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Both my daughter and i are very loving towards our dogs. Always giving hugs etc. You can touch any of my dogs anywhere and they dont mind because we are always petting them.

I have taken some members advise here about my using praise interchangeably with treats for my dog. I have enrolled us in a class with a trainer that teaches dogs for the blind. She uses positive rewarding both treats and praise. My problem is that my 5 month old doesnt seem to give a hoot about praises. When i do praise him he just sits there. Now that we are in class its even worse. When the teacher says to praise our dogs Dexter usually pulls away and is more interested at the sounds the other dogs be praised makes. Both my other dogs love praise and will sit for ours to get it. Dexter could care less.
I have been reading about handler sensitive dogs and seems like their dogs do things to please their handlers.Dexter would do it if it makes his stomach happy and maybe do it for a ball. Does anyone else have a dog like mine and could give me some advice. I cant bring a ball and have him chase it in class as the trainer likes our dogs to stay in place ,because we have reactive dogs in the class.
 

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If your pup is just five months old, I wouldn't worry about it too much. It takes time to build a strong working relationship. With lots of practice and interaction and bonding, your approval will come to mean more to your pup.

In the meantime, if he likes food and toys, great! You have lots of other reinforcers to choose from and can use those not only to reward him for desired behaviors, but to build up the value of praise as a secondary reinforcer. Combine praise with other things he likes (food, toys, little games with you such as Tag) and, over time, praise will become more meaningful.

It can be helpful to keep in the back of your mind that a secondary goal during your reward sessions is to make praise more valuable, so for example, instead of just popping a treat into his mouth to reward a successful cue, you might break that treat into several smaller pieces and feed him continuously while also praising him the whole time. Stretch what could be a quick one-and-done moment into a more pleasurable experience that is combined with praise.

As for not being able to toss a ball, what if the ball is tied to a string and you can bobble it around in the air or whisk it along the floor? There are several tug toys that have this design, and it might allow you to use a ball for play without pushing your dog into other dogs' space.
 

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For our pup to be happy in training, she had to have access to agility equipment or interact with other dogs. One trainer allowed interaction during breaks, but his classes were too slow and boring for a puppy. Our other trainer uses lots of agility but no interactions.

You need to find out what will get your dog engaged and happy. Go visit some other trainers and training sites, see how your dog reacts. Praise may work better when your dog is more mature. We've had to vary our training methods as our dog has aged. When our dog was younger, she had no remorse, nor responded to praise or treats. Once our dog got to be about 18 months she started to respond better to treats and praise.
 

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LOL

I completely understand how you feel. My Lulu at 5 months didnt care one lick if I touched her. All she wanted was to eat me lol.

Now that shes almost 10 months old shes much more loving.... and less bitey lol.
 

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I wouldn't worry about it too much at this age... Ollie was the exact same way. Now at 10 months old he is just now starting to get affectionate, follow me around and like praise. Training him has been a bit of a challenge because he's not all that food or toy motivated either... But I finally found that he goes nuts for his flirt pole toy and actually get into drive for it, I've had to tone him down because he gets so amped up. I would just be more patient and keep plugging away and keep trying different things to motivate him. :)
 

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My problem is that my 5 month old doesnt seem to give a hoot about praises.
He cannot be food motivated then. Let me tell you something what, possibly, you already know. It could be better not to use any treats then. Make his treat - your stroke. Active stroking longway from eyes down to tail. Run your fingers in the same manner. Praising him verbally and stroking in the same time stimulates his nerve system keeping it in the same mode: he would be ready to hear something else from you, because he is listening to your verbal praise "My sweet boy!", his attention is driven to you. Listen to your own voice in the same time, "sweety-sweety" shoud sound sweet, your commands should be pronounced in so called "commanding tone" - not loudly, but firmly. Recognizing between the two, he would get better orientation in aspects oncerning commands, and you will get his attention. That is the whole point, you should get his attention! Make a surprise for him: take his hidden ball out of your pocket, just flash it to him at the beginning of your lesson and put it back (well, you should have pockets in the first place, I don't know what you wear, sorry if my suggestions sound inconvenient to you).To stop him breaking into your pocket try putting it back into your pocket in such a way that he wouldn't see where it dissapears. The sense that something is missing would attract him to your person at least for a while. Don't show him the ball more than once until the end of your lesson, whait for people with their dogs to leave and play shortly with your puppy on a leash on the same training groung where you just had your lesson. Besides you stroking him during the lesson it will be his second treat. Your dog should be satisfied with your sweet praising, you cannot rely on treats to the end of his life. It also would be advisable to exercise him properly before your classes. He will be more attentive if he spent that extra energy.
My Lucy doesn't give monkeys about any other treats in my hand but to the ball. Balls could be great tools, if you know how to use them, I've taught Lucy quite a few commands by having her ball in my right hand.
 

