Help! All I am to them is a treat dispenser. - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 34 (permalink) Old 05-08-2012, 12:13 PM Thread Starter
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Help! All I am to them is a treat dispenser.

I have been working with Rogue and Thor daily for about a month now. If I have treats in hand...they do exactly what I say when I say it. However, if they know I dont have treats...they walk away from me!! Like, completely ignore me.It makes me so furious at them, I cant take it.
I obviously did something wrong along the way...NOW HOW DO I FIX THIS???
They KNOW a lot of commands flawlessly...now its just getting them to do it when I dont have treats in front of them. (so lost and upset)
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post #2 of 34 (permalink) Old 05-08-2012, 12:18 PM
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When you reward, treat and throw a party! Make a big deal - get down to their level and really get into their face with a party. Whoo Hoo!

Remember when they were puppies, and when you wanted them to come to you (knowing they didn't know any commands) you'd squat down and say, "Puppy! Puppy! Puppy! Puppy!" and they'd get all excited and come running for you! They like the party you threw.

The trick is knowing what really turns them on. What really gets them excited. You can treat often, but add in that extra "Whoo Hoo!"

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post #3 of 34 (permalink) Old 05-08-2012, 12:58 PM Thread Starter
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should i cut treats out all together? seems like theyre taking advantage of me.
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post #4 of 34 (permalink) Old 05-08-2012, 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted by marinehoney View Post
should i cut treats out all together? seems like theyre taking advantage of me.
No, I wouldn't. They aren't taking advantage of you, after all you taught them the behavior. Sadly, it's true. They are doing exactly what you've taught them.

Try to have treats on your all the time. I have a large spice bottle that I put little chunks of hot dogs in. They carry well in my pocket. When I'm outside or even just playing with the dogs, I'll treat them every so often. I might say, "Here!" and the dogs will come flying. I'll give them all a TINY piece of hot dog, saying, "What good boys! Good boys!" and give them a scratch on the head. With my puppy I'll give a quick full body rub, that drives him nuts.

Next I might be walking along and say "here" again. All the dogs will come running and I'll use the same praise as I did with the with the first request, but leave out a treat. They all get turned on and take off again.

Never give a command that you can't reinforce. If you want your pup to come to you and sit, you need to be able to MAKE him if he doesn't. Put him on a long lead and let him run. Set him up to succeed. Make sure he can't fail.

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post #5 of 34 (permalink) Old 05-08-2012, 01:13 PM
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Are you doing marker training with them? Are you rewarding or bribing them? Are they ignoring you at a higher distraction level or just simply because you don't have a reward? Have you done engagement work with them?

In the early stages of marker training, I always reward my dogs for every single command. Over time (way later down the road), the rewards may become more sporadic, and I may do several commands before rewarding them. In the early stages of training, I don't give them commands if I don't have rewards, that's just me. The more a dog ignores a command, the more optional a command becomes.

I personally will use corrections during training, but that's again way way later down the road, during the proofing stage. All behaviors/commands are taught with motivational training.

Oh, and when I marker train them, the treats don't always come out of my treat bag (which is on my back), they sometimes come from my pocket, or a bag on a counter. I usually don't have them in my hands.

Last edited by San; 05-08-2012 at 01:17 PM. Reason: Forgot last part
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post #6 of 34 (permalink) Old 05-08-2012, 01:22 PM Thread Starter
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Are you doing marker training with them? Are you rewarding or bribing them? Are they ignoring you at a higher distraction level or just simply because you don't have a reward? Have you done engagement work with them?

In the early stages of marker training, I always reward my dogs for every single command. Over time (way later down the road), the rewards may become more sporadic, and I may do several commands before rewarding them. In the early stages of training, I don't give them commands if I don't have rewards, that's just me. The more a dog ignores a command, the more optional a command becomes.

I personally will use corrections during training, but that's again way way later down the road, during the proofing stage. All behaviors/commands are taught with motivational training.

