Training Adult Dog Tips? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-19-2011, 09:21 PM Thread Starter
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Smile Training Adult Dog Tips?

First off, hello everyone, I'm new to the forum and have been having a great time absorbing everyone's advice. That said I was wondering if anyone had suggestions for helping me work with my dog more effectively.

I have a 3 year old female GSD, Eva, whom I've had since she was a puppy. While she knows all the basic commands, sit, down, stand, stay, come (sometimes), and a few tricks I have not been very consistent in teaching or practice. She has lived a fairly unstructured, pampered life up till now and as a result is not always motivated to listen. Has anyone had a similar experience or does anyone have tips for effectively training an adult dog?

Should we start from scratch? Should I incorporate NILIF into our routine? What should I do to build motivation?

She is a very bright dog and she knows up till now she's gotten away with 'misbehaving' and I feel like abruptly changing the way things have been will only confuse her and turn her off of working even further.

Is it too late for use to develop a better working relationship? I would love to get to the point of being able to do advanced obedience not for competition but for enjoyment and to strengthen our bond.

Again, love the forum, thanks for y'alls help.
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-19-2011, 09:38 PM
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Her problem, as you know, is your inconsistency. Don't give her a command unless you're prepared to enforce it.

Since she knows the basics, just make sure she follows through.


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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-20-2011, 12:50 AM
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Never too late to teach a dog obedience.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-20-2011, 08:36 AM
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I have worked with a dog very much like what you're describing, and the change can occur quickly.

Definitely do NILIF with the dog, and as already stated, enforce your commands. Say "sit".. wait 2 seconds, if no sit occurs, go over to the dog, grab it's collar, lift up while pushing the butt down. Don't need to say anything, or be emotional, just be stubborn, matter of fact, and give very little if any light praise if you have to "sit" her yourself. You say it, dog does it, or you make the dog do it. Soon the dog will do it herself, then you praise a bit more.

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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-20-2011, 10:24 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the input everyone. I realized I might not have been quite clear enough. It's not that she doesn't listen to commands ( I would never have to assist her into a sit), with the exception of 'come' occasionally, it's more that she doesn't seem engaged or interested in training sessions, she's not eager to start training. Which I completely understand, it's not something we've built a strong positive/fun correlation with yet.

So to rephrase my question:
1. What's the best way to engage an adult dog in training and learning and make the experience something she looks forward to doing? Most of the tips I've seen on here are aimed more at puppies and younger dogs, not adults who are somewhat set in their ways.
2. How to incorporate new rules like NILIF without frustrating and discouraging her?

Side note: In the last couple weeks we've begun working with a clicker and positive reinforcement, treats/toys, and she's doing great but I still don't sense much enthusiasm. But again, up until now she hasn't really had to earn her treats and toys so I understand it will take a while to establish the change.

Again, thanks everyone.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-20-2011, 10:44 AM
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Join BowWowFlix and rent some Michael Ellis videos. Wolf is 16mos and was not trained using marker training and I have been using Michael's methods for 2 weeks and wow, is there ever an improvement.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-20-2011, 12:04 PM
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The way I practice NILIF it's entirely force free. I never MAKE the dog do anything (not talking in general, this is specifically with regard to NILIF). Think of everything she values and all the skills that she knows. All you do is ask her to do something before she gets what she wants, every time. That can be a meal, a bully stick, bone, or other chewy, going outside, coming inside, a tug game, a ball thrown, getting in the car, getting out of the car, coming out of the crate (if you use one), everything you can think of. Cue whatever command you want to use and then wait for her to do it. If she doesn't, "oops!", turn around and walk away. Ignore her for a minute or two and try again.

I like to build strong default behaviors, mostly sit, down, and watch, and clicker training is perfect for that. Simply have your treat bag and clicker on you at all times (I can attach my clicker to the bag, and I also have a wrist strap), and every time you catch her doing something you like: click/treat. Make eye contact a requirement for EVERYTHING. Although I do like to have a "watch" command on cue, I also want them to look at me frequently without always having to ask for it, and the same with sits and downs, which is why I don't force compliance. They learn quickly that THEIR behavior affects MY behavior, and what works to "make" me give them what they want. I want it to be their idea, I want a thinking dog who is always trying to figure out what I want, not just doing what they're told.

Most of the time I don't even need to say a word anymore - holding their food bowls has become a cue for them to sit (or down) and make eye contact. Putting their bowls on the floor is a cue to remain in place until released. If they break, the bowl comes back up and I wait for the sit or down again. Walking to the door to go outside has become a cue to sit and look at me. If it's mealtime (they eat in the garage, which is also their access to the dog run for potties) and after they sit I fling the door open but just stand there, that's a cue that they are to remain in a sit because I haven't yet released them to go through it. If they break and run through the door anyway, I let it close behind them with me still in the house. I wait a few seconds then open the door and invite them back in for another try.

I like to start this with new puppies, but there's no reason not to start now, with an adult dog. She has the benefit of already knowing some OB commands, she just needs to learn the new rules. Remember that the more you reinforce something, the more the dog is going to offer it up in order to get the reward, so find ways to reinforce the behavior you want to encourage.

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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-20-2011, 02:05 PM
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Debbie your right on! NILIF is the way to go!

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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-09-2014, 06:36 PM
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I have three Shepherds,eight,five and two years old.Letting them outside to get in the car or to the backyard is like the gates opening at the Kentucky Derby,any suggestions on getting them to be calm and walk out rather than three trying to squeeze through a barely opened door?
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 12-09-2014, 07:05 PM
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I tell them wait, and release them by name. Try starting it away from the door Julio, just something like having them all lay down, then one by one move them around just by name, something like that. What you do physically at the door will cue them that they're going out. Does that make sense?
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