Struggling with rewards - German Shepherd Dog Forums
 
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-31-2010, 01:34 PM Thread Starter
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Struggling with rewards

Puppy broke a lower canine tooth couple weeks ago. He is 1/2 way through a 2 stage root canal to be followed by metal cap. He gets stage 2 on 1-17-11 and then they will schedule the cap. Stage 1 was completed Monday 12-27-10.

I pulled all the toys when this happened (12-18-10). The doc sent him home with a "toy ban" :*( She put the toy ban in effect until cap is in place... I am guessing early / mid Feb. 11
He is pretty much finished with the meds now and all puppy wants is TOYS!!!!

"Our" problem:
I worked hard over the last year to transition puppy from food rewards to toy rewards. It has proven to be VERY effective. I have made TONS more progress since that transition. Toys are what the puppy wants, not food.

Now I find myself having to use food again so we can do "something" productive while puppy gets repaired. Puppy is not interested, it's almost like he is "addicted" to the toys as a reward. I can't keep interest in training working with food. He will walk away from what has been high value food reward in the past and go right for the place where the toys hide when I mark.

Questions:
Would you go against the doctors "toy ban" and use a Nerf toy, or something SUPER soft as a reward? This would be a throw and fetch, NO TUG. Chasing a toy is like heroin to this dog. I would also limit any chewing (we are working on that anyway). It would be a "retrieve reward" only.
Don't get me wrong, I am not trying to find a "way out" of the doctors toy ban from the folks on this forum. Only looking for input about what someone else would do under the circumstances.

What guidance can you give for working through this? I feel like if we continue to work with food then I will be in a loop of only making reward transitions over the next 6 weeks and not making progress. Anything: ideas, suggestions, similar experience, etc.


Thanks in advance for any contribution!

Sean
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-31-2010, 03:50 PM
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Personally, I would follow the DRs advice to the letter. You don't want to damage the existing part of the tooth, otherwise you might be looking then at an implant. I would up the reward value of your treats. But then, I don't know what you are using. Try different things like cheese, liver or chicken. Don't expect to get the same type of drive out of the food rewards. Try working on things that require less drive. My dog is also a toy junkie. But even now, if her positioning gets sloppy, I use less drive and go to food to get her to be more meticulous. There is also nothing wrong with taking a little break from training, or so I'm told! I'm not sure how old your dog is. If he is old enough, you could start doing some work off a bike to burn off some energy.

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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-31-2010, 04:59 PM
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The highest value treat I know is little tiny bits of cooked beef. To motivate a dog, I handle these as though they were the greatest prize to me and fuss much. The dog needs to at least act as though he wants what I have, then work for it before he gets it.
If you are already doing this, I would continue with the toy ban and perhaps inject some really tough NILIF which means ignoring the dog for a few days except for the absolute essentials. (food, water, let out). See if he then isn't interested in what you have to offer.
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 12-31-2010, 10:20 PM
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I wouldn't give him any toys either as per doctors request! I also agree with changing up his treats to something more appealing!

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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-01-2011, 06:15 PM Thread Starter
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More info:
He is my first dog
Intact male 85ish #
2yr old July 2010
Pedigree unknown
NILIF, all day, every day, for the rest of his days.
It will kill ME to not train for 6+ weeks.
Toy ban will remain in effect.

I have been using Pupperioni strips torn into little bits. I have always went for the store bought stuff.
Possibly I have become robotic in my delivery. The point on interest in the delivery is well taken.

I feel so "Trapped".
Tracking = can't have him eating off the ground right now, so that is out. Dirt in the tooth can't be good at this point.
OB = FRONT for food not the same as FRONT for tug. Same with other parts of OB. He is making this clear to me. Value problem is possible.

Additional dumb questions.
-Will it be easy to get the drive back if I let him do the work for food and his performance is accurate but slow?
-I don't have "store bought articles". I could make something like Sch articles. Is it OK to train articles that are not "exactly" what would be used at trial? I am thinking about this because the work of indication seems low drive and doesn't involve mouthing anything.
-Is it counter productive to train article indication indoors? I am talking about the down at article / position part, not the find part.
-For using raw meat as treats. What exactly do I tell the meat counter I want? Type, qty, slicing, etc? No clue where to start.

Thank you for responding to my thread!

Best regards,
Sean
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-02-2011, 01:38 AM
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Michael Ellis has a good DVD on training with food. But once your dog is turned on to toy rewards, you'll likely never get the same drive for food that you would for a toy. I would try steak or chicken if he is able to eat that. I cook extra meat when I'm making dinners, and save some for training treats. Some people have had luck starting articles indoors, but it backfired for me. My dog would leap frog from article to article. I thought that was great. Problem was she learned to identify them by sight and not scent. So indication did not transfer onto the track. I'm having to reteach them using Ivan's method starting with containers. 2 yrs old is fine to work off a bike if the weather is OK.
I feel your pain about not training. Our club hasn't been meeting much between the holidays and bad weather. We had too much snow to do much work outside. So we been hiking a lot and I've been loading the dogs up in the car for outings to keep them occupied.

Cinzar's Dark Shadow Too (Ruger) CGC, RN 1/8/05
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-02-2011, 07:14 AM
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Quote:
Additional dumb questions.
-Will it be easy to get the drive back if I let him do the work for food and his performance is accurate but slow?
-I don't have "store bought articles". I could make something like Sch articles. Is it OK to train articles that are not "exactly" what would be used at trial? I am thinking about this because the work of indication seems low drive and doesn't involve mouthing anything.
-Is it counter productive to train article indication indoors? I am talking about the down at article / position part, not the find part.
-For using raw meat as treats. What exactly do I tell the meat counter I want? Type, qty, slicing, etc? No clue where to start.
If the dog has the drive for the toy then there shouldn't be an issue when the time comes to re-use them..

Yes, you can make your own articles.. using old carpet, wood pieces laying around, cut clean paint stirrers, I've used old leather leashes that were chewed, cut them into 3" pieces, etc..

I taught my dogs article indication (the going down part) indoors and in the front yard..

I know a lot of people that use cooked beef liver or cheap steak for obedience.. Not sure what kind of food drive your dog has, but you may have to withhold his meals before you go out and train? You want him good and hungry..

What is your demeanor when your out training with your dog now? Are you fun and exciting or boring and dull?

Leesa~

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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-03-2011, 01:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cindy_s View Post
But once your dog is turned on to toy rewards, you'll likely never get the same drive for food that you would for a toy.
Not entirely true. Each drive is whole and completely seperate. Some dogs "learn" to play ball but are still crazy motivated for food. Somedogs have equal drive for both and some dogs love toys and aren't as motivated food. But this isn't because they were "taught" to like tug. It is because they are genetically more driven for play than food.

I would say that your rewards are terrible. You need something that smells amazing. Hotdogs, real pepparoni, cheese, anchovies, wet cat food! Work him when he's real hungry. You know how crazy he is for ball if he's been cooped up inside for a couple days? Want more food drive? Feed him less..

Also this will not effect his drive for anything else.
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