Too easy AND too hard to train - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-30-2018, 12:39 PM Thread Starter
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Smokey is now 4 months old. He learns things very quickly on his own. He is fairly consistent in "sit" and he knows not to nip at people. He plays Chase with my 6 yr old and knows if she stops to stop and not nip or jump in her.

In fact he doesn't jump on people pretty much ever. He rarely pulls when on the leash. He hasn't had a house training accident in about a month and rings our electronic doggy doorbell when he needs to go out. He also will sit patiently for treats- no jumping or pushing or grabbing to get it.

He picked up all this stuff up all on his own without any formal training. He also understands "no" and "out" although with these we did enforce the commands by either taking away the "no" or moving him out of the room he's not allowed in.

He's a fairly easy going pup my who is always checking in to see what he should do. He wants to please us so much.

But when we try to actually teach him anything the methods we use for our other dog do not work. We've tried luring and clickers. We've used both with success with our other dog.

With luring Smokey will start to follow the treat but then as the treat continues to move he backs off and wags his tail as if to say "oh the treats not for me. That's ok."

With clickers he will happily take the treat but doesn't seem to recognize that the treat was for doing something. Which is kinda weird to me seeing how smart he is and how he picks up what we want without formal training. By formal training I'm talking about us training him. There are NO professional trainers within 30 min to 1 hr from us.

As I said above, he picked up "sit" all On his own but when we try "lay"he doesn't seem to understand. Same thing happens with any formal training.
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-30-2018, 01:50 PM
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I'm not an expert by any means (and maybe you have heard this before), but what I would try to do is "prime the clicker". Basically do this

1. Leash your dog
2. Have him sit because he's a very smart boy (click and treat on sit)
3. Say his name, click, then treat (with a "good boy")
4. Be fairly lenient and repeat often

At some point, he'll associate the good feelings he has for treats with the clicker and you can limit the treats to the point where the dog is no longer worried about the treat and instead focused on the clicker.

It takes a ton of practice, but my 6 year old rescue hadn't seen a clicker in years and he suddenly remembered how great it was.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-30-2018, 01:56 PM
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You say Smokey starts to follow the treat and then backs off. It may just not be a high enough value treat to hold his attention. It seems like the treats dogs and puppies love most are usually smelly, messy and disgusting, lol, but they'll do nearly anything to get them. What does he love the most and try using it to teach new and/or difficult things.
When teaching lay or down, since he already knows sit, put him in a sit first and then lure the rest of way into a down. Sometimes it's easier if there are fewer steps.
How you are holding the treat in your hand can make a big difference as well. I watched a lot of Stonnie Dennis on YouTube before I got my Malinois puppy and he's a really good trainer to watch, especially for puppy stuff. And I know how very hard it can be to find the time and money for professional training but it really helps to have someone else watch and critique what you're doing. Even if you can only go 2 or 3 times, you might be surprised at how helpful that can be overall.
Good luck with him-he sounds like an awesome pup!
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-30-2018, 02:34 PM
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I agree that Stonnie Dennis is great for puppy training.Most dogs and puppies will follow your hands even when not holding a lure.Try luring him with wiggling fingers and then scratch/wiggle on the floor moving away from him slowly.He can't reach your hand until he eventually lays down.Add your cue word and reward.This is how I get my dogs to lay down,come to me, or move them out of a room.It's an informal way to communicate with them around the house.It's also useful when training formal obedience to position them correctly.


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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-30-2018, 03:06 PM
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What’s worked for me since I’ve had Rollo from 8 weeks up to right now at 6 months has been using all the kibble from his meals and training him with that! I literally never put his food in the bowl it first started out as a necessity because he would suck the food out of the bowl so fast he would vomit lol. I love it now though cause Rollo will go crazy for his dry kibble 🙂
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-30-2018, 03:51 PM
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that is cool Chuck. Kibble never worked for training with my dogs. You have to find what clicks with each dog. What worked for my Samantha didn't work for my Bailey and what worked great for her did nothing for my Patton...and then there is Chief, a little different still. My Chief will do an entire BH routine in my yard for the promise of catching a pine-cone. I have mint growing in my yard and my Patton will do OB drills with the promise of catching a tossed a stem full of mint leaves. I can't get that kind of attention with food. Rubber flying disks work for us as well, now that the middles have gotten torn out and we can tug with them. For my two current dogs the promise of play is of higher value than food. They do like a treat when we are somewhere we can't play (like on a restaurant patio) but it is not there favorite reward.

