What Is A Reward For A Dog.

Discussion in 'General Dog Training' started by sara, Aug 5, 2011.

  1. running_dog Honored Member

    I know Zeke likes tennis balls but what about soccer or basket balls? These are a much much higher value reward to Zac than a tennis ball. I kick the ball around, protect it, pass it, tackle him, Zac growls like thunder while he dodges and catches and generally has a whale of a time.

  2. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Z is only recently getting somewhat over his obsession and becoming willing to accept non-tennis balls. He used to be soooo obsessed with his one tennis ball that when I threw out his old torn up one and gave him a new one, he would ignore it for a week. Refused to play with it at all. Now he has started playing with other balls of a similar size, quite willingly. He did have a very large soccer-ball sized tennis ball that he was bonkers about, but it died. I haven't tried a soccer or basketball anytime recently, he might play with them now. Will have to try it.

    Just curious, and you may hate me for saying this; just adding to the discussion.....
    By rewarding Zac for leaving the thing he wants the most, with the thing he wants the most.....is that not counterproductive???? Doesn't it reinforce BOTH behaviors--leaving the thing he wants the most, and going after it?
    I'm confused on that one. I guess, it's the same as asking Z for a stay, throwing his tennis ball, and rewarding him by letting him go get it. O_o

    It's been a long day and I'm having trouble clearing my head enough to wrap it around this. I was thinking about this earlier today, before work, and made more progress than I'm making now, lol! :confused: Too tired to straighten this out in my head.

    Maybe a