Enhacing Intelligence And Problem-solving

Discussion in 'General Dog Training' started by Pawbla, Feb 17, 2012.

  1. Pawbla Experienced Member

    Hello! I'm not sure if this is the correct forum, but I guess it's a general problem related with training in general.

    I have a small problem with my dog. I find had to make my dog interested in the environment.

    I was trying to teach my dog to stand with his fore legs on a number of things but he wouldn't pay attention to any of them. I even used his food bowl. He keeps staring at me. After staring me for a while, he displays a sit/down/dead/sit pretty sequence in hopes of getting the reinforcement. He doesn't try any kind of new behaviours. He doesn't play an "active role" in the training.

    Are there any easier exercises that may help develop his intelligence? Not necessarily tricks, but I want to reinforce initiative. The only thing I can come up is reinforcing things he already does, you know, capturing behaviours. He never shows much initiative with anything, but he does approach strangers. Would reinforcing that help build confidence and initiative? Or is it a bad idea? I have to reinforce it anyways since he's training for therapy, but I was planning to do it later on.

    I don't want to resort to the kind of training I used for teaching those other behaviours. While luring is nice and easy, it's way better, in my opinion, to develop the intelligence of the dog.

    Help? xD

  2. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    What happens if you put an entirely new, never-seen-before object down in front of your dog?
  3. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    Not sure if this will help, but to get my dog to put his paws on an elevated object, i lured him to put his front paws on a square of cloth. He got the idea pretty readily.
    Then i advanced to a book.
    THEN i advanced to a higher item.

    Do you use a clicker?
    How long are your lessons ?

    Have you tried moving room to room, during the lessons, to re-perk up the dog, if he begins to zone out?

    Are you "correcting" wrong moves, with a "no" or anything? (that can turn off some dogs to lessons)
  4. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    What are you using for treats?
    Some dogs are fairly fussy about what they consider a good treat.:ROFLMAO:
    I have to keep my treats very small, cuz my dog can get full and lose interest if i use big treats.

    Some ppl here use tug toys, or tennis balls, for their dogs, as their dogs see those things as very high value. Many of us here DO have to customize the rewards for our unique dogs.
  5. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    How long have you had this dog? (just asking, cuz some dogs are a bit reserved and unsure, if they have just moved into a new home with new ppl).
    Pawbla likes this.
  6. Pawbla Experienced Member

    He'll sniff it and drop the issue immediately xD.

    I stepped on a book directly because I know (because I tried) that he wouldn't pay any sort of attention to a piece of cloth. And yeah, he will do it luring, but I want to build intelligence, not only the behaviour itself.

    I use a clicker and my lessons are more or less as long as the dog keeps being attentive or as long as I can. He has a pretty long attention span so it can range from 2-3 minutes if I have to do something else, to 15 minutes. Obviously not always doing the same behaviour because it'd be boring.

    He doesn't zone out. He is just waiting for the treat, staring at me or performing the behaviours he knows are likely to be rewarded. He zones out after a good while of doing nothing, but as long as I have treats, he's not really likely to zone out. I do, however, move rooms, because it gets boring if I don't.

    He works fairily well with anything edible but in this particular case I've been working with his favorite treats, which are some semi-wet dog treats. Yeah, he likes those over meat, too.

    I'd love to use those things but my dog shows absolutely no interest in tugging or playing in any way. He'll fetch one or two times a tennis ball but that's as far as he goes. I have even tried tug toys filled with food, IQ balls and that sort of thing that has food besides the toy itself to try to increase his prey drive but he shows no interest. Also squeaky toys but he doesn't like them a lot.

    No, I just ignore the behaviour, move in a circle with him, and try again.

    Two years more or less.

    Thanks a bunch for the interest!
  7. charmedwolf Moderator

    Well, it's going to take some time. Shaping exercises do teach this and they are very thinking oriented exercises. Because he has already been taught with luring and some other type of training that he doesn't really have to think about what is right it will be harder than if you first taught him shaping then luring. Just for you to know so you don't get frustrated for it taking too long.

