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.