Enhacing Intelligence And Problem-solving

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

  1. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    I haven't read all of the responses just yet, but a few things....

    First of all this thread has a ton of info and advice for shaping.

    Also, you said that when shown a new object, "He'll sniff it and drop the issue immediately." Do you reward sniffing at all or ignore it? If you aren't rewarding this, there's your first mistake. :)
    Shaping involves rewarding for the slightest interest at all, be it looking at it, sniffing it, whatever. Any attention towards the object is rewarded a few times, then ignored so the dog offers another behavior. You gradually ask for more and more, and the dog continuously offers different behaviors to figure out what works. But if they don't offer exactly what you want right away, you still reward the first behavior, so they know that the object IS rewarding.
    This is how you teach your dog to think for himself, and brainstorm to figure out what you want. :)
    Some luring, coaching, etc may be required at first, depending on the dog, but you can gradually move into shaping.

    I think that both shaping and luring certainly have their place in training, and both teach certain things. I think luring does teach them to think to some extent, and does teach them to pay attention to you and your movements to get what they want. Shaping teaches the dog to not always rely on you and your commands, and to really think about what they are doing. I do a TON of shaping, and I also lure for many tricks.
    Some dogs definitely have more trouble with shaping, and will take much longer to get the idea. But they can learn. :)

    Shaping may increase his confidence, because he will learn that interacting with various objects is rewarding. But, I wouldn't say that it will make him a completely confident dog.
    What issues does he have as far as confidence? What is he not confident about? How does he react to these situations? Expand a little more please. :)

    ADORABLE dog by the way, such a cute face. :D
    tigerlily46514 likes this.

  2. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    //"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."//

    Difficulties encountered while luring a trick,
    does not necessarily mean you will have to try to teach tricks only by shaping.
    We may be able to help you trouble shoot what the exact problem is.
    My dog dislikes nonstop repetitions, it's just how *my* dog is. He finds that boring after a pretty short period of time...he will start to balk at nonstop repetitions.
    BUT
    If i interject OTHER TRICKS that he knows well, praise those lavishly, or stop altogether and play with him for a moment, (being careful to not reward a non-response, i stop after a correct move) and then return again to the luring i ws working on, that helps him stay at it.

    Moving room to room, or training outdoors, almost always perks up my dog.

    Keeping lessons short, might help keep your dog interested, always stopping before the dog zones out. Many dogs new to training, have to slowly build up their attention spans to pay attention for more than a few minutes. Even five or ten minutes might be long enough for a dog new to tricks training.

    I never scold or correct a wrong move, but lavishly praise the correct ones. I keep my face happy, my voice happy, and i show genuine enthusiasm for all attempts in correct direction, which most dogs find their human being happy as very interesting.

    I use top quality treats, i make my own recipe, and i use only SMALL treats, to avoid a full dog. Many store bought treats are crappy.

    I follow all lessons with play sessions, with a playtime. I say "all done!" and begin play time, so my dog knows the lesson is over, to help release any built up excitement, and so my dog thinks lessons are FUN!

    and, not all dogs "like" all tricks. I've found a few types of tricks, that my dog is less than enthusiastic for.
    some tricks, that my dog "could not get" i just quit the whole trick, moved on to another trick, and came back to the hard trick a month later, and often, the dog "gets it" on a second go around. NO idea why that works, but it often does for tricks my dog is not "getting", i just shelve the trick for a month, and work instead on another trick.

    Hope anything there might inspire you to solve the trouble luring your dog.

    Also, it does take TIME for a dog to learn a trick.

    There's much to learn about your dog's confidence issue, but, gotta go. HANG IN THERE, you can help this dog learn tricks!!!

    ALSO----------watching "how-to videos" from others train their dogs, helped me learn how to do it, sometimes it is easier to WATCH how it is done,than to read words about it.
  3. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    Pawbla, i hope you explain to Tx about your concerns about your dog is not confident, as she rocks at helping ppl with dogs with that problem, she can probably help you a lot. You are not alone, there are others here with the same concern about their dogs, too. Some dogs are just like that, Pawbla, but you CAN help this dog become his best self, yes, you can.

    and even dogs who are not confident, can still learn tricks, and you are NOT the only person whose dog is less confident. There are others here, with same concern, also working like you are, to help their dogs become braver, more secure dogs.
  4. Pawbla Experienced Member

    That is my EXACT same problem. The one whippie has with Sierra. Thanks for the link.


    I tried again with an IQ ball (the one filled with treats) but I really can't get past a mild sniffing. I reward sniffing, licking, or whatever behaviour towards the object. Since this is new maybe he needs more time, though.


