Learning The Basics

Discussion in 'General Dog Training' started by Evie, Feb 9, 2015.

  1. Evie Experienced Member

    So, for those of you who don't know, two weeks ago we were given a little terror, uh, I mean, kelpie. He's 5 months old and has had basically no training.

    In this two weeks we have taught; sit, down, stand, wait (stay) and come. However, he refuses to do any of these behaviours, particularly come, if we are anywhere but within the house.

    Everyone says come is the first thing to teach... It's the first thing I taught Evie, but I got Evie as a puppy, not as a 5 month old, independent terror... and Evie always has had near perfect recall as she has seperation issues lol....

    My new terror-kelpie on the other hand has selective listening skills in relation to EVERYTHING. In his defense, I've only had him for 2 weeks, and before that he knew nothing except for sit. He was taken on walks but was left to pull as hard as he pleased for the entire walk.

    I know the theory behind teaching come. I know I'm supposed to heavily reward coming when called and to slowly increase the level of the distractions... the only problem is doing just that. My back yard is not suitable as the next step as my back yard is 75 acres of chickens, sheep, horses, rabbits, kangaroos, horses etc.... and is consequently quite distracting. Doesn't make for a very good step 2 in training.

    If I take him to a quiet park to train with he still is incapable of even sitting when asked, never known actually coming when called. I can walk off in the other direction and he'll just continue on doing his own thing. He has zero loyalties to us and would happily go home with absolutely anyone, or just keep on wandering around by himself. If I run in the other direction... sometimes that'll get his attention, but if he's distracted by a smell, or a leaf, or an ant.... then he probably won't care and will just ignore me regardless of what treats I have to offer.... which brings us to problem number 2

    I think he'll be easier to train through toys than through food.... the only problem is that currently, as soon as I bring out a ball or a frisbee, he can't think of anything but what i'm holding in my hand. I can't convince him to even sit for it... I can't call him to me (he comes, but still stop about 3 meters away from me and stares at the toy I'm holding like it's a sheep about to break away from the herd)

    I'd like to create a tug drive with him so that he has to actually come back to me for his reward and I can control it better. At the moment he might chase the ball, but then when it stops moving he just lays down and stares at it..

    sooooo, how does one create a tug drive in their dog. I can't even get him to tug on a soft frisbee even when it's the thing in the world that he wants the most he just won't open his mouth on it. I've tried rolling it along the ground, sliding it along the ground, basically playing with it like a cat toy and although he follows it and pounces on it he simply won't mouth it for more than a quarter of a second.

    Any thoughts/suggestions/ideas will be most helpful

    ps. I'd like to take him to obedience but I can't seem to find any within 45 minutes drive of where I live that don't train with choke chains or insist one constantly yanks their dogs necks/leads to get their attention.


    (here's a pic for no particular reason)[IMG]
    running_dog likes this.

  2. running_dog Honored Member

    I disagree.
    Teaching your dog to pay attention to you is the first thing to teach. That's why you never had trouble teaching Evie to come. She always had her attention on you because you are her security, she wanted to be with you. I've had 7 + years of failure with Zac "teaching" him to come when the root problem was that I just hadn't made myself important enough. Rusty knows how to come, it's just you aren't worth it to him. Forget practising come. Get his attention.

    I found that method impossible to implement. Instead have a hungry Rusty on a short leash (consider cutting his food back by a third and feeding this proportion as treats so he IS hungry, I use a high end kibble), stand still and shove treats in his mouth as fast as he'll take them. It can take time for Rusty to start to be interested, I used to have to stuff food into Zac's mouth and he would spit it out again so I know it is difficult but keep it up, soft treats (like liver) are better at first as they need less chewing. When Rusty is interested you can add criteria - sit (treat) bird (treat) stand (treat) beetle (treat) chicken (treat) sheep (treat) chicken (treat) sit (treat) scary leaf (treat) voluntarily looks at you (treat). Build yourself into his experiences of the world. Make him feel he is owed treats! Then work on rapid fire trick training sessions. Only when he is interested in you is he going to recall.

    He probably will work better for play rewards in the future however I wouldn't get hung up on that now. In fact I'm sure he isn't ready for tug drive training - shaping interest in the object, shaping a touch, jackpot mouth engagement eg/nibble, shaping grip/hold etc, you can look at this video I made of Zac where I was working on the later stages of that. For now I would advise you to use food with a very rapid rate of reinforcement. The problem with play is you can't reward so frequently as with food so you are relying on the play to trump the distraction. With the food you are actually conditioning the dog to pay attention. Also importantly food calms dogs down (more responsive) and play hypes dogs up (makes them less responsive).
  3. running_dog Honored Member

    I also meant to say that I loved the picture... such a mischievously rolling eye!
  4. myraellen Well-Known Member

    Lotta doesn't care either where my friend is and what she's doing when she is out with her. So my friend thought that it probably doesn't matter if she puts her own questions here about what Running_dog had answered.

    You are saying that you would feed the dog also when s/he's not offering actual behaviors. Why would you do that? Why would you feed the dog treats also after seeing the things we have bolded? How would you do it so that eating treats would become a reward and not just something that interrupts whatever the dog is doing?
    running_dog likes this.
  5. running_dog Honored Member

    The ones that you put in bold are not about rewards, they are about conditioning.

    I am pairing distractions with food so that eventually when the dog sees the distraction it thinks of food and reorientates to me instead of trying to reach the distraction.

    Also as I mentioned very briefly at the end of my post eating food is calming to the dog so it makes the dog more biddable.
    southerngirl likes this.
  6. running_dog Honored Member

    How's it going with your kelpie terror?
  7. Hi how is your kelpie doing?
    Any updates?
    Evie and running_dog like this.
  8. Evie Experienced Member


    Long time no see.

    Rusty and I are pretty good buddies these days. Our training is going well. I'm learning how Rusty likes to train .. which just so happens to be the complete opposite to Evie.

    We now have a fairly solid recall, enough so that I can let him off lead on beaches etc without fear of him running off.

    We've started agility training too and we're hoping to compete in Novice at the 'Nationals' which are being held in my state in May this year.

    He still has some issues listening when there's a toy involved, but I've learnt that we can't train new behaviours using toys, but we can start working on old behaviours in high distraction environments.

    Rusty and Evie are best buddies too now which helps. When Rusty first arrived, he had his moments of being aggressive towards her too which didn't help one bit with the whole 'me liking Rusty' thing.

    Picture taken in about November :)

    "I can sit pretty toooooooo!"

    Beach fun

    Handsome goober.

    Sleeping doofus

    This is a recent photo of him all grown up :) <3 my Bucket

    I love this photo ... it sort of explains our situation perfectly... as bad as it may be, Evie will always be my focus <3 - Not that I don't love my Rust Bucket now, it's just that Evie is well ... Evie. And Evie's are perfect.

    (little dog on the right is my cousin's dog "holly" - she's a JRT x Dalmatian)
    running_dog likes this.
  9. running_dog Honored Member

    Sounds a little like my journey with Gus :)

    It can be kind of tough sharing with a second dog that you don't instinctively bond with but I'm glad you've been finding your way through and learning to work with a dog that thinks differently. I found that with Gus - I've ended up buying a lot of books that are about training dogs in drive because that is how Gus works. If he's not in drive working with you he's in a world of his own that doesn't include hearing anything that you say and probably means he's hiding in the bushes waiting for the sky to fall on his head. My lovely deer obsessive Zac has many challenges but he has never been like that!

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