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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well, I just received a blow to my self esteem... Apparently kaiser loves me, but doesn't respect me.

I basically showed my trainer the difference in his motivation to work between the use of voice commands/ treat rewards (what she wants me to do) and the use of a stuffie/chuckit/frisbee.
In the first scenario, it takes some work and usually corrections to get him focused and into the ob work. With the second, after some teasing, he is rock solid with his ob and seems like he really enjoys the "game". I want that kind of enthusiasm regardless of the reward (even its just a verbal "good boy") but my trainer made no mention of how to get there. She wants to go back to the basics, keeping with food as the reward and using my voice and presence to exude confidence.

Well, i already use my business voiceand move with conviction, so to speak, so there is nothing that can be altered there. Also, even if I skip meals, food is only a reward to him if nothing else exists that is more interesting. Behind closed doors, so to speak, his ob is great. Same with when we are outside with no distractions. Any other time though he is hard to redirect.

She said that it will be hard to get him to a point where he can get is bh or compete in agility, or any dog sport. This, after she said a week ago that I was a good trainer (huge compliment from her) and that kaiser had promise to be a great obedience dog.

So now I'm confused and concerned.

I need help understanding what it is I can do to deepen the bond with kaiser. He doesnt get anything for free, I expect more of him than most people do at home and out and about, and I do my best to promote a polite, well behaved pup.

The only thing I do now that she advises against is having toys available for him at all times and not crating him when he isn't eating or training. Now, I'm not looking to create a highly competative sport dog...so its hard for me to take away things that he has had since he was 8weeks old. I now know i would have raised him differently had i planned on being THAT competitive... But I dont know if its fair to him to change so dramatically in that respect. I dont know. I just feel like there are great sport dogs out there who have a very deep respect for their person without being relegated to a crate without access to toys (unless given to them). Ill add that the toys I was using for rewards during training were never given at any other time.

Help! And thank you if you made it through all my rambling. =)
 

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My dog has toys everywhere and is never in a crate and she does well in agility, so I don't think that is an issue, but I guess that would depend on the dog. Since you have done what appears to be quite a bit of obedience, have you thought about getting into agility? You might be surprised what your dog can do. Training is not necessarily all business, it can be playful and fun...your dog seems to need that fun part, nothing wrong with that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I would love to get into agility. A new place just opened up but they seem to have a lot of rules (one being no dogs with any sort of aggression are allowed). Kaiser is weird with dominant males for the most part, but I'm put off by the fact that this place wont even take him as a student. I've done agility with Dakota (different facility) and the first classes are all on leash anyway, and we had some reactive dogs in that class who just stood a bit further away from the group with no issues.

There are a couple places about 1-1.5hrs from me, but right gas money is tight. I do some basic stuff with him myself and he seems to enjoy it, but I do want to get better focus under distractons down a bit more. Right now other dogs are more interesting than I am.
 

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Why can't you use the toy? It should be what is rewarding to the dog....if that's it? It would be like you could pay me in dark chocolate and I'd be meh, but if you brought out the milk chocolate, my engagement would increase. :D

Relationship Centered Training | Suzanne Clothier is a nice article about the relationship, which is the foundation.

But I am not sure the exact deal here of what she is saying to you. :)
 

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The dog should be rewarded with what he finds valuable. Not what your trainer thinks he should find valuable.

Most people use food when teaching as it is easier to position a dog and rewards don't stop forward motion like a toy would. However a trainer worth their salt, should be able to work with what the dog gives.

To say the dog is not bonded to or respects you is unfair.


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Seems to me that the dog should dictate what is used as a reward. It needs to be valuable to him. I wanted to do agility but have some reactive issues. So we have started nosework, which is basically fun with really no obedience necessary. Great confidence builder as well.
 

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I agree the dog should be rewarded with what he absolutely goes nuts for. Avery loves treats when we are in low distraction environments but prefers a toy when in high distraction environments. The toy we use in high distraction is a toy that he gets to play with when I want to play with him, he has several toys he can play with whenever but his training toy is special. You've got to find what works best for you and sometimes that's different than what a trainer says.


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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Whew I don't feel so awful now for having an opinion that differs from my trainers... But I'm still frustrated. I guess the toy is more of a short term incentive which is separate from his willingness to work for me without one. Ultimately I do want a strong working relationship as well as respect at home, but I have trouble understanding how im supposed to engage him if the reward, whatever it is, isn't something he responds to every time.
 

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I agree the dog should be rewarded with what he absolutely goes nuts for. Avery loves treats when we are in low distraction environments but prefers a toy when in high distraction environments. The toy we use in high distraction is a toy that he gets to play with when I want to play with him, he has several toys he can play with whenever but his training toy is special. You've got to find what works best for you and sometimes that's different than what a trainer says.