    That's the thing, I want to be able to do both with my dog :). A lot of behaviours are reeeaaally hard to impossible to teach by luring! I like luring, though, but I wouldn't want to rely on it forever.


    Thanks! :)

    He shows some rather standard insecure, velcro behaviour. I'm quite surprised he doesn't suffer from separation anxiety. As far as I've been told velcro behaviour is partially because of a dog's insecurity.
    He is insecure when he's not at my toes. He gets anxious. He is always within a few meters and... I really don't know how to explain, haha. It's easy to recognize. For example my teacher can't do demonstrations with my dog since he has always his eyes fixed on me and he's pulling to go back. And he's always like looking at me to see if I approve of a certain behaviour. For example when he's off leash and he sees a dog in the park, he will look at me and wait for a signal, I usually signal with my head. I didn't teach him that (at least not on purpose). If he's walking ahead of me, off leash, he's always turning his head back.
    On leash, he is far more secure. He is not looking at me all the time and he allows people to pet him.
    Also he will do that little paw lifting when he meets new people or new dogs, off leash, which I've been told is a mark of an insecure dog.
    And, well, the fact that he's repeating behaviours that he knows are likely to be rewarded, even if he knows I'll ignore them if not given the cue, instead of trying something new, screams insecure to me. But maybe that's just a human trait rather than a dog one and I'm thinking human instead of dog.


    Yeah, I don't have any specific problems with luring. It's just that he stares, sits, and does the "known tricks" series. He doesn't zone out very often - however with the ball thing my dog started to zone out, maybe it was that he was getting bored? Or maybe thinking too hard? Hahah! Hopefully, but unlikely, the last option.

    I shelved the trick that required shaping for later. Well, not required, but I wanted to do it shaping. Luring your dog over an object is not really fun! Haha!

    I mean - I don't think that shaping is NEEDED AT ALL. I think my teacher never used shaping in his ENTIRE CAREER for obedience training and he is a rather well-known instructor in the country. It's just a pity he doesn't do it, it'd be waaay easier that way! He only uses shaping for behavioural problems.

    I look forward to read your recipes on the forum! My dog loves some cheap store bought treats. He goes crazy for them for some reason! But I don't use them too much, so as not to "burn" them.

    All the tricks I've been watching have been taught by shaping! Hahaha! I'm thinking about new behaviours to teach my dog with the help of a lure. Maybe weaving? I want some easy tricks just to expand his knowledge. Maybe if I finish reading the cognitive-emotional system book I'd comprehend shaping better, haha! But I can't read from the screen, I'll have to borrow it or print it or something.
  5. Pawbla Experienced Member

    I know my dog can still learn lots of tricks! He is not as fast as my other dog in getting the idea, but he is no slowpoke either :).
    I was actually thinking of starting agility as a hobby with my dog but I'd need to build all the obstacles... which is a pain, hahaha. But I think it'd work.

    If I could resolve this velcro behaviour I think everything would be better (for some reason xD). I think it's holding my dog back. I've been doing things by the book as far as possible. But it gets worse, not better. Reorganizing "pack structure", switching caretakers, etc, I've done it. But I can't be away from my dog all day, we live in the same house after all.
  6. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Kind of starting from the bottom here...
    "And, well, the fact that he's repeating behaviours that he knows are likely to be rewarded, even if he knows I'll ignore them if not given the cue, instead of trying something new, screams insecure to me. But maybe that's just a human trait rather than a dog one and I'm thinking human instead of dog."

    In my opinion, this nothing to do with insecurity and everything to do with normal animal behavior--I get rewarded for these behaviors, I'm going to offer them more often. I don't know any other behavior to often, so I'm not sure where to go from there. Even humans are conditioned to this.
    Here's a human example: I always, always, always get to work 10-15 minutes early. At my last job, one day I had a teacher that rescheduled a project presentation at the very last minute. I wasn't able to contact all of the managers, but did tell 2 of them, who evidently hadn't relayed the info to everyone else. All of my coworkers had become conditioned to me coming to work 10-15 minutes early. When I hadn't shown up by 10 minutes after my scheduled time, my phone was blowing up with texts and phone calls from coworkers. Unintentionally, I had conditioned them to expect me there 10-15 minutes early.
    If that's not good enough, take for instance an experiment that has been done numerous times. Each time the dog is fed, a bell is rung just before. This is done over a period of time, until every time the bell is rung the dog begins to salivate and it's body gets ready for digestion. It has become conditioned to the sound of the bell meaning feeding time. The bell has become a sign of a reward, the dog has become conditioned to come to the sound of the bell and get ready to eat.
    He doesn't understand shaping yet, so he doesn't know that offering any behaviors that he doesn't already know can be rewarding. He knows he gets rewarded for sit, down, stand, whatever else, but he doesn't yet know that he can be rewarded for trying other things. So it's more of an issue of just flat not being there yet in his training, not so much being insecure. Just the way an animal's mind works--these things consistently get me rewards so I'm going to keep trying them.

