Are treats a fact of life? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 42 (permalink) Old 10-21-2018, 11:18 AM Thread Starter
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Are treats a fact of life?

Okay experts, help a newbie out....

We're expecting to bring an 8 week old GSD home the Friday after Thanksgiving. So naturally I'm doing a TON of pre-work on training, especially basic puppy training and PKC, housebreaking, etc.

The New Skete books talk about using verbal and physical praise alone and not using treats. yet everything I read online, and every training video I see shows owners using treats. I'm just wondering if anyone out there has been able to train their GSD puppy without treats.

Let me hear your stories! Am I out of my mind for even pondering this?

Oz
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post #2 of 42 (permalink) Old 10-21-2018, 11:35 AM
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I think the question shouldn't be CAN you train a puppy without using treats, but rather why wouldn't you use food to train? If you have a food motivated puppy (and most are - food is a primary reinforcer since dogs need to eat to live), use food. If you have a play motivated puppy, use toys. Obviously, if your puppy is motivated by food AND play, use both, which is what I do. But that doesn't mean that I don't also use a lot of praise, my puppy is most engaged when I use everything I have - my face, my voice, my body language, and also lots and lots of reinforcing with food and play. The more engaged she is, the more fun both of us are having and the faster our training goes.

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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 #3 of 42 (permalink) Old 10-21-2018, 11:35 AM
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Short answer: treats and toys are in. New Skeet is OUT,


The New Skeet books were forward thinking when they were first published sometime around 1970? as a move away from "yank and crank". But my advise regarding them --- put them in the recycle bin or trash. Do not send them to a resale shop.



There's lots better books out there. My favorite is Sheila Booth's Purely Positive: Companion to Competition -- then there is Pat Miller who has a lot out there. As you've found, there's a lot available on line from really good resources too.



Yes, treats, toys supplement praise as rewards.



You are only out of your mind for having picked up the New Skeet books....



Congrats on the anticipation of a new pup.
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post #4 of 42 (permalink) Old 10-21-2018, 11:37 AM
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Good question, I'm always accused of over treating when training...

...because Saint has developed the bad habit of always noseing my hand, esp when he's behind me looking for treats.
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post #5 of 42 (permalink) Old 10-21-2018, 11:59 AM
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Forget about the monks. A good book to start a pup is The power of positive dog training from Pat Miller. As he gets older you may have to use corrections (for behavior he already knows and refuses to comply) and start replacing treats for play and praise.
He will let you know and we can help you on line.
Use this time to find a good trainer. Personally I don't allow my pups to join the free play puppy sessions.

Last edited by wolfy dog; 10-21-2018 at 12:01 PM.
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post #6 of 42 (permalink) Old 10-21-2018, 12:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saintbob View Post
Good question, I'm always accused of over treating when training...

...because Saint has developed the bad habit of always noseing my hand, esp when he's behind me looking for treats.
That is a very easy fix. Teach him that the presence of food, or a chewy, or a toy, is a cue to ignore it and look at you instead. I reinforce eye contact so heavily from the beginning that it's a default behavior, even for my 9-1/2 month old puppy. She knows she can stare at a ball all day and I'm not going to throw it. But if she looks at ME, I mark it (yes!), and we start to play. When she brings it back she has to give it up, sit, and make eye contact again.

-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 #7 of 42 (permalink) Old 10-21-2018, 12:15 PM
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Read all you want just don't get stuck in one set way of doing things regardless of what you plan to accomplish. I learn something new with all my dogs, even my old timers will surprise me every now and then with a new "challenge" keep and open mind and adapt as you go!
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post #8 of 42 (permalink) Old 10-21-2018, 12:23 PM
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Since I've been around long enough and owned shepherds before "positive reinforcement" was popular....yes I've trained dogs without using treats....because that's how the first dog trainer...."trained" me.......some dogs respond great to praise-praise-praise....they live to please their person ( I've had a couple).....BUT most dogs who are motivated by food even a little bit respond better to treats and praise...they don't get bored as quickly during sessions so they learn quicker and progress faster to get them where you want them to be.... a few dogs really don't care about treats but the majority do....in the end do what works best for you AND the dog in front of you......JMO but to rule out even trying treats is pretty old school thinking
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post #9 of 42 (permalink) Old 10-21-2018, 12:37 PM
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Keep in mind what the requirements are for the Monks' dogs. Are they the same as yours? Their dogs basically need to follow them around and calmly lay at their feet. My dogs are much more to me than that, and I want them enthusiastically engaging with me, not just staying out of the way.
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-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 #10 of 42 (permalink) Old 10-21-2018, 12:42 PM
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Using food rewards allows you to do a LOT of stuff without ever having to put any pressure on your pup. You can do it other ways too, but in my opinion often food is the way that is most enjoyable and with least conflict.

For instance to teach a dog to sit, you can just raise the food up over their head and when they look up the butt goes down. Transfer that to a hand signal, then to a verbal, and voila you've got a dog who can sit who wasn't physically manipulated to get them there.

One of the biggest pitfalls I think is that people don't know how to not become dependent on the food. And possibly also don't know to use some of their dog's rations for training so the dog isn't being over fed. move to an intermittent reinforcement schedule, and learn how to be a bit wily in where you keep and how you retrieve the food rewards so the dog doesn't become one of those who will not give you the time of day unless they see a bait bag on you.

Bottom line, I absolutely use food, and I think it's a great way to train.
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