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I've been working with Lexi every day for very short periods of time (twice a day, no more than 10 minutes) on her obedience training for her class. Although she is doing well for the most part sometimes when I put the leash and collar on her she gets this incredibly sad look on her face and refuses to heel. I have to really work to get her to move. I don't want her to hate training, what's the best way to encourage her to heel without making this seem like such a chore? I do reward her with praise when she does well and then at the end of the session she gets a treat. I'm wondering if 5 months is just a little young for this class, it's an hour long and she is just plain pooped towards the end and will not cooperate at all.

Any thoughts?

Thanks

beth

P.S. I myself am having trouble remembering everything I'm supposed to remember for each exercise too, and because I get a little flustered when she won't cooperate it makes it worse! LOL I am TRYING to stay calm but when your dog turns into a statue it's difficult, LOL!
 

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Have you tried luring her forward with a treat? Maybe have someone walk backwards in front of you with a toy? Will she work with you off leash at home?
 

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You shouldn't just be rewarding with a treat *at thte end of the session* but using treats along with praise as motivators and rewards throughout the session.

Her lack of cooperation isn't because she's stubborn. It's because she isn't given a reason to want to do the work. Think of treats as a paycheck that she can earn by working. I suspect with a dog this young, it's also in large part because she doesn't completely understand the exercises and what is being asked of her. You adding stress into the situation by being frustrated just makes her enjoy it even less, and be less interested in working with you.

Especially with a young dog, training should be as much about instilling in the dog a love for learning and training and a positive outlook on the whole thing, even moreso than teaching the individual exercises. If training is a chore for either one of you, it's not being done properly. It should be fun for both of you, and that means finding ways to motivate the dog into wanting to work and wanting to learn.
 

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Like they said.


And, 5 months is definitely not too young to train to heel. FWIW, I put a leash on my current pup at 9 weeks, and she was heeling in 4 days.
 

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Originally Posted By: Chris WildYou shouldn't just be rewarding with a treat *at the end of the session* but using treats along with praise as motivators and rewards throughout the session.
Absolutely, I missed that part in your post, that she's only working for praise. I use LOTS of treats in early puppy training, and I've never had one that wasn't happy and enthusiastic to work with me. You definitely DO want to also use praise, but by pairing it with something the dog wants - food, play, affection, the praise means something. Otherwise it's just words.


How is your demeanor during training? Are you happy and upbeat? Are you having fun? If not, it makes sense that training is a chore for your dog too. When I bring home a new puppy (I currently have one who is 14 weeks old - check out my picture thread of her puppy class) I wear my treat bag from the time I get home from work until bedtime so I'm ready to mark and reward behavior I want to encourage. Right now our class wants us to feed all their meals during training, nothing out of a bowl. I'm not doing that exclusively, but her lunch is entirely doled out as training treats and most of her dinner, so she's working for much of her daily food. She gets breakfast out of her bowl because I don't have time to do a training session before work, but I make her work for that too by putting the bowl on the floor and having her hold a sit and make eye contact until released to eat. And she's LOVING it!!!

BTW, if you're having trouble remembering your homework each week, take a notebook with you to class and take notes on each exercise. Some classes give handouts at the end of each day, which is nice, or email out a summary of the week's tasks, but many don't, so take it upon yourself to write it down so you'll remember. Is the trainer suggesting that you only use praise to reward your puppy? If so, this would trouble me, and I'd find another class.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
The trainer is saying NO treats for training, which I thought was stupid, but she won't allow them, so I haven't been using them at home. To tell you the truth I'm not totally impressed with the class, but unfortunately it's the only one offered in my area, there are some others that are farther away and cost a lot more money. I had to pay in advance and can't get my money back, but I am looking at it this way: at least Lexi is getting some socialization and I'm learning the basics, but after this I will do my training at home. I actually have a lot of fun at the class, but I also get tired, my husband and I switch off with her because it's really hot in there and you get whipped pretty quick! I think what I will start doing is taking her to the side and do our own thing when she starts not wanting to cooperate and take lots of breaks. There's just no point in making her do something when she is so tired.
 

