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OKay. So we've been playing with a friend's dog (GSD little over a year female) for a few weeks now. She's living with us and we offered to work on some training with her. I'm not a complete idiot. Trained my own dog through the BH so far and have worked with my other dog as well...although she's not old enough to title. So I understand and use training in drive, clicker training, corrections, etc. This dog makes me feel stupid.

I can't get this dog to do anything. She has little to no food drive. I've even tried artificially creating some food drive (i.e. skip 3-4 meals-she was chunky anyway) and she still doesn't seem to care about any of the tasty things I try to interest her with. So we ruled out food as a reward.

Likes to play. We'll use a ball or a tug. She likes those things BUT not enough to maintain any kind of focus or persevere through frustration. AND I am trying to teach her focus with a clicker...but it's like she doesn't care enough to keep trying. I might get 3-4 good repetitions in with her of voluntary attention and then she just walks away...even though she knows I have the ball, or if I have her on a leash and she can't walk away she just lays down on my feet with her back to me. I know my 2 liked the ball and would keep pushing me with behaviors even when they were little like scratching/biting at my hand, jumping, whining, etc. and when a particular thing worked and I marked it and they got the ball, they caught on pretty quick...within 4-5 tries the behavior was offered sooner and sooner in their attempts. This dog just quits. It's like she can't handle the non-reward. Is it the difference of being raised in a learning environment, or is she just really that genetically unfocused/driven?

She seems to have a lot of energy, always jumping and running around kind of aimlessly (it reminds me of the puppy zoomies where they just run all over the place just to run)...but no real drive to work. It's frustrating because I'd like to take the edge off mentally with some training but she can't sit still and when I tried to wear her out physically and then train she was tired and went and laid down.

She seems to pick up on physically reinforced household commands pretty quickly. Like OFF the furniture...(I move her off the furniture) or CRATE (I put her in her crate) or WALK (I pop and reverse direction when she pulls)...but to teach her everything via physical force isn't exactly what I want to do...

She's very soft. All you have to do is raise your voice and she's submissive with her body posture...but interestingly when I've tried to work her up into playing with me she drops the toy and attaches herself to my leg. She's a humper. What does that even mean? She's also very doggy. She was allowed too much access to the other dog in her house growing up, I don't let her interact with my 2.

So what would you do with a dog that doesn't like to eat and doesn't like toys much when you have them? How would you reward and what kind of method would you use to train?
 

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What foods have you tried? Have you tried a tug made out of animal hide? Sometimes tugs with real animal hide like rabbit pelt can make a dog go gonzo. What about ice cubes? Fruit? Certain scratches or massages?

What is she eating? If she's eating something that's starchy and easily converted to sugar, she could have a lot of hyper, ADHD energy. Maybe a diet change would help her focus.
 

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Sounds very much like Morgan, except for the submissiveness. No tasty food or toys motivated her in class. She learned quickly - still does at 7 y/o but it was like she was too cool for school.

With Morgan, what worked for training was competition with an older well trained dog. Luther loved to work, loved the yum yums. I used to say she contact learned everything, just being in the same general area watching him, she learned.
 

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How about using Campbell's "earn to learn" (a variation of NILIF) with this dog? I'd start with the intro -- ignore the dog for a week or several days - then start working where it has to earn any and all rewards (even a glance from you.)
 

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I'm wondering if a big part of the problem is insecurity. A lot of new (and soft) dogs don't feel comfortable enough to "challenge" you (in their mind) for the food/treat/toy/whatever. They can also shut down and go into avoidance easily - the quitting and turning her back to you.

I would work on building confidence and see if that helps.

How long have you had her? What is she like on walks and out and about? You say she is "doggy" - can you elaborate?
 

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We've tried liver-beef and chicken, hot dogs, all sorts of dog treats, deli meat, cheese whiz. She also doesn't really like eating from people's hands. I've been trying to work on that by hand feeding and she seems to be progressing with that but she won't take her kibble from between fingers...only from the palm of my hand.

She likes attention and to be scratched on the chest...but for like 10 seconds and then she bounds away for awhile and then comes back.

She's on ProPlan, which isn't what I feed my dogs, but I don't really feel comfortable changing it since she's not my dog and I'll be giving her back in about 2 more weeks. I have cut her food in half...She was fat and she didn't need all the calories she was getting.