    Does that make sense? Not sure if I'm explaining that very well.

    "I tried again with an IQ ball (the one filled with treats) but I really can't get past a mild sniffing. I reward sniffing, licking, or whatever behaviour towards the object. Since this is new maybe he needs more time, though."

    How many times are you rewarding for the sniffing/licking? You could either be rewarding too much for those behaviors, so he doesn't think he needs to go an extra step, or he could just need a slightly different approach. There are many, many ideas for shaping games in the thread I linked up there though, no need to repeat them. However if you do have questions feel free to ask. :) Certainly don't mind helping.


    How does he react toward people when he is with you? Is he generally unsure of people or shy? Aggressive in any way? Overly timid? What is his reaction to people when he is with you?
    If he is fine with people with you, and only insecure away from you, you can sort of skip some steps. If he is pretty unsure of people in general, then you have a little more work ahead of you. :)
    Depending on how severe his insecurities are towards people, you may need to shelve the therapy dog idea until you can get him 100% comfortable with people. True, he may help people be more comfortable in that line of work, but it certainly won't help him if he's not ready to cope with it. Don't mean to disappoint you in any way, but really and truly, the severity of his insecurities towards people is going to be the deciding factor. YOU are the one he trusts to keep him safe, and forcing him into a situation he doesn't think is safe will certainly hurt your relationship with him.

    To give you a clearer example of the level of severities you can have....

    My bf's dog, Dixie, is not what I would call fearful anymore, but she is extremely submissive. Understand that there is a difference. Dogs don't always submit out of fear, but more out of a non-desire to be the alpha. Just as some humans are leaders and some are followers, dogs are too. Dogs that don't want to be leaders submit out of the desire to not be a leader. But, submission CAN also be a sign of fear as well....but that's a whooooole different book, lol!
    Anyway...so when Dixie was a very young pup, she was unsure of people. In the litterbox she was the pup who avoided human contact, was not curious, etc. This CAN be genetic, and at least two of her littermates I DO think had genes contributing to this. In Dixie's case I think it was learned behavior, as both parents were incredibly timid. The mother rarely even lets her owners touch her. The father is dangerously fear-aggressive towards people. (I hate the owners of the parents, but again...different story...) So anyway, I think Dixie's fear was a learned behavior. We did a lot of work with her creating positive experiences with people. How we did that, again, is not exactly what I'm getting to here, but will get to later.
    Now, Dixie looooooves people, no fear of people at all, but she is submissive. People may disagree with me here, but honestly Dixie is not afraid of people and really enjoys the company of people. But she does act submissive. She trusts me 100%, but prefers to lie down upon first greeting me. (Not a trained behavior, this is part of her submissive personality.) She is not afraid of me, and is very happy to see me, but prefers to lower herself. She does not want to be an alpha, and she expresses that with her body language. Sort of hard to explain without seeing.
    Dixie is on the easy end of the spectrum.

    Then there's Zeke. Zeke is 6 years old. Last year was the very first time he began to approach strangers on his own and allow them to pet him. Zeke is on the opposite end of the spectrum. As a puppy, he would cower and urinate at the very sight of another dog or person. He was incredibly fearful of everything. We did go through separation anxiety, and fear aggression towards dogs. Z lived in an incredibly scary world(in his mind), and was so so so insecure. Zeke will never ever be a "normal" dog, but he improves daily. He has been a lifelong project. When he was about 4 years old, I had found a competent trainer and I felt Zeke was finally at a point where he could handle a small class. We made sure we got into a class with about 5 people, and no more. The very first day of class he was visibly stressed, heavily panting, glued to my leg(literally needed physical contact with me), unable to do any training because of his stress level. By probably the 3rd-4th week(I think), he was comfortable 2-3 feet away from me. By the 8th week the classroom was his safe place and he behaved in the classroom just as he did at home--a crazy high energy, high drive, tennis ball-obsessed nutzo dog.(What makes me love him. :love:) He could even heel and do various tricks for the trainer. Outside of the classroom he was much "stickier" but still miles better than day 1. We did a ton of work to get him to that point, but he did get to that point--and that was huge for him.
    He's gone from cowering and urinating at the sight of a new person, to being able to heel with my tall, deep-voiced male friend...being able to approach a very very very tall, hairy, extremely deep voiced coworker--all on his own--and letting him pet him...going to the vet and not being afraid of him until the Bordatella part. He has improved by LEAPS AND BOUNDS, and each improvement is a heartwarming moment for me, but he will never be a social butterfly.

