Treats Are Bad Idea For Training ?

Discussion in 'General Dog Training' started by alcastive, Mar 22, 2011.

  1. alcastive Well-Known Member

    After downloading "Secrets to Training the Perfect Dog" i noticed that the author used training techniques instead of treats and said that treats are a bad idea because when you are ordering your dog to perform these tricks (outside, with your friends) and you don't have treats your dog might disobey performing if you don't have treats now this happened with me many times specially when i am outside with my friends and want to show them what my dog can do from tricks i have to pretend that i have a cookie in my pocket (after massive repeating order of the trick) till sasha start performing.

    What do you think ? i am getting my dog attention to perform the trick but not her respect to do so unless i get angry and shout sometimes till she does that, which i hate! i want my dog to love me and perform not to be afraid of me shouting or waiting for me giving her a treat everytime.

  2. Ina Well-Known Member

    Hi there,

    at first I was also skeptical regarding using treats all the time. I have restriced the use of food as a reward to my 3 intense clicker training sessions per day.
    I found that it's all in your voice and attitude that makes your dog perform tricks without giving a treat. Shouting will result in the opposite. The more you shout, the less likely the dog will be to perform tricks in the future. It's not fun, so why should the dog do a trick?

    Try a very happy cheerful voice and start off with easy commands when showing off to your friends. Like a simple sit. Then pat the dog and praise him as if the dog just performed the most amazing trick you have ever seen. Doggie will be happy to show off some more because this happy treatment and a nice cuddle is just as good as food - call it food for the soul :)
    new bear likes this.
  3. sara Moderator

    You need to properly phase out treats in order for you to get a dog that listens without treats. When training a trick I use a clicker, then after the dog is reliable with the clicker, I move to using a "yes", and treat, then I move to "good" and start treating intermittenly, maybe every other, or every third correct execution. the other times I'll use a pat, or a ball.... I'm lucky, all my dogs will work for any sort of reward... a toy, a pat, whatever.
  4. alcastive Well-Known Member

    @ Ina, you are right i hate shouting on my dog and i feel like shouting on a kid because she's kind and cute and want to play all the time just like kids and she will be very afraid when i do that, today i tried to teach her peek a boo trick and i ended up changing my voice tone (actually it's not shouting and yelling) a little bit which make her afraid so in the afternoon i went back to her and i asked her nicely to perform the trick (after caressing her and kissing her :) ) she did that without a treat that made my day (but at the end of the trick she was smelling my pocket to check if i have any lol)

    @ Sara, i think i am missing a tricker here, i will get one as soon as possible, i always tell her "good girl" when she perform well and i can see her happy from waving her tail :) I guess i need lot's of patience when training her but she's very active always and get excited and want that cookie so much so sometimes she perform all the tricks that she knows (sit, down, roll over..) so she can get that cookie without even me asking her to do lol she is so likely to lose her focus during the training.

    Thank you for replying.
  5. jackienmutts Honored Member

    I also vary the rewards. When learning something new, the payoff is 100% at first, but once they've got it, it might be a treat only once every 3rd time, with pets and praise being the reward the other times, then maybe treats 2nd time, etc - but vary that too cuz dogs will realize they get treats every 3rd time (if that's what it is). Mine gets loads of praise, pets, etc and will willingly perform for friends when I'm without treats.

    Please don't shout at your pup, it will make her confused and scared to do things for you. Maybe she's not quite sure of what you want, and that's why she's not performing, and then shouting at her will only make her more unsure. She might be scared to make a mistake, she might be scared she's making you mad, all kinds of things. Make sure that trick is really proofed - meaning she'll do it every single time you ask her - treat or not - and then ask her to do it for your friends. And good suggestion you were given, keep that voice happy and playful, you want her to enjoy you and your training sessions, you want those to be fun for her.

