My 1 year old dog will only listen if I have treats/food - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-19-2017, 02:25 PM Thread Starter
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My 1 year old dog will only listen if I have treats/food

I have a 1 year old german shepherd/ labrador retriever mix. I've had him for a litte over 2 weeks (he's a rescue) and I have done a couple 1 hour training sessions with him and a trainer.

He is very quick to learn commands and will do them no problem, as long as I have a treat or kibble. I have been reading on how to wean dogs off of the treats and kibble by mixing it up with praise and trying to not use treats as a reward every time but its not seeming to work.

When he's outside he won't come to me and he won't sit, but if we are doing a training session and he sees the treat bag he is very compliant.

I have started to make him sit and stay before giving him his food or a toy or come inside from the backyard, but he won't listen if he doesn't see a toy or food to reward him.

Any tips? The trainer just says I need to be patient, but I'm struggling.
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-19-2017, 02:30 PM
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You need to become more interesting, more exciting than what ever is outside. More exciting even than the treats. Will he play with toys at all? Praise needs to be happy, exciting, fun. I would also have him on a long line when outside so coming is never optional.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-19-2017, 02:40 PM
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Two things: 1) buy a long line, and have him on the line, so you can make him come when you recall him. A horse's lunge line works well.

2) Many dogs don't want to come, because it means the end of their play time. Call him to you, reward him, then LET HIM GO AGAIN! Make the coming to you a totally positive experience, rather than, 'oh, nuts! I have to go inside now!'
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-19-2017, 03:18 PM
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Originally Posted by emilymarie0208 View Post
I have a 1 year old german shepherd/ labrador retriever mix. I've had him for a little over 2 weeks (he's a rescue) and I have done a couple 1 hour training sessions with him and a trainer.

He is very quick to learn commands and will do them no problem, as long as I have a treat or kibble. I have been reading on how to wean dogs off of the treats and kibble by mixing it up with praise and trying to not use treats as a reward every time but its not seeming to work.

That's because you're trying to do it way too soon. At two weeks, this dog barely knows you. You need to build a relationship before you start worrying about phasing out rewards. Management strategies to prevent him from practicing behavior you don't want, such as blowing you off when you try to get him to come in from the yard are a good idea.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-19-2017, 04:32 PM
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I still give my dogs treats when they come in from outdoors, especially if they were having fun outside. And I try to mix up the treats, not the same-old-same-old all the time.

You've gotten some good advice already. I'm just raising my hand and saying "what they said, do that". Anything you can do to make recall something they want to do, stick with it for a good long time. I've heard it suggested that the longer they have to run to come home the bigger the reward...and I find lots of little bites of yummy may seem a better prize than one big chewy..but it probably depends on what your dog likes.

And I still like to bring treats when we are out in public and my dogs have to behave exceptionally well in unusual situations.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-19-2017, 05:05 PM Thread Starter
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Okay, that makes sense. He seems pretty comfortable with me, when we walk he looks at me and does "check ins" and never walks ahead of me. But I don't want to rush the relationship. Do you have any tips on how to help build a stronger relationship? I am moving next month and its just going to be him and I so I'd like to have a good companion!
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-19-2017, 09:14 PM
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Great advice from the others... it has been said you are trying to get rid of the treats too soon, don't worry about giving treats for now. Get him doing his training spot on every time before you start trying to fade out treats.

We are now taking treats away from our guy some of his training... so I'll ask for 3 sits and then a treat, or 5 sits and then a treat or 2 sits and then a treat.... I keep mixing it up so he doesn't know when he'll get the treat. Some times I'll will give a little pat on the head instead of a treat.

Something like recall he gets 5 treats for every time because its is still something he struggles with.

Don't rush him, give him the time he needs to get to know you and enjoy spending time with you.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-20-2017, 09:37 AM
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Something else I know from experience with my friend's lab: they are EXTREMELY food motivated, much more so than the GSD. So, yeah, the treats are important. And you ALWAYS have to watch your lab's waistline. They get fat really easily, because they LOVE their food.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-20-2017, 11:02 AM
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Originally Posted by emilymarie0208 View Post
Okay, that makes sense. He seems pretty comfortable with me, when we walk he looks at me and does "check ins" and never walks ahead of me. But I don't want to rush the relationship. Do you have any tips on how to help build a stronger relationship? I am moving next month and its just going to be him and I so I'd like to have a good companion!
You already have a good companion. I have had many adult foster dogs. The first week it is on a long line outside and 6ft leash inside only. No demands, just rewards (treats and happy stuff) when he checks in. Sitting in a chair and reading with the dog with me, no talk, just being together. He needs time to make sense of his new world and you. Just be calm and happy with him. The bond will grow as you get to know one another. Take him to a class after a few weeks.
I test them by giving them the entire 30ft leash and then start walking in all directions, rewarding them for following. Once he follows I try off leash and same test. It is the foundation for the recall. Go from there. That part has always come before the sits and downs.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-20-2017, 11:23 AM
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One other thing about rewarding when you call him, which I did and still do with my 6yr old, no matter the reason you call him to come be it because you just want him with you or that he is destroying your garden, if he is obedient to your command to come, praise and reward.

Reason being, first you are reinforcing that coming to you is a good thing no matter what. Second, anything that he was doing that was wrong he will not associate with a negative reaction when he gets to you. All he will do is associate the negative to his obedience to your command.

This was a biggie for me and my boy as we were building up the bond and trust factor when he was a pup.

Thought I add that if it hasn't been mentioned.
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