Outs/holds and treats.... - German Shepherd Dog Forums
 
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-14-2009, 10:37 PM Thread Starter
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Outs/holds and treats....

I have the same problem with 2 dogs. With Nikon I want to teach "drop it!" Eventually he will have to out/aus, but I'm not doing that yet, so I want to call it "drop it" and train it with toys OTHER than what we use for SchH. With Kenya I want to start backchaining a retrieve so the first step is having her bite down on and hold the object. So opposite tricks but same problem......both dogs value food as a reward, but when I have food they will not take any other object. I tried to teach Nikon "drop it" with some old stuffy toy. I knew that he would release a crappy toy when presented with food so my intent was to get him tugging on the toy, say "drop it!", and pop a treat in his mouth. Well, he can smell I have food, even if it's bland dog kibble, and will not bite down on any toy. The only thing I found that worked was holding out a bully stick and letting him try to chew on it or take it from me. Same problem with Kenya. She wants to earn the food reward but never makes the connection to mouth the object. I started rewarding for sniffing it, tapping it with her nose...trying to lead up to biting on it but she is not a tuggy dog AT ALL (she will not tug on a raw prime steak!) so she does not mouth at or bite for any object unless it's super prey-ish and even then, she drops the object the second it is still.

Any ideas?
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-15-2009, 12:52 AM
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Re: Outs/holds and treats....

For the "drop it", this is what I would recommend.

First, get some mozarella cheese. Cut it into tiny cubes. Pop several cubes into your mouth and tuck them into your cheek.

Grab a toy and get Nikon. Tease him with the toy, encourage him to grab it, and play a bit of tug. Then say "drop it" and immediately (don't wait for him to drop it) start spitting bits of cheese down onto his head. If he's interested in food, he'll let go of the toy. Then simply praise while he's eating all the bits of food.

Walk away and ignore him for a few minutes. If you spit out all the cheese, go back to the kitchen and pop some more into your mouth (try not to have Nikon follow you if you're concerned about his focus on the food). Go back into the room, and start teasing him with the toy again. If he'll grab it and tug, practice tugging a bit and then do the "drop it"/spit cheese again.

The idea is not to give the command and then wait to reward with the food. The idea is that the food will create the behavior you want - letting go of the toy - and then he will be rewarded by eating the food that's already dropped. Since it's in your mouth (and mozarella is not very smelly so it's not nearly as apparent as some other types of food) he can't really know when it's there or not there.

I would use the cheese spitting a couple of times, then stop and do it again the next day (or at least give it several hours between sessions). After a few sessions, you should be able to say "drop it" and he'll spit that toy out in anticipation of the food. At that point, you can introduce a new reward - throwing the toy instead. I would still encourage you to use the food at random intervals to keep the behavior strong, but generally once they learn that "drop it" means a fun game, they are pretty consistent with it.

With Kenya, I would go back and make sure you really reinforce each level of training before going on. By that I mean that you set her up to do a formal session, you have her on leash so she can't wander off, you use an item that's only for training and not for play (like a dumbbell), and you reinforce highly for just looking at it until she will glance at it quickly no matter where you hold it (to the right of her head, to the left, above, below). Then you progress to the next level (may take a few days before she's ready for the next level) and allow her to glance at it but then don't respond - stay absolutely still and let her get a bit frustrated at your lack of response. This will push her to make a move toward it. Then you reward that movement, and do that until she willingly and quickly goes toward the dumbbell every time you hold it out. Again, this may take days (and even if she seems to do it well the first session, you should practice this for a few sessions so that this stage is very solid before going on).

When she's ready, you hold out the dumbbell and let her make the move toward it, but don't give any response. Let her get a bit frustrated so that she escalates the behavior and actually touches it. Reward that, and continue to reward it for a few sessions until she will quickly touch the dumbbell no matter where you hold it.

Then you go to the mouthing. Since you've been teaching her that all of this training is about focusing on the dumbbell, she will likely try to escalate the behavior pretty quickly once you stop rewarding for touching. Even the slightest mouthing should be rewarded at first, and then gradually expect her to mouth it more firmly.

I've used this on dogs with zero retrieving instinct and had them learn to pick up and hold objects, but it can take a long time with a non-retrieving type dog. My chows learn this way and it's effective. Most of the time the problems come when we humans rush things (we tend to assume that our dogs understand before they do). With a dog highly motivated to fetch and hold, this may only take a couple of weeks to get to the point of mouthing. With a dog who isn't motivated, it may take a month or more of daily practice. But if they really want the reward, they WILL figure out how to get it.