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In my opinion people are naïve if they think their dog will work for them and have reliable behaviors for praise alone. In reality the dog is listening to avoid a negative stimulus (a correction or social pressure.) Praise will become valuable to the dog if it is paired with a primary reinforcer such as food. This takes time and repetition. While he is getting a primary reinforcer (food), praise him and make a fuss soon the praise itself will become reinforcing because it is associated with something that makes him feel good. (Plus he's a baby and bonds take time to form;))
 

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in my opinion people are naïve if they think their dog will work for them and have reliable behaviors for praise alone. In reality the dog is listening to avoid a negative stimulus (a correction or social pressure.) praise will become valuable to the dog if it is paired with a primary reinforcer such as food. This takes time and repetition. While he is getting a primary reinforcer (food), praise him and make a fuss soon the praise itself will become reinforcing because it is associated with something that makes him feel good. (plus he's a baby and bonds take time to form;))
:thumbup:
 

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Lots of good advice here.

I am in my 6th week of obedience classes. For 4 weeks of them, my instructor could get and hold the attention on Cruz better than my wife or I could. It took me a few classes to figure out that it's a cometition between myself and the instructor for his attention. She would bring in high value treats. Not your normal training treats. I finally noticed that after the first interaction and she rewarded him, he was hers the rest of the class. Basically she was handing out better candy than mom and dad. I fixed that last week. I went and got some of my own high value treats just for class and special training. It worked. He paid more attention to my wife and myself and less focused on the instructor even after she had rewarded him.

Point is and I've read this numerous times here, you have to be more interesting than everything else around him. That would start with some high value treats, not the normal bagged training treats even though thats what I use most of the time. When he does something really well or special during training he gets a high value treat. I don't feed him one after another. Just enoug to keep his mind on me. He doesn't know it was the last one either. During a class, I'll take about 10 to 15 high value treats and the rest is normal training treats.

The high value treats I use I got from the refrigerated dog food section. They are treats not dog food. I got him some chicken flavored. They come in little links and I can get 3 rewards per link after dividing the link. You can't leave them laying out for too long a time, but class is around and hour. They should be fine if you choose to use them. I just put what I don't used back in the fridge when I get home or try to use them all before the end of class.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Thank You all. I am so glad i joined this forum because it has helped me through so much. I have gotten such good advice.

Yes I am very naive, this is my first big dog everrrrr. My mom hated dogs so we only had a cat. Both my small dogs (13 and 5) are behaved and know the basics. But this is the first time I have ever had to put time into training a puppy. So im not sure what to expect of him at any age.
i am going to try out some of the advice here and give him more time to bond and mature while reinforcing the praises (especially with the one where breaking his treats into smaller pieces as I think this will help keep his focus on me when treating.

To David. Dexter is very food motivated..lol..even right now at 5 months he will do a stay where i can walk 30 40 ft away and he will wait for my release IF I have a hot dog or other high value treat.

This is what happens at training. the trainer will tell us whether to use a treat or praise for that particular command, it depends on how many times they just did the command. On the treat command when i give him the treat hes very into me and even after the treat stay focused on me. On the praise command ( I scratch his neck and head while saying good boy good boy excitedly) he pulls his head back and faces to the side or tries to turn to look at the other dogs and his eyes wander all over the place. And its not because I have bad breath ..cause I checked LOL.

To Jafco. I know how you feel first week of class like you i had reg dog treats. dexter wouldnt take his eyes of the trainer. He was all hers. I also learned alot about the value of treats that day. Hes very focused in class and the trainers including the one in this class always use him as the demo dog. Where it breaks down for him is the boring praise with no treats. he does the command but when the praise starts its as if he rolls his eyes.
 