As far as working with other dogs...I would be concerned about the level of distraction. My male is very good at working with other dogs present...but she's so doggy that I think all she would do is jump all over him trying to get him to play.

She's also a little under socialized. Seems to have in general a pretty good temperament, but everything is Sooo exciting.
 

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I think insecurity might have a lot to do with it...We try to let her win whenever we play and I encourage her with praise to make contact with me physically. How else would you promote confidence?

I've had her for about 3 weeks, and we definitely ignored her a lot for the first week. Seems to be very friendly with people, pulls towards them, ears down, tail wagging. Same with other GSDs, barks at strange dogs in the neighborhood. Deep barks, pulls forward...seems aggressive...but if we go "say hello" ears go back and seems more submissive...I think that ties into the undersocialized thing...

We took her to Schutzhund with us, she watched protection. She barked a lot at the dogs, pulled forward and seemed very interested but backed off completely when the helper came to offer a tug. We didn't push it at all. Seems to like to chase the flirt pole, but lets go when people come into the equation...the more I think about it the more insecurity feels like a pretty good word to describe her behavior in regards to play with people.

She has been out with my dog, and she's so stimulated by him that she's over the top. She won't come (which she does pretty reliably when she out by herself) and when I call him to me she's bouncing all over him and it's hard to catch her. She's also VERY rough with him, making lots of body contact, biting at his legs and the back of his neck, and really trying to wrestle him to the ground. At home when I let her out of her crate she goes right to his and does the butt shaker dance all around him.
 

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Is she from a different type line than your dogs?

Does she respond to high happy voices and enthusiasm?

How about body language? Is she tossing out calming signals to you or looking for you to offer them?

My Bella wouldn't take treats and couldn't care about toys either when training outside the home. And hates the clicker! Makes her sulk. She's just not that into gimmicks.


She does respond really well to me-I am her reward-type thing. I have to keep the tempo up. She has beautiful obedience and is a wonderful dog. She would never want to climb things or heaven forbid, herd sheep though. Ewwww! (where's Ruq-she saw that episode!)

I think you have to break down each task that you want to teach her because getting her to do each thing is going to require different techniques. That's what I think anyway.

Bella for months did not like to take food, and would only do it in training at home-and for the first couple of weeks, would watch to make sure it was okay for Kramer to do it first. She did not do eye contact (like for heeling) for a few years. She just is a natural follower-she lets me go out doors first, waits for signals from me, etc. so I had to really up my leadership, but in a different way than how I led Kramer. When I would put her second, and she knew it, she was perfectly happy.

She also liked when I would clap my hands and say HERCULES! HERCULES! like in that Eddie Murphy movie....
She still does! That seems to get her in drive...not something I liked doing in training classes, but, whatever!

We also took Volhard classes which I think helped. It's about the relationship and using whatever the dog needs to get them to work with you.
 

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Will she work WITH one of your other dogs? Kind of like the old saying "Monkey See Monkey Do"? Bring out one of your dogs WITH the new one and have yur dog sit/reward and if the new dog does give her a quick reward. This would work exceptionally well if one of your dogs is an enthusiastic worker. No need to even backtie the new one, let her be as close to the action as long as she is comfortable.
 

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My daughter's GS doesn't like to take food when he is working, he is too excited to eat. He is not ball crazy and only wants the ball if someone else has it, but he lives for praise. We can only praise a bit and calmly or he goes into overdrive and can't focus. Put him with sheep and he is calm and focused. We are starting agility on Mon and I hope his excitement levels will work to his benefit.

She got him a year ago at age 2 yrs and so we have had to learn what works for him, although he has impeccable obedience I don't think he is trial ready because he tends to shut down at dog places. His 2 earlier homes where show homes and they tried to make him a show dog, I don't know what training they did but he shrinks with in himself and lacks all confidence there. One day she will earn some obedience titles on him and hopefully herding and agility too .
 

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Originally Posted By: middleofnowhereHow about using Campbell's "earn to learn" (a variation of NILIF) with this dog? I'd start with the intro -- ignore the dog for a week or several days - then start working where it has to earn any and all rewards (even a glance from you.)
I've googled this but can't find it. I checked his website but didn't see it there either. Anyone have a website where I can read about Earn to Learn?
 
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