Oh, and when I marker train them, the treats don't always come out of my treat bag (which is on my back), they sometimes come from my pocket, or a bag on a counter. I usually don't have them in my hands.
I do clicker training with them. A lot of times I need to bribe them to get them to do the command. Like I said, if they dont see a treat, they wont even acknowledge me. They ignore me in a silent room by themselves if I dont have a treat, it has nothing to do with distractions. And I do not know what engagement training is.
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post #7 of 34 (permalink) Old 05-08-2012, 01:32 PM
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I found that if you are training with treats, you have to eventually dwindle that down. So for every 5 commands they might 3 treats, but they don't know when they are getting that treat...so the reward here for them, okay I might get a treat if I do the command. You can pretend you have a treat in your hand too, or just have the treat in your hand where they see it and simply don't give it to them for another two commands. This way they really don't know if there getting a reward or not..

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post #8 of 34 (permalink) Old 05-08-2012, 01:44 PM Thread Starter
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I found that if you are training with treats, you have to eventually dwindle that down. So for every 5 commands they might 3 treats, but they don't know when they are getting that treat...so the reward here for them, okay I might get a treat if I do the command. You can pretend you have a treat in your hand too, or just have the treat in your hand where they see it and simply don't give it to them for another two commands. This way they really don't know if there getting a reward or not..

this is a great idea. i will try it. its very unrealistic for me to have treats on me 24/7. any tips on that?
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post #9 of 34 (permalink) Old 05-08-2012, 02:10 PM
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I have a few examples of Minna ignoring me and how I fixed those issues.

1 - coming inside when called (from the backyard).
Minna always wanted to stay outside and play and run around and be a lunatic. So I put a box of bite-sized treats near the backdoor, but continued to act as though it were a normal day. I called her, she took her sweet time and refused to come inside when I wanted...I waited her out -- I refuse to bribe my two with treats. I waited and eventually she decided to come inside so I gave her a treat like it was no big deal, said 'good dog' and then went about my business. Now the next time she went out, I called and again just waited and she came inside a little faster (it did help that she saw Bacca come inside and get a treat) and she got a treat, a pat on the head and a 'good dog'. As of today, I can open the door, whistle for her (or call) and she comes right away. I phased the treats out once she was reliable with coming when I wanted her to. I still usually give her a treat once a day (sometimes once every few days), but otherwise she comes when called and I have no issues with her ignoring or not wanting to come in.

2 - listening to commands when no treats are in-hand
Minna is sometimes bad about it, she wants incentive to do what I have asked. However, I refuse to give her a treat everytime I ask her to do something. I always gave her a command when she was within arm-distance and if she didn't listen I would grab her scruff (not rudely or tightly...just so she couldn't walk away) and tell her again and when she would listen I would do the normal "praise, find a treat" -- so she got the point (I figure her thoughts were something like -- "OH, even if I don't see a treat I might still get one!, okay, cool!"). Now she's at a point where I don't need a treat and I don't need to ask more then one time.

3 - clicker training makes things easy...so maybe go back to the basics, work with one dog at a time and work on their focus on you. -- and make it fun, make yourself appear fun. Do training even when it's not a designated "session". Even when I'm outside, if Minna wants me to throw a stick or kick a ball she has to do something first.


I wouldn't eliminate treats -- just get creative and make yourself more fun. Minna and Bacca listen to me because I don't allow them not to listen. I set them up to succeed and I learn what I need to alter about my training or my way of telling them to do something in order to get them to listen.

I would suggest (just as someone else did) that you carry treats on you all the time -- just keep a few in your pocket...then you can randomly give treats when they listen, to reinforce them listening to you.

Hopefully some of this helps...good luck.
Sorry it's so long, thought some examples might help so you could see how someone else dealt with the not listening issue.


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post #10 of 34 (permalink) Old 05-08-2012, 02:53 PM
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Just try to remember to always reward good behavior. Even if it's a scratch on the head and a "good girl". It helps develope a working relationship and keep one already developed, strong.

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