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I'm sorry I wasn't saying you are naive! I just think that the followers of no treat training "your dog should do it cause he loves you" is a naive way to train a dog. Totally didn't mean to call you naive :) it sounds like your are doing a good job.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
I'm sorry I wasn't saying you are naive! I just think that the followers of no treat training "your dog should do it cause he loves you" is a naive way to train a dog. Totally didn't mean to call you naive :) it sounds like your are doing a good job.
Oh no , I didnt take it in a bad negative way at all. I know I am. I have no idea what im doing with Dexter half of the time. I am learning so much from you guys here....LOL..he is mostly a very good puppy and its because of all the help I have gotten here. :) the trainers always say how great he is and so well behaved. Hed probably be a wild rotten spoiled dog if I didnt get the honest advice I get here.

And to David, I forgot to mention im going to try your way of praising , maybe Dex doesnt like the way I praise him.
 

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Thank You all. I am so glad i joined this forum because it has helped me through so much. I have gotten such good advice.

Yes I am very naive, this is my first big dog everrrrr. My mom hated dogs so we only had a cat. Both my small dogs (13 and 5) are behaved and know the basics. But this is the first time I have ever had to put time into training a puppy. So im not sure what to expect of him at any age.
i am going to try out some of the advice here and give him more time to bond and mature while reinforcing the praises (especially with the one where breaking his treats into smaller pieces as I think this will help keep his focus on me when treating.

To David. Dexter is very food motivated..lol..even right now at 5 months he will do a stay where i can walk 30 40 ft away and he will wait for my release IF I have a hot dog or other high value treat.

This is what happens at training. the trainer will tell us whether to use a treat or praise for that particular command, it depends on how many times they just did the command. On the treat command when i give him the treat hes very into me and even after the treat stay focused on me. On the praise command ( I scratch his neck and head while saying good boy good boy excitedly) he pulls his head back and faces to the side or tries to turn to look at the other dogs and his eyes wander all over the place. And its not because I have bad breath ..cause I checked LOL.

To Jafco. I know how you feel first week of class like you i had reg dog treats. dexter wouldnt take his eyes of the trainer. He was all hers. I also learned alot about the value of treats that day. Hes very focused in class and the trainers including the one in this class always use him as the demo dog. Where it breaks down for him is the boring praise with no treats. he does the command but when the praise starts its as if he rolls his eyes.
Just want to clarify, I only do this with his store bought high value treats only. It's funny, he doesn't get crazy about hotdogs. The first one he got it took him 5 minutes to figure out what to do with it! First GSD I've had that has ever took that long to eat a piece of hotdog. Thats why I went with a store bought treat. They are parishable, but he craves them bigtime! The links are about 3/4" long and to save them I break them into pieces. Just wanted to clarify that. I tried breaking the reg. training treats up and there just isn't enough there to hold thier attention.

It sounds like your working great with him. Just stick with it no matter what and be persistant and consistent. It'll payoff in the end. GSD's turn into very family oriented dogs after a year and a half or so. You'll see the maturity starting to come out in them and thats when they really start to amaze you as to what these dogs can really do. To me they are special breed of dog I just have'nt seen in to many other breeds. They have it all! Just hang in there, stick with him and you'll be glad you did.
 

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Both my daughter and i are very loving towards our dogs. Always giving hugs etc.
If you are always giving it away for free why the heck would the dog work for it?

AND this:

KristiM said:
In my opinion people are naïve if they think their dog will work for them and have reliable behaviors for praise alone. In reality the dog is listening to avoid a negative stimulus (a correction or social pressure.) Praise will become valuable to the dog if it is paired with a primary reinforcer such as food. This takes time and repetition. While he is getting a primary reinforcer (food), praise him and make a fuss soon the praise itself will become reinforcing because it is associated with something that makes him feel good. (Plus he's a baby and bonds take time to form;))
 

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my 5 month old is the same way. with a treat in my hand she is the most obedient dog ive ever had, and will do any command instantly with enthusiasm. without a treat she will barely sit if stimulated by cars, birds, rabbits ect and thinks she is a sled dog on walks.


also my girl is a complete spoiled treat snob, she has only ever had liver, lung, dried meats and other premium products. for the stuff she is stubborn with like loose leash walking i have to use cheese or raw meat or she wont listen at all........working on weaning her off the good stuff
 

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fwiw when I'm breaking treats up into teeny bits because I want to do a lot of praise and rapid-fire feeding (i.e., jackpotting), the pieces are about the size of Tic-Tacs or small green peas. That's about as small as I've ever been able to get them and still keep my crew interested.

