Training set backs - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-14-2019, 08:09 AM Thread Starter
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Training set backs

My 12 week old pup Nala is having some training issues. She had learned the command sit, down and I was working on leave it and recall.

She was doing really well with all of them. With down she would go down and would hold it for up to a minute until I gave the command free.

One thing I noticed was she would whine when going into the down position. Not in pain, just becuase it seemed she did not want to do it.

Normally should would do it though and most of the time she did not whine.

For the last several days she has been doing really bad though. She will go into sit but has decided to ignore the down command.

I'm not sure if this is just a phase. I guess I can try to get better treats but I already give her training only treats that are better than what she normally gets and that does not seem to motivate her.

I have read before that pups go through a stubborn phase but I thought that was at 6 months not 3.

Any thoughts??
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-14-2019, 08:27 AM
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I prefer to use real food for treats like cooked boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut up in small pieces. Are you marking the behavior? How are you reinforcing the behavior. For example, do you lure her into a down with the food and continue to reinforce the dog with food as she holds it or wait until she has gone a whole minute and then reinforce and release. Just back up the training, use better food, make sure she is hungry and reinforce frequently while she holds the sits and downs. Also mix up the routine. Don't always do sits first and then downs or vice versa. Mix them up in different patterns such as a sit then a down or two sits and three downs, etc. What do you do after the release command? Try some engagement exercises like luring her into a fast spin after a release while fluttering your lips and then offer a lot of praise and petting and go back to a command and reinforce with food. How is her prey drive with a toy like a ball on a string? You might want to incorporate that to build drive and later switch over from food to a toy. Food has the advantage of being able to reinforce the behavior much more frequently before releasing the dog, but don't just wait and give her a single piece of food after waiting a whole minute. To build her food drive, let most of her meals being the food you train with and don't train with food until she hasn't eaten for a long time.
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-14-2019, 08:31 AM
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Take a breath. She's a baby. I would not expect her to be 100% reliable with any command yet. They can regress as they age.
It's great that she can hold a down for up to a minute, but she might be seeing it as a negative "If I do this, I have to stay here for a LOOOOOOOOOONG time doing nothing"
Personally, I would focus on making training fun and shape behaviors you want to see. Then work on getting the commands down by 6 months and slowly work on duration from there.
Best of luck with your girl!

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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-14-2019, 08:36 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the response. I dont need to lure her into down anymore. She will do it from the command and hand signal. I dont treat until after the release. I am using a clicker to reinforce the treat.

I will try to train before meals.

Should I treat at down and then again at release?

Her prey drive is situationally dependent. Depends on the time and toy she is into.

Sometimes she chases a ball non stop but then after a few days of that toy, loses some interest. She will almost always go get something if I throw it. It just depends on how much enthusiasm she shows.

I know she is really young. So maybe all of these things are just phases.

I just saw your answer Katsugsd. I agree she is young. I'm sure it will pass. I was just checking 🙂.

That is probably true, holding it may be a bridge too far. Maybe I'll work on some other less essential but funner commands.

Last edited by Paigika; 03-14-2019 at 08:40 AM. Reason: Add
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-14-2019, 09:29 AM
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When you reinforce her after the release, you are actually reinforcing the release, not the down or sit. When you give the down or sit command, click and reinforce as soon as her but or elbows hit the ground. Keep reinforcing with food as she sits or downs for a short while and then release and praise and do an engagement spin by luring her with the food and reinforce the spin with a bite of food.. The spin will be more difficult if she doesn't have a lot of drive. Then do another sit or down, click as soon and she sits and reinforce, etc. You need to do more continuous reinforcement when a pup is learning a new behavior and people underestimate the large number of repetitions and sessions it requires to get solid obedience. Don't just train before meals, but train as meals some. If you use real meat, she will get adequate nutrition. If you feed kibble, you can either cut back the amount or cut back on the number of times a day she eats. Regarding the ball, you are much better off using a ball on a string rather than throwing a ball. With a ball on a string, you can tease her with it by giving her misses, building frustration and drive. It is a skill you have to learn and the dog needs to have enough drive genetically for it to be a useful tool. With the ball on a string, you can also tease her up and if she comes into drive for the ball, give her some misses and put the ball in your pocket so that she doesn't get it at the end of a session. It doesn't sound like you know how to stimulate her prey drive. A rug tied to a buggy whip properly used can help build drive. But again, you need to know how to use it to be effective. There has to be some teasing and misses when she goes after the prey object in order to build frustration which builds drive. The way the prey object is moved is also a factor. With a rag, use short, quick, jerky movements. I don't know your dog's breeding, but for higher level obedience, you want a dog with high prey drive so you don't have to do so much "begging" with a toy.
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