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Discussion Starter #1
Not sure if this belongs here or in How Do I Teach. Move it if needed.

We are working on retrieve the dumbbell and Cosmo has come a long way. At first he would have nothing to do with it(he is not a toy playing dog), but now he will hold it, jump with it over anything, and hold till told to release.
The problem is getting him to hurry out and pick it up. When told to “Get It!”he moseys out, head down, to the dumbbell, even after jumping over a barrier he slows down. When he gets out to it he will look down at it, look at me(sometimes out of the corner of his eye, sometimes straight at me), stretches, looks around, looks at it, looks at me, stands over it and looks away (not always in that order). If I give him second or third, or etc(which I know you are not supposed to do) command, or if I make a move to come towards him, he will paw at it and knock it around, hem haw around it, and finally pick it up and bring it to me. When he finally brings it in, his head is up, tail wags, and he usually brings it back more briskly than he went out. I praise profusely as he picks it up, when he brings it in, and he gets a treat after releasing it, but it is a real pain to get him to go out and pick it up without using multiple commands or other movements.

It’s like he knows exactly what I want him to do, he just doesn’t seem to“see” the point in it, or it isn’t a “fun” thing for him to do, so he won’t do it.


Some people say they would go out and pinch his ear(they told me I should do that all along) if he hesitates like that, but to me that still seems like punishment and a negative reinforcement to do something positive.

Anybody have any other suggestions?
 

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I'd love to hear more about how to work through this. Taedyn does the same thing to various commands. She gets around to doing them in her own slow time. My instinct then is to praise/treat her when she does it at all due to the slowness, but I'm not sure that will help it become faster.
 

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He likes food? I would take a few steps back and work on the pick up. Don't throw it so far, no jumping, no front, don't even work on sitting and waiting before going to get it. If he has some type of favorite food use that. Show him the treat, tease with the dumbbell (DB), throw it just on the ground in front of you, tell him to get it, if he goes out, picks it up praise lavishly. As he comes back just take the DB and give him the treat. IF he just stands there instead of picking up the DB tell him "no", go out, get him and the DB and do it again. No reward for lazy efforts and multiple commands. This would be the first step. He must learn that running/trotting out, picking the DB right up and coming back quickly is how he earns his reward.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
He is not food/treat motivated,I've tried all kinds of things, I use the treat as a positive influence, but he doesn't get excited about it. He doesn't look for or anticipate the food reward.
Since he is also not a toy playing dog, teasing doesn't work either, he just ignores everything if I try that. It is as if he is saying this is stupid so why should I do this.
 

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That makes things very difficult when the dog is not motivated by anything. You can try what I suggested just using praise. Does he eat well so you could use his meals as a motivator?
 

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First of all, to say he's not motivated by anything is interesting. Especially the food thing. What's his normal feeding schedule?

If you free feed that would be a huge key to the problem.

If you do not free feed, I'd make sure I feed 1/2 meal in the am, and 1/2 in the pm, an amount that my dog is LEAN. And if my dog goes to the bowl and does not eat, I'm probably overfeeding and that meal immediately will come up and no food until the next mealtime.

If I was going to train that day, I may skip the am meal entirely for my dog. And instead have a ziplock bag full of real treats. Chicken, steak, stinky sharp cheddar cheese, liver. Real human type food that I may have cooked up myself. Teeny tiny peices, like pea-sized.

And I would get a clicker out. Because this will be a NEW training method, with a hungry dog and real treats AND NO CORRECTIONS (the dog is always right in clicker training), and tons and tons or reinforcement for being good, your dog should pick it up fast.

No talking. I mean none. This training works for cats, for fish, for abused mules, for chickens. So to say it's to hard for me to learn or my GSD to learn, it just not so.......

http://www.clickertraining.com/node/654

http://www.clickertraining.com/

http://clickertraining.tv/product.html?item=FREE-01

Why isn't Clicker Training on Oprah?

Why Can't I Just Use my Voice?

If what I am doing is not working, then I now try to approach things in an entirely different way. And if it means I have to learn new skills ALONG WITH THE DOG, then so be it. Heck, if I am the 'old dog learning a new trick' then that's what I am. And I can learn to use a clicker, get real treats ready, have a hungry dog for the training session, and see an amazing difference in my dog.

I'm not ultimately talking about 'starving' my dog for this training. The total calories for my dog will be the same for the day. It's the TIME they eat that is affected, and what they eat. Maybe on training day they only get 1/2 their normal food by the end of the day, but because I've been using all the training treats of cheese/chicken/liver/beef/whatever the calories are the same.

And once your dog is understanding this new training that they are always right and brilliant, you can start mixing their kibble in the bag WITH the chicken/liver/beef so sometimes the reward is a kibble and sometimes it's chicken, and everything in the bag smells extra lovely anyways.......

http://www.uwsp.edu/psych/dog/LA/bregman1.htm

http://www.clickertraining.tv/product.html?item=KPDLVDBHCR-05

Clicker Training the Retrieve WITH A PIG!!!!
 

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In addition to what MaggieRoseLee mentioned on using the food appropriately in order to make him really WANT it, you might experiment with a greater range of treats to see what may motivate him. Find some smelly stuff, like liverwurst. Try different types of cheese. Save some bits of meat from your evening meal and try those. Consider cooked bacon (freshly cooked is best - in fact, fresh out of the oven/pan/microwave so that the meat is warm still is best for all meats, when you have a picky dog). Try an Arby's roast beef sandwich or some other fast food. And ONLY use these during training sessions when you want to use the highest level reward possible.

The teasing may still work with him, but you may have to set up the teasing in a new way. Take the dumbbell and put it in a drawer in the kitchen (or wherever). Several times a day (if possible), suddenly RUN into the kitchen with him and open the drawer. Grab up the dumbbell and hold it close to your chest, petting it and talking enthusiastically to the dumbbell (not the dog). If he tries to jump up to see what you have, turn away from him while still talking to the dumbbell. For the first few days, he only gets to see a bit of the dumbbell as you play with it and talk to it - and then it goes back in the drawer and you calmly walk away.

As his enthusiasm and interest grows, you can start to tease him with it a bit when you take it out of the drawer. Have some high level treats handy and if he shows ANY inclination to try to grab it from you, immediately praise him and run to the treats to reward him. And then put the dumbbell away again and go right to watching TV or something calm. When the dumbbell is not out, everything is calm and boring. When the dumbbell comes out of the drawer, life gets more exciting.

You can see how this builds and it can be really effective on a low-drive dog if you do it properly and consistently. Once he's showing more enthusiasm in the dumbbell (give it a week or more) then you can start short retrieves on the flat. But you're not going to let him just mosey out and get it. When you throw the dumbbell (just a few feet at first) and you give the command to retrieve, you will then RACE out and grab the dumbbell up, playing with it and talking to it (ignoring your dog). All the emphasis is on the dumbbell, not the dog. If he gets a bit excited about it, then you can try another retrieve - but still race out after it, because you want to really build his excitement. If he gets to it before you do, then have a HUGE party, tons of praise and treats - don't ask for a front or a sit or anything, just immediately party. If you get to it before he does, you focus 100% on playing and praising the dumbbell. I know it sounds silly, but it works!

Training chows for competition retrieves has made me have to find various ways to create enthusiasm (in a breed that is usually not too interested in pleasing their people .. *L*). Sometimes you have to get really creative, and sometimes you have to look like an idiot, but if it works it's all worth it (right?? *G*).

Melanie and the gang in Alaska
 
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