need advice on Basic Obedience Training

Discussion in 'Obedience Training' started by fretless, Oct 31, 2010.

  1. fretless New Member

    Hello everyone,

    I'm kind of stuck with Lady's abedience training lately and I don't know how to improve both myself and my dog to take it to the next step. There are so many informations online to choose from and due to a lack of experience I'm not quite sure which way I should follow or not so thought I could benefit from more experienced dog owners on the matter.

    Lady "knows":

    -Sit : The only command that she will be able to perform anywhere anytime even with no treat.
    -Down: Still using treats, I pull my had palm upwards down so that she follows the motion and goes down too. Then treat and praise when she's down. But without treats very little success at all, and because Im kneeling in front of her when we train this, it seems like the same hand command when standing doesn't work at all. How can I improve her down? Been doing it for one full week 3x a day and the breeder had already taught her for 2 weeks I believe...But now at stuck at this stage and would like to know how to get her to perform when i'm standing.
    The other problem im having with down is also that sometimes she will stay down and when I ask her to sit she doesn't get it. I then have to put the treat right in front of her nose, give the sit command and lead her back up. How to make this transition through commands only? Instead of using the treat bait to get her back up...

    Stay: Not quite sure i'm doing this right but somehow it seems to work. What I do is I stick m hand palm open facing her in front of her nose, then say Stay and start walking BACKWARDS slowly (3 or 4 steps). I repeat the command when i'm away few times then come back slowly to her and treat/praise. the problem is I don't know how to teach her a release command and only treat her after she's been released...and I don't know if it's right to walk backwards instead of turing my back.
    However, when it's meal time i make her sit, then stay, then serve her food and then tell her to GO HOME to eat (she eats in her crate as I need her comfy in there). Just looks like she got the message but I feel like i'm not clear in my commands...as yesterday I didn't even give any command and she waited for her food...Has she just remembered the behaviour and not the command?

    Quiet: She's pretty good at that even with no treat so not too worried

    Speak: The breeder taught her to speak brilliantly. He demonstrated in front of me when went to see her the first time, and I was pretty much amazed. He tought me the hand signal and command which he usually practised alongside quiet. With him it worked pretty well.
    I then took her in, on the second day had our first training. She did respond to all the commands but for speak i don't know why she just doesnt get it with me. Actually even stranger she only got it once by miracle i don't know how and since never spoke again;(
    Called the breeder who said it might be due to the stress of moving home, but now she's pretty much settled in and yet no way to get her to speak. I really wish I could get her to obey this command as she's meant to be a guard dog and one of my high priorities is to control her barking!! What can I do to improve that?

    Come: She responds quite well to this or sometimes her name is enough.

    I would be very grateful if someone could help me to imrpove her obedience training and results. One thing is sure this is all my fault as she's my first dog and even though I read books and theories, i'm still fresh and have a great hunger to LEARN!Coz she's a very very smart doberman pup there's no doubt about that;)

    Also, which other command should I start teaching her? Looks like she's kinda settled in a routine and i'm afraid training is going to end up boring for her...I'm not talking about fancy tricks yet but just obedience and good education basics so she can be a good dog later...Any advice?

    How fast is she going to forget these commands if I stop practising them? On how many commands should I focus for one training session? All or just a few on a rotation basis?

    And finally, though she's not have her final vaccination and can't go out yet,do you guys believe I should start training leach walking in the yard? and if yes, any advices or tips on that? Or trusted resources, websites...

    Please I really need advice, thank you so much for answering me:msntongue:

  2. sara Moderator

    Being a first time dog owner, i'm sure you've just been swamped with an overabundance of information! If I were you, I'd look into buying the book "Reaching the Animal Mind" by Karen Pryor. www.reachingtheanimalmind.com It's an amazing resource into starting clicker training. This Forum is mostly based on clicker training, and that book is fantastic on teaching the theories and possibilities of Clicker training. It really helped me to understand the process completely! Clicker training will make your dog think on it's own, and really seems to strengthen the bond between owner and pet.

    Here's what I would do. Start with dropping treats on the floor, click the instant she picks up the treat, do this as many times as you want, I usually do it between 10 and 20 times. next say her name, then click the instant she looks at you then treat, do this a few times 5-10, if she really seems to get it then ask for a sit. the instant her butt touches the ground click then treat, stand back when you ask for a sit, after you've clicked for the sit, make her get up to come get the treat. then you can ask for a sit again. I try to keep my voice out of it, and just use hand signals and luring.

    To teach the down, I'd keep a clicker and treats handy and when she lays down on her own, click that, then wait for her to do it again, dont say anything, just click the instant she puts her elbows on the ground, then throw the treat towards her but far enough away that she has to get up to go get it, then ignore her until she lays down again, then click that... It will take no time at all before she is consistantly laying down after you toss the treat for her.