When I'm training outdoors I typically break treats into larger chunks (approx. the size of hazelnuts) because I often toss treats on the ground to make Dog Mob chase them instead of feeding them directly to the dogs (building in a mini chase game makes the treats more valuable/interesting because the dog gets to "hunt" them; also it's useful for pulling them out of position so I can cue them to return to Heel or go back into a Sit or whatever it is we're working on that session), and the treats need to be a little bigger so the mutt monsters can find them.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Ha Ha just had to come back and reread how things were with Dexter and I when he was 5 months. Now at 12 months hes so affectionate and looks to me for verbal praises during training ALL the time, of course he still likes his ball and hot dog treats too. But its very cute to see them looking to you as if saying did I do good? Posters had said that would happen.
 

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Dogs usually learn to care about praise when it is a predictor of reward or avoidance of punishment. It is good as a feedback not so much as a motivator.
 

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we are always petting them
That says everything to me, not necessary to say that your dog isn't food reactive. My Lucy doesn't lunge onto delicatessens either.

Petting too much makes it one continuos massage. I'd rather leave all sorts of petting and rubbing to relaxation near TV. About verbal praise: your dog's low reaction, almost ignoring you happens when your voice loses colour and sounds monotonous, and hearing "Good boy!" too often makes it one continuous buzz. Say "Down", or "Come" in a way, that it will be not the sound of the word that makes him sit, but the intonations will unmistakably correspond to the down motion. The emotional aspect in your commanding tone is very important. Avoid repetition in your facial expressions with different commands as well, your dog is watching you even if you think he doesn't. And make your "Good boy!" as an abrupt short and neutral sound. Dogs, in fact, don't need that much of prasing as many think, but they need your full attention during classes hours. The quality of your own attention could be the matter as well. I have noticed long time ago, that, if I underslept, or too tired from the day before - my dog's concentration on me could be low too. That's why I established a rule for myself - a few days of good sleep and relaxation before pre-competition training and rehearsals.
 

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I didn't read all the responses so if someone already said this, then I am sorry. But think of it like a clicker.

If you just click a clicker around a dog for the first time, what does he do? He cocks his head maybe, Maybe he looks at it, or at you. Maybe it doesn't do a darn thing. Click again. Dog is used to the sound now, may not even **** his head or look at you. You did nothing to "load the clicker."

Now, if you want the dog to associate the click with having done the right thing, you need to give a treat. You need to give a treat EVERY time you click. Do it for a number of minutes. Click treat. Click treat, Click treat.

After a few days or weeks, you can start clicking to mark the positive behavior, and treating intermittently.

And eventually, you will not need the treats. The click is what tells the dog he did it right. Good job!

Clickers are successful in part because the human voice can sometimes give the wrong cues depending on our over all demeaner when training. The click is constant. Our praise can be low key, intense, high energy, inconsistent, and probably other things.

Of course, some of us think that our voice-praise is heads and tails over any clicker because it is always available, free, and can be played like a piano: fast, slow, high, low, strong, light, party time, jack pot, etc. While a clicker is more like a triangle: ting! ting! -- not much you can do with that.

But you have to load your praise like you load the clicker. Praise and treat, just like click and treat. If you just praise, when your dog does something good, well, yeah ok, but sniffing this girl's butt over there is a whole lot more interesting than "Good Boy, Rover." "Good Boy Rover, and a tiny hunk of microwaved hot dog is a whole other matter completely.

Use his belly, and every single time you give him that treat, praise your dog. After a while, what you want to do is phase them out. Give him the treat only for the best performance -- that will make him sharpest -- even sharper than if he gets a treat for every act of compliance. But first you have to load the praise. And there comes a time, when your pup will be happy to just hear, "Good boy, Rover!" And that will be reward enough not to sniff the gal next door's backside, but for now, he needs a bit of hot dog too.
 
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