You can watch Stonnie but what you really want to see is any number of people using marker training. Have you taught the pup that the clicker means good things are coming? That means spending time in the chair going "click" treat, "click" treat, "click" treat. Or you could use a word (what my family does) "Yes" treat, "Yes" treat, "Yes" treat. The click then means a treat is coming and it marks the very moment the pup / dog does something you want.
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 06-30-2018, 04:08 PM
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the moment he starts to follow the food is when you should let him have it. He needs immediate reward for starting to follow. sounds to me like it's just too long of a lure for where the pup is at.

You can make it longer later when he has gotten enough reinforcement that he is willing to try a little harder. For now if he moves his nose after the food at all, that s when he gets fed
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-01-2018, 01:21 AM Thread Starter
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I have tried "priming" the clicker. He just doesn't seem to connect the treat to the clicker even after tons of click/treat /click/treat etc.
I've been using a variety of treats. I like to take some of his kibbl in a bag and add 3-4 other types of treats (broken biscuits, jerky style treats cut up, etc. All treats he loves. When he was younger we taught not to grab the treats because our other dog was way too treat happy and would attack our hands to try to get at the treat. The other dog learned not to do this but wait for our ok to take a treat. I think the fear of having a dog as crazy as our other dog led to us accidentally decreasing Smokey's drive for the treats. our other dog was crazy and after reading here about German Shepherd puppies I warned my son that Smokey would bite more and be crazier than our other dog who has mellowed out now but used to be absolutely crazy. Smokey is so much more of a laid back puppy than our other dog was.

We can up the treat value. We have never given either dog cheese or hotdogs and rarely give them hamburger or chicken. So I have lots of choices in reserve plus could probably find more at the store. I just read it was better to use kibble and to mix it with other better treats for the "jackpot" feel where the puppy never knows what he will be getting. Maybe that's more for later in training?

I can also try giving him the treat for starting to follow it and increase how much he has to follow it. With our other dog I did the luring with him able to lick the treat or even nibble at it as I was moving it.

We went to a 4th of July picnic today and Smokey picked up several more commands by me praising him for doing stuff he did on his own. One example is he would lay down next me and I said "lay down, good lay down" and after several times he would lay down and look at me like "aren't I the best dog in the world I lay down" waiting for his praise. Then I tried saying "lay down" while he was standing next to me and before I finished he would be laying down with a great big grin on my direction. Obviously he will need more practice before I can say he actually knows "lay down"

So maybe I need to train him less with treats and more with encouragement for doing things I like on his own?

He is SO different than our other dog. Our other dog is "the perfect dog" after a lot of work and maturity while Smokey seems to be "the perfect dog" as is. (Obviously they can both be "the perfect dog" as can every other dog can be "the perfect dog" for the right family).
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-01-2018, 01:48 AM
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Puppies and dogs are all motivated by whatever they like the most, and for each one it's different. Use whatever works! I've taught 100's without treats and they responded well. The thing about treats that I really like, is it ups the intensity of focus for food oriented pup's and dogs, so basically it just makes things quicker. But whatever works for your dog is what you should use! Don't forget to have fun while doing it! All the best, and show us pictures!

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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-01-2018, 08:13 AM
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treats are easier to carry around than toys, but can still be messy. To keep a dog from snagging your fingers you can learn to palm the treat. It takes practice. Hold the yummy bit in your palm with the fleshy part of your thumb. Make a fist. Face the back of your hand/ fist to the dog. That means be still and hold position. Turn the hand / fist to show the fingers. That means nose their way into the hand to see if they can get to the treat. Then open your fingers a little and let them have the treat. This works well when you need to hold their attention for heeling, for instance. While they are pushing into your hand to get the treat, they are learning to walk by your side in the correct position.

I will admit there are times when my thumb got nipped and it hurt (insert cuss word here) but with practice it gets smoother and easier, for both the human and the dog.
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