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I'm new here, so please bear with me.

I am working on basic-obedience with my 2YO GSD 'Spirit'. She's totally playful, and consequently not very attentive. In other words, she was named very well! I have a LOT of questions to ask, but I'm going to start with one that's got me curious...

How long of a time-span is acceptable between Spirit having accomplished something and when she gets the reward (btw, only thing seems to work for here is treats)? Must I have the treat ready to immediately pop into her mouth with no delay, or can she connect maybe a few second delay with the task? Of course, she usually gets her treat right away, but sometimes I am busy fumbling in the treat bag and drop it.

My question centers mainly around how her brain works to make that association, and if I'm screwing her up with a delay.

Thanks. More questions coming soon.
 

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Baby steps, reward immediately, then after a few days wait two seconds, then five seconds, then 15 seconds, etc using a few days gap in between each switch

If you see her regressing or losing focus then go back to the last increment that you were good at and stay there again for a few days.

Patience is key :)
 

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Ok, thanks. Patience was never my strong-point (just ask my Mother and teachers!).

Makes sense to slowly up the time-lag like you say. I've read that dogs have no real sense/concept of time, but I wanted to be sure she was still able to make a connection like that - if even for a couple seconds.
 

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Ok, thanks. Patience was never my strong-point (just ask my Mother and teachers!).

Makes sense to slowly up the time-lag like you say. I've read that dogs have no real sense/concept of time, but I wanted to be sure she was still able to make a connection like that - if even for a couple seconds.
The biggest thing to remember once they really get the command is to stagger the treats or rewards. Keep them guessing! It helps sharpen their mind and keep them from getting bored so two commands one treat, five commands, two treats, etc

Short and concise sessions are always best and always end on a good note :) Helps set the mood for the next session
 

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it helps to use a clicker or verbal marker.... when "loading" your marker (using the word nice for example) you'd simply and very casually w/o asking her to do anything, say "nice" and feed... repeat about 5x then start moving around to encourage movement from her, say "nice" then look for any signs that she's made the association that nice=food. when you get her head whipping around looking for it.... she's considered loaded. the tone of your voice (high, quick) will also help with this especially when differentiating between other times you might say nice.

this helps with precision in training since your voice or clicker can be used at the exact moment that she does the right thing and acts as a bridge allowing you time to get the treat from your bait bag.

hopefully that was clear :)
 

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Clean up your treat bag so you can reward promptly at least on a new behavior. For a heel position, maybe have it good for several steps (increasing number of steps a bit with each session perhaps) and then reward. Or reward when you halt and she sits correctly. What you want is to reward the 'proper' action promptly.

I'd go with an apron for training and if that still is awkward for you, make a looser bag out of fleece with a velcro fastening to hold it to your belt. The fleece is good because it creates less noise, less signal that the reward is coming. Another option is to have a handful of treats in your hand when you train. (certainly recommended for starting out.)
 

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I think it depends on what you're currently working on. If it's a new behavior then yes she needs the reward as quickly as possible. As Fodder mentioned, a marker is very helpful for this since you can mark the exact thing you are rewarding (her butt hitting the ground on a sit, for example) and that gives you a bit of delay time to fumble with the treat. Or for a behavior that may not be totally new but is still not fluent. Such as if you've taught her to sit in the kitchen and family room and now you're working on sit outside, use the marker and reward her as quickly as possible for sitting.

If it's a behavior that she is very familiar with and you're working on duration (such as stays or heeling), then gradually increase the amount of time she has to stay or heel before she gets the reward. Variable reward schedules are best for this, so it's not predictable when the reward will come, nor are you always making the delay before the treat longer. So sometimes six second treat, treat, two second stay, treat, 10 second stay, treat, 7 second stay, treat, etc.
 

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If you use the clicker or a marker word you can wait with the treat if you are teaching new behavior, given that they know that the word or click is always followed by a treat. You do not need treats if they already know the behavior (in that particular situation).
 

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I would ask your dog that question, as it can tell you the answer better than any human can or other dog. Here is how to ask....

Charge your clicker, do sit/mark/reward a few times: same pattern, same speed if you can.
Then stop clicking (marking).
How long does it take your dog to prompt you to continue? 10, 20 60 seconds?

Remove 5 seconds, THATS the answer.
This is your baseline, as demonstrated live to you, by your dog. Build from there.
 
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