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I am trying to help someone train a Shih Tzu puppy long distance that has almost no drive at all. She isn’t food or toy motivated, but I saw a video of her following the owner, with a lot of praise. I was told that extreme praise is not a good idea, and that praise as a reward should be calm and positive but not squealy and over the top because the dog will eventually stop responding. I suggested they only train with food when the puppy is hungry. I also said to try a flirt pole, but wasn’t able to explain how to use it in a way they understood.. I’m not close enough for hands on training. How can a dog not be motivated by anything? They want to train her but don’t know how or where and I have no experience with tiny dogs. Can anyone help?
 

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Train it to do what?Little lap dog puppies are easier to work with if you get down on the floor with them.They can follow your hands and read your facial expressions more easily.
 

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I’m not sure. Maybe sit, walk on a leash, lie down, place. It’s a very tiny one, not going to be over 10 lbs.
 

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As a breed although they are bright, affectionate and energetic they are also stubborn. I suspect praise would go a long way, further then food or toys. A flirt pole may get you a response but they were first and foremost a companion dog. Simply a companion. It took ages to teach the one I know to play anything resembling fetch, they are decidedly lacking in anything that resembles prey drive and don't seem to have much desire to do anything except follow their humans around. And while I've seen a few do agility they are prone to spinal issues I believe. Super high value treats might get you further. Stinky cheese or liver, I don't know, Shadow has a thing for canned ham(yuck) and for some stupid reason LOVES Ritz crackers, lol. Tell your friend to experiment and find something the dog will do back flips to get at. Or go buy the most expensive toy they can find and give the dog the box it came in, Lol.
Seriously though, most that I have met like food so I suspect it is just finding the right treat. They seem to do great with clicker type training and are usually pretty motivated to please. Marking behaviors works well, they are very intelligent little things. They just lack the need to do stuff for you, I suspect they feel their presence is enough of a reward for us.
 

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Use what works.... a reward is a reward, not a bribe. If you create a strong enough reinforcement history, then the dog is working for the POTENTIAL of a reward but at the point the behavior is created. Squealy voice can (and should) be phased out or varied, just as food and toys can.
 

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Everyone has something they love food, praise or toys. In many years I have not owned a dog without a spark- although sparks do vary. Whatever lights the flame and can change as the pup grows. Puppies attention spans vary and are not completely developed so important to keep in mind. Most important all engagement has to be fun. My chihuahua loves cheese. He will do anything for it. My daughter has a small agility set up she does with our chihuahua he is like a mini bull at full steam through the course. His motto is anything the shepherds can do he can do better-lol!
 

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Use what works.... a reward is a reward, not a bribe. If you create a strong enough reinforcement history, then the dog is working for the POTENTIAL of a reward but at the point the behavior is created. Squealy voice can (and should) be phased out or varied, just as food and toys can.
How do I explain that very simply with examples to someone who has only owned one previous rescued dog that arrived trained? I showed them videos and they said that would never work for their dog.
 

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I am trying to help someone train a Shih Tzu puppy long distance that has almost no drive at all. She isn’t food or toy motivated, but I saw a video of her following the owner, with a lot of praise. I was told that extreme praise is not a good idea, and that praise as a reward should be calm and positive but not squealy and over the top because the dog will eventually stop responding. I suggested they only train with food when the puppy is hungry. I also said to try a flirt pole, but wasn’t able to explain how to use it in a way they understood.. I’m not close enough for hands on training. How can a dog not be motivated by anything? They want to train her but don’t know how or where and I have no experience with tiny dogs. Can anyone help?
You know I'm not a trainer, but if the pup is willingly following the owner because the pup loves their happy squealy praise, why not expand on that, and try teaching,the sit, etc with it. Or pair it with a treat. Work with what the pup does respond to until it doesn't.

It also sounds like the owner may need to get past their own preconceived ideas of what will and won't work for their pup so they are hesitant to try. Maybe reassure them that trying new ways is fun and any interaction is what the pup wants anyways. And even if they goof up with the method, it's an adventure of discovery between them and their pup.

I had more fun and laughs with my boy trying to get the timing right with a clicker. Someone else would have gotten frustrated, I just found it funny watching my guys expression. Gave it up cause it didn't work for us but it wasn't a negative experience.

Just something I thought of that may help.
 

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You know I'm not a trainer, but if the pup is willingly following the owner because the pup loves their happy squealy praise, why not expand on that, and try teaching,the sit, etc with it. Or pair it with a treat. Work with what the pup does respond to until it doesn't.

It also sounds like the owner may need to get past their own preconceived ideas of what will and won't work for their pup so they are hesitant to try. Maybe reassure them that trying new ways is fun and any interaction is what the pup wants anyways. And even if they goof up with the method, it's an adventure of discovery between them and their pup.

I had more fun and laughs with my boy trying to get the timing right with a clicker. Someone else would have gotten frustrated, I just found it funny watching my guys expression. Gave it up cause it didn't work for us but it wasn't a negative experience.

Just something I thought of that may help.
I will share that, then leave it up to them. I’m not going to put more energy into their dog than they are. Now I understand why we always run into little dogs that can’t behave. The owners don’t think they need to do much training.
 

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I will share that, then leave it up to them. I’m not going to put more energy into their dog than they are. Now I understand why we always run into little dogs that can’t behave. The owners don’t think they need to do much training.
Much easier to just pick them up and pet them saying "it alright snooky" lol. I'll confess that little dogs aren't my preferance and any dog to me past puppyhood looses the he/she is "so cute" description.

That said, I really do admire very well mannaored dogs no matter the breed. Somehow well mannered little dogs become very attractive in my eyes.

I hope the owner figures it out.
 

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Much easier to just pick them up and pet them saying "it alright snooky" lol. I'll confess that little dogs aren't my preferance and any dog to me past puppyhood looses the he/she is "so cute" description.

That said, I really do admire very well mannaored dogs no matter the breed. Somehow well mannered little dogs become very attractive in my eyes.

I hope the owner figures it out.
I also prefer well trained dogs. Over the years, the worst annoyances have been loose little dogs. I haven’t had a single GSD that has not been charged or attacked by small dogs, like under 10 lbs, and ever time the owners blamed my bigger dog. My first German Shepherd was attacked by three small dogs. During the attack while I was trying to calm my dog, the owner told me off for having a leashed dog at a baseball field, when his were running free. One came at my dog from the front, another from the side and the third from the back. The owner said they had to protect themselves against a big puppy. They were terriers.
 
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