Random training questions. :) - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 03-23-2010, 04:38 PM Thread Starter
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Random training questions. :)

I have been meaning to ask the questions for a while now but keep forgetting. So, while they are fresh on the brain I will ask them all at once. These are mainly issues with training. Since Koda is my first dog, I'm not the most skilled trainer. I also tend to lose my patience with him when I ask him to do things. So I raise my voice or become aggravated and snarky. I have been trying to help myslef by lowering the expectation a little, even though i KNOW he knows this stuff. Ugh.... Anyways, here goes! And a thanks in advance for helping.

1. Potty Time: I don't have a fenced in yard. And unless he is sick, he refuses to go potty in our yard. We don't have a large yard and chooses to go pee near the neighbors house, or on a small hill behind the house. I would love for him to go on command. We have tried a few different things and nothing seems to be working. He has become very particular about where he relieves himself. Its so bad that if he gets distracted when we are in that area, he won't go the rest of the trip. Last time it happened he went 48 hours before going poop.
We have started taking him around our retention pond/lake for his walks since the sidewalk is usually littered with broken glass and random other things not safe for dogs. Since we have started going over there, he will only go poop on the hill (loves pooping on a slope, so when it bounces, it hits him in the leg ). Well it will be gator mating season soon and while I'm usually ok with walking around the pond, I'd prefer to be safe when they are crazy with hormones. If someone knows a good way to make my dog poop in his own yard and not by the pond I will be soooooo happy!

2. Before bed ritual: He used to be really good about going to the yard and going pee when I told him to go potty. Granted he still had to smell around the whole yard before he felt compelled to go some where. So probably not completely trained. Well he had a stomach thing a few weeks ago where we had to take him out a few times during the night so he could relieve himself. Well it has become a habit of his to not empty his bladder before bed and then wait until we are both showered and in bed, and then will whine to go out again. Then he will go a little more and then try to repeat it again. So I have started crating him after the first time he whines to go out. But then I never know if he really needs to go... and is sick, or he just wants to mark another blade of grass.

3. Offering behaviors: He is food motivated, not really toy motivated (we had to teach him to play when we got him). There aer a few tricks I would like to teach him, and other things of that nature, but I don't know where to begin. Everything I have tried has failed. I don't think he is "the smartest" GSD, but he definitely isn't stupid. I have been using a clicker and trying to mark anything that remotely resemble what I want. but that gets nowhere. Once I start treating him. he will stop offering any behavior and will simply sit down and stare at me, then glance at the treat bag, then back at the clicker, then at me, then the treat bag, then me....it is so frustrating. These are the things I am trying to teach:

A) Dead dog. simple enough right? Not. I taught this to BF's sister's dog in 2 days....Dakota... been trying since December... nothing.

B) Open. I would like him to learn to open the fridge door. I have a towel tied to the handle and it's not hard to open... I have a feeling I should be teaching like 4 other steps before what I'm trying.

C) Perch training. Ha this is a joke. This poor dog has no idea his butt exists unless he has to turn around to scratch it! He will get on the perch, but will move his head to get the treats.... I tried rewarding any movement in the rear end, but there was nothing... uuggghh. We constantly need to tell him to get the rest of his body in the house so we can shut the door. Front feet are in, so i'm all good right?.... Not!

4. Tug: I would love to play tug with Koda. He doesn't seem to really care for it though. He will play tug with Mac (bf's sister's dog) but usually he will just hold on to the toy and let Mac pull him around on the tile floor. I know tug releases some energy and it good for rainy days. Any suggestions?

5. Hide and Seek: I would like to take this to the next level. So far he is really good about finding us if we hide in the house, but sometimes will get too excited and breathe through his mouth and then he will find us after he calms down and focuses and uses the big sniffer. We recently added a new aspect to the game, he now will sit and wait for us to hide his favorite toy, the Cuz and then when we return we release him and he will go off and find it by smell. Any other ideas to keep it interesting. Keep in mind we have pretty much no yard and a small house.

