Looking for training advice for our situation - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-16-2017, 11:09 PM Thread Starter
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Looking for training advice for our situation

Hey, everyone. I need some advice about training. Specifically, I want to improve Vesper's engagement with me during training sessions and when we are out and about.
I wish that I had worked more on engagement when Vesper was a puppy, but alas, hindsight is 20/20. Now, she is almost 2 years old, and I want her to focus on ME. However, I don't want to use treats, because I feel like she is a stubborn dog and I want her to work for me. I used to feel like she was obeying me just because I would feed her, because she wouldn't always listen if I didn't have treats. I haven't been using them for a while, and have been trying to use praise as a reward.

I would like advice on exercises, methods, etc. that I can use to increase our trainer/dog relationship, and ways to increase her interest/engagement with me.

Thank you.

~Vesper~March 28, 2015
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-16-2017, 11:35 PM
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If treats work, I would use them..... keeping in mind that there are correct and incorrect ways to use food as well as ways to maximize food use. Dogs are no fools and they know when we have food on us but strategic use and delivery can prevent it from being used as a bribe which is the most common mistake that I see.

Some dogs are more food motivated than others but think of it as an enhancer... to help support and increase your value to her rather than just a simple reward for compliance. If all you do is hand out food with a flat good girl, then you're no more than a pez dispenser. If you're super jazzed and animated, sometimes delivering 1 kibble and sometimes delivering 5 or 6 rapidly one after another... while moving backwards for instance and allowing her to push into your hand to get it... you become more fun and interesting to her. Verbal and physical praise given simultaneously with the food increases the value of that too.... then you can try introducing a toy, preferably a tug if she's into that and mixing that into the game. You can wean off of food and you can also reintroduce it..... but to recognize that you have a food motivated dog then stop food use abruptly without using it to your advantage is just making your job harder.

Stubborn + stubborn is no fun.... meet her halfway.

Have her catch her food as a reward...
Teach her to target your hand then toss food away from you so that she has to return...
Reward for each trick then every third or forth trick to keep her guessing...
Alternate the hand you feed with... in a game fashion.

Buy or make a flirt pole if she's not into the tug...

I use everything in my tool box to the best of my ability, but at the end of the day I know that Keystone is more food motivated and that verbal praise lights up Tildens world. It's who they are and I don't fight it.
Deb and islanddog like this.

TILDEN: Male: Blk/Red LHGSD: DOB: 12/24/06 65lbs of Love
KEYSTONE: Male: Sable: DOB: 2/11/13 55lbs of Go!!!!!

Last edited by Fodder; 01-16-2017 at 11:37 PM.
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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-16-2017, 11:37 PM
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Her age doesn't matter. This is my Siberian Husky who started off leash training with me at 10 years of age. This is a dog that for 10 years would give me the finger and would escape, run into traffic, kill cats, pull like crazy on leash. She is now my main off leash demo dog and lives with a cat. You can use treats, toys, whatever motivates the dog in training, but don't bribe the dog with the reward because that is how you will create a dog that only listens when being bribed and does not understand how to work through you to earn the paycheck. I specifically used a remote collar as attention and energy with my sibe, you can use whatever tool you would like, but remain consistent and use a long line in the beginning so your dog has room to make mistakes and figure out what earns the reward, but can always be guided in if needed. Training sessions should be fun and engaging to where your dog thinks it is play, not training.






"If you don't train them, don't blame them"
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-16-2017, 11:39 PM
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She is ignoring you because she doesn't know the commands. It's one of the problems with using treats. You can start over with each command as if it was new to her, several times and use verbal praise for each succcess. Then end on a success, followed by one treat after you are done with the sequence.
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-16-2017, 11:40 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fodder View Post
If treats work, I would use them..... keeping in mind that there are correct and incorrect ways to use food as well as ways to maximize food use. Dogs are no fools and they know when we have food on us but strategic use and delivery can prevent it from being used as a bribe which is the most common mistake that I see.

