Dogs Not Thinking For Themselves


Well-Known Member
I guess that's what you'd call it?

Both of my dogs(especially Annie) have a bit of trouble with training some of the new behaviors I teach them. Like the ones involving props. For instance, I'm trying to teach Annie that elephant trick where her front legs are on an object and she spins around. It took -forever- to teach her to be innovative and step on it herself, even with luring. I don't mind a trick taking a while, but the main issue was that she kept trying to sit or lay down and stare at me rather than figure out why I wasn't giving her commands!

I tried waiting it out and it's literally the longest I've ever seen her sitting still, haha. She just stared at me and cried sometimes since she didn't know what I wanted. All I wanted her to do in this session was just look at it. I even tried scooting it back and forth to gain some attention.

Anyway, after a few training sessions I -finally- got her to step on it on command. Now the trouble is that every time she does a command, she sits immediately afterwards(or lays down sometimes). Rollover, she rolls and then raises herself into a sit. Jump, she jumps until I stop the hand signaling(we're building on the times she needs to jump), she sits. When I was doing the luring onto the box we were using, I was purposefully not clicking if she laid down as soon as she was on there(which she did so much at first)--I ended up needing to lure her into a stand several times. Now she'll stand and as soon as I click, she'll either step off and sit or she'll lay down/sit with her front paws still on it.

I'm really at a loss with this! Do I not give her a treat or do I lure her into a stand before I give her the treat? I have Annie sit before going through doors, before she's allowed to eat food, but since this obsession with sitting and laying down started, I've been mixing it up with laying down as well.. Which kind of ruins what I was going for, but I was hoping it would kind of keep her on her toes with what I was going to ask for.

Another thing she does if she's waiting me out is she'll just get bored and start sniffing all over the floor for treats. It's almost like she's thinking that's what I wanted or something since she does this after I do any sort of motion when I'm waiting for her to show interest in the object--even just shifting my weight!

Any ideas?
(sorry for bugging you guys with so many questions!)


Honored Member
You could throw the treat. I throw Holly's treat a lot of the time, it acts as a bit of a re-set because the dog has to move away from what your teaching it and then come back and try again.

For example, your dog could put her feet on the object, you click and throw the treat to the side (vary where you throw it) so that the dog gets off the object (without having time to sit) to get the treat. Then the dog has to come back and offer putting her feet on the object again to get another treat.
I think throwing the treat can add more energy and movement to a training session, although you wouldn't throw the treat for all behaviours.

Make sure your other dog is out of the room or it could cause trouble if they both go for the treat.


Well-Known Member
So should I do that for all tricks? Ie. after roll over, toss the treat before she gets into a sit?

Great advice by the way :)


Staff member
Yeah, I do that for alot of tricks, it resets them, without me having to tell them :)

As far as teaching her to think for herself, maybe you need to do some freeshaping sessions. Google "101 things to do with a box" It's alot of fun, and a great way for a dog to learn to think :)


Experienced Member
Humm maybe I should do this with Deja. She gets all hyped up and and then can't think straight. :/


Well-Known Member
Yeah, I've tried the box thing before but it's the same issue where she will barely even look at it. D:


Experienced Member
Keep in mind that a dog also has to learn to learn things.

I'd keep the doorwaiting to a sit (you want this to be something she does at all times so there should only be one good outcome).
Maybe it is also an idea to teach her stand. So she becomes aware of the fact that can also be a desired behavior. The food tossing is also a good thing.

The more a dog knows (has learned) the higher the chances they will start offering some kind of behavior:
Training session has begun but I'm not getting any treats/cues,what if I do this or that.

M&B don't get the freeshaping with the box either. But with other things/props (balance ball/food bowl) they show a lot of thinkingskills. Maybe a dogpuzzel would be fun for thedogs as it also sets them tothinkfor themselves and immediately get rewarded for it :) (they are expensive though but a lot of fun).