    When your dog loves learning new things and loves working with you, they'll do all kinds of things for you, and they won't ask for much. I do try to pay my dogs well tho. :) I like being paid when I go to work, so when I ask my dogs to do things, I like to pay them, too. Do they get treats 100% of the time, no - but I do like to keep them guessing, and happy, and they know I carry good stuff in my pockets, and if they do a great job, they'll get good stuff. It's worth it to me!
    alcastive likes this.
  6. mewzard Experienced Member

    You could use something else to reward instead of treats. A favourite toy...that is sometimes a little more tricky with a young dog if they don't know the 'drop' or 'out' command, but it does give you an option. Treats are an incentive to keep trying/working. You wouldn't do a job full time if you weren't going to be paid, would you? You can decrease the value of the treats and/or the frequency of them until you dog will do tricks without them becuase they know your 'good for it down the line'.

    I think it's hard as humans to really understand what a dog is going through to concentrate on us.
    In a house, everything stays in the same place, the smells are usually the same all the time. Not much sound change over the time of the day. everyone is where they are supposed to be.
    When they are outside, the wind blows the trees and all the little green things on it move, the wind blows leaves along the ground, pushes smells past thier nose. Birds call ans sing, a dog barks 3 streets away. kids squeal and shout, more smells on the ground, the tree, the lamppost. Big noisey things move past quickly.
    When you see your friends you are excited/happy...your pup (she sounds like she is) can read that from your face (smile, 'soft' eyes), your shoulders (down sloping) body in general and she thinks "wow these other people are good people, ohhhh a leaf, ohhhh whats that sound, smell, oh people, Yay mummy, oh a dog".
    They really have a hard time concentrating on one thing. I had a hard time getting Oka to do a /sit/ outside of the house for weeks after we got her - she just couldn't cope with everything and trying to figure out what i was asking in my strange human language.

    Dogs don't have to listen to us, they don't need humans, there are plenty of feral dogs to prove that point. But pet dogs work for us because they want to. Shouting at her really will work against you...she isn't doing it to be bad or dominant - but just because she can't concentrate on you with everything else going on around - think child in a sweet shop or toy shop. If you get frustrated, just stop trying the trick with her. She won't respect you if you loose your temper. A leader in a pack never looses thier cool, a pack would not have an unstable dog as leader - it's not safe for the pack. (I'll put here that i don't believe in dominence/Alpha stuff with dogs).
    I was told by someone that people often miss out the 3rd stage of training; stage 1 is learning the trick, stage 2 is mastering the trick in a distraction free envioment, stage 3 is mastering the trick in increasing distractions.
    jackienmutts likes this.
  7. alcastive Well-Known Member

    I see, so it is normal that my dog loses his concentration when performing outside i thought that she dislikes doing tricks in front of others or she don't like to be commanded in front of others.

    Thank you for the explanation i have no idea about dogs behavior, i will never shout on my dog again probably just ignore her, i know when i ignore sasha she will do everything to get my attention back would that be a good idea ?
  8. jackienmutts Honored Member

    I'm not sure how (or where) you train your dog - but have you ever noticed that, let's say for example, you teach your dog to "SIT" in the kitchen, and whenever you're in the kitchen and ask your dog to "SIT", she will, and she'll do it every time, but then you go into the living room, and ask her, and she just looks at you funny, like she has no idea what you're talking about? It's because dogs don't generalize things the way we do. You have to basically teach them that SIT means the same thing in the living room that it does in the kitchen. So - you have a few training sessions in the living room, and presto, she SITS in the living room, too. Then - you move into a bedroom. Start over - but this time, you may only have to ask once or twice - and bingo, she's doing it perfectly. NOW, you've got to move outside - and you may have to start all over again. Not only is she in a new place, but now there's new distractions - birds, noises, smells, all kinds of stuff that she's thinking about, all the while, she's trying so hard to remember what SIT means. So - you go over and over it outside -- until she does it perfectly. And this goes for all her lessons. She needs to learn them in a whole lot of different contexts - different rooms, inside/outside - and then with different people present. Some dogs get very excited or nervous in front of lots of people, and may "forget" how to do things.