    101 Things to Do With a Box – You can use any old cardboard box for this, or it doesn’t even have to be a box! I like to use a chair. You can play “101 Things to Do With Anything.”
    Your dog can be on leash, or off, if he’ll stay and keep working with you. Set a chair a few feet back from the box or object, sit in the chair, and wait. As this is a shaping exercise, you’re looking for tiny pieces of behavior to click and treat – any behavior that relates to the box – a look, a step, a sniff, a push ... only this time you have no specific goal in mind, and you don’t have to build up to a behavior – random behaviors are fine.
    If your dog gets hung up on one particular behavior you can stop clicking that one and wait for something else. The more confident your dog is about offering behaviors, the more easily you can just quit clicking one thing and wait for another. At some point, if you wish, you can decide on a goal behavior based on the ones your dog has offered, and shape it into something specific – front feet only in the box; hind feet only in the box; all four feet in the box; turn the box over; fetch the box; or...?
    Body Parts – Body Parts shaping helps your dog learn to offer behavior, and it also helps you realize how precise this process can be for shaping the tiniest of movements.
    Sit in a chair with your dog facing you, and watch your dog closely for a movement in one of his body parts. Even a tiny movement will do. For example, you could watch for a flick of his ear, a turn of his head, the lift of a paw, or a tongue flicker. If you see a twitch reward it. It just proves to the dog that no matter what there isn't a wrong answer. They can do whatever.

    I'll post more exercises that I have in my favorites when I find them. Others should be able to add more as well.
    tigerlily46514 likes this.
  8. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    Yes, i understand you want to shape behaviors, i was just posting possibley helpful advice to help you get your dog to put his paws on the box, because you had said this:

    //"I was trying to teach my dog to stand with his fore legs on a number of things but he wouldn't pay attention to any of them. I even used his food bowl. He keeps staring at me."//

    i'm not sure what all you were doing to teach the dog that trick.
    True, dogs don't typically notice cloths.
    Using luring, a dog can indeed, be lured to notice and put his feet on cloth.

    like this:

    but i think Charmed Wolf's post sounds like great advice to help you shape behaviors. GOOD LUCK!!! HANG IN THERE!!!
  9. Pawbla Experienced Member

    Thanks for the ideas! And thanks for the heads up on that it takes a long time. I'm never sure if it's taking too long and I'm doing something wrong or if it's normal, haha!

    I think I'll start with the body parts since he's not really interested in environment and then move on to the cardboard box once he's built a bit more confidence.

    tigerlily46514, I didn't think of that, thanks! Yes, like you said, it seems easier to lure them to a piece of cloth. Once I'm done with the shaping exercises I'll try the cloth first! Maybe he'll be a bit more interested in it then.
    tigerlily46514 likes this.
  10. Anneke Honored Member

    Not to put you down, but.... Some dogs don't get the freeshaping at all. Lazy thinkers:D
    And they will need great reinforcement to start showing interest. Sometimes you will have to begin clicking movement of the eyes towards the object.
    The first thing that entred my mind was, what charmedwolf suggested 101 thing to do with a box.

    Something else you can do for motivation is, instead of giving the treat, try tossing it away from you, or the object you were training with.
    What we do for motivationtraining is: put your treats on a chair/table(somewhere you can easily get to it).
    Choose a behaviour you want your dog to do(something he knows), like sit. As soon as he does it, click, and run for your treats. If you use a release cue, give it before you start running. The idea is you run toward the treats together with your dog. Because you are running, your dog will show more interest. You are acting funny!!!
    You should see or rather hear me sometimes when I do motivationruns with Cooper:D:D You would need earplugs:p YES!! WHOOHOO!! YOU DID IT!! GOOD BOY!!!
    You can also grab a few treats and scatter them on the floor, as an extra.

    My Cooper isn't a thinker eather. He will do things, but he likes to be shown what to do. I just won't be able to do a completely free shaping session with him. He has become better at it, since I did the box thing, but I need to get him excited or he will shut down on me. Very very frustrating for me:oops:because he really challenges me in this;)
  11. Pawbla Experienced Member

    Thanks for the advice! We run once in a while, while we're training, but he's not always up for it. We both have a lot of fun with that! Also in some classes we practice hopping over a hurdle or through a hoop, and it helps everyone relax and have fun while practicing obedience. My dog is not a great fan of running and jumping usually, but he's begun to like it! We start off a sit and then run, jump and treat! We even jump with the dogs sometimes!
  12. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    I started "traditional'" training, (luring, etc) with my dog,
    which i DO strongly believe HAS increased my dog's "thinking" capacity.

    NOW THAT MY DOG UNDERSTANDS that some behaviors that seem "odd" to him,
    are very pleasing to me, behaviors that he learned through luring, etc,
    NOW he is more open
    to consider that his offering of shaped behaviors might just be pleasing to me, too.

