.

Otherwise, I would maybe pick up an activity like basic agility. I've found that having an activity like that really motivates and encourages my dog even with his basic obedience work. It's almost like he sees a point to it now.

Good luck, I'm sure you can get the kind of relationship you want with your dog. It sounds like you guys are just figuring each other out again and redeveloping your bond after such a long time part. And welcome home!
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Old 11-23-2012, 12:26 PM   #17 (permalink)
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I just wanted to put a quick update here, since everyone was so nice in getting me ideas.

I have been working Jax almost daily, just in short bursts, with no collar corrections, and lots of postive reinforcement with his Kong. I've been trying to make 'our' time nice for him, began grooming him daily instead of twice a week and he's seeming to come around. I just called and found an intro to agility class that starts next week that I may do if there is room in it...I was going to do OB but as his OB in the house and out and about is where we need it to be, and I have no thoughts (at the moment) of going to compete, I think agility will be fun. I'm slowly but surely getting my dog back...thanks everyone!
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Old 11-23-2012, 12:38 PM   #18 (permalink)
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That's great! I hope you can get into the class, having a fun activity to participate in together should further cement your bond.
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Old 11-23-2012, 01:49 PM   #19 (permalink)
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That's awesome--good work, keep it up! I think that if he enjoys agility, it will be a great thing to get involved with. Agility is very motivational, and if you approach it as a fun game rather than a competitive event, it will be very good for your dog and your relationship with him. You can even sneak some obedience in there if you want.
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Old 11-23-2012, 01:55 PM   #20 (permalink)
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I keep putting this link in people's threads LOL

Agility in the 'real' world

This can be a great way to build / strengthen that bond with you and your dog!!!
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