German Shepherds Forum banner

1 - 20 of 20 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
569 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hey, everyone. I need some advice about training. Specifically, I want to improve Vesper's engagement with me during training sessions and when we are out and about.
I wish that I had worked more on engagement when Vesper was a puppy, but alas, hindsight is 20/20. Now, she is almost 2 years old, and I want her to focus on ME. However, I don't want to use treats, because I feel like she is a stubborn dog and I want her to work for me. I used to feel like she was obeying me just because I would feed her, because she wouldn't always listen if I didn't have treats. I haven't been using them for a while, and have been trying to use praise as a reward.

I would like advice on exercises, methods, etc. that I can use to increase our trainer/dog relationship, and ways to increase her interest/engagement with me.

Thank you.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
7,010 Posts
If treats work, I would use them..... keeping in mind that there are correct and incorrect ways to use food as well as ways to maximize food use. Dogs are no fools and they know when we have food on us but strategic use and delivery can prevent it from being used as a bribe which is the most common mistake that I see.

Some dogs are more food motivated than others but think of it as an enhancer... to help support and increase your value to her rather than just a simple reward for compliance. If all you do is hand out food with a flat good girl, then you're no more than a pez dispenser. If you're super jazzed and animated, sometimes delivering 1 kibble and sometimes delivering 5 or 6 rapidly one after another... while moving backwards for instance and allowing her to push into your hand to get it... you become more fun and interesting to her. Verbal and physical praise given simultaneously with the food increases the value of that too.... then you can try introducing a toy, preferably a tug if she's into that and mixing that into the game. You can wean off of food and you can also reintroduce it..... but to recognize that you have a food motivated dog then stop food use abruptly without using it to your advantage is just making your job harder.

Stubborn + stubborn is no fun.... meet her halfway.

Have her catch her food as a reward...
Teach her to target your hand then toss food away from you so that she has to return...
Reward for each trick then every third or forth trick to keep her guessing...
Alternate the hand you feed with... in a game fashion.

Buy or make a flirt pole if she's not into the tug...

I use everything in my tool box to the best of my ability, but at the end of the day I know that Keystone is more food motivated and that verbal praise lights up Tildens world. It's who they are and I don't fight it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,646 Posts
Her age doesn't matter. This is my Siberian Husky who started off leash training with me at 10 years of age. This is a dog that for 10 years would give me the finger and would escape, run into traffic, kill cats, pull like crazy on leash. She is now my main off leash demo dog and lives with a cat. You can use treats, toys, whatever motivates the dog in training, but don't bribe the dog with the reward because that is how you will create a dog that only listens when being bribed and does not understand how to work through you to earn the paycheck. I specifically used a remote collar as attention and energy with my sibe, you can use whatever tool you would like, but remain consistent and use a long line in the beginning so your dog has room to make mistakes and figure out what earns the reward, but can always be guided in if needed. Training sessions should be fun and engaging to where your dog thinks it is play, not training.





 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,319 Posts
She is ignoring you because she doesn't know the commands. It's one of the problems with using treats. You can start over with each command as if it was new to her, several times and use verbal praise for each succcess. Then end on a success, followed by one treat after you are done with the sequence.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
569 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
If treats work, I would use them..... keeping in mind that there are correct and incorrect ways to use food as well as ways to maximize food use. Dogs are no fools and they know when we have food on us but strategic use and delivery can prevent it from being used as a bribe which is the most common mistake that I see.

Some dogs are more food motivated than others but think of it as an enhancer... to help support and increase your value to her rather than just a simple reward for compliance. If all you do is hand out food with a flat good girl, then you're no more than a pez dispenser. If you're super jazzed and animated, sometimes delivering 1 kibble and sometimes delivering 5 or 6 rapidly one after another... while moving backwards for instance and allowing her to push into your hand to get it... you become more fun and interesting to her. Verbal and physical praise given simultaneously with the food increases the value of that too.... then you can try introducing a toy, preferably a tug if she's into that and mixing that into the game. You can wean off of food and you can also reintroduce it..... but to recognize that you have a food motivated dog then stop food use abruptly without using it to your advantage is just making your job harder.

Stubborn + stubborn is no fun.... meet her halfway.

Have her catch her food as a reward...
Teach her to target your hand then toss food away from you so that she has to return...
Reward for each trick then every third or forth trick to keep her guessing...
Alternate the hand you feed with... in a game fashion.

