How do you switch rewards? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
 
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-30-2012, 09:33 PM Thread Starter
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How do you switch rewards?

Hello all, hope I am putting this in the right place. I have an 8 mos old GSD, Finn. I taught him his basic obedience and tricks with treats. I wish I hadn't done that, because now he will only mind if there is a treat involved. If there isn't, I have his focus but he just looks at me. Pull a treat out and he will do anything you say. I have tried to make the reward his fav toys or affection but no go, has to be food. How do I go about changing this?
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-30-2012, 09:45 PM
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Originally Posted by susan.msp View Post
Hello all, hope I am putting this in the right place. I have an 8 mos old GSD, Finn. I taught him his basic obedience and tricks with treats. I wish I hadn't done that, because now he will only mind if there is a treat involved. If there isn't, I have his focus but he just looks at me. Pull a treat out and he will do anything you say. I have tried to make the reward his fav toys or affection but no go, has to be food. How do I go about changing this?
Have the treat in your hand and after he does the command, tell him good boy and DON'T give him the treat. Repeat the command a second time give a treat, then don't, etc. As they get older the treats dwindle and they shouldn't know when they will get one or not..so therefore they will always do the command in hopes of getting the treat

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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-30-2012, 09:47 PM
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The problem isn't training with treats, it's failing to fade them out before they become a secondary cue, which seems to have happened with Finn. Do you alway pull a treat out before you ask him to do something? Where do you keep them - do you wear a treat bag, do you have them in your pocket, are they kept somewhere nearby but not on your person?

Keep in mind that the rate of reinforcement (lots of rewards) should be high when training new behaviors, or changing the picture in some way, such as increasing distractions, working at a distance vs up close, or in a new environment. Older, more established behaviors or easy things that he's been doing easily for a long time, would have a much lower rate of reinforcement, often just a simple "good boy!" in a happy tone of voice.

But you don't just go straight from one extreme to the other, you would move to a variable reinforcement system before you start fading out food or toy rewards entirely. As trainer Suzanne Clothier said in a workshop I attended a few years ago, when you're first learning to write you name your mom makes a big deal about it and maybe puts your homework up on the refrigerator. Can you imagine if she was still doing that when you were an adult? Of course not!!! .

It's the same thing when you're training your dog. I always pair happy praise WITH the more tangible rewards, and keep that up while I'm fading out the food. I also use "real life" rewards, such as requiring a sit and eye contact before things that the dog values, such as going for a walk, at mealtimes, before throwing a ball, etc.

If you can explain exactly how you've been training so far, I'm sure you'll get lots of good suggestions about the next step.

-Debbie-
Cava 1/6/18
Keefer 8/25/05-4/24/19 ~ The sweetest boy
Halo 11/9/08-6/17/18 ~ You left pawprints on our hearts
Dena 9/12/04-10/4/08 ~ Forever would have been too short
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-30-2012, 09:51 PM
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Have the treat in your hand and after he does the command, tell him good boy and DON'T give him the treat.
I would personally not do it that way. If the dog is used to seeing the treat in your hand in order to comply, I'd rather get the food out of that hand, and then produce the treat from a hidden source, or go get it from somewhere else. That way the dog learns that just because he doesn't see the reward doesn't mean he won't get one.

Or, if the OP only brings out treats at training time, the dog may learn that he doesn't need to comply at other times. If that's the case, I'd desensitize him to the sight of a treat bag by wearing it all the time. Just because I have treats doesn't mean you will get one, and just because I don't have treats doesn't mean you won't.

-Debbie-
Cava 1/6/18
Keefer 8/25/05-4/24/19 ~ The sweetest boy
Halo 11/9/08-6/17/18 ~ You left pawprints on our hearts
Dena 9/12/04-10/4/08 ~ Forever would have been too short
Cassidy 6/8/00-10/4/04
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-30-2012, 09:52 PM
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Susan, does Finn get excited by his toys? Which ones does he like best?

