New dog, old tricks....

miss t

Well-Known Member
Hi everyone,
I'm pretty new to this site, and dog training but looking forward to gaining from everyones experience!

Here is my question; My family just got (about 3 weeks ago) a 2 year old GSD/Rotti mix named Sassy. She was doing decent enough at basic obedience, sit, down, stay, come, etc. But she is starting to pick and choose when she obeys and getting just plain sloppy about coming. I want to fine tune her obedience before I start any real trick training or agility training (the ultimate goal). So, How would you suggest I go about doing that?

I've heaerd that when some people get a new dog that has been trained previously they re-train, so to speak, so the dog knows exactly how they want the command performed. That seems like a big ordeal to me. I am sold on marker training, and Sassy already responds to the mark. (I use the word 'yes' instead of a clicker) should I just mark and treat when she does it correctly and ignore when she doesn't?

Also, which order should I work on the commands? Is one order better than another?

thanks for any advice!


Experienced Member
You already have the best solution. Ignore incorrect and reward generously with success. One thing you could add is whoops or oops when she does it wrong and she'll learn that means not quite right but close and keep trying. It's hard to say in a harsh way so is a nice reminder that the behavior that you marked with whoops gets NO treats now. I use it when the whoops will cause the bowl of water to be overturned or the item being carried to be toppled etc and ruin the set up I'm using to train.

Some clicker/marker trainers do believe that any words of praise or other movements dilute the power or significance of the marker. So try standing like a statue unless you are hand or visually cueing and be sure you aren't doing any other cues like bending over or tilting ur head. Keep ur visual cues clear and concise just like the verbal ones. I do verbal and hand cue training sessions separate on advice from a behaviorist. It works very well and my dogs learned all their cues faster.

Keep your hands still and suggest treats in hand behind ur back preloaded 10-12 and dispense like pennies off a roll. No fumbling in bag or pocket and making noise. Those dilute ur cues too. Keep the treat delivery under 3 seconds if you can. Research shows that dogs wait about that long until they start offering other behaviors to illicit treats so your nice sit might get confused by waiting too long and dog offers a down.

train in different places starting with inside and low distractions and move outside as the dog is solid in previous places. doing training on different surfaces and settings helps dogs generalize. they don't always get that a weave on the grass is the same as a weave in the driveway on concrete. weird as it seems i had to teach it all over again after my dogs had it on dirt when i went to grass.

marker/clicker purists say that no words of praise b/c the treat is the praise so that the good girl that follows the mark and treat doesn't confuse good with walking around or breaking the behavior since the mark ENDS the behavior. If you mark a down and reward that means the behavior is over and you treated while still in position. I then cue a release bc i want no confusion with self releasing.

miss t

Well-Known Member
Thanks so much for the detailed answer!

I'll have to be careful about giving subtle (or obvious) visual cues accedentally. My last dog was very responsive to visual cues, and I've cought myself autimaticly using some of them with Sassy even though I know she doesn't know them yet.

I have been seeing a very little bit of progress when I work with her in the house. A very little bit! I guess while she is fine tuning her obedience, I'll be learning patience!