Buy or make a flirt pole if she's not into the tug...

I use everything in my tool box to the best of my ability, but at the end of the day I know that Keystone is more food motivated and that verbal praise lights up Tildens world. It's who they are and I don't fight it.
Great advice. I see what you mean. I definitely think my delivery has been totally wrong. It's like I'm a food dispenser and that's it... She is definitely treat motivated. What if it's not necessarily a "trick" that I want to reward her for, but heeling, watching me, etc.?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
569 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Her age doesn't matter. This is my Siberian Husky who started off leash training with me at 10 years of age. This is a dog that for 10 years would give me the finger and would escape, run into traffic, kill cats, pull like crazy on leash. She is now my main off leash demo dog and lives with a cat. You can use treats, toys, whatever motivates the dog in training, but don't bribe the dog with the reward because that is how you will create a dog that only listens when being bribed and does not understand how to work through you to earn the paycheck. I specifically used a remote collar as attention and energy with my sibe, you can use whatever tool you would like, but remain consistent and use a long line in the beginning so your dog has room to make mistakes and figure out what earns the reward, but can always be guided in if needed. Training sessions should be fun and engaging to where your dog thinks it is play, not training.





How do I make sure that I'm rewarding her and not bribing her? I think that I'm doing it wrong, and I'm not quite sure how to make the switch.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
7,010 Posts
Make it way less formal in the beginning - reward her for any engagement, no other expectation and have several sessions of just that. In the kitchen, backyard, front yard, park (basically changing the environment as she's able to handle increased distractions)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
569 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
She is ignoring you because she doesn't know the commands. It's one of the problems with using treats. You can start over with each command as if it was new to her, several times and use verbal praise for each succcess. Then end on a success, followed by one treat after you are done with the sequence.
I respectfully disagree that she doesn't know the commands. She still does what I ask, she just takes her sweet time about it and doesn't jump to it like she does when I have a treat.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
569 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Make it way less formal in the beginning - reward her for engaging, no other expectation and have several sessions of just that. In the kitchen, backyard, front yard, park (basically changing the environment as she's able to handle increased distractions)
I know that some people teach a command, like "watch me" or things like that. Do you think that's a good route to go, or should it just be more of a natural thing?
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
7,010 Posts
I think that you can absolutely progress to teaching watch, but for now, my impression is that you need to increase your value, become way more interesting, loosen up and have fun with her.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
569 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
I think that you can absolutely progress to teaching watch, but for now, my impression is that you need to increase your value, become way more interesting, loosen up and have fun with her.
I just feel boring! :frown2: How can I amp things up and make it fun?
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
7,010 Posts
There are engagement videos on YouTube - start with Michael Ellis and some other trainers videos will pop up... but take ideas only, don't think that you have to replicate their every move by move because you'll get too stuck in your head trying to get it right. Give yourself permission to make mistakes and be silly with your dog.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
569 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
There are engagement videos on YouTube - start with Michael Ellis and some other trainers videos will pop up... but take ideas only, don't think that you have to replicate their every move by move because you'll get too stuck in your head trying to get it right. Give yourself permission to make mistakes and be silly with your dog.
I think you hit the nail on the head. I always get anxious when we are training because the perfectionist in me wants to do it completely right. Good intentions, but it does more harm than good...

Thanks for the advice. I can't wait to get started!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,319 Posts
I respectfully disagree that she doesn't know the commands. She still does what I ask, she just takes her sweet time about it and doesn't jump to it like she does when I have a treat.
Knowing commands means doing what you ask right away when you ask her. If she is not doing what you think you have taught her then you need to reinforce the response. What she has learned is that she doesn't need to follow through.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
7,010 Posts
I'm not sure that we're all talking about the same thing (engagement, obedience, generalization), even tho they all go hand in hand. You can achieve mediocre obedience with very little engagement or enthusiasm from the dog. A dog needs to know that following a command comes reward for compliance, or a correction (whatever that particular dog needs / perceives as corrective) for non compliance.

The more fun, engaging and enthusiastic the training sessions are, the more willing the dog is to work for you and/or the reward and less need for a correction. If I've done my part to motivate the dog, they're engaged and still not complying - I will assume the dog dogs not know the behavior (including lack of generalization) and I remain in teaching mode. If the dog has proven that he knows the behavior (proofed) and is distracted or believing that he still has a choice... a correction is in order.

