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Discussion Starter #1
I have some questions on how you motivate your dogs for the retrieve.. are you AKC or SchH? Do the methods differ a lot? How do you motivate your dog for the retrieve? Do you change rewards as training progresses? Or avoid some types of motivators with some types of dogs based on drive levels?

Since Grimm was the size of a loaf of bread with legs, we began retrieve doing the 2 - toy retrieval game:

Sit at my side, i toss a toy, he is released to go get it, brings it, sits, outs-- and gets the second toy as reward. The second toy is sometimes just given to him, other times we play tuggy with it, other times I throw it for another retrieve/exchange thing. Now, at his age, I sometimes just keep the toy, and praise him bigtime, without a second toy as reward.

Problem: I joined a pet dog class for a few sessions. All the dogs are Labs, Goldens, etc.The trainer has the dogs in nylon buckle collars only. There's not a GSD in sight. Grimm is workingline. The trainer insists that the reward for bringing the dummy be FOOD. Grimm hates this. Always, always has. The fire and enthusiasm drains right out of him. He blandly chews the kibble, droops, loses all his pizazz for the retrieve. He is motivated by the prospect of engagement with me-- of play.. maybe he gets a second toy, maybe he gets tuggy, maybe another toss of the toy... sometimes i just keep it, and praise him like mad. But food reward and he fizzles.

Why is it so important to use food reward? The trainer said, because the other dogs in the class are not drive-y, and Grimm has "too much drive." No... he has medium drive for a workingline GSD... and I think his drive level in the house needs to be at an even keel, NOT his drive to interact with me in retrieval! Grimm is a GSD, but is not a drivey, can't settle indoors kinda dog... and dampening his zoom to work with me wouldn't make him settle better if he needed that indoors.

Or? Am I missing something? Should I insist Grimm accept food when he keeps turning his head away? Why does she think I should dampen his drive by using no play? Educate me.. her ideas are new to me. Is this a common way to do things? Or is the workingline GSD just a terrifying monster to her?

BTW-- Having worked all along just at home ourselves without a class, we are now at the point where he can calmly carry stuff in heel for long periods without him playing with/juggling the object, he then sits, releases the object to me.. a bag of groceries, a newspaper, etc.
 

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I won't work with a trainer that insists I reward Dante in a specific manner. Sometimes Dante works better for food sometimes Dante works better for a tug. For Dante if it is food it must be very high reward food, not something he gets all the time.
 

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Bottom line is he is your dog...you know what he wants and doesn't want. If his retrieve is really good without food, then do not use food.

This trainer is not a good trainer if they insist that you use food for the retrieve, when in fact you do not need it. A good trainer should know that there is more than one way to do things, and you should do what works best for the dog!!!

Guess that the trainer doesn't like Grimm showing up the retrieving breeds....lol
 

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It's not a reward if it's not rewarding to the dog. If Grimm doesn't want food for his reward, don't give him food. Play tug with him, pet him. . .anything else he enjoys. I hate brussel sprouts but I like chocolate. If you want me to do something and the only reward is brussel sprouts--I ain't doin' it! Dogs are the same way.

Some dogs are strongly motivated by food and others not so much. And sometimes it's situational. But remember, if it's not rewarding to Grimm, it's not a reward!
 

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if food isn't a motivator for grimm, why use it???? sounds like the trainer is training by rote and not for an individual dog

anytime i take an obed class, i meet beforehand w/the instructor and explain that b/c of my k9 background i may not do things the way he/she does; i ask if this is a problem and if he says yes, i don't take that class....it's not worth the hassle; mostly the trainers don't care and will generally point me out at the beginning of class and tell the others that i will be doing things differently b/c of my background and to ignore what i'm doing; it works for me

i train using whatever motivates that particular dog, food, toy, simple praise...whatever; i'm paying for the privilege of being there and i will not be told how to do things; i know my dogs and i do what is right for them

btw, many trainers are clueless when it comes to motivating and handling working line gsds; they are not familiar w/them and have no business handling them; a bad trainer can ruin your dog, so be careful; if it doesn't "feel" right, don't do it...follow your gut and what you're reading from your dog; Grimm will tell you
 

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Discussion Starter #6
What you guys are saying makes so much sense. I just got out the dummy, and did some retrieves in the livingroom-to-bedroom zone. (we live in a BIIIG apartment) He has SO MUCH zing and zip unless I try food. You guys are right.

Also, good point.. she seems to not understand what drive is, and that THIS is when we want to bring it out a bit. (Most other times, okay, I need his drives to be under control and not at full thrumm during our daily living) I think having all those Labs, Goldens, Beagles and Cockers.. she is a bit intimidated by Grimm? She assumes his drive is "dangerous" or too much.. and he is honestly only a medium drive, medium energy workingline GSD.

I'll go with what you guys said-- listen to what motivates Grimm. I think getting the toy isn't the reward, as much as the interaction with me that he gets with it.. is that a GSD thing? Interaction over food?
 

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Not necessarily a GSD thing. Maybe just a drive thing. Many people who do agility use toys as a motivating reward instead of food.

