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Discussion Starter #1
Hi There!

I have been trying to Train 10 week old thunder without treats as I don't want food to be his primary focus. We started by not feeding him till he was lying down, but this is fairly hit and miss, often having to repeat down 10 times or more (sometimes we will do it fine the first time) before he will down. Sometimes I wonder if he "downs" because he would anyways.

The trouble is that he is so keen to get a treat its nigh impossible to get him to sit still long enough to get through a command like down.

Also he sits or lies down anytime he isn't doing anything else, which means teaching him to sit is proving a challenge.

I assume this also is normal, but it can be very frustrating, and I was wondering if I am wasting my time and making it harder for him to learn by not giving treats.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
I relented, and boy it was so much easier :-/ Its a pity because I'd love him to do it for the love, but perhaps later
 

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I start all of my pups on treats when they start their training. When they are young pups food is a nice motivater. Later then I would alternate food, toy or praise. Now all of my dogs will work without treats, toy every so often for a reward, but lots of praise. Right now when you treat you need to praise, so when you start weaning out the treats the pup understands that the praise means they did a good thing.
 

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I would stick to the treats for now. Little puppies have very short attention spans so by the time praise is given they have most likely moved onto something else!! Action = treat is very simple for the pup to understand.

What I did with Diesel is to use treats until he understands what I am asking him then only give out treats every 2nd or 3rd time they do what you ask so that they don't know when a treat is coming!

When Thunder is older and is more focused on you then he will hopefully start working more for praise.
 

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The point about using the treats isn't that it teaches the puppy to ONLY listen when you have treats. It's to be a motivator to get our pups to WANT to listen/learn and focus (not 'have' to, WANT TO) so the learning goes so much faster and is more fun.

You are creating a bond with the puppy at this time that can last it's entire life. And part of the bond is the listening/learning and WANTING to be near and with you. Being the person bringing/giving food is also a 'leadership' role we want. I'd rather be thought a leader in a fun and positive (and easy) way like this.

With the puppies (for months) I use tons of treats all the time. Their brains aren't developed, they have no attention span, and the food makes everything go well (short training sessions). But later, as they mature, THE POINT of using treats properly is you start replacing with the praise and only use the treats 'randomly'. Eventually fading the treats entirely.

Using treats is a 'new' way to train that works. And cause it's a method that works best when done properly, it's a good thing to read up on. There's more to this than just rewarding when the pup does it. Kind of treat, size of treat, amount of treats, timing timing timing, (clickers rock!!!!!), reasonable expectations, fading the treat, what is random reinforcement?

I know, for me, it was worth learning a new method that had such a fantastic payoff FOR MY PUP! Because truthfully, it's not perfect obedience I want in a puppy. It's a good attitude. The focus and attention and trying to figure out what we are doing. My puppy prefering to be with me and learning the new thing rather than off sniffing and playing with a toy. Training can be a 'game' and obedience can all be 'tricks'.

If you really want to be open minded and learn a new method that's perfect for puppies (what, ME learn something new? IT's the puppy that needs to learn
) the clicker is perfect. It force ME to get better timing.

http://www.clickertraining.com/node/275

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

http://www.clickertraining.com/faq
 

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Sometimes it depends on what motivates the pup more than what you want to motivate the pup with.

I don't like treat training myself...and luckily my pup isn't very food motivated.
I can get her to do most anything by holding a ball.

Try clicker training, or rewarding with toys/play.
But if those don't wrk and the pup is very treat motivated, it may be best to go ahead and take that route.
 

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There is absolutely nothing wrong with using treats to train. It doesn't mean he's not also doing it 'for the love', (which is really the bond you've formed during training) or that you'll need to always have food on you for him to obey you, or that you'll need to use food forever. The idea that a dog will work JUST to please his owner without there being anything else in it for him is a myth. Pleasing you can and should be rewarding for the dog - he gets attention, petting, yummy treats, playtime, whatever floats his boat, so it's not really about pleasing you anyway, it's about learning to get things he values. I don't care how much you love your job, would you keep doing it if you stopped getting a paycheck? If all you got was praise?

Used properly, a food reward, along with a marker such as a clicker or your voice (yes!) tells the dog that he did good. It's a way to communicate to him that what he did is exactly what you asked him to do. Once he understands that (for any given command) you can go to a variable reinforcement schedule, where he's randomly rewarded, or you can reward only the best responses to shape a straighter sit, a tighter heel, or a faster down, etc. Eventually you can phase out the food reward (until you teach a new command, or make an existing command more challenging by adding duration, distance, or distractions), but you can keep up the happy praise that you should be pairing with the reward.

And if he's so distracted by food that he can't concentrate on training you have a perfect opportunity to teach him manners and self control around food! Keefer has always been obessessed with food, and would literally eat until he exploded, given the opportunity. So I taught him that in order to get food he had to look at ME. He could stare at the food all day, but until he made eye contact I would not release it to him. Because he was so motivated to eat, he learned this very fast. There's a great thread on here about teaching focus using food.

At meal time I started making my dogs sit until released to eat. At first I made it very easy, releasing them to eat as soon as I put the bowl down and took my hands off it. If they broke the sit, I picked up the bowl and stood back up. I waited for a sit, and we tried again. Once we had a sit until released at that level, I upped the ante, making them hold the sit until I stood all the way back up, then until I took a step or two away from the bowl, then I moved the bowl closer to the dog and further from me. Over time, I worked up to where I can put them in a down, set the bowl between their front paws, and walk away, even briefly out of sight, and they won't eat until I give the okay. They know the rules and comply because they've learned that's the fastest way to get what they want.