    Really, think about it............. If a dog hasn't been much rewarded for doing OTHER odd behaviors-----------MAYBE he is unlikely to realize that such things are liked by humans. Much of agility is not too far outside of 'normal' dog behaviors, (running, jumping, climbing, etc)
    But "tricks" are often way outside of 'normal' dog behaviors.

    It is not impossibleO_o
    if your dog does not yet know many typical tricks,
    which, honestly, to A DOG, might seem like "odd" thingsO_o to be rewarded for,
    are indeed, things he will be heavily rewarded for,:D
    it might not yet cross his lil doggie mind, that offering odd behaviors on his own, could ALSO be rewarded as well.

    I did not find "traditional" luring training, inhibited my dog from offering other "odd" behaviors,
    (or, as we humans call them, "tricks";))
    when given the chance to do so.
    In fact, i feel pretty darn certain, that rewarding my dog for "odd" behaviors (tricks) that HAS INCREASED his ability and his creativity, and his confidence,
    to dream up his own tricks when he is asked to.

    Lol, actually, after Buddy has fully grasped the requested trick,
    he THEN often offers up an "embellishment" of it, adding in this or that 'extra' move of his own, to see if THAT will also be rewarded. And sometimes, it IS! Sometimes, i like his lil addition.
    I know other members here have made the same remark, that their dog will ALSO add in lil extra moves to a trick, to test out, if that will or won't be rewarded. Learning tricks in general, does increase a dog's creativity, imo.

    TRICKS TRAINING, even if done by luring,
    WILL increase your dogs thinking skills, imo, and his creativity, his ability to understand, that "odd" behaviors can be rewarded.

    You are STILL asking the dog to figure something out when you teach a trick to him. the dog STILL has to solve a puzzle when he has to discover what eggzactly is being rewarded.....and to build upon that, for next step of the trick.

    Anytime a dog is asked to figure anything out,
    it helps increase his intelligence, his ability to use his own mind.

    If your dog is "drawing a blank" on freeshaping,
    Maybe if you do go on and advance (past agility style tricks), and onto "typical" tricks,
    and see if when your dog learns that other "odd" things, being rewarded,
    increases his ability to consider creating his own. ...???

    It's how my dog got started being creative. Prior to being rewarded for things like moving his paws in odd ways, for putting his feet here or there, for moving his head this way or that way, for getting on top of this or that, pushing this item with his nose, or pulling that item with his paw, etc etc etc etc
    -----------------prior to being rewarded for those "odd" things, it might not have ever crossed Buddy's mind to think of such 'useless' activities(to a dog's point of view)
    as something worth exploring.
  13. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    although others may disagree,
    the whole point of my long post above---is----that MAYBE it will be the same for your dog, as it was for mine,
    that learning typical tricks,
    may help your dog begin to develop looking at behaviors outside of his normal thinking
    as worth offering for rewards.

    and yes, i soo agree with Anneke, that some dogs can catch their HUMAN'S enthusiasm. My dog certainly does.
    if *i* am enthusiastic while training him,
    my dog ALSO thinks tricks training is huge fun for HIM too.

    GOOD LUCK!!!
  14. Pawbla Experienced Member

    I guess that it depends on the association the dog makes when he first starts training, and the personality influences a lot there. One of my dogs, Hosen, is like yours. He knows only three tricks: "sit", "down", "stay", "heel", "play dead" and we've practiced spin also but I dropped it to favor leash training. He offers all kind of behaviours when faced with a reinforcement, but he's a very independent dog and has a completely different personality. He often offers small variations of the behaviours in case he gets a jackpot. My dog is in the rather over-dependent side (to the point it's a problem), knows more tricks and he still hasn't got any kind of initiative. He knows "sit", "down", "play dead", "stay", "sit pretty", "spin" (incomplete, still have to lure), "jump" (still unreliable) and it's getting harder to try to make him produce a different behaviour when he's facing a possible reinforcement. I'm not sure if I want to keep teaching behaviours with luring if then it'll be quite a hard time to get him to think.

    On another hand, I don't think dogs have to figure out much about what they're being rewarded for. That's why timing is important and you have half a second to reinforce if you want to be clear, and that's why clicker training is so effective.

    Dogs smell that we're having fun :). I try not to train in a bad mood or anything. If I start to get frustrated, I take a break and start again when I'm eager to do it.
  15. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    Well, if a dog only knows the basic 4 or 5 tricks very very well, over the course of a few years, that most every dog knows, maybe you could continue on with teaching more tricks,
    and explore what regular daily training might inspire in this dog!! who knows?? *Might* be too soon to for you to make a final judgement on whether or not luring *might* indeed inspire your dog to become creative if he has only learned a few tricks over the years.

