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Discussion Starter #1
My dog, from purely showlines, is a real hassle to train because he loses interest in the toy after a few minutes. I then have to drag it around the ground to get his attention again but then loses interest once we start the heeling. I've been playing with him for months now but he can't stay focused on the toy. When we train at the club I generally keep the toy in my pocket because he's not at all interested in it and when he is it's short lived.

Any advice on what I should do?
 

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All you can do is bring out every ounce of drive the dog possesses, but that will still be limited by his genetics. You can't put drive into a dog that doesn't have it naturally.

Keep sessions short and sweet. Stop before the dog loses interest. For some dogs, this may mean 2 minutes is the most you can get. But quitting before their drive and interest wanes, while they still want more, helps bring out more drive through frustration for future sessions.

Back-tying a dog and teasing him, giving him the bite on the toy only when he's really in drive for it, helps teach him to maximize his drive. Many dogs work better to learn to work in drive when the handler uses a dog "fishing pole" rather than holding the toy in hand. This allows for quicker and more jerky movements of the prey object, which illicits more drive, and also keeps the play more away from the handler so there is less danger of the dog being intimidated by the handler looming over him or feeling inhibited about trying to take the toy from the handler.

You also have to go with what is a higher motivator for the dog. For some dogs this may be a tug, for others a rag, for others a leash, for others a ball. Try different things to find what he prefers and is more willing to work for. While obedience for a toy is preferrable in many ways, you have to work with what the dog brings to the table. If he doesn't have the drive for a toy, switching to food or praise as a motivator/reward may make for better training.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks guys. I think a reason might be that there is too much control at our club. The TD is warped in his opinions. He doesn't believe in a prong, only a choker. When we do the send out we make the dogs down, walk out and put the toy down, walk back and get the dog to sit then send them out and down them just before the toy. IMO this is far to much of a drive killer for low drive beginner dogs?

I'm currently using a kong so maybe switching to a ball or food will make a difference. Is it possible to make a tug/rag easily?

After about 2 hours of training he has no interest in the toy at all. The one breeder does use the fishing pole but as soon as he puts it away the dog's drive dives.
 

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What about a squeaker toy?

In my opinion 2 hours of training is much too long in any case. The only sessions I have been to that are that long and that succeed have lots of play breaks for the dogs in between the training portions. I'm not surprised your dog is discouraged - I would be too.

We were going to a club that had forceful training sessions, and we ALL hated going. So we quit - and went to a place that made training FUN. The dog looked forward to it and so did we. If the training is a chore, in my opinion it will not succeed.

I have been told that training attention span for a normal dog is 15 minutes.
 

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Originally Posted By: Craig88
After about 2 hours of training he has no interest in the toy at all.
2 hours of actual training? Or 2 hours at the club training sessions, but during which he only gets out for a few minutes at a time? Which is it?

I hope you mean the later, because 2 hours straight of training is insane. A dog isn't going to maintain drive or attention for that long. Good training is about quality of the time spent, not quantity of time just drilling exercise after exercise. That will bore even the most drivey dog to tears. 10-20 minutes at one time is plenty. With a lower drive dog, or younger dog, sessions must be kept much shorter than that.
 

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Just wanted to add that since you are using a Kong and he looses interest, I would try a ball or tug like was already said. I have had several dogs since Kongs were invented and NONE of them have liked Kongs but would play with /work for something else.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
There is usually about 15 mins of socialisation( working around in a circle and then all coming in close then backing out etc) then we split off into the actual training. There is mainly heeling, down/sit stays, fetching etc. Every so often we reward the dog with the treat, although he's not too interested and generally gives a weak bite. After this session of roughly 30-40 mins we do the IPO work with heel patterns and the down/sit in motion. Then do some send outs and more rewarding only once the dog downs. I really think I should forget about all this drive killing obedience we do in the send outs such as downing when he finally gets to his toy.

After this we then do the bite work which is usually no more than 5 mins. It starts at 8 and the training finishes at about 10. Then the bite work is done sometime after this depending on where my name is on the list. He's obedient most of the time, as he would be on a long walk, but there is no focus and attention.

I will go out and buy a rubber ball on rope tomorrow. Is a rag just a piece of material or is there something special about it?
 

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2 red flags for me when you describe your general training session.

First, that is WAY too long.
Second, if you always follow the same pattern of exercises with the dog, that is WAY too predictable for the dog and thus, boring.

Dogs thrive on short, energetic sessions and on variety. Doing the same thing time and time again will sap a dog's energy and enthusiasm because it's too predictable. Training sessions should be much shorter, and things need to be mixed up in order to keep the dog interested.

For obedience, we never work our dogs more than 10-20 minutes at a time, and we never structure sessions the same way from one to the next. One session we work on heeling and out of motions, the next session retrieves and send outs, next session recalls and retrieves, etc... Mix it up for variety. Don't try to train all components of all exercises all the time.
 

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Originally Posted By: Craig88Every so often we reward the dog with the treat, although he's not too interested and generally gives a weak bite.
I must not be understanding something here... what does a treat (food) have to do with biting something?

Originally Posted By: Craig88 Is a rag just a piece of material or is there something special about it?
Just a rag... can be an old towel, torn off piece of a pair of blue jeans, piece of a burlap sack... doesn't matter.
 