    After she's consistant with the down, add in the command. Ask her to down once, then wait, click the instant her elbows hit, click then toss the treat. after a few times with the command, finish the session, you DO NOT want her to get bored!

    Work on one thing at a time at first, and spend only about 15-20 mins at a time.

    As for speak, catch the behaviour. keep a clicker and treats handy and when she barks, click then treat, but heres one you want to do 2 things at once with, click her for quiet too... see if she'll bark again for you, if not wait until she does it again on her own, she will figure it out that you want her to bark, eventually then you can add in the voice commands once she is barking consistantly. You may want to click her for any noise at first, then shape that into a defined bark. I've taught my boy Oliver to say momma, to click his teeth together without noise and with the cue "are you viscious?" he'll go into a barking, snapping, lunging goof (all in play, and he lays down to do it... heaven knows why LOL)

    I hope this helps, and I'm sure they'll be others step in with more ideas for you!
  3. fretless New Member

    Dear Sara,

    Thank you so much for this great source of information and advices. I guess Clicker training is a great way to shape a dog's behaviour. My only fear with it is: What if I forgot or do not have a clicker with me? Will my dog still answer my commands?

    To me any advice is greatly appreciated, thanks for taking the time to answer me and I'll definitly give a try to all of the techniques you've mentionned;)

    Cheers
  4. fretless New Member

    By the way it looks like a great book. I will try to get it.

    I notice in the samples she mentions treats made with human food such as hot dog or meat.
    My problem with this is I'd like to keep my dog on 100% Dry Dog Food all the time. I'm afraid if she tastes one of these utterly delicious foods she's get hooked and start wreking havoc for it and begging at the table. Do you think I can click and treat with the usual dry dog food i'm using now for training?
  5. sara Moderator

    Once you've trained the behaviour, you will not need the clicker for that behaviour anymore, except some touch-up work. I have a reactive dog, so i always have a clicker and treats around, my pockets always stink like fish LOL. I keep an extra clicker in my truck, and a few around the house too. But again, you wont need to use it for the behaviour you've trained.
  6. sara Moderator

    I use dry dog food myself, but my dogs are completely food oriented and will work for anything. Some dogs need the extra incentive, so the hot dogs or cheese will be a help. Dogs dont learn to beg from getting treats, unless you are giving them treats from your plate. My dogs know to go lay down on the couch when we're eating, or if we're eating on the couch they know to go lay on the floor, away from us. I can give them table scraps too, but I give it to them after I've cleaned up from our meal, that way they dont associate our meal with food for them.
  7. fretless New Member

    Alrighty, you've convinced me Sara. I'm running to the shop to get one today;)
    Can't wait to have my fishy pockets too :dogwink:

    but seriously i think I get the point with the clicker. It's so exiting to think of all the possibilities...and there's plenty to read on this forum!

    Thanks for answering all of my questions, really appreciate:msntongue:
  8. jackienmutts Honored Member

    You've been given great information - just wanted to add a couple things. I wanted to make sure you're clear on the whole idea behind the clicker. The clicker is used to mark (for the dog) the instant the dog gives you the behavior you're looking for. We can *click* a whole lot faster than we can do anything else. It's a nice sharp, decisive noise, immediately (always) followed by a treat, that the dog can relate to his behavior. Don't ever click, and not treat. If you accidently *click* (and sometimes our fingers do get a bit happy and click when they shouldn't), treat anyway. A click is always followed by a treat, even if we mess up.

    If you don't have a clicker handy, mark your dog's behavior by a long yessssss - as the sssss sound at the end of yesssss has been shown to have a positive impact on dogs. It's also a very fast word to say.

    As for treats, think of them as your dog's paycheck for working. She gets her food - she's gonna get that anyway. When you go to work, you want paid to do your job. Now you're asking your dog to do a job (sort of), pay her well! Give her lots of motivation to really work hard and figure out exactly what you want. If her only motivation is what she's gonna get later in her bowl, what's the point? Boring. Now working for that piece of hot dog, or chicken, or beef (etc) is really fun and exciting! Training should be like a huge fun game - make the payoff HUGE and she'll work extra hard, and she'll want to do whatever you want her to do. Pay her really well when she's learning, then once she's learned a behavior, start varying the reward - sometimes a treat, sometimes loads of praise - back and forth, til you can phase out the food, just do it gradually.

    Good luck, and have fun!!!
  9. sara Moderator

    Thanks! I always forget important things like what you pointed out when typing... I want to get into the "meat" of it and forget the fundamentals! :dogwub:
  10. fretless New Member

    Dear Sara and Jackienmutts,

    Thank you so much for all this wonderful information.

