Fading food reward when teaching settle - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-04-2018, 09:24 AM Thread Starter
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Fading food reward when teaching settle

Puppy is 17 weeks old, switches off and settles in his crate and pen, but will only stay in his bed at our feet so long as we keep the treats flowing. So he's not settling, he is waiting for treats and if they don't come at pretty frequent intervals he will come bite me or get into mischief until I tell him to go to bed and reward him for it. Bit of a bad circle this. What do I need to do differently? He will soon outgrow his pen so my next attempt is going to be to confine him to the gated off hallway and put his bed under the stairs so hopefully he figures out he can settle in his bed like he would in his pen. Would just be nice if he would chill by my feet and not just chew on them! But maybe I'm just asking too much too soon. Advice much appreciated!
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-04-2018, 12:21 PM
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Use a crate. A young puppy wonít want to stay on a bed all night. I taught settle or down at the table when I was eating. My dog had to lie at my feet. No treats but he had toys. Now he is 2 and lies quietly during my meal time. I only used treats when I required him to actively do something. Lying down and staying there isnít doing something.
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-04-2018, 12:55 PM
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Yeah, sounds a bit like your puppy is doing exactly what you're teaching him to do...no offense! If you want him to stay in a spot until released, you have to teach him that incrementally. The thing to focus on initially is staying put until released. Stay close enough that he doesn't feel the need to move closer to you to get his reward. Keep duration really short at first, and yes I use treats for this because you are shaping behavior. Once he understands that waiting for the release is what gets him the reward, slowly increase duration. Once he gets the whole sequence, I make a game out of pointing at random spots throughout the house and putting my pup in a down stay there, while I go and retrieve a treat which I return to give her. Sometimes I release then, sometimes I don't just to keep her guessing. LOL! Just progress slowly so that success is upwards of 80-90%, he'll be doing it before you know it!

It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog. Mark Twain

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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-04-2018, 02:33 PM
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I just realized that I didn't really respond to the original question about fading food treats. I'm something of a newbie at this myself, as I did not rely heavily on treats in the past. And consequently probably use them a lot less than many people.

But the idea of using treats is that you're sort of brainwashing your puppy to associate the behavior with the reward. Once they've habituated that belief, the reward can be tapered off. But IMO not stopped entirely for at least their first year, because you need to maintain that association - i.e. good things happen when I do this.

That being said, I very seldom take treats with me when I'm away from the house, and it's worked out fine. I use treats at home to shape and reinforce behaviors. But now that my pup is 14 months old, treats only happen after a chain of commands, not for each command.

All of which is my long winded way if saying that when shaping a new behavior, treat for every step closer to your goal. Once the puppy gets it, treat only for reaching the goal. Once that's pretty well established, begin chaining commands before treating. If your puppy is losing focus you're tapering too fast. If not, keep chaining commands between treats. Just make sure to mix up the order of the chained commands or your puppy will link them together and start to anticipate the next thing rather than paying attention to you.

It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog. Mark Twain

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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-04-2018, 05:07 PM
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You are now the treat dispenser extraordinaire. You have taught him a sequence: on the bed, treat, treat, treat, no treats for a while, getting off the bed, back to the bed, treats, etc.etc. He has outsmarted you. Put him in a crate as stated earlier and make your and his life easier. He is way too young for this. Pups forget everything when they see an ant walking by.
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