Need Help With Training!

Discussion in 'General Dog Training' started by ncsugrad54, Mar 9, 2014.

  1. ncsugrad54 Well-Known Member

    Hey guys. How can I get my dogs to work for praise instead of treats? I think the Aussie might be a lost cause. She could care less about praise. My border collie obviously cares more about praise. I would like them to obey me in public and focus more on me. I would also like for them to play ball and frisbee (so far inside only) for fun and not because they get a treat when they bring it back. Any advice?????

    I know people always say you have to be more fun that everything else, but how is that possible when you are walking or running?
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  2. Ripleygirl Experienced Member

    I struggle with this too... Ripley is incredibly food motivated but not toy motivated at all... I have been struggling since I adopted her to gain her interest in toys and feel a great sense of joy and achievement when she plays a bit inside with me..! With the praise motivation, I have got to a point where she knows that praise is a nice thing to get but then still looks for a treat as well! Interested to see what tips you get and sorry I can't be more help!
  3. kassidybc Experienced Member

    Try slowly fading the treat. First ask for one behavior, then reward. Then ask for two behaviors, And reward twice as much, basically saying to the dog, "You still get rewarded for both, but you need to do them both before getting your reward". You don't always have to do this, just do it at first. Then ask for there behaviors, and reward (make sure you progress slowly, don't ask for too much too soon, it's all about baby steps). Continue to ask for more and more behaviors before rewarding. Make sure you aren't always making it harder, or they will get discouraged. Once in a while reward them on the first behavior, or second behavior. Just something so they go "oh, that was easy", just to give them some confidence. Eventually (and this could take weeks) you could be doing ten or more behaviors without a treat. Then start fading the size of the reward. Eventually (it should take a while, you don't want to go too fast) they should be able to do behaviors with praise as a reward. Although I reccomend still giving your dog treats as a reward once in a while. That way when they do a behavior, they aren't 100 percent sure whether they are going to get a treat or not. It's kinda like the lottery, it keeps it exciting! :) Make sure not to expect too much too soon, and keep in mind that some dogs are just too food oriented, and may not value praise enough for it to be worth it for them.

    You could do this same thing with frisbee. Start to only reward every other time they bring it to you, and keep rewarding less and less often, basically the same concept I said above. Remember to make it easy for them sometimes too.

    As far as focusing on you in public, make sure you are using high value treats. My dog will ignore me in public for commercial dog treats, but when I whip out the hotdogs and cheese, suddenly I have her attention! :) Try working with them in many different areas, start low distraction and move to higher distraction areas as they progress.
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  4. brody_smom Experienced Member

    There is a special toy that has a pouch in it where you can put treats. The pouch is mesh so the dog can see and actually taste the treats as they bite on the toy. It can be used for teaching tugging games and retrieves for dogs who are only food motivated. You then gradually remove the food and the value is transferred to the toy and the games. I'll try to find the name.
  5. brody_smom Experienced Member

  6. Ripleygirl Experienced Member

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  7. running_dog Honored Member

    To teach your dog to play with toys as being a self rewarding activity the most effective method that I have come across is building tug drive. I've been working with a Kong frisbee recently because it is just soft rubber and nice to tug on, or you can use a ball with a rope attached, returning the toy is rewarded with a short tug and then a treat, later the tugging will take over from the treat. If you hold back a dog verbally or physically from a toy that they want to chase it helps to build drive, the release becomes the reward for whatever you asked the dog to do in the mean time (stay, tricks, agility).

    With toys it is worth bearing in mind that if a dog won't switch between toys when you are playing then he is playing with the toy not with you so change toys frequently. Sit on the toy the dog wants to play with until it is readily playing with the new toy, then switch toys again, and again. Over time the dog will learn to switch between toys so it plays with whatever toy you are playing with. This helps to build YOUR value.