A dog that is slow to comply has likely been taught, that it's okay that it's acceptable. It sounds like when she knew a reward was possible - she performed quickly. In the absence of that reward, because she'd only been working for food (read: ineffective or less valuable verbal, physical or toy rewards), she took her time and not only was there no food (or maybe there was and the mediocre response was rewarded too) but also no correction(?) d'd if I do, d'd if I dont.

Either way!!! Wether the dog knows the commands or not, it sound like the OP needs to go back to square one.... get her dog into her, then motivated to perform and set new expectations.... even reteaching if she has to.... and she's asking how to do that ;)

She doesn't have to use food, no, but I don't see a reason not to use that as a tool while learning herself how to be engaging and apply it to other means of reward in the future.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,702 Posts
You are a treat dispenser. Start easy. While you are sitting on the couch say her name. When she looks at you tell her she is a good dog. Every half dozen timss or so that she doez this call her to you and love on her. Play with her give belly rubs whatever. But let her know you think she's awesome. Keep obedience short. 5 minutes to start and start with easy stuff. Sit stay come. I start pups on a leash for come. Sit. Good dog. Come and I run backwards a few feet. Keep the praise heavy. Then once the response is consistant and quick use a long line. Same thing. Come and run backwards. You might have to reel her in a few times but keep the praise heavy when she responds correctly. If she seems to be lagging don't praise and move on. Give her equal amounts of work and play. If she gives you rockstar responses give her a good game of tug or fetch or tag.
You need to start making her believe that you think she is the best dog ever!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
569 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
I'm not sure that we're all talking about the same thing (engagement, obedience, generalization), even tho they all go hand in hand. You can achieve mediocre obedience with very little engagement or enthusiasm from the dog. A dog needs to know that following a command comes reward for compliance, or a correction (whatever that particular dog needs / perceives as corrective) for non compliance.

The more fun, engaging and enthusiastic the training sessions are, the more willing the dog is to work for you and/or the reward and less need for a correction. If I've done my part to motivate the dog, they're engaged and still not complying - I will assume the dog dogs not know the behavior (including lack of generalization) and I remain in teaching mode. If the dog has proven that he knows the behavior (proofed) and is distracted or believing that he still has a choice... a correction is in order.

A dog that is slow to comply has likely been taught, that it's okay that it's acceptable. It sounds like when she knew a reward was possible - she performed quickly. In the absence of that reward, because she'd only been working for food (read: ineffective or less valuable verbal, physical or toy rewards), she took her time and not only was there no food (or maybe there was and the mediocre response was rewarded too) but also no correction(?) d'd if I do, d'd if I dont.

Either way!!! Wether the dog knows the commands or not, it sound like the OP needs to go back to square one.... get her dog into her, then motivated to perform and set new expectations.... even reteaching if she has to.... and she's asking how to do that ;)

She doesn't have to use food, no, but I don't see a reason not to use that as a tool while learning herself how to be engaging and apply it to other means of reward in the future.
Thank you! This has helped a lot.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
569 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
You are a treat dispenser. Start easy. While you are sitting on the couch say her name. When she looks at you tell her she is a good dog. Every half dozen timss or so that she doez this call her to you and love on her. Play with her give belly rubs whatever. But let her know you think she's awesome. Keep obedience short. 5 minutes to start and start with easy stuff. Sit stay come. I start pups on a leash for come. Sit. Good dog. Come and I run backwards a few feet. Keep the praise heavy. Then once the response is consistant and quick use a long line. Same thing. Come and run backwards. You might have to reel her in a few times but keep the praise heavy when she responds correctly. If she seems to be lagging don't praise and move on. Give her equal amounts of work and play. If she gives you rockstar responses give her a good game of tug or fetch or tag.
You need to start making her believe that you think she is the best dog ever!
Will do! Thank you!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,460 Posts
Excuse me if I missed something but I gather that you have never been to a professional trainer. I'm older than white dog do and if you are not a professional trainer then you need to use one because until you have been properly trained your dog won't be properly trained. I suggest that you look for a trainer that uses positive reinforcement training methods.
Good luck!
 
1 - 20 of 20 Posts
Top