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I agree with continuing the class if you can't get your money back and you want the socialization, which IS very important. But even though your trainer doesn't want you to use treats, I'd ignore that and use them to train at home. Remember, class is one hour a week, most of the work you're doing with her is at home between classes anyway. Not using anything but praise to reward a 5 month old puppy is just wrong, and I think that's what you're seeing in your puppy's attitude towards training.

I would try to get her in a better class down the road, even if you have to travel further. I know money is a factor, but maybe start saving up now so you can afford it in a few months. Training at home is good, and should definitely continue, but periodic training classes are a good idea too, especially if you're fairly new to dog training. And look for one that uses positive reinforcement methods.
 

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Originally Posted By: Cassidys MomI agree with continuing the class if you can't get your money back and you want the socialization, which IS very important. But even though your trainer doesn't want you to use treats, I'd ignore that and use them to train at home. Remember, class is one hour a week, most of the work you're doing with her is at home between classes anyway. Not using anything but praise to reward a 5 month old puppy is just wrong, and I think that's what you're seeing in your puppy's attitude towards training.
I'd find a different class and trainer. If you continue with this class, which is reasonable if you can't get your money back, ^^THIS^^ is excellent advice. Use it for the socialization, but not so much for the training. Ignore the stupid "no treat" advice at home, where you're doing the majority of your training.

If you keep going to the class, do it for socialization and so you can learn some skills, but in your work at home you do, you MUST make it more fun and rewarding for the dog. If you can't, continuing to go to this class and work her using those methods will cause more harm than good by just reinforcing Lexi's dislike for training. That is the absolute worst thing to do with a young dog at this stage, because once that negative attitude toward training takes root it can be very difficult to undo that early learning.
 

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An hour class is often way too long. I like to work two dogs at once - one works, the other watches - we trade off. When I moved down here it was one dog in class which often went longer than an hour and was tediously boring. Neither I nor my dog performed very well. I'd consider taking a crate & popping her in the crate for a while then bringing her out to work.
 

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I second using the treats. Don't buy the statements that using treats means bribing your dog and that your dog will work only for treats.

As an example, Anton was extremely food motivated as a puppy, he would eat all day long if allowed and did everything for treats. We did all our initial training with treats. Well, now he is one year old and really likes to train, his face is always very happy and tail is up, and will actually spit out a treat if given by a stranger.

When he tracks he refused food on track (I offer him a nice treat for each article indication) because the tracking itself seems to be rewarding for him. Well, his toy and playing with me at the end is still even more rewarding I guess LOL

PS Have you ever seen the dogs that sit or down sooo slow when asked (I mean young dogs, not old one with arthritis). I believe that's because they never had fun when they learnt those commands. Just my theory
 

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Originally Posted By: middleofnowhereAn hour class is often way too long.
That's a very good point. At his 10 months Anton couldn't efficiently do more than 35 min of class, and I didn't force him to work for so long. We kinda had our own schedule during the other half of the class and tried to avoid boredom.
 

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I'd also be wary of the full 60 minutes for your puppy. If you and your husband are switching off like you mentioned, think what how that is for your pup to go the full 60 at this age.
When I started with Lancer, the classes were an hour long, but we took plenty of breaks, sat on the sidelines, played with a tug toy, just broke up the hour into shorter sessions. when we first oved to the obedience, same thing. Like Oksana, we were actively training in the class 4 35-45 minutes.
 

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I agree with everyone above, I just wanted to mention that hiring a personal trainer comes with loads of fringe benefits. The ones I've come in contact with will come to your house to help you and you can usually contact them for the rest of the puppies life. The trainer I worked with actually requests that I keep him updated on my dogs performance. Having him around so that I can ask questions and get an answer tailored to my situation because he personally knows my dog is great. If cost is an issue you can usually contact local shelters and ask if they have a trainer that works with them you can contact. They are usually more flexible on their rates and from my experience the trainers that volunteer at the shelters are more caring and experienced then say the 18 year old at Petco.
 
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