    As for working for praise not treats, start to faze out treats you give for poor responses, treat for average responses and jackpot for exceptional responses. This also helps build drive and improve responses. Working for praise only is also not just started with a "good dog" you have to take a few minutes out to sit on the ground and rub your dog behind it's ears or scratch its itch or whatever it loves best. It takes a lot longer to effectively reward with praise at first. I read somewhere that when you reward a dog you should give verbal praise, physical praise (pat the dog) and then treat/play. That way your dog associates your verbal praise with the other forms of reward.

    KassidyBC is 100% right about randomising rewards and giving high value treats in public, that is so exactly what I've needed to do with Zac. Take a clicker out with you and click and treat your dog every time it looks at you until it gets the idea that paying attention pays. Pay attention to your dogs and mostly they will pay attention to you. Dogs won't usually pay attention to you when you are running unless they are trained to, start by chucking treats at them every once in a while - just chuck a treat at them every 5 paces, then 7, then 9, etc.
  8. ncsugrad54 Well-Known Member

    Thanks guys! I will try some of this tonight. :)
  9. jackienmutts Honored Member

    Excellent suggestions above. Just don't forget - once your dog is working for only praise, still surprise him/her with that occasional high value treat for a job well-done, and if they're extra fabulous, a jackpot. It keeps them working really hard, cuz they don't know when that extra-special treat is coming (kinda like us working for a bonus in our paychecks :cool:). Mine are almost 10 and 8-1/2 yrs old and will def work for praise - but love getting treats for a good job (and know they'll get them!) (y):rolleyes: (yeah, they're spoiled rotten).
  10. ncsugrad54 Well-Known Member

    Ok I have started sometimes not giving them a treat for bringing the frisbee back (inside the house) and then other times I will vary the number of treats they get. I usually use their dog food, but also use actually treats such as Zukes. If they make an excellent catch then I praise them a lot and give then more treats. If it's just a normal bringing back the frisbee, I just say good girl (or something to that effect). I think this is what y'all said to do, if not let me know! :)
  11. running_dog Honored Member

    I think that works as far as the working without treats is concerned but for the focus and playing for fun I think you maybe need to work on building your value in the dogs eyes as well.
  12. Hello!:)
    Just because the bag says “a treat all dogs love” doesn’t mean your dog will automatically love it. Some dogs are very selective about what they like to eat. Soft and chewy treats are usually more exciting for your dog than hard and crunchy treats. Keep your eyes open for what he enjoys.
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  13. srdogtrainer Experienced Member

    You can pair the treat with verbal praise and petting. Sometimes giving the treat more like an after thought. So, your puppy does a good job, you tell them with verbal praise and petting and then "oh by the way here is a treat". You can also have your dog do multiple tricks for one treat. If it is something they really like to do it can be their reward. For example I have a golden who is a natural retriever. He loves carrying things so at this point I don't need to give him a food reward for retrieving an item. However on occasion I will surprise him with one. Also keep his focus by moving around, and using different sounds that will get their attention. Dogs are very attracted to movement and sound so using them will keep training interesting.
  14. brody_smom Experienced Member

    I was sharing in another thread how I play fetch with Brody using two identical balls. I think the fact that they are identical is important, because he has favorites, and others that he just wants to chew, or won't bring back as quickly. Anyway, his job is to bring back the first ball and put it in a basket, and his reward is that I throw the other ball. I started this by teaching him to put items in a basket for a food reward, then gradually switched out the food for tossing another item to retrieve once he was enjoying that behavior.
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  15. Anneke Honored Member