Some dogs are more food motivated than others but think of it as an enhancer... to help support and increase your value to her rather than just a simple reward for compliance. If all you do is hand out food with a flat good girl, then you're no more than a pez dispenser. If you're super jazzed and animated, sometimes delivering 1 kibble and sometimes delivering 5 or 6 rapidly one after another... while moving backwards for instance and allowing her to push into your hand to get it... you become more fun and interesting to her. Verbal and physical praise given simultaneously with the food increases the value of that too.... then you can try introducing a toy, preferably a tug if she's into that and mixing that into the game. You can wean off of food and you can also reintroduce it..... but to recognize that you have a food motivated dog then stop food use abruptly without using it to your advantage is just making your job harder.

Stubborn + stubborn is no fun.... meet her halfway.

Have her catch her food as a reward...
Teach her to target your hand then toss food away from you so that she has to return...
Reward for each trick then every third or forth trick to keep her guessing...
Alternate the hand you feed with... in a game fashion.

Buy or make a flirt pole if she's not into the tug...

I use everything in my tool box to the best of my ability, but at the end of the day I know that Keystone is more food motivated and that verbal praise lights up Tildens world. It's who they are and I don't fight it.
Great advice. I see what you mean. I definitely think my delivery has been totally wrong. It's like I'm a food dispenser and that's it... She is definitely treat motivated. What if it's not necessarily a "trick" that I want to reward her for, but heeling, watching me, etc.?

~Vesper~March 28, 2015
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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-16-2017, 11:43 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MustLoveGSDs View Post
Her age doesn't matter. This is my Siberian Husky who started off leash training with me at 10 years of age. This is a dog that for 10 years would give me the finger and would escape, run into traffic, kill cats, pull like crazy on leash. She is now my main off leash demo dog and lives with a cat. You can use treats, toys, whatever motivates the dog in training, but don't bribe the dog with the reward because that is how you will create a dog that only listens when being bribed and does not understand how to work through you to earn the paycheck. I specifically used a remote collar as attention and energy with my sibe, you can use whatever tool you would like, but remain consistent and use a long line in the beginning so your dog has room to make mistakes and figure out what earns the reward, but can always be guided in if needed. Training sessions should be fun and engaging to where your dog thinks it is play, not training.





How do I make sure that I'm rewarding her and not bribing her? I think that I'm doing it wrong, and I'm not quite sure how to make the switch.

~Vesper~March 28, 2015
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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-16-2017, 11:45 PM
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Make it way less formal in the beginning - reward her for any engagement, no other expectation and have several sessions of just that. In the kitchen, backyard, front yard, park (basically changing the environment as she's able to handle increased distractions)

TILDEN: Male: Blk/Red LHGSD: DOB: 12/24/06 65lbs of Love
KEYSTONE: Male: Sable: DOB: 2/11/13 55lbs of Go!!!!!
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-16-2017, 11:46 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LuvShepherds View Post
She is ignoring you because she doesn't know the commands. It's one of the problems with using treats. You can start over with each command as if it was new to her, several times and use verbal praise for each succcess. Then end on a success, followed by one treat after you are done with the sequence.
I respectfully disagree that she doesn't know the commands. She still does what I ask, she just takes her sweet time about it and doesn't jump to it like she does when I have a treat.

~Vesper~March 28, 2015
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-16-2017, 11:46 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fodder View Post
Make it way less formal in the beginning - reward her for engaging, no other expectation and have several sessions of just that. In the kitchen, backyard, front yard, park (basically changing the environment as she's able to handle increased distractions)
I know that some people teach a command, like "watch me" or things like that. Do you think that's a good route to go, or should it just be more of a natural thing?

~Vesper~March 28, 2015
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 01-16-2017, 11:50 PM
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I think that you can absolutely progress to teaching watch, but for now, my impression is that you need to increase your value, become way more interesting, loosen up and have fun with her.

TILDEN: Male: Blk/Red LHGSD: DOB: 12/24/06 65lbs of Love
KEYSTONE: Male: Sable: DOB: 2/11/13 55lbs of Go!!!!!
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