    Then there's Dexter, an abused Italian Greyhound/Daschund mix I worked with. When we tried to start clicker training with him, we found out that he would completely shut down at the sound of the clicker. The first day we ruined it with just 2 or 3 clicks trying to load it--he was so stressed by just that that he wanted nothing to do with either me or his owner. He was eventually able to understand that the clicker was a good thing, but it took a lot of time and patience.


    So, where does your dog fit in as far as insecurities?
    Sorry such a long post, this is a lengthy topic. :X3:
    Lol, and thanks Tigerlily!
  7. Pawbla Experienced Member

    So you think it's more about him not yet being there? That's why I was wondering about how to teach him shaping which was my first post (lol), it's just that the thread has derailed a lot and I've been going on with, maybe, crazier ideas. First the traditional training, then the velcro behaviour, haha.

    I'm not really sure. I think I may have rewarded the licking too much, but he still hasn't produced a consistent licking behaviour either.

    No, aggressiveness or fear would have ruled him out of the therapy thing. When he's with me, he is super pleased to meet everybody, every dog, and that. He loves people, he loves being the centre of attention. The problem usually appears off leash if he's carried away from me in some way.
    And about the work itself, we're just starting out. We have at least another half a year to a year until we certify the dogs :p. So plenty of time to work with them!

    Well, my dog is on the easy end of the spectrum. He is what I'd say balanced in his dominance/submission, at least at home. He is comfortable with laying on his back and me walking over him and all that kinds of stuff. But he's not entirely submissive. He displays signs in both spectrums, but he's more confident and dominant (in a good way) towards other unknown dogs than with unknown people. He is not fearful, he just shows a bit of "I don't know if I should approach this human" and he stands staring at them, front paw lifted, smelling the air, and ears shifting from a dominant to a submissive stance, demonstrating his uncertainty. But it depends on the person too, because he'll go running towards some and assume this uncertain air with some others. I guess it depends on how the person looks at him, people sitting down are non-threatening. But a person staring right at their eyes is not exactly that friendly-looking to most dogs. Once the person approaches him or I go closer to him, he gets into a more friendly behaviour.
    But maybe insecurity is not a good label. I meant velcro behaviour and I've read in a couple of books that insecurity is listed as one of the causes of the velcro behaviour. Since lots of the other causes don't really apply (like the over-humanisation of the dog) and given that kind of behaviours he has, it may be as well one of the most likely causes.

    Really, I can't explain at all. I'll get back to you tomorrow after I've done quite a deal of observing, because I can't remember what I saw in my dog that gave me the insecurity idea.
  8. running_dog Honored Member

    What about capturing a behaviour (play bow, stand, lick nose, touch hand, paw hand, roll over... whatever he does naturally) so the dog knows he can get rewarded for something you haven't taught?
    tx_cowgirl and tigerlily46514 like this.
  9. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    "So you think it's more about him not yet being there? That's why I was wondering about how to teach him shaping which was my first post (lol), it's just that the thread has derailed a lot and I've been going on with, maybe, crazier ideas. First the traditional training, then the velcro behaviour, haha."

    Definitely. When you first begin shaping, all dogs will go through an attempt at known behaviors before trying to just interact with the unknown object. So I definitely don't think that that means he is insecure.

    "I'm not really sure. I think I may have rewarded the licking too much, but he still hasn't produced a consistent licking behaviour either."

    Definitely possible. With shaping you only want to reward each behavior a few times, before waiting for something else. The number of times to reward largely depends on the dog, but generally rewarding more than 10 times is too much unless that IS the behavior you are wanting. Somewhere between 3-10 times of rewarding is right, depending on the dog.
    So, for instance, Mud's first behavior to offer with an unknown object (after just plain looking at it) is usually to touch it with her nose. When we first started shaping, I rewarded for this about 3 or 4 times, then quit rewarding for it. Her second behavior to offer is to bite at or pick up the item. If this wasn't what I wanted, again I would reward 3 or 4 times, then quit. Her third behavior is to touch it with her paw. If that doesn't work, she will "hike" it like a football--this started after I taught her to hike a football on cue, lol. And if that doesn't work, then she will get more creative and do a variety of other things. In between those steps, if she started to get frustrated and leave the object, I would encourage her to play with the object--shaking it around like a toy, tossing it, or simply moving it or tapping it so it caught her eye again.
    Now she fully understands shaping, and will instantly interact with a new object, but she's done a whoooooole lot of shaping in her life. :) I only reward 2-3 times for each behavior until she gets to what I want.