Hope this helped some.

Melanie and the gang in Alaska

Positive 1ST! More reward, less correction makes a GREAT trainer.
Chows: Khana CD RE SD & Dora NA NAJ GSD: Tazer SDIT
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-15-2009, 01:16 AM
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Re: Outs/holds and treats....

Great tips, Melanie!

I have another one for the "drop" that does not require food. Hide a duplicate toy on your person, like in your pocket or behind your back. Issue the "drop" command. If the dog does not drop the first toy, immediately take out the second toy and act like it's WAY better then the first. The dog should drop the first toy. When it does, present the 2nd toy to the dog.

The added benefits to this method are:

1) Getting away from food as a motivator
2) Having the dog look to you immediately on dropping or outing can be a tremendous benefit, because they can then be quickly ready for the next task

Don't get me wrong. Food is good to teach something, but once they know HOW and WHAT they're supposed to do, I try to get them off of food ASAP. Much better to NOT have food be the be-all end-all because that can cause food to be too much of a distraction, in the end.

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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-15-2009, 05:34 PM
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Re: Outs/holds and treats....

I hadn't thought about the "special toy" game in a long time! Thanks for bringing that up.

Another thing that helps with dogs who have little retrieving instinct is to make a huge fuss over the item you're using to train (like the dumbbell). Keep it in a kitchen drawer, make a big production of running to the drawer and taking it out and cuddling and fussing over it. Do this frequently and then put it back in without letting your dog see it. It can really increase a dog's interest in the item, and then you start using the item for the training (keeping the training sessions short and sweet to keep the dog interested).

I like using toys in training, but when you have dogs that are not toy motivated (i.e. CHOWS .. *L*) you pretty much have to go with what works (and food usually works). I've never had a problem with food being too distracting because my dogs are taught from the beginning that the only way to get the food is to do what I'm asking, so all the begging/franticness/silliness in the world isn't going to do it. If I bring out food, my dogs all get serious about figuring out what I want.

Trick, my older GSD, will train for about any reward. I can throw a piece of grass and she's ecstatic. Throw a snowball and she's absolutely thrilled! I wish all dogs were that easy to reward, but then again I do like a good challenge .. *L*

Melanie and the gang in Alaska

Positive 1ST! More reward, less correction makes a GREAT trainer.
Chows: Khana CD RE SD & Dora NA NAJ GSD: Tazer SDIT
RIP *Trick*Kylee*Dawson*Lady*
Total of 2UDs 3CDXs 12CDs 2REs 8AgilityTitles 1BH Chow!
20 Yrs Training/Teaching Experience
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-15-2009, 05:43 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Outs/holds and treats....

Thanks! I'll work these suggestions into our training.

Melanie, the issue with Kenya is not so much the lack of retrieve (in fact we used to play "fetch" like games all the time) but that she is so very, very submissive that any time *I* make a move towards her or anything, she drops it. Not just me grabbing something she's chewing, but she can be across the room playing with something and if I stand up she immediately drops it and backs off.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 02-16-2009, 08:32 AM
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Re: Outs/holds and treats....

Ahhh, okay ... dogs that are that submissive can be very difficult to work with, so I sympathize with you!

It may be that just continual rewarding of the very basic steps (looking at the dumbbell, etc.) and maybe trying a lot of different types of reward to see if you can find something she's majorly thrilled about (so she wants the reward enough to push through her natural reluctance) will eventually work. It just takes so long when you have a dog with such a high level of submission (or a low level of confidence, which is often the same thing). So I would probably reward for the simple beginning steps of the hold for far longer with a dog like that than you would want to with a less submissive dog.

I've only had one dog that had a fear/confidence problem and it did take a long time for her to do the hold, but it finally happened.

Melanie and the gang in Alaska

Positive 1ST! More reward, less correction makes a GREAT trainer.
Chows: Khana CD RE SD & Dora NA NAJ GSD: Tazer SDIT
RIP *Trick*Kylee*Dawson*Lady*
Total of 2UDs 3CDXs 12CDs 2REs 8AgilityTitles 1BH Chow!
20 Yrs Training/Teaching Experience
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