6. Tracking basics: This summer I would like to try and use his brain and his nose and do some tracking. I'm not really sure which kind I want to do. It doesn't have to be super structured, basically a big hide and seek. On long leash...

I think that was all for now.

p.s. please use the numbers when responding so my silly brain can keep everything straight!


Fur Family:
Dakota "Koda" GSD 02/20/2008
Chloe Calico 9/21/2007

"The great pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself too"
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 03-23-2010, 07:21 PM
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1. Potty Time: Make a square in your yard about 4feetX4feet using long wood beams (like 2X4s or something). Next time your dog goes on the hill, scoop it up and then put it into this square in your yard. From now on take your dog out on a leash to this box to potty. If he doesn't go, bring him inside (and watch him carefully) and try again in 20 minutes or so. When he does start to go tell him "go potty" and give him a treat and praise. Take him to this spot frequently on leash and reward with a treat every single time for 2 weeks. Do you best to avoid letting him go elsewhere for the 2 weeks. You can use the same "go potty" for pooing and peeing or use different commands, but basically same idea.

2. Before bed ritual: See above, take him out before bed, tell him to go. When he goes, reward him and then in a little bit put him to bed. If he whines or cries do not take him out. You are only rewarding the whining and crying if you let him out. Just tough it out for a few days and ignore the crying. He will figure out he better go because your not letting him out again until morning.

3. Offering behaviors: Wait longer, he eventually will do something other than sit and stare at you and the bag. You need to teach him how to offer behaviors, so at first don't necessarily start with a behavior in mind. Get the clicker and treats out and wait, when he does something other than sit and stare at you, click and treat it. Have you tried the box game? Another thing some people don't realize is that when you are delivering your treat you can deliver it in such a way that you are somewhat luring the next approximation you want. So if I was trying to shape my dog to lay down and I had clicked a slight head bob downwards I would feed the treat down lower than the dog had actually put his head. Some dogs need that extra bit of help.

You may need to also work on your timing without the dog. When watching TV or a movie keep the clicker in your hand and click every time someone blinks or something like that. Another thing to try is bounce a tennis ball, click when it reaches the highest point and click again right when he hits the floor. Another is to work with another person. Pick something they are doing and click it, keep at it until they can guess correctly what you are clicking for. It can be blinking, taking a deep breath, scratching their head, shifting their weight. This also helps the person clicking realize how much our dogs have to actually weed through to realize what we are clicking for. Work on your timing with the click.

A) Dead dog. You can capture, shape, lure or model the behavior you want.

If want to capture just carry the clicker and treats around with you. When you see him flop onto his side, click and treat it. Doesn't matter the time of day or whether you are in a training session or not. Just click/treat the behavior when you see it. Soon he will start offering in hopes of a c/t. When he is offering it regularly simply add the command/signal when you see him start to do it.

Shaping you need to break the behavior down into little pieces and work your way up to the entire behavior. So, if he is in a sit you might start by clicking for a weight shift to the side and work up from there. First he needs to learn how to offer things though (see above). Once you have the full behavior you want and your dog is doing it 90% of the time perfectly you can add the command as your dog starts to do the behavior.

To lure it, you use a treat or target to your dog to do what you want. This can get tricky because then the dog can become dependent on the lure/target and not really realize what he is doing that is getting the treat (he thinks he is just following the lure). Lure it using a treat only 2 or 3 times and then see if he will just follow your hand, and then give the reward from the other hand. Say the command as you start to see the dog going down.

Modeling the behavior is physically manipulating the dog into the behavior, I don't recommend doing that for this personally.

B) Open. I would like him to learn to open the fridge door.

Again, first he needs to learn to offer behaviors. Once he has figured that out. Start by click/treat for looking at the towel. Then wait a few minutes, if he makes any movements towards the towel, click and treat. Do that couple of times. Then hold out for him touching the towel, click and treat that a few times. Then wait for some mouthing of the towel, click and treat. Then more mouthing, with a bit more teeth, then keep building up until he is putting it in his mouth completely. Then wait for a bit of tugging action and build that up. Once he is actually opening the fridge, name the behavior.