    I'm not sure what tricks your dog knows, but if she won't do them in front of people, maybe you could start training all over again, just you and her, go slowly with her, give her really good rewards for doing them, be very patient with her, give her loads of praise, let her know she's doing a good job for you - and once she's doing the tricks the way you like in one room, then the next day, try a different room - and start all over again. Practice, practice, practice - then go outside. And start all over again. When that's going really well - then see if she can do them in front of ONE friend. Don't put a lot of pressure on her. If she does well, reward her and tell her what a GOOD GIRL she is!!! It will really help her confidence. If you've shouted at her previously, she might be afraid of disappointing you and getting yelled at again, so right now she may be afraid to perform. Start really slowly, with things you know that she knows. Set her up for success, pay her well, give her really good treats - and she'll come through for you, just you watch!
    alcastive likes this.
  9. alcastive Well-Known Member

    That's a very good idea! I didn't think of that neither knew about it but now i know how dog's don't generalize things the way we do which is good to know. I always teach Sasha tricks in the living room.

    Thank you, i need to know how my dog think. I will keep practicing my dog.
    btw these are Tricks Sasha Can Do:

    - Sit
    - Stay
    - Come
    - Break
    - Down
    - Stand
    - Leave It
    - Roll Over
    - Shake Paw
    - High Five
    - Peek-a-boo
  10. mewzard Experienced Member

    Whats 'Break'? never heard of that before. thats a pretty cool list of tricks!!
    I always start tricks in the living room, then i will do them in the kitchen (depending on the trick -kitchen; small, Oka; big :LOL:). Then outside the back door, then in the middle of the back garden (this is sometimes harder than in the front garden as both neighbours have 2 dogs), then front garden and then at the park. Each time starting with boiled chicken, ham, hotdogs or cheese as the reward (very high value for Oka). Then when she is 100% (occasionally 90% as she likes the challenge, but if she can't; i just quit straight away) .... i go to the next distraction 'level'.
    I decrease the value of the reward in the previous 'distraction place' as she masters doing the trick in the next place. eg. if Oka was doing /roll over/ in the park for the first time i would be re-teaching her with hotdog,cheese or something She would be getting a lesser treat - something from a store; like a mini bone thing, in the garden and in the house; lots of praise and cuddles, and the occasional food treat.
    But it's not an exact science.

    i would look at teaching her to /touch/ next: This is a great video - (all Kikopup's videos are brilliant) and show a little at the end of what /touch/ can be used to teach. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWSJVwZybwo
    I've used it to teach Oka to close doors and also learning to target with her nose has meant i can teach her the names of things..

    (p.s did not know that was going to embed!!)
  11. lizzyrd Experienced Member

    I loved that video :) I believe the Target Stick video on this site is the same thing except with a stick. I taught Buddha to do the Around and Get In tricks with the target stick. But I think I'll train them both touch with my fingers also so I can teach them to do things closer to my body without trying to figure out what to do with the rest of the length of my target stick.
  12. alcastive Well-Known Member

    That's great mewzard! btw sasha like her dogs treats but if i have other food sasha would love to taste but i wouldn't give her as i am afraid to give her other food as treats that could affect her health, do you think cheese and hot dogs are good treats (i know sasha would love that!)
  13. jackienmutts Honored Member

    That's a great list of tricks that Sasha knows - she sounds very talented. Lots of great advice above, this should give you a really good idea of how you can help her out. That's a great video that was posted above, too.

    I also use really high value food treats for my dogs - I cut up little pieces of hot dogs, chicken, turkey, beef, cheese - I vary it. It makes them work really hard, because they LOVE getting their rewards! If you use hot dogs, you many want to try to find the ones low in salt, and don't go overboard, as they have lots of fat. Plain chicken or turkey is always good - the dogs love it, and it's not full of chemicals, salt, etc (like some hot dogs are - altho I do use hot dogs too, they love them). I cut all my treats into small bites - it's amazing how hard they'll work for a small bite. You know dogs, they give so much, and ask for so little in return. :) I like to pay mine well and keep them happy.
  14. alcastive Well-Known Member

    That's great jackienmutts :)

    @ mewzard the break command that i called on sasha is to stop when we are running together lol i know why i didn't just say stop, because this word is used so frequently than break. btw one more trick sasha can do actually it;s not a trick it's peeing and pooping on command the "go get busy" command when i say this and we are outside sasha will do her toilet even if she doesn't have to go out, she pretend to lol by taking the peeing position :D smart dog, to tell me here you go there's nothing left :p
  15. alcastive Well-Known Member

    Hello again,

    I want to say thank you for the information, it was very helpful today sasha mastered the tricks she knows (using some treats) outside in a public place, in my garden, on the street some ppl were watching from far and sasha's focus was on the treat not the birds nor the wind :)

    I was very happy so my dog.

