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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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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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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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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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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.
 

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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.
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.
 

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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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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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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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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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Inga was our first German Shepherd and the first 'real dog' we ever had to train. We knew nothing about training and were not going to use "trainers" as we live on an isolated ranch. So I found the internet trainer Don Sullivan. You can google him. We got his training DVDs that come with a mild plastic sort of a prong collar. Don Sullivan does not use treats, the rewards are praise and play. It is based on having a relationship with the dog and the fact that they want to please us. Another thing, all the issues you might come across are addressed and you can go back and replay that part.When a dog knows the command and you KNOW they know the command and they decide to disobey, only then is a leash correction given. Then you move on and the dog gets another chance to do it right. You show you are pleased by talking to them in a happy voice and giving them shoulder strokes. By the age of 18 months Inga knew and was proofed in 30 commands, even circus tricks, and is a working ranch dog. They are amazingly intelligent animals.
 

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I cut my teeth on old style Koehler method and I was very resistant to training with treats and toys. I started slowly testing treat methods with the basics of training and was really impressed with the results, the dogs learned much faster.

I recently saw this post on Facebook by Dave Kroyer: "Ya.... don’t worry about the fact it takes 6-8 months for one behavior to become somewhat instilled in the dogs long term memory. Not to mention proofed. But sure go ahead and be that exception to years and years of science and technology of applied behavior. It’s ok. It’s bookface. There are also monsters and chubacabras. I saw one."

So be patient with your puppy, and kind. Don't expect short cuts to bring long term results. I highly recommend this book: https://www.amazon.com/Purely-Positive-Training-Companion-Competition/dp/0966302001
 

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You said you are bringing home an 8 week old puppy. I would worry less about training and more about bonding.

One of the things I see a lot is that people get baby puppies and start right into training while ignoring the relationship. Everything is fine and then one of two problems pop up around 18 months, either the dog goes "flat" and you see the robot dogs trailing beside owners with no spark left or the pup rises up and flat out challenges you and you have nothing in the bag because the dog has learned that it must be rewarded for everything and doing it's own thing is now more rewarding.
When I raise pups that's all I do, I raise them. They learn boundaries and rules. We talk about trust and teamwork. We cover what is acceptable and unacceptable. We work on crate and potty, moms hands are not chew toys, food on plates belongs to humans, jumping gets you ignored, barriers mean stop. Easy stuff. Any training gets taught by luring, sit is usually the only thing we really study although the groundwork for recall usually gets put in place through games.
I like to tell people to look up Charles Eisenmann. I don't agree that all dogs accept his methods, but he stated clearly that he was glad he knew nothing about training dogs when he started training London or things would have been very different.
 

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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.

I guess housebreaking is training, and YES I personally recommend treats for sure... fastest way to get a response.

IMO. I feel that you just want the puppy to get to know you, his new surroundings, and let him/her just be themselves. " potty train is it"

You kinda want to see how easy or difficult it might be when you chose to start training. You also will see if your puppy is food driven which will be helpful. You also want to see if he/she is a cling-on, or maybe likes to be on it's own. Is he or she high drive or low key.

Everything is going to be what it is and all you have to do is enjoy and take notes so you know how to do what will work best for you. There is no right or wrong way to train a dog . TREATS, NO TREATS, CLICKER, HAND SIGNALS, ITALIAN, FRENCH, ETC. there is only what you are expecting from your dog, and how much time do you plan to put forth to accomplish your goal. dog's are creatures of habit so to me it's all about CONSISTENCY !!!
 

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Yes Sabimom. Thats exactly it. Its about the relationship. You don't need to be a treat dispenser. There are many ways to train a dog. We never feed Inga treats from our hands. If she gets a goody it is dropped in her bowl. Sometimes tasty items mysteriously fall like mana from heaven. She doesn't have to do anything for it. I don't have to be packing treats around. What if they are attracted what is to them higher value misbehavior like taking off after a rabbit and running across the road? Wheres your cookie going to get you then? Because we have used balanced no treets needed training I can call her off a chase with a thunderous NO! and OFF! No treat meeded. But she returns to us with lavish loving eyes for her reward- a love festival.
 

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I loved hand feeding my puppy. Playing so many games with his food. I'm just getting the hang of capturing behavior. I mean always I praised good behavior but I think that solely praise isn't enough. Treats and toys go along way. You can use toys when you want intensity and food when you want calm. I think food is a good convenient reward.
I think not necessarily treats, but a dog learning for food is a huge beneficial part of training. If you can use them intermittently down the road to maintain the work done and history of reinforcement it's a good fact of life to have.
 

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I use toys and treats. Seems silly to me to limit yourself. Scarlet is crazy food motivated, probably the most food motivated dog I’ve ever had. She’ll also work for praise because she’s very bonded with me, but I can teach a behavior quicker with treats.
 

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Yeah I remember reading the newskete book before getting our first gsd pup - max. I was not a fan of the book but it did talk about crating your pup near your bed at night which I found very helpful. I used/use treatsespecially when beginning training. Builds motivation. Depending on pups- Luna preferred treats when max was older I use ball in place of treats for super motivation because he is crazy about his ball. I remember when max would not do anything if I did not have a treat or ball. Then it was time for corrections then treats and balls were used at times and at times they were not. All this took time.

As I lazily am reading this thread while not getting out of this chair - made me want to call max over- I have no food or ball in my hand. He is super focused though and listens well as he scans me and finds out I’m empty handed. He got many praises because he was super cute with his head tilt and all I had to get his ball for a quick game of catch! Sometimes he just gets a crazy dance of praise! He is a dog who is very motivated and seems to enjoy learning things.
https://youtu.be/KPKimMaVKuE
 

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I've had dogs that aren't super food motivated and with my female I don't like the headspace she gets in when I use food. So I personally use praise mainly and play. I give treats and use traits as well but it's more as a random surprise/reward or more like the definition of a treat instead of a reward. I personally have more fun with my dog working with praise and play training style and it works well for my dog.
 

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When I raise pups that's all I do, I raise them. They learn boundaries and rules. We talk about trust and teamwork. We cover what is acceptable and unacceptable. We work on crate and potty, moms hands are not chew toys, food on plates belongs to humans, jumping gets you ignored, barriers mean stop.
But all that stuff *IS* training. Training isn't just rote, boring drills with a lot of corrections, it's teaching the puppy what's expected, it's building the relationship, establishing a bond, teaching rules and boundaries.
 
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