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DITTO:cool:
 

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I agree with you, and everyone else, that the highest value item is the reward. And like you said, his reward toys aren't his everyday toys. I'd be very interested to see if anyone else responds to the thread to explain why a food reward that's going to be ignored is better that a toy that holds so much value. Since I do this too, lol.

Why do you think your trainer shouldn't be questioned? I know you're posting here and all, questioning....but she seems to have given your own confidence a jolt and that's not good either.
 

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Like everyone else said, if the toy is more rewarding then use the toy but use it with him. You present the toy reward, play with him and put it away. He shouldn't be playing with the toy alone.

People need to get rid of the idea that your dog should work for you just because. Do you go to work for your boss or the reward? And heck, playing with your dog is far more rewarding for the human as well than dishing out treats. And done correctly, it does wonders for the relationship.
 

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The reason for using food over a toy is that, as someone else pointed out, it is easier to reward correct position or small nit picky things. Food, also, for most dogs (even crazy food drive dogs) does not cause the same "high" as a toy making it easier for the dogs to think. Food also can be given and the exercise or training continued quickly. With a toy you have to stop the action, play, get the toy back and start again. Depending on what you are doing this is not always ideal.

How are you using the toy? Is it visible so the dog is working because of the reward or is it hidden so the dog is working for the reward (there is a difference)?
 

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Delgado's food and toy drive differ. For most obedience food works great, but in high distraction I get better results with a toy (longer focus). I mix it up, using both so he doesn't know which one he's being given which ups the value of both.

I have a cheap dollar store small squeaky which fits in my pocket, a tug toy, and his stuffed duck for high value toys. For treats I have some crunchy treats, soft treats, even popcorn and carrots are used.

Keep being consistent with obedience but mix up the reward to keep him guessing. Most of all and I think we all forget it when we're frustrated: have fun! It doesn't always have to be regimented and you'll both feel better at the end.

Respect is always earned, I taught Delgado that doing what I wanted had much better rewards. For example, he can run like hooligan offleash but I have toys and treats so it's very fun to stick around me. Also it's give and take, sometimes I simply do what he wants. If he decides he wants to play tug then we'll play tug. You don't have to be a nasty dictator to earn respect ;)
 

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I would love to get into agility. A new place just opened up but they seem to have a lot of rules (one being no dogs with any sort of aggression are allowed). Kaiser is weird with dominant males for the most part, but I'm put off by the fact that this place wont even take him as a student. I've done agility with Dakota (different facility) and the first classes are all on leash anyway, and we had some reactive dogs in that class who just stood a bit further away from the group with no issues.

There are a couple places about 1-1.5hrs from me, but right gas money is tight. I do some basic stuff with him myself and he seems to enjoy it, but I do want to get better focus under distractons down a bit more. Right now other dogs are more interesting than I am.
How do you know they won't take him as a student? Maybe the class will be small and there won't be any problems. We had a dog and human aggressive dog in our class and I have to admit I held my breath and was scared. The dog got much better through the classes and the teacher and the owner did a real good job of keeping that dog busy. In agility, the dog's reward is actually doing those things...they love it. For the things they don't know treats/toys are encouraged. Its a fun way of training and proofing any training that you have done. You don't know until your try. Dogs are leashed most of the time and when they are doing a sequence the other dogs are not in there...well that is how it is by me. Can't you just go check it out before you rule it out?
 

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I'm sure it was a surprise to hear. Is this the *only* trainer who's said this to you? Or the only person who would 'know it when you see it'? I've been going through this with Grim since day one. There are times that I swear things have changed, and he's being respectful, then he does something that clearly shows he isn't. (Although small challenges are different from day to day stuff) I was told by someone that my dog's reaction one time was him being 'anxious' (had been a trainer for 2 years) and a long time trainer said it was his civil aggression coming out and the adrenaline with that. However, a dog not showing you respect, I'd think anyway, would be easier to 'spot'. I've also switched over from food training to a toy. Just one. Training in drive is easier for some dogs, and it certainly is for mine! If you don't like this trainer, then have him go to another. If your dogs an adult and really doesn't respect you, that would be my #1 thing to fix.
 

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The only thing I do now that she advises against is having toys available for him at all times and not crating him when he isn't eating or training. Now, I'm not looking to create a highly competative sport dog...so its hard for me to take away things that he has had since he was 8weeks old. I now know i would have raised him differently had i planned on being THAT competitive... But I dont know if its fair to him to change so dramatically in that respect. I dont know. I just feel like there are great sport dogs out there who have a very deep respect for their person without being relegated to a crate without access to toys (unless given to them). Ill add that the toys I was using for rewards during training were never given at any other time.
If I had to crate my dogs when they weren't eating or training in order to get them to engage with me for a sport I wouldn't be doing that sport. My dogs are companions first and foremost. I've also never restricted access to toys, there's a box in the office with balls, nylabones, and various toys, and they are free to root around in there and pull out anything they want. I do agree with reserving a special toy as your training reward, but as you said, you're already doing that.