    Edit: i downloaded the "Touch" command video and i will teach her soon.
  16. Aleron Active Member

    Dogs don't perform or obey because they love you - a dog can be very devoted but also poorly behaved. Dogs perform the way they have been trained to perform. There are lots of methods of training dogs to perform behaviors that have been proven to work over the years. All those methods basically involve the dog working for something that is reinforcing to them (could be treats, play, toys, praise, etc) or working to avoid something they dislike (collar corrections, threatening behavior from their owner, physical corrections, scolding, etc). Regardless of the method you use, there are things which can cause your dog to disobey at any given time. There are some general reasons for this:
    1. Stress: Your dog won't perform because he is too stressed. This is known among trainers as "shutting down". Some reasons this can happened would be your dog finds something about the environment scary or overwhelming, your dog becomes stressed from corrections, your dog becomes stressed when they aren't rewarded often, your dog becomes stressed because you are putting pressure on them or because you are stressed. A lot of issues people have in performance venues with their dogs are stress related such as slow performance, sniffing, running off, "not listening". Sometimes stress related performance problems relate to training...

    2. Training: Your dog can only perform as well as they are trained to and you will get what you train for. Very often people expect their dogs to progress at a much faster rate than what the dog is capable of. I see this constantly in my classes. For example, people have a dog who is very solid on staying when the owner is 2' away, so the owner starts going 20' away and them becomes frustrated because their dog "isn't listening". That is too big of a change in criteria for most dogs and is setting them up to fail. When in doubt, it is better to progress slower rather than faster. Also be aware of what you are doing during training and if it is what you want your dog's picture of the behavior to be. If you want your dog to sit the first time you say sit, don't practice by saying "sit...sit...sit...sit...sit...". Say it once and then help your dog get it right :) A common issue people have with treat training is constantly having the treat in their hand, showing the dog before they ask for a behavior. This makes the treat part of the command to the dog and they will not perform if they don't see the treat. That isn't a treat training problem but a training problem. Once you are past the initial luring stage, make sure your dog doesn't always see the reward before you ask him for a behavior. Asking your dog to perform beyond their level of training is often quite stressful for them, especially if it causes you become frustrated with them.

    3. Motivation: Dogs sometimes don't perform because the motivation isn't compelling enough to them. This can happen with any method of training. The treats might not be as rewarding for your dog as you think or popping on a leash might not bother your dog much. Or it could be in some environments, the dog finds that treat rewarding or finds leash pops to be a good reason to stop doing something but in other environments, they barely notice these things. That is likely because of either stress or because there is something more rewarding to them at that moment. "How could you possibly expect me to notice that treat or you yanking on my leash when there are all these dogs to look at and all these smells to smell!!!". Recall problems are very often an issue of motivation. Dogs may come when called very well in their yard but not off leash at the park with other dogs and squirrels and people and excitement. That can happen no matter what method they are trained with because they simply find what is going on at the moment more compelling than any reason you have ever given them to come to you.

    Training with treats vs. training without doesn't make your dog respect you more or less. I find it easier to have a good relationship with my dogs if it isn't based on having to intimidate the dog into obeying. I interchangeably use treats, toys and play as rewards. I don't worry much about if the dog respects me or not or how soon I can wean them off of rewards. IME if you build behaviors with a strong rate of reinforcement, in a wide variety of environments and reward what you want isn't hard to get your dog to perform without treats once they fully understand the behavior.
    reveuse, alcastive and Ina like this.

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