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Old 02-18-2013, 02:18 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default How to be interesting

I've always been wondering a very specific problem on the training field. The problem is that I cannot easily get puppies excited. I'm a bit clumsy and stiff, and I cannot make funny high-pitched noises, I find it very uneasy and I feel silly. In fact, in one of the training classes, people laughed at me, saying that I need to become more interesting. I was like wtf... I need to BECOME more interesting?? I always thought it is the other way around - dogs should be looking for our attention, we shouldn't need to do any circus tricks to get our dogs attention. I actually find this whole concept somehow fundamentally wrong.

So, how does it happen? With my other dogs, I just gave up and waited. When they grow up, they will get more sensitive and doesn't anymore need all the bells and whistles. But I'd like to start serious training with the latest puppy early, but it just doesn't seem to be easy. The pup seems to be interested in everything else than me .

How do those grumpy army guys do it?
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Old 02-18-2013, 02:24 AM   #2 (permalink)
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lol those grumpy army guys make funny noises and jump around and act like big kids again to get the dog excited and focused. Then its all serious! But really, if you're not comfortable with the funny noises and general attention getters for pups, you just hafta figure out what works for you. Have you tried a squeaky toy as a noise maker? What about playing tug as a reward for focus on you? There's various ways to get that focus without turning yourself into the wacky talking person everyone thinks is crazy lol.
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Old 02-18-2013, 12:11 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Clickers are not high pitched and clownish, and they relay a perfect message to the dog. So he sounds like a pup, easily distracted, find out what gets his attention, train with it, keep it positive. Chances are the dog will soon be looking for your attention. Lots of contact, belly pats, head pats, chest bumps; those are all affirmations you can use.
In my opinion, communication is key, but it is up to you, to the handler, to get through to the dog.

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Old 02-18-2013, 12:27 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Good ideas, thanks! I think I still have some squeaky toys around... Also the clicker is interesting tool, I've never tried it but it looks very useful.
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Old 02-18-2013, 12:31 PM   #5 (permalink)
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First, try it at home. Get animated, excited, get your voice to go high pitched, have a fun toy or tug to entice the pup, favorite treats (something small moist and smelly), move around, move back to get the pup to follow and make yourself FUN. No reason to feel bad - I have seen lots of big, manly men get goofy and funny with their dogs! It will be worth it! Because otherwise....the answer is to do compulsion training...and there is no need for that so young - you will squash the drive and put too much pressure too early....creates lots of problems later on.

You are building a relationship with the dog - you must be exciting and the dog must want something from you and then you can go on to train using that connection to you. Play, toys, treats...they make training positive and interesting. If you are not exciting or fun for the dog, the only next step is to FORCE the dog using compulsion - not advisable for a young dog that you want to keep in drive and motivated. Change your thinking and form a working relationship with your dog.


"Fundamentally wrong" - explain this please.
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Old 02-18-2013, 12:38 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Michael Ellis: Food Chasing Game - YouTube
The Power of Training Dogs with Food with Michael Ellis - YouTube
Michael Ellis' Philosophy of Dog Training - YouTube
The Power of Playing Tug with Your Dog - YouTube

Think about it this way - how long would you keep going to work if your boss stopped paying you? There has to be an incentive and motivating factor initially - later on, when the dog is mature, you can start reducing frequency of rewards, but at the beginning, it must be fun, motivating, exciting, and upbeat. You want to build and develop drive at first so you can use that later on for actual training later on when the dog matures.

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Old 02-18-2013, 01:10 PM   #7 (permalink)
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qb, I do see what you are saying, but do you really think you need to play circus games to get attention? Think of hand signals, no "happy noise" ... deaf dogs ... how do you train them... natural "alpha" for lack of a better word, they use pure body language ... this is why I believe simply being there and establishing a bond is the key, and obviously the communication must be established; rewards, attention, pats, eye contact.

I will admit I use happy voices but minimally. For the most part I train using neutral tones. That may well be wrong by some people, but it seems to be working.
have heard a theory, when something "off" happens, your tone naturally changes, and the dog will certainly pick up on this tone. train in all angry tone, but keeping the reward system in place, I will bet your dog is fine with it.

This gentleman is stoic and indifferent. he has the undivided attention of his dogs.


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Old 02-18-2013, 01:22 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Circus games? LOL - I don't care what I look like or sound like - I like to keep training fun and energetic for dogs (especially puppies that are just learning). Some dogs are naturally, genetically focused and ready to work. My little 11wk old is like this - just sits and stares at me. Don't need any bells and whistles for her. She is just there by my side. My independent Golden could care less about pleasing me so I have to use food/toy as motivation, add in correction, and produce a sustained behavior - even then, there are days when we must start over because she will just blow me off when she feels like doing her own thing.

Have a full toolbox and take out the tool you need for the dog that you are working with and the TYPE of training you wish to do. I gave a set of suggestions to use to get the puppy focused and connected to the handler: food, toys, motivating factors, ("I use happy voices"). You've repeated the exact same set of incentives as well so I'm not sure of your ultimate point. For your dog, your method seems to work. This will not work for all dogs and might not work for HIS dog, so it is good to try new things and see what works for that particular dog.

His dog is not deaf so why would we need to modify his training suited for a deaf dog? His dog can hear, he can hear, his training partners have echoed the same sentiments as to his lackluster energy and disengagement in the pup - what is the big deal about motivating and developing a dog using positive incentives such as excitement, food, toys, and reward? (Incentives that you've suggested as well) I've never used a clicker in my life and train my dogs using words or my breath as a marker - not one tool works for every trainer or every dog.

At the end, when I trial my dog or enter a competition, I will be completely neutral and offer little handler help, so why does it matter if the dog was initially trained with positive reinforcement ? In the end, the dog is not expected to require the same amount or frequency of reward, but when I start out, I keep it fun and motivational. This is NO way indicates that the dog will require the SAME incentives when it is developed and finished.

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Old 02-18-2013, 01:32 PM   #9 (permalink)
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It will also help if OP clarifies what he means by "serious training". There is a difference in training pets vs. training competition/trialing dogs.
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Old 02-18-2013, 04:25 PM   #10 (permalink)
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qb, I am sorry that I questioned your training methods. We are trying to learn, I guess the question is, if the dog is engaged properly, and the reward system is in place, the communication channels are clear, will the dog turn out fine if the handler acts in a "neutral" way?
"so I'm not sure of your ultimate point" To answer your question, I have "repeated the exact same set of incentives" because I do believe those are commonly used in training, my point being, can they be used with an indifferent manner?

"His dog is not deaf so why would we need to modify his training suited for a deaf dog?" Deaf dog, forget that. What about a dumb owner. Or one with a terminally coarse voice, a baritone voice, a quiet voice, a high pitched voice. I think that the idea is there, the dog will learn. Or maybe not, it is just a theory.

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