-Debbie-
Cava 1/6/18
Keefer 8/25/05-4/24/19 ~ The sweetest boy
Halo 11/9/08-6/17/18 ~ You left pawprints on our hearts
Dena 9/12/04-10/4/08 ~ Forever would have been too short
Cassidy 6/8/00-10/4/04
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-30-2012, 09:55 PM
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Do you have a cue word before you begin your training session? I would cue the food to a word, are you 'happy', are you 'hungry' whatever word you want to use~do you want to 'work'? and have the dog work for the food thru an up, circle, or turn. Lure him if needed in the beginning stages. Then mark it, jackpot him when he gives you some enthusiasm/engagement. Use vocal praise and use that cue word when he drives into you for the reward. I don't reward at the position, mark the correct position, but make the dog come to you for that reward/ an up, or bringing the food behind you.
After you get more engagement ask for more....
Have the pup do three things before you reward, up, circle, turn, sit, whatever....and then he'll offer the behaviors when you ask thru that cue word.
Keep that up for a while so the cue word relates some excitement/drive building. You won't need the food as often when you give that cue. These are methods from here, I've seen great results with a few dogs that were flat and factory working in obedience, within a couple months they are happy to train and their focus is amazing! One thing too, if you give a correction, be sure to get him back in drive thru a circle or turn whatever to build that drive back up. Going directly into heeling or whatever, after a correction will not bring him up, it will flatten his enthusiasm.

Does he like to tug? I'd try this as well. If you don't get much out of him, keep trying!
I change up food, toys and praise often to keep my dog guessing. But the cue word is important.
Tonight I used a wubba that my dog hasn't seen in awhile. He was into the plastic bumpers for several send out sessions, but they lose value when overused.
Back to a fleece tug or a floppy disc, whatever gets him going!
Don't worry about fading the food reward and try to have his engagement with YOU be the most important reward.

Jane~
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Last edited by onyx'girl; 05-30-2012 at 09:59 PM.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-31-2012, 09:55 PM Thread Starter
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I'v thought all day about how I actually do train them. I don't have a set program, I never have. I have 5 GSD's and they are all well mannered, but Finn is the only one that I have trained with treats. Just some background, we live on a dairy farm. Visitors are rare being out in the middle of nowhere. I can't see any of my neighbors. Socialization is at a minimum, but I used what I had available. When each dog was young, as employee's pulled in down at the barns we would walk down to greet them. Only one is a dog person and interacted with them, the others just pretty much went to work but I wanted them to desensitize to people coming and going. They can all go to the vet ( except Finn) and quietly behave themselves. I let them go with me when I go to the bank. I'm happy with the way they behave but they certainly aren't running agility courses or competing in obedience They don't get on the furniture, they sit and lay down when they are told to, they hush when they are told to and they LOVE to play, they love morning walks thru the pastures, playing in stock ponds and just carrying on with thier own affairs in general. For the first time, my husband decided to have our only unspayed female bred. She went into labor 11 days early and had 10 dead puppies, the 11th one was alive. I made a makeshift incubator and kept him in it when he wasn't in my bra I slept very very little, every 2 hours I fed him. I took him to his mother and held him while he nursed. She was delighted with him, and would lay her head in my lap while he finished. That was Finn. The whole breeding thing was very expensive and difficult and we decided we would keep our breeding program in the barn. I asked my daughter what the latin word for finish was and she said Finn. My daughter had just left for college and my sons were teenagers, so he came at a time when I really needed a baby that needed me ok so when he was about 3 mos old, it's cold cold outside and sitting by the fireplace I taught him to sit ( with treats ) he learned so fast it was absolutely delightful to teach him. As to my having a cue word, no I didn't. Every evening I would go sit in front of the fireplace and I just had treats in my hand. He could always see them. He learned sit and lay down and then speak. That one was funny bec then he wouldn't shut up. He would sit in the kitchen and bark. alone. If anyone was eating anything, he would bark. If I didn't ask for it, I just ignored him. He pretty well tapered off the speaking. If I had food, I could teach him anything. I taught him stay, "get it"...i would tell him to stay and throw his ball, then after a few min i would tell him to get it. I can hide it and he likes to look for it. he will do that without treats so I guess his favorite toy is his ball. Tonight I was shredding beef for beef and noodles and he was in the kitchen with me. I turned around and told him to sit, lay down, shake, speak and "goober hop", as long as he could see I had something, he did everything for only one treat at the end. I didn't give him something everytime he complied, so that was different. I dont have a treat bag, never even seen one... I'm sorry I have turned this into a novel, I'm just trying to say that I have never read training methods, or subscribed to a particular one. I just knew basic good behavior. I spoiled Finn, I never taught the others anything with treats. I know his ultimate reward, every year when we put a beef in the freezer I have the butcher save me all of the bones. There are lovely pieces of meat and fat stuck to them and about once a week I give one to all the dogs. They are busy at them for the better part of a day. I appreciate the advice and I am going to try to phase out treats slowly. I do have another question and I am almost embarrassed to ask it but I'm going to anyway. None of my dogs are overly affectionate. They don't come and ask to be petted very often, a quick nose poke seems to do it for them. I loved the times when Finn's mother put her head in my lap while he nursed and From the time he was a tiny he laid in my lap. He is 8 mos now, and over the past 4-6 weeks he just doesn't do it anymore. He is like the other ones, a quick unobtrusive greeting is fine with him Why??! *sniff* *sigh* I miss him laying in my lap every evening.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 05-31-2012, 09:56 PM
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-01-2012, 08:32 AM Thread Starter
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I'm sorry, that does look like one giant run on sentence doesn't it? Is there a way I can edit it?
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 06-01-2012, 01:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by susan.msp View Post
I'v thought all day about how I actually do train them. I don't have a set program, I never have. I have 5 GSD's and they are all well mannered, but Finn is the only one that I have trained with treats.