    My dog probably knows upwards of 70 tricks and cues, it HAS helped him become quite a "thinker" and very creative. But, i kind of suspect, if he had NOT been rewarded for alllllll these other "odd" behaviors------ALL THE TIME---then it *might* not have occurred to Buddy to think that offering up similar types of goofy behaviors might earn him some treats,
    as he would have had no concept:confused: of being rewarded for doing goofy things.

    //"...........and we've practiced spin also but I dropped it to favor leash training."//

    Glad you are working on the leash walking!:D Took me forever, hope you are faster than i was! ha ha!:rolleyes: don't worry, most eveyrone else seems to have conquered leash walking much faster than my dog and i took to become good at it.:rolleyes:
    I was surprised how much persistence that one took for *me* and my dog, but, i may have been making mistakes, especially at first..i do think my dog and i took way longer than most ppl need to "get it right":ROFLMAO:

    It's perfectly okay to teach a trick, as well as work on your loose leash walking, all on same day. It's even okay to work on more than one trick in a week, so long as the two or three tricks are not similar. Like a dog could be learning "smile", "spin" and "come" all in same week. Maybe not back to back, but, maybe at 8am, do a lesson of "smile", and at 5pm, do a lesson of "spin", and at 7pm, do a lesson of "come" to help improve his recall around distractions or from distances.

    //"I'm not sure if I want to keep teaching behaviours with luring if then it'll be quite a hard time to get him to think."//

    I'm not exactly certain why you have decided this is "true".(???)
    I still disagree., as i explained in my last post. I think teaching multitudes of tricks very well might inspire a dog to think and become more creative.
    I know many many members here are very fond of shaping tricks,
    but, i do not think we have any members here who ONLY shape tricks.

    It's pretty difficult to get a dog to shake his head "no", do agility, pick up all his toys, stay, retrieve named items, have razor sharp recall, heel, etc, by shaping alone. Most everyone i know, thinks tricks training does improve a dog's mind, his intelligence, his ability to undestand that odd behaviors are reward-able.
    I feel bad you have somehow got the idea that tricks training will prevent shaping tricks, as most dogs can do both. If you DO have a dog who is not into shaping, and never ever will be even if he had a chance to become very very very familiar with the concept of being rewarded for odd behaviors--------well, skipping teaching him a multitude of other useful cues and tricks, like "come" and "heel", won't really help such a dog.

    And i do think learning tricks help dogs get the notion, that "odd" things, if offered, might earn a reward.

    My dog does offer odd lil behaviors if given a new item, and even looks up at me, to see if i "like" it, but, prior to being rewarded for OTHER odd behaviors, daily, for years, he never did this....wouldn't have crossed his mind.

    He had no concept of being rewarded for odd behaviors, at all.

    I do think learning fairly complex tricks (more than sit or spin) does indeed, require the dog to think. Especially multi-step cues, like, "Go find your toy duck, and bring it to me", or "get a beer out of the fridge", etc etc.

    But i so agree, that all dogs do have unique personalities, i agree so very much! And it might be your dog won't ever offer shaped behaviors, ever, but, most dogs will, but, maybe not all dogs. But there are other members here, with very dependent dogs, or even shy dogs, or nervous type of dogs, who still can do shaped behaviors.

    But, it's fine if we disagree, not all our dogs are the same, and not all of the human's opinions match, ha ha!!! And if you have made your decision, to halt traditional tricks training, as you have decided it wills somehow stunt your dog's ability to "think", (??)
    that IS your right to believe that. Like our dogs, we humans are all unique individuals as well.

    and yes, dogs can smell some emotions, but i think my dog uses far more than his nose to decide who is feeling what mood. He also uses his ears, dogs even note some breathing patterns, (sighs, or very fast breathing, or yawns, are all cues to dogs, for example)
    and he knows the usual tone and cadence of speech,
    A dog uses his eyes, and knows facial expressions, even the shape of your eyes is a clue to him,
    and the dog observes our body moves
    and speed and strength of our body moves and postures,
    a dog can use way more than just his nose to determine the mood of his humans.
    If you run through the room, talking rapidly in a high pitch voice, and waving your arms about, your dog won't have to smell you to determine you are very excited about something.