Another training method that might be useful for you is instead of getting frustrated about him sitting or laying down on his own, USE that to teach those commands. It's called capturing behaviors and is as simple as marking and rewarding him for doing what he's going to do anyway. Timing is important, so the second his butt hits the ground in a sit you would say "yes!" (or use a clicker) and give him a treat. The second his but and elbows touch the floor in a down, mark & treat. If you see he's just about to sit or down, add the command right before he does so that he learns to associate the word with the behavior.

You can also use treats to lure him into position, and then mark and reward. If you do use a food lure, get the food out of that hand as soon as possible, using the lure motion as a hand signal and treat with the other hand.
 

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I was also concerned about Jackson be completely food motivated, so when I started training him I used treats...but as he has gotten older I use them less and less...he seems to be just as willing to respond to his favorite toy or lots of praise.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for the responses, there is a LOT here to absorb.

One of the troubles I am having is that I am not sure how many times to ask for a type of behaviour. when I bring over the food I ask him to "down" but sometimes this can take a good 10 or more times. Is it ok to ask 10 times, or walk away if he did not obey after say 3 times?

Secondly, my pup doesn't usually stand around. He either sits, or lies down if he is stationary, and so it makes teaching sit, kinda hard cause he is already sitting.
 

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I usually give a command once, and then wait. However long that takes. But that assumes he knows what the command MEANS, or is at least getting the idea. If you're not there yet, go ahead and lure him into position (don't forget to mark and reward!) until he's responding consistently enough that he seems to have the idea. You may be just expecting too much too soon.


If you want to do multiple repetitions of a command, mark it (yes!) and drop a treat on the floor, just far enough away that he has to get up to get it, and then give the sit or down command again. If you want to teach him that sit or down means "stay in that position until I give you another command or release you to get up" you may not want to do this for too long because you're allowing him to break his position to get the treat. But it does allow you to get in several repetitions in a row. Remember that his attention span is really short, so you only want to do very short training sessions at this point anyway. Maybe half a dozen sits or downs, and then playtime. Later, do another short session, and play some more.

Once he knows sit and down pretty well, tell him to sit when he's laying down, or down when he's sitting. Teach him to stand on cue (easiest to teach by luring with a treat), and then you've got sit, down and stand, and can alternate randomly among the commands. This is better than just two commands because he can anticipate that if he's already doing one of them you're likely to ask him to do the other one, rather than actually learning to associate the verbal cue with the behavior.
 

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I do several 10 min. training sessions with young pups.

First you only ask for a behavior ONE Time, but you need to help the pup comply. Take the sit for example, I have the treat in my hand, I hold it with my thumb in the palm of my hand. I bring it to the pups nose and move my hand up and back towards the tail of the pup. What should happen is the pup looks up, tips his/her head back and physics and gravity make the puppy but hit the floor. As soon as the butt hits the floor you make the behavior with "Good" or "yes" or what ever marker word you use with the name of the command, so it would be Good Sit or Yes Sit and give treat.

When I am working for that 10 mins I am teaching the heel position so my pup is up and moving to works other things like sits and downs.

Keep the sessions short and fun. Nothing worse than a pup that has lost it's attnetion span because the lessons are too long or no fun.

Val
 

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Originally Posted By: Cassidys MomHere's the thread: Teaching Focus
Thank you for digging that back up~I love that thread,and wish bama_lorne would come back to the site! Gabby is awesome, and what an asset they were when sharing here
 

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Watch the videos I posted. They do a good job with showing 'timing'. Of the command, the luring (if needed), the click (or yes), and the fast treat giving.

When the puppies really understand a command, and there is real value in the treat (hungry puppy and real treats), AND your timing is great for the marker to bridge between the behavior and the reward, you pup shouldn't ever need the command more than twice (and usually once).

In fact, once they start getting this, another problem happens. That of our pups offering all their behaviors so quickly in a row it's hard to reward the one we wanted. That's the ATTITUDE we want, offering behaviors when we are too slow cause the GET the connection between what they do and the reward they want to earn. More than wandering off and away.
 

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There is a lot of good advice above, so I'll try not to duplicate it, and I agree with most all of it.

My pup is 7 months now and I still use treats, but more limited than when he was a few months, etc. The method of giving a treat "sometimes" is good as you progress, because it lets them realize that the treat is not a given and there are other reasons to do what is told. Praise should always remain though, though it can become less annimated as the dog grows more mature.

I think asking the dog to go into a down before eating might seem counterinuative (it does to me). Why lie down, only to get up and eat? I make mine sit and remain until the dish is down and he is released with "okay". This is a good practice - even if you stick with the down.

I change my dog's collar several times a day - flat, prong, electronic, two at once, etc. in order to desensitize him to the act and the collars (preventing him from becoming collar wise to the e-collar and also so he doesn't go nuts every time the prong collar comes into view, like knowing he's going for a walk). At first, he would squirm and fuss the whole time, or lie down on his side and make it very difficult. Then I started rewarding with tiny treats for sitting nicely while he gets a collar change. Now, he hears the word 'collar' and comes and sits like a little statue every time!

If a dog is food motivated it's just silly not to incorporate that into the training. It's a great tool.
 

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Originally Posted By: LedZep
I think asking the dog to go into a down before eating might seem counterinuative (it does to me). Why lie down, only to get up and eat? I make mine sit and remain until the dish is down and he is released with "okay".
How is making the dog "down" before eating any different than making it "sit". Either way they will "get up" to eat.
(At least some of them will, my 10yo female eats laying down.)
 

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Quote:by LedZep: I think asking the dog to go into a down before eating might seem counterinuative (it does to me).
Why is asking a dog for any command at any time counterintuitive? When a dog is focused on getting fed is a good time to enforce some house rules or manners. Dogs need to learn to obey commands at any time they are given.

Val
 
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