    Some dogs do have a much tougher time with shaping, but they can certainly still learn. It just takes a little more creativity and patience. :)

    "No, aggressiveness or fear would have ruled him out of the therapy thing. When he's with me, he is super pleased to meet everybody, every dog, and that. He loves people, he loves being the centre of attention. The problem usually appears off leash if he's carried away from me in some way."
    "He is not fearful, he just shows a bit of "I don't know if I should approach this human" and he stands staring at them, front paw lifted, smelling the air, and ears shifting from a dominant to a submissive stance, demonstrating his uncertainty. But it depends on the person too, because he'll go running towards some and assume this uncertain air with some others. I guess it depends on how the person looks at him, people sitting down are non-threatening. But a person staring right at their eyes is not exactly that friendly-looking to most dogs. Once the person approaches him or I go closer to him, he gets into a more friendly behaviour."

    So perhaps he only shows signs of anxiety when people are towering or leaning over him, or starting at him? If that's the case, you can improve his behavior in this situation by having people do this but always give him a treat, so he understands that they aren't going to hurt him. But, this is pretty natural, as in dog language, that behavior is intimidating. So with training you can probably get him through the paw-lifting, but not sure about the submissive ears.
    As for getting him comfortable working away from you, you can work on increasing the distance of his stays, teach him to go to objects, such as going to a mat, going around an object and coming back to you, etc.
  10. running_dog Honored Member

    Another few thoughts on the free shaping... I just tried the 101 with Gus for the first time. It was quite different from Zac's first 101 and I had to make it up a little as I went along :ROFLMAO:

    I used a box. Gus sniffed the box because it was new I clicked and treated and he sat and stared and stared at me. Eventually I touched the box and he looked at the box so I clicked and dropped a treat into the box. This set him up to succeed because obviously he sniffed the box after eating the treat. I repeated this a few times and then started to alternate treat in box and treat in hand. I also found that lots of verbal praise, jackpots and reward games helped him figure it all out quicker.
    tigerlily46514 and Anneke like this.
  11. Pawbla Experienced Member

    Hmmm thanks for all the advice.

    I've tried capturing lip-licking, running dog :). And I was thinking of trying to capture bow too, it looks really cut. Thanks for the advice.

    Tx_Cowgirl, thanks for your advice. Yeah, that's the way I was thinking of helping him overcome his anxiety. I've been practicing "stay" these days, it's not a really reliable stay.
    I need a helper (a good amount of helpers), but all my friends know my dog and all my training partners know my dog, too. That's the bad thing about taking your dog everywhere, I guess.
  12. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Good luck wih him. :) Lol, yes, it is pretty easy to run out of helpers. Completely understand there! You can still practice in various public places, but of course the "helpers" aren't conrolled. O_o
  13. Pawbla Experienced Member

    If you click and treat yourself, when he approaches people, is it "the same" as if the helper would be the one giving him the treat?
  14. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    He will still get the idea to some extent, but this will enhance the idea that YOU are rewarding, and not so much that all people are rewarding. So if he only gets rewarded for approaching people by you, he won't be as sure of people as he could be if the reward came from people. Indeed you do need to be rewarding, this is crucial for 100% reliable recall, but if your goal is to make him less of a velcro dog, I would say this wouldn't be the way to go about it.

    If he is unsure of taking treats from other people right now, he doesn't have to actually take it from them. To start out, they can toss it to him. He still sees that the reward is coming from them, and in time he will be able to take the treat from them if he is not able to do so right now.

    Also if you are the only one giving him the reward, this may make his willingness to approach people improve, but not his willingness to interact with people.
  15. Pawbla Experienced Member

    Yeah, that's true! Maybe I can approach random people, giving them treats, and asking them to give them to my dog, hahaha. It wouldn't improve the off-leash thing since I'd have to be by his side and all, but maybe encouraging him to do this will encourage him to make friends easily.

    After all, I'm supposed to keep my dog always on a leash, but when I go to the park with a pack of stray doggies following me (most dogs are either attached to me or my dog) I usually let him run free and play with the dogs for at leash a while.

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