I've been racing Halo in flyball for almost a year, and she's only crated at night while we sleep, and at tournaments and practice when she's not in the ring or on the field. Her special toy is a fleece tug I made with 3 Orbee balls braided into it. I only bring it out for flyball, and we play with it together. Any other toy, and that includes several Orbee balls that end up laying around the house, she is free to play with any time she wants.

In flyball, and in the nosework classes I've taken, you find out what floats your dog's boat, and you use that as the reward. BUT, as Lisa said, there are reasons why food can sometimes work better depending on what you're working on. I do still use food in Halo's training, fortunately she'll work for pretty much anything, lol! With food you can get a lot more repetitions in in a shorter period of time, and while toys will amp your dog up (which you definitely want in agility, just like in flyball), food is often used to slow the dog down enough so they can think. So if you want precision, food can be better, if you want to build drive, a toy can be better. If your dog will work for both, like mine, even better.

What kind of food are you using?
 

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The reason for using food over a toy is that, as someone else pointed out, it is easier to reward correct position or small nit picky things. Food, also, for most dogs (even crazy food drive dogs) does not cause the same "high" as a toy making it easier for the dogs to think. Food also can be given and the exercise or training continued quickly. With a toy you have to stop the action, play, get the toy back and start again. Depending on what you are doing this is not always ideal.

How are you using the toy? Is it visible so the dog is working because of the reward or is it hidden so the dog is working for the reward (there is a difference)?
This is a gem worth re-reading.

OP, Your pup is barely a year. Some dogs will find better focus also with age, and your relationship will deepen. I too felt like you and I've noticed with time and consistency my dog now listens to me even with out a toy or reward much better than he did at one year. I still get the best focus when he is "working" for a reward, but his *respect* for me is much better than it was when he was younger, really. Due more to consistency and time/maturity working than any *toy* or *food*, I suspect.

Hang in there and listen to your gut, even if it's someone who *knows* a lot more than you (or so you think). You know your dog better than anyone, and if you have a basic grasp of training, (which it seems you do) your gut is a good meter. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Kaiser does get VERY excited for a toy, on the right day, but he almost has BETTER response and position than for just food. On the other hand, because I use his kibble, it is easy to give him just a piece here and there and then mix it up with a handful if he does something awesome.

As far as the agility place, it says on their website. I haven't talked to anyone, but I was kind of put off because Kaiser is a bit sassy with most new dogs (its embarrassing, but we are working on it) and is very aggressive with dominant/aggressive dogs. Just based on the site alone, he wouldn't get past the front door. I suppose its worth a shot, but this bears asking another question...

How do you go about using two different trainers? We have VERY few in this area to begin with, and the one I am currently using is the best by far (even though I don't agree with everything, she is still great at what she does). She doesn't teach agility though, and I don't know anything about this new agility place that opened. I'm sure there would be some crossing over of obedience and training methods, or, maybe not (which might cause problems). Also, its not a place my trainer recommended (though it IS new, my trainer recommended a place that is very good in Virginia, about 1.5 hours away).

As far as a toy reward (because I really do want this option down the road), because Kaiser now has TWO chipped molars (and possibly a third), I want to move away from anything that isn't soft. I like the idea of a soft tug that won't hurt his teeth...ideas? It has to be SUPER awesome ;)

When I do work with a toy (its a very soft ball or a stuffie), I get him riled up then I hide it either in the treat bag or under my opposite arm (away from his sight).

I do hope that our bond will solidify as he matures. I mean, he already follows me EVERYWHERE and is very attached to me socially, but I do want that innate desire to PLEASE me and work with me.
 

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I have to agree with Rocket Dog. As Stella is growing up, she is becoming much more attentive to me, even without food or toy. Some of it I will attribute to growing up and forging a better bond, and some to changing my thoughts on expectations I have.

I use different trainers for different things Right now I use one for nose work and another for obedience/reactivity issues. Then there is another that I would use for "fun" training stuff. I am taking what I need from all of them because I am sure they would all have a difference of opinion on how to train.

Food didn't always work for Stella. And I have come to believe that sometimes Stella has to do what I say just because I said so.

If something a trainer says doesn't sound right, and it isn't working, trust your gut. I remember when my kids were in school. I really thought that the teacher/administrators were the experts. Well, after working in the school system, I have found that that is not always the case. I know my child better than they do, and teachers make mistakes too. My point being is that you know your dog.
 
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