Just some background, we live on a dairy farm. Visitors are rare being out in the middle of nowhere. I can't see any of my neighbors. Socialization is at a minimum, but I used what I had available. When each dog was young, as employee's pulled in down at the barns we would walk down to greet them. Only one is a dog person and interacted with them, the others just pretty much went to work but I wanted them to desensitize to people coming and going. They can all go to the vet ( except Finn) and quietly behave themselves. I let them go with me when I go to the bank. I'm happy with the way they behave but they certainly aren't running agility courses or competing in obedience They don't get on the furniture, they sit and lay down when they are told to, they hush when they are told to and they LOVE to play, they love morning walks thru the pastures, playing in stock ponds and just carrying on with thier own affairs in general.

For the first time, my husband decided to have our only unspayed female bred. She went into labor 11 days early and had 10 dead puppies, the 11th one was alive. I made a makeshift incubator and kept him in it when he wasn't in my bra I slept very very little, every 2 hours I fed him. I took him to his mother and held him while he nursed. She was delighted with him, and would lay her head in my lap while he finished. That was Finn. The whole breeding thing was very expensive and difficult and we decided we would keep our breeding program in the barn. I asked my daughter what the latin word for finish was and she said Finn. My daughter had just left for college and my sons were teenagers, so he came at a time when I really needed a baby that needed me ok so when he was about 3 mos old, it's cold cold outside and sitting by the fireplace I taught him to sit ( with treats ) he learned so fast it was absolutely delightful to teach him.

As to my having a cue word, no I didn't. Every evening I would go sit in front of the fireplace and I just had treats in my hand. He could always see them. He learned sit and lay down and then speak. That one was funny bec then he wouldn't shut up. He would sit in the kitchen and bark. alone. If anyone was eating anything, he would bark. If I didn't ask for it, I just ignored him. He pretty well tapered off the speaking. If I had food, I could teach him anything. I taught him stay, "get it"...i would tell him to stay and throw his ball, then after a few min i would tell him to get it. I can hide it and he likes to look for it. he will do that without treats so I guess his favorite toy is his ball.

Tonight I was shredding beef for beef and noodles and he was in the kitchen with me. I turned around and told him to sit, lay down, shake, speak and "goober hop", as long as he could see I had something, he did everything for only one treat at the end. I didn't give him something everytime he complied, so that was different. I dont have a treat bag, never even seen one... I'm sorry I have turned this into a novel, I'm just trying to say that I have never read training methods, or subscribed to a particular one. I just knew basic good behavior. I spoiled Finn, I never taught the others anything with treats. I know his ultimate reward, every year when we put a beef in the freezer I have the butcher save me all of the bones. There are lovely pieces of meat and fat stuck to them and about once a week I give one to all the dogs. They are busy at them for the better part of a day.

I appreciate the advice and I am going to try to phase out treats slowly. I do have another question and I am almost embarrassed to ask it but I'm going to anyway. None of my dogs are overly affectionate. They don't come and ask to be petted very often, a quick nose poke seems to do it for them. I loved the times when Finn's mother put her head in my lap while he nursed and From the time he was a tiny he laid in my lap. He is 8 mos now, and over the past 4-6 weeks he just doesn't do it anymore. He is like the other ones, a quick unobtrusive greeting is fine with him Why??! *sniff* *sigh* I miss him laying in my lap every evening.

-Debbie-
Cava 1/6/18
Keefer 8/25/05-4/24/19 ~ The sweetest boy
Halo 11/9/08-6/17/18 ~ You left pawprints on our hearts
Dena 9/12/04-10/4/08 ~ Forever would have been too short
Cassidy 6/8/00-10/4/04
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