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I am wondering whether there is a different centre you might wish to go to? I believe that continuing with this system will completely de-motivate both your dog and yourself. It's happened to me, and it's frustrating and unnecessary.
 

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Take a step back and just work on drive building and forget all of this other stuff as it's being done WAY too soon. If he does not have the drive and attitude while playing you will never get the picture you want in OB. And completely throw the heeling patterns out of the window. My dog has never done the entire BH pattern yet, and will not until the day of the trial (this weekend). Now, he has done all of the pieces of it, but not the exact pattern. I am walking the pattern all week on my own, but if the dog can heel he can heel regardless of pattern. You job is to be FUN and INTERESTING and UNPREDICTABLE which results in your dog always staying engaged.

Take a look at Leerburg's "building drive and focus" DVD. It is not a complete training guide or anything, but for you in your situation it would be a great resource and will teach you a game that will build his drive while laying the foundation for obedience that is actually in drive (you know, the state of CRAZINESS that your trainer says is too hard to work with).
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Originally Posted By: Chris Wild
Originally Posted By: Craig88Every so often we reward the dog with the treat, although he's not too interested and generally gives a weak bite.
I must not be understanding something here... what does a treat (food) have to do with biting something?
Sorry, meant toy not treat. The more knowledge i've gained, the more I question our training each week.

I've been trying to play with him a lot with minimum obedience to increase drive but I think the correct reward(toy/treat) is needed first. I'll buy the rubber ball tomorrow. I'm hopefully going to get that video from a member at the other club i've been going to. They are the GSD club and until i've a gsd I wont be able to train there.

The only useful parts about this club is that it's good for networking, possible studding, getting my dog used to being around people and dogs and doing protection training although after about 8 months he's still not on the sleeve and still has shallow bites with not much barking. Maybe it's just genetics...
 

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Discussion Starter #14
My trainer also says that we should never praise the dog when he's doing a down because that's an inferior position. After all the nonsense he's been talking i'n not sure what to make of this. Is this true?
 

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Originally Posted By: Craig88My trainer also says that we should never praise the dog when he's doing a down because that's an inferior position. After all the nonsense he's been talking i'n not sure what to make of this. Is this true?
No, that's not true. When a dog does well, he should be praised and rewarded. Period.

Sure, a down is a submissive position, but I don't see what that has to do with whether or not the dog should be praised. And through training, the dog should come to view it as merely a position like any other, not an act of submission.

Actually, if one is going to use the argument about it being an "inferior position" in relation to praise, I would think the opposite would apply and he should be praised for taking such an uncomfortable position when asked to. He needs to be comfortable in the down, and praise is part of achieving that.

This trainer is.... weird.
 

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Chris as always has made some great points.

I am not a certified trainer, but I have worked with and taught some classes. What you current trainer is doing is not helping to bring out your pups drive but doing every thing to shut it down. I always reward the down more than I do a sit, why because I have seen too many dogs trained with methods that weren't happy for the dog, these dogs always make me cringe when they down because it is slow and agonizing. I want a fast and happy down, I want the dog to know that it is a happy position and command for the dog.

Try different toys and food reward for the pup bringing the toy back. Do short throws and some longer throws. Mix in a little OB work with the ball playing, some quick sits and quick downs. Mix things up and have fun.
 

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Originally Posted By: Chris WildNo, that's not true. When a dog does well, he should be praised and rewarded. Period.

Sure, a down is a submissive position, but I don't see what that has to do with whether or not the dog should be praised. And through training, the dog should come to view it as merely a position like any other, not an act of submission.

Actually, if one is going to use the argument about it being an "inferior position" in relation to praise, I would think the opposite would apply and he should be praised for taking such an uncomfortable position when asked to. He needs to be comfortable in the down, and praise is part of achieving that.

This trainer is.... weird.
I cannot even put into words how much I agree with everything said above. If there is somewhere else to train, don't walk RUN. If not, your objective should be to hear your trainer telling you your dog is nuts and out of control (in drive).
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I just trained him now with some food and he was so much better. Everything was just fast in comparison to his usual slow movement and i had his attention in heeling for much longer than any toy has ever held it.

The only hassle with food is that it takes a while to make and i need to make sure he doesn't get fed breakfast, which is quite hard with my mother who thinks i'm being cruel...

I definitly think that the trainer has spent 20 years thinking about the cash he can make from breeding rather than worrying about learning training methods. He also says that I JUST need to learn how to play properly with the toy so my dog will be interested.

I'm going to give him another session later on today with the new ball i'm about to buy and have as little control as possible and see how much effort he puts in.
 

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Your dog doesn't need to be HUNGRY for training. Feed him breakfast. Then train him with some great smelly treats - pieces of hotdog, smelly cheese, something he really likes.
 

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Originally Posted By: ddYour dog doesn't need to be HUNGRY for training. Feed him breakfast. Then train him with some great smelly treats - pieces of hotdog, smelly cheese, something he really likes.
Some dogs do need to be hungry, and skip a meal to really want to work for food. But I would definitely try the extra special, stinky food first, before resorting to making him skip a meal. It may have high enough value for him as it is, without him being super hungry. Or he may need to skip a meal, or eat only half a meal, earlier in the day to be willing to work for the food. You'll have to try different things to figure out what works best for the individual dog.
 
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