Train something, lose something else?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic & Chit Chat' started by nereis, Feb 16, 2008.

  1. nereis Well-Known Member

    Does anyone else have the same problem as me, where by I train something new and it seems to mess up an already taught behaviour? I think part of the problem is I need to strengthen some of my voice commands rather than relying on body language and hand signals as much as I do.

    For example, I recently trained Alfie to walk backwards using the clicker. As a result, his present is very reluctant and he wants to take steps backwards instead! Also, as I am teaching backwards weave at the moment, our heelwork position has been sacrificed. He is constantly wanting to swing his bum round when at my left side to go between my legs, not good when doing heelwork :msnrolleyes:

  2. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    I always have a kind of "warm-up" before each training session. Before teaching a new trick, I go through all(or at least some) of my dogs' already known tricks. This gets their focus on me, and improves the tricks they already know. Sometimes during play I'll randomly ask for a behavior, just to see how they react. I think it really helps when I actually begin a training session and ask for that behavior again.
    Pay more attention to your body language. For instance, if you are subconsciously swinging your hips a certain way when you ask for the backwards weave, he's probably noticed(even if you haven't) that your walk is extremely similar. When he tries to go into the backwards weave during the heel, simply assume that he has temporarily forgotten how to heel. Go back to using the same method you used when you first taught him to heel. Perhaps give a verbal, "Noooo" or "Ah," not firm as if to correct him, but simply something to let him know that's not what you're asking for. Get in a position where he can't backwards weave, like with your legs together. Then ask for the heel again, and incorporate your original training method. You're not exactly reteaching the behavior, you're just giving him a refresher course to help him understand the difference between the two behaviors.
    Here's an example: You go for a walk, and your dog is constantly trying to weave through your legs. The next time you work on the weave, pay attention to your stride length. If you've been letting him rely solely on your body language, then he's just doing what you taught him. Make your weave stride longer than your normal stride so there is a clear difference. Incorporate the verbal cue and hand signal more, so that he doesn't confuse your mistakes in using your body language. Being completely in-tune with your body language takes lots of practice and time, so just be patient and keep at it. Hope this helps! Good luck! :dogsmile:

    Another thing I thought of...
    With some behaviors, it's beneficial to "wean" your dog off of your body language cues, so that it takes less of a movement to get them to perform the behavior. For instance, I taught Mud to back up by holding a treat over her head, moving it back, and walking towards her. As she improved, I would move more slowly towards her, or take less steps. One she was responding well to this, I would just lean forward a bit. For her, I added the hand signal later. Now, I've completely elminated the body language. I don't lean at all, unless she gets distracted or something, but I rely mostly on the hand signal and verbal cue.
    By the way, Alfie's gorgeous! Just watched your vid on your profile. ^^ He's great. He looks very snuggly, haha!!! :doglaugh: At the moment my Border Collie is laying beside me trying to lay her head on my laptop, so it's been a little challenging to type this, lol. :dogrolleyes:
  3. Jean Cote Administrator

    It is because you are teaching two very similar behaviors at the same time. If you were to train backing up only for a while until it is fully trained and polished, then you could move on to training backward weaves and it should help your dog differentiate between the two.

    And to be honest with you, your dog will most likely offer any past behaviors that has been reinforced. My husky touches her nose with her paw anytime she doesn't know exactly what to do. After I taught my border collie to beg, she'd do it all the time. It was hilarious.

    Nice pictures by the way! :D And I love your video! :D
  4. nereis Well-Known Member

    Yes, that's what I've been doing, balancing up the behaviour the new one has cancelled out, if that makes any sense :msntongue: He seems to catch on quite quickly that we've changed what we're doing and it's me that's confusing him. Always the way isn't it, the handlers issue rather than the dogs :dogtongue2:

    Oh yes, I know what you mean, I've done similar things with 'spin' and 'twirl', and we've progressed to a stage where he will do those on word command only. With Alfie, I've always found moving to a word command only signal much harder than teaching the trick in the first place. He'll learn something new (if it's simple) sometimes in only a day, but weaning of the hand signal so that he responds to word command alone takes a lot more time!

    Haha, thanks :D He's like a big, daft bear. Haha, I have one of those, my older girl, Jess, just wants to be touching me all the time! Thankyou for typing all that out for me though, I really appreciate it.

    Sorry, what I wrote was a bit confusing, we've done back and he knows it now, and we've moved on to weave backwards. However you're right, it is from doing too much at once. We do obedience and often have to work on things for the class, which means I end up training two things at once if I'm also teaching him a trick. That's what's happened with his heelwork.

    Oh I can totally relate in this case, I swear, I wish I'd never taught 'speak', I taught it by capturing with the clicker so now he thinks it's fabulous and if he's not sure what he's meant to do he barks. His other favourite is to walk backwards, or bow :dogrolleyes::msngiggle:

    Thankyou again both of you for your replied :D

    edit - Oh! How exciting! I've been nominated for things, I've never been on a forum with that feature before! Thankyou!
  5. emmasmamma Guest

    And to be honest with you, your dog will most likely offer any past behaviors that has been reinforced. My husky touches her nose with her paw anytime she doesn't know exactly what to do. After I taught my border collie to beg, she'd do it all the time. It was hilarious.

    Everytime we start a new trick or she doesn't understand a command, Emma will automatically rollover and look at me like "Ok, can I have the treat now?"
  6. leema New Member

    I don't know how to define 'stimulus control', but any behaviour Alfie offers you when you don't give the cue (verbal or body) that is not under stimulus control. Okay, so I know the word to your problem!

    If I'm having trouble, then I stop training anything other than one behaviour. I also only start new behaviours in my lounge room, and don't start anything out and about (except for gaiting, whichI did start outside :/ I will let you know the consequences!). I don't mind if Clover makes up her own thing in the lounge room, but if she decides to try something different out and about then it could be a problem!
    In a way, the lounge room serves as a cue to "do whatever you want" (to an extent), while the outside world random, offered, unasked for behaviours are never rewarded.

    I don't know if this is of use to you. :)
  7. jasperaliceuk Experienced Member

    Alfie's smashing (and photogenic!) I'm hoping to do agility with Milo when he's a year.


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