Honestly, I think a game of tug is a much better reward than a piece of food. Treat is eaten by dog--no interaction with handler. But a game of tug really helps work that bond. Fun game WITH handler. Handler source of long-term fun.

Some trainers are just not experienced with really drivey dogs. Those dogs that just want to go go go go go go GO! And, therefore, they cater their methods to the dogs they generally teach. Low-driven dogs that are motivated by food. Though I would think any good trainer would have other tools in their toolbox for a dog that doesn't fit that mould. It's unfortunate that this trainer doesn't seem to.
 

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Jamie, you hit the nail right on the head! The handler is the source of long-term fun.. THAT is what I see with Grimm looking at me. In his eyes, it says "Mom! Mom? Mom! I brought the dummy back! See? Here! I sit and GIVE it to you! NOW what we gonna do with it, huh? Huh?" It's kind of a development of team-think. WE have fun TOGETHER. Good point, Jamie! That's what he craves.

Actually, Risa would run rings around Grimmi-- he isn't a go, go, go kinda dog, believe it or not.. he isn't a Zoomer like Ris, he just craves the interaction.
 

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Patti, I'm here with you. I love to look into my dogs shiny eyes the size of a quarter filled with anticipation of something fun (tugging, throwing a stick, letting her jump on me, asking her to bark her head off, then stop and do it again :)).

Yana won't retrieve for food either since the stick is too precious to give it up for some piece of steak :). She won't heel her happy heel with raised tail and full attention for food either (that's what we are training now). So I would bring a toy and reward Grimm for a job well done!!

PS Sometimes trainers assume that you are complete zero in dog training just because you bring your dog to their class. I don't know how to explain that. And not only dog trainers. Just recently I run into a very knowledgeable person who started patronizing me just because my way of training and my expectations from my dogs are different than hers. I'm mentioning this because I want you to believe in yourself!!! and not be intimidated by trainers authority.
 

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Quote: Or? Am I missing something? Should I insist Grimm accept food when he keeps turning his head away? Why does she think I should dampen his drive by using no play? Educate me.. her ideas are new to me. Is this a common way to do things? Or is the workingline GSD just a terrifying monster to her?
This is something ONLY your trainer can answer.. Maybe she has a logical reason why she uses food and not a toy?

Have you asked her if you can use toys as a reward or when there is down time? She might be open to the idea if you explain to her what your dog is doing..


Just out of curiosity in the beginning phases of your training did you ever use food? Like in teaching the sit, platz, etc...
 

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Relationship is the only thing you can take into competition.

Bernhard Flinks video shows a motivational retrieve method. It transfers toy drive to the dumbell and the toy is the reward.

http://leerburg.com/106.htm

I have always had to add compulsion to retrieve but done well the drive and focus increase.
 

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I totally agree with all posters,,,I think I would ask the trainer this:

Since all the other dogs in class seemingly are NOT toy motivated when doing a recall, she is asking YOU to do exactly what motivates the OTHER dogs but demotivates Grimm..

I guess I would ask her to try using a toy with the other dogs (for recall reward) see what she gets,,as you are getting THAT with Grimm using food..I'd see if she'd do that little experiment:))))

Did I make sense? LOL...
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Diane, heheh.. this trainer is not at all experienced. She has no idea what she is doing, is afraid of drive and thinks if we don't play tuggy, Grimm will have less drive in the house. He has medium drive, and settles PERFECTLY in the house. (happy couch spud indoors, playful outdoors-- perfect) She is unfamiliar with GSDs, with drive in general and types of drive in specific. She got the training position as a gift from a pal who runs the training club. UGH!

By the way, I have gotten a blazing fast recall using tuggy as motivator instead of just praise or food. WOW.

I actually LIKE it that when we do a retrieve and it ends in play, after which he is released to go play himself.. and he instead keeps bringing the dummy to me, wanting more fun. He is only a medium drive dog, but he sure loves some fun! It also makes him look at me more on our walks when we play tuggy on occasion during those walks.. something I like to encourage. The reward isn't always tuggy, often just praise for looking at me, or petting, or a treat. I don't want to "bring out" Grimm's drive any further per se as that would not be what I would wish to live with, but how useful and fun to USE it for retrieve and recall and stuff!
 

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hopefully you have a trainer (even if she's inexperienced) that will respect what YOU want to do with Grimm and allow you to go outside the "class" format..

I've got masi in a "purely positive" class right now,,while I'm all for positive training,,there are times when a correction IS necessary and I'm lucky this trainer (doesn't breed profile!) allows us to train according to what our individual dogs need..

Good luck with him He sounds like a FUN dog!
diane
 

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It may also be she mistakes drive for over arousal. She may also be afraid that the tug games may over arouse the other dogs in the class.

You can use the toy and pair it with food to increase his food drive if you want to work at it. But if you are happy with his desire to play for reward versus food than you should be allowed to use the play. You mihg insure you distance yoursefl from the other dogs when doing this as to not get them aroused.
 
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