    It's great you do take a break if you are getting frustrated, excellent decision!:D BEST OF LUCK with your shaping tricks!! HOPE YOU ENJOY THIS WEBSITE, there are many videos of dogs learning tricks around here for inspiration!!!
  16. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    Pushing a ball with his nose is pretty easy basic shaping trick.
    Maybe that would please you if your dog got a brand new large ball, which most dogs will sniff, and if it is on a smooth surface, it will roll....and CLICK/TREAT.

    i guess that is technically not "shaping" as you do have a specific goal in mind...nevermind! sorry!
  17. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    One more thing, then i'll quit.
    My dog,
    like most dogs,
    offers in some "extra" moves during traditional luring tricks. If we CLICK/TREAT, the move is kept as part of the trick,
    if we ignore it, the dog quits adding it in.

    I taught him to pick up his toys, and drop them, one at a time, into his toybox.
    On his own, Buddy offered up this: He runs towards the toybox, and jumps OVER the toybox, while tossing the toy in at same time. (Sometimes, he jumps over the toybox, and then loops around as he lands and drops toy into the toybox).
    CLICK/TREAT! LOVED IT! WOW AND WOW! It's is soooooo impressive to see him do this, he looks like a fancy basketball player who styles up their shots to look cool. People ask me, "How did you train THAT?" but, i didn't, the dog thought of the fancy ending.
    If i had NOT been teaching him to pick up his toys, my dog would have never thought of offering up his own little fancy ending....on his own, i could have sat there, for months, with a pile of toys and a toybox, just watching him, and waiting......and waiting......and he probably never ever ever would have done that move.

    If you keep your eyes open, while doing "traditional" training, you very well might spot your dog offering up some additions of his own!!!!!!
  18. tigerlily46514 Honored Member


    To the great list of reasons above, on why it's good idea to teach your dog tricks, i'd add
    ~it increases your dogs trust in you
    ~it increases your bond to your dog, and your dog's bond to you
    ~it's FUN (i always say, if it is not fun, for both you AND the dog, you are doing it wrong:ROFLMAO: )
    ~and like #2 says, it prevents boredom.
  19. Pawbla Experienced Member

    You know, before my answer to what you said... could he lack confidence because of his velcro behaviour? I've been trying to "correct it" (like, not with correction, but you get the idea) but so far no luck. He's always glued to me and it has got worse since we came back to my parent's.

    Well, actually, he's learned these basic tricks in the span of a few months, not years, haha. Only thing he knew was "sit". I guess it's part of the problem. I never taught my dog anything because I didn't want to do it the wrong way since I wanted him to be my "perfect" dog.
    I actually think I'm going to have to keep teaching tricks or I'll fall back in the therapy classes. And because I like it, now I've become a training sessions addict xD.

    Yeah! But I have these other two dogs to train and I still have to read a bunch of books for classes, it's more like a time issue. I'd rather have a 100% leash training than a 90% leash and 50% spin. I'm rushing here to make the "deadline" which is my departure.

    I don't, I'm only presenting a posibility that I've made by observation. I observed that it was getting more difficult to lure and get the desired behaviour. The fact that he was being rewarded for x and y tricks was just one of the possibilities. He had gotten progressively harder to lure, and the difficulty began when he started learning tricks. It also began when his velcro behaviour began to get worse, and since it's related to lack of confidence I now think it's the most likely cause. He is only repeating the learnt behaviours because he is not confident that he will produce a behaviour that will get rewarded. Still, I guess the solution for enhacing confidence is similar to the solution for enhacing intelligence - those shaping exercises, I guess. The one with the ball is pretty cool, I think I'll try it with the IQ ball if he hasn't lost interest in it yet.

    And this is why, I'm not sure if the velcro behaviour is part of the problem! Hahaha! Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. If the solution works, maybe it was, but maybe it was something different that we haven't thought about yet.

    Of course! 100% agree on that, one of our dog's favourite hobbies is observing their owners. They can read our visual and auditive cues far more easily than any human, I just said smell because smell is the sense that is uniquely developed in canids. I have a fascination for their noses, they are truly remarkable!

    And thanks a bunch for all the ideas, the discussion has helped me organize my ideas. I won't halt the tricks but now I will try to raise his confidence/thinking ability (in a way not yet determined, hahahaha).[/quote][/quote]
  20. Pawbla Experienced Member

    Hopefully he will. Do you think that would increase his confidence? I'm checking out the page, thanks!

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