C) Perch training. I think you might need to work on your timing a bit and teach him the game of offering behaviors first, then work on this again.

4. Tug: You can clicker train this the same way you would with opening the fridge. You can also try a toy that you stuff with food to tug with.

5. Hide and Seek: You can do fake outs, walk around and then sit in a spot for a few minutes to create a scent pool and then leave it and go hide some where else. You can also hide his meals, make him work his food

6. Tracking basics: One of the easiest ways to start for tracking is to make a circle and put treats in each foot step. Make sure you jump into the circle and jump out, so there is some space around the circle. Do a few small circles a day for a few days and then start making them bigger. Then do little tracks with a treat in each foot step, with a small pile of food at the end. Then you can work on making them longer. Then work on getting rid of the food in the foot steps, start by putting a treat in every other foot step, then every 3rd, then mix it up, have treats in 2 in a row, and then the 4th after that, then the 2nd, then after 5 . . . and so on. Slowly fade the treats in the foot steps out. Doing turns can be problematic sometimes, start by making S shaped tracks and then slowly work on tightening up the turns. I would put food in the foot steps after the turns for awhile to reward the dog for getting the turn right.

For more hide and seek type stuff, hold the dog back and have the other person tease him with a toy or just by being goofy. Then have them run away and hide behind a tree or something, let the dog watch them run away. Then tell the do to "go find" and run with the dog as they get to the person. Do that several times, and then try one where the dog can't watch where they run to.

Lloyd (big black mix)
Nash (rescue GSD)
and the cats
Snickers (DSH tortie)
Jake (DLH tuxedo blk & Wht)
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 03-23-2010, 07:34 PM
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GSD Sunshine, I can't offer any advise because I'm getting my first GSD puppy in a few weeks, but I have to say your post had me laughing out loud. You are very funny and I really enjoyed reading about your Koda. Thanks for making me smile.
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 03-25-2010, 06:47 PM Thread Starter
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I guess I should have clarified some things. Even though my post was super long. lol

1. Potty time: We had him trained to go pee in our yard. he usually would only pee as much as he had to so he was still ready when his walk came a little later. So I kept his leash short and didn't let him mark anything. Until we got to a spot. I was told to make him pee only in that spot on walks and then once he was going potty their to move it closer to the house where he likes going occasionally. And then finally home. We never even got to the going in a certain spot. He would hold it. this boy wouldn't even go when he was on steroids and peed like a racehorse. I guess I just need to stick with something.... And get someone.... aka my BF... on board.

2. i think lately its just been because he has not felt well. he has had some stomach upset. he normally doesn't whine (like that) unless he really really wants/needs something. So once his stomach calms down, I will just crate him.

3. I have given up. lol

I have been luring with pretty good result the past couple days now and he is doing ok.

a) dead dog: well I got him to lay on his side so far, not great progress but more than I had before.

b) Open: yeah bit off more than I could chew there. Maybe someday, but for now, we will have to get our own beer from the fridge.

c)Perch training: I'm not sure what I did differently, but for some reason he has finally starting moving his butt on the perch. Not much mind you, but more than nothing. I have gotten one side on his left and 2 on his right. It had to have been something I was doing wrong the first time.

4) Tug:So I just realized it might be the toy I am using. It I use the fox skineez or a fleecy clean, he will tug a little with it once I get him going. But the actual tug rope I bought? nope drops it right out of his mouth.

5) We have a small house you can hear someone snore in the bedroom from the kitchen. (okay not that bad, but you get the idea). So creating the scent pool doesn't really work, although we do hide over and over so eventually my scent is everywhere. lol. And Koda eats raw, so I'm not quite sure putting his food around the house would be a good idea. :P

6) I will try and give the tracking ideas a try. Will my yard be okay or should I go somewhere new? Or just away from the house?


Fur Family:
Dakota "Koda" GSD 02/20/2008
Chloe Calico 9/21/2007

"The great pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself too"
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