    I think i understand the point with the clicker. It's making much more sense to me since I understand why and how to use it!
    I'm still learning and sometimes make mistakes, but it's proving very effective and let me tell you why.

    As I said in my first post, Lady used to be able to speak (aka one sharp bark) on command at the breeder's kennel. she then forgot the command and I was desperate to get her to speak again (she's a very shy dog and I need her to bark and gain confidence).

    It's only after reading Sara's genius advice on getting a clicker and "catching the behaviour" that I started to work things out. the problem was Lady is very quiet, actually she practically never barks! That can be seen as nice (nicer to the ears - and the neighbours) but to me this shows some kine of psychic imbalance that could have some negative consequences on her growth.

    Anyways, I finally got a clicker (not easy to find this little thing here in Kuala Lumpur believe it or not!) and started using it for our usual training routines. Her response was sharper, she was picking up commands much faster than before the clicker so I found that quite encouraging.

    Than came the 3rd vaccination and our first outings. I will need to post another question regarding this by the way:dogbiggrin:

    Anyways, after her first walk in a park, we got home and it was raining. I could see her sniffing around in the house and knew what it meant so put her out and closed the gate (some sort or railings so she can see throught). I then walked around the living room like if nothing. After she did her business outside, she stuck her head through the bars and looked at me going around the house. Of course this was a real torture seeing me having so much fun inside without her. She gave me a sharp bark. It then clicked in my mind! After all, it's always the masters fault to be so ingorant;) Anyways I grabbed my clicker and treats, got her exited from the other side of the gate till she started jumping and giving short barks. One click and treat for every bark! Then let her in, lots of praise and straight away a little traning session. Sit...Down...Quiet....Speak (with breeders original hand signal) and there she goes, SPEAKING!!! She did it systematically on command since then and i'm so happy. Lady too seems very happy with this and more confident...I could feel she was so relieved to finally speak again!

    So, thank you so much for your generous advices and I think this is a giant first step in the right direction for me and my dog...thank you a million times it's a really enlightening discovery for me:msnhugegrin:
  11. sara Moderator

    FANTASTIC!!!!!!!

    It's awesome to see, when both you and the dog figure things out! I LOVE seeing my dogs gain confidence with the clicker! i have 2 shy dogs, and one is very reactive, but when I get the clicker out, it seems all their fears disappear, and they seem to make leaps and bounds in their confidence! When oliver decides he's afraid of something, I get out the clicker and treats, and we go to work. 5-10 mins later he sees the object as something to touch (big)or fetch (small), and no longer fears it! believe it or not, he was afraid of feathers! LOL. now he brings me every feather he finds LOL.

    Keep up the good work! but most of all, HAVE FUN!!!! clicker training is about fun, on both sides. If something isn't working, and you or your dog is getting frusterated, quit. move on to something else, or end the session.
  12. jackienmutts Honored Member

    Congrats on the great session!! I love when we get such a positive response from our dogs - it's such a great feeling!! Don't be concerned about messing up, we've all done it, and continue to do it. Dogs are such forgiving creatures, they seem to plug along and figure us humans out in spite of (or despite) all our mistakes. And they love us all the same :-). Keep up the good work!!
  13. srdogtrainer Experienced Member

    Lady "knows":

    -Sit : The only command that she will be able to perform anywhere anytime even with no treat.

    That is supper that she can do this without treats even with distractions!

    -Down: Still using treats, I pull my had palm upwards down so that she follows the motion and goes down too. Then treat and praise when she's down. But without treats very little success at all, and because Im kneeling in front of her when we train this, it seems like the same hand command when standing doesn't work at all. How can I improve her down? Been doing it for one full week 3x a day and the breeder had already taught her for 2 weeks I believe...But now at stuck at this stage and would like to know how to get her to perform when i'm standing.

    After luring her down a couple times in a row you can then act like you are luring her again but not have a treat in your hand. Show her there is not a treat in that hand and then give her a treat from your other hand. Once she gets the idea that she will get a treat but not necessarily from the luring hand you can start giving her a treat from your pocket, from her dish on the counter etc. Then start phasing out how much of a hand signal you need to use. Give the hand signal but stop with your hand 3 inches from the ground...then 5 inches from the ground then 7 inches from the ground etc. Until you can be standing straight up and give just a little hand signal. (By the way this is over a course of training sessions.)
    At a next session give the signal a couple times then try a verbal only. If she doesn't respond go back and say the command while using a signal. Eventually she will learn what sit means.