    Aussies are not borders:D Where borders will work for anything, just as log as they have something to do, an ausse will stop and think: what's in it for me???
    So if your aussie is food motivated, use that. To be honest I don't leave the house without a pocket full of treats. (I own two aussies)
    But if you really want to use praise, it is very important HOW you praise. Do you just say Good girl in a slightly high tone? Well in that case: next time go nuts!!! Yay GOOD GIRL!!! Throw your arms up in the air, have a party. See how she reacts to that. I know it is weird to do that in the street, but, remember, you have to be more fun, than whatever is around you. And it is no fun just walking besides you for ages and then just get an occasional good girl. (Not saying that that is what you do, just an axample) The amount of distraction will influence the attention of your dog. A lot of distraction means less interest in you, unless you are more interesting. (hope that makes sence...) So build up the amount of distraction slowly. Don't expect your dog to behave perfectly when she is in a huge crowd for the first time. Say you are going to a dogpark and there are a lot of dogs playing together. Your dog will want to go to them and ignore you. So get some distance between you and those other dogs. Try to find the distance, where she will focus on you. Do some training, tricks or obedience as long as you are having fun. Highest rewards possible(so if that is food, use that. You can fade out the food once you get to the point where she finds you more interesting) Then go a bit closer to the distraction. Do some more training, some play. And so on.
    With the frisbee. Well, does she like to play tug? If so when she brings you the frisbee, let her tug on it a bit, before throwing it again. Or as she is coming back to you with the ball/frisbee, run away a bit. She will have to chase you, which most dogs like.
    My Jinx LOVES the frisbee. A bit too much, because she will come back to me, but won't give it to me. When I hold out my hand to take the frisbee, she will turn her head(and the frisbee) away from me, eventhough she knows that she has to give it to me, in order to get to chase it again. I have tried to use two frisbees. But that only resulted in her catching the frisbee, coming back to me, seeing the one I still have and dropping her frisbee a good mile away from me.:confused:
    So I tried stopping the game. You don't give me the frisbee, then it's game over. Well... that doesn't work, because she is very happy to play with the frisbee all by herself:rolleyes:
    The chasing game has made her a bit better, but we still have a lot of work to do.
  16. brody_smom Experienced Member

    This describes Brody as well. I had to work really hard with him on retrieve/fetch. He would always stop part way back and lie down to chew on his ball, or roll in the grass (I leave his halti and leash on when we play in the field, and he was always trying to rub his halti off). I would end up running up to him, stealing the ball and running away with it. This helped a bit. I also went back a few steps and retrained the retrieve in the house with treats, then out in the yard. I have to do this every now and then as he can get bored with the repetition. That's also why I went to using two balls and a basket. Sometimes I pick up the basket and hide and he has to come and find me, put his ball in the basket, and then I throw it again. I also ask for other behaviors before throwing the ball. I try to keep things interesting and challenging for him. When he's really having fun, he will sometimes stop and lean his head against my leg and look up into my face, all panting, waiting for me to rub his head and tell him he's a good boy.
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  17. running_dog Honored Member

    That is a very interesting post Anneke, I hadn't realised that the Aussie and Border characters were so different.
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  18. ncsugrad54 Well-Known Member

    I have found out since owning both just how different the two breeds are. Aussies are also a lot more barky. I love my Aussie, but will stick with BCs from now on
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  19. Anneke Honored Member

    Well, ncsugrad54, I have one aussie that doesn't bark at all and one that barks when she plays, as in agility. She could have been a huge barker, but I did a lot of selfcontrol training.
    I know some borders that bark like mad.
    I think it is a training issue. Difficult to solve, but it can be done.
    I really don't like the barkers outside the agility course. I did not want my dog to do that, so I worked very hard to keep her from doing that.
    Jinx does bark in the course of a run, but I don't mind that. She is allowed to express herself, just not like a mad dog;)
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  20. Ripleygirl Experienced Member

    I don't think I would say that I would 'stick' with any breed, because you never know what will happen... but I grew up with working BC's and pet BC's and they are definately a sticking point with me as my 'favourite' breed to own... I was looking for another rescue BC when I stumbled upon Ripley, not what I was expecting to fall for but there was 'something' about her and I fell for her and am very glad I did... I would have another BC in a second if I could but would definately consider an Aussie or another breed or mix again now too.
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