    The other problem I’m having with down is also that sometimes she will stay down and when I ask her to sit she doesn't get it. I then have to put the treat right in front of her nose, give the sit command and lead her back up. How to make this transition through commands only? Instead of using the treat bait to get her back up...

    Although it seems like a sit is a sit, once dogs learn the sit command they wont necessarily automatically understand how to get into a sit from a down position. It makes perfect sense that you need to go back and re-teach it starting with a lure and then using a hand signal and finally phasing out the hand signal.




    Stay: Not quite sure i'm doing this right but somehow it seems to work. What I do is I stick m hand palm open facing her in front of her nose, then say Stay and start walking BACKWARDS slowly (3 or 4 steps). I repeat the command when i'm away few times then come back slowly to her and treat/praise. the problem is I don't know how to teach her a release command and only treat her after she's been released...and I don't know if it's right to walk backwards instead of turning my back.

    This is a great way to start. I am usually in front of my dog, I say stay with a hand signal and take a step to my right or left. Then I say stay again and take a step the opposite way. After this I take a step backwards away from my dog. Then a couple steps.
    When my dog is comfortable with this I will start taking a couple steps away and doing a 360 circle, increasing distance, turning around and waking away, walking a step behind the dog, working on going around behind the dog etc.
    I usually treat the dog while they are staying and when I am releasing them I will say release and run backward clapping my hands to make it obvious they can move and when they are no longer on a stay I do not use food just petting and verbal praise.

    However, when it's meal time i make her sit, then stay, then serve her food and then tell her to GO HOME to eat (she eats in her crate as I need her comfy in there). Just looks like she got the message but I feel like i'm not clear in my commands...as yesterday I didn't even give any command and she waited for her food...Has she just remembered the behaviour and not the command?

    It is great that se is understanding to patiently wait for her food and It is a good idea for you to feed her in her crate to make it a positive association.


    Speak: The breeder taught her to speak brilliantly. He demonstrated in front of me when went to see her the first time, and I was pretty much amazed. He tought me the hand signal and command which he usually practised alongside quiet. With him it worked pretty well.
    I then took her in, on the second day had our first training. She did respond to all the commands but for speak i don't know why she just doesnt get it with me. Actually even stranger she only got it once by miracle i don't know how and since never spoke again;(
    Called the breeder who said it might be due to the stress of moving home, but now she's pretty much settled in and yet no way to get her to speak. I really wish I could get her to obey this command as she's meant to be a guard dog and one of my high priorities is to control her barking!! What can I do to improve that?

    Once dogs learn a command they don't necessarily understand that they can do it for everyone. You might be using a different tone of voice, or she might just not be generalizing to her new environment.
    Speak is one that I find times that I know that they are going to bark and pair the command with the action.

    Come: She responds quite well to this or sometimes her name is enough.

    I would be very grateful if someone could help me to imrpove her obedience training and results. One thing is sure this is all my fault as she's my first dog and even though I read books and theories, i'm still fresh and have a great hunger to LEARN!Coz she's a very very smart doberman pup there's no doubt about that;)

    Perhaps it is true that you are less experienced then a lot of dog owners, but give your self a lot of credit for trying to teach your dog and for learning as much as you can about dog training. A lot of owners will put up with a dog that doesn't behave because they just figure that is the dog they got and there is nothing they can do about it! I already respect you as a trainer because you are putting forth the effort, trying to figure out what works, and open to adapting what you are doing if it does not work.

    Also, which other command should I start teaching her? Looks like she's kinda settled in a routine and i'm afraid training is going to end up boring for her...I'm not talking about fancy tricks yet but just obedience and good education basics so she can be a good dog later...Any advice?

    Fun tricks are always good for relationship building. I recommend shake or paw or turning in circles as a first trick. You can even give a different command for each direction she turns. For example right circle, left circle.
    Socialize...socialize...socialize! Have her meet various people of all ages, dogs of all sizes and take her to as many different places as you can.

    How fast is she going to forget these commands if I stop practicing them? On how many commands should I focus for one training session? All or just a few on a rotation basis?

    Of course it depends on the dog but in my experience once dogs really know commands they can remember them for life. They may need reminders but generally it will be a lot easier to re-teach them once they are learned.

    And finally, though she's not have her final vaccination and can't go out yet,do you guys believe I should start training leach walking in the yard? and if yes, any advices or tips on that? Or trusted resources, websites...

    I would start leash training ASAP. Start inside at first. Then in your yard and then it is important that you get her out and about for socializing ASAP. Remember that it will not quite be the same out side or out and about as it will be inside. The more distractions the higher the rate of reinforcers while she is learning.

    Please I really need advice, thank you so much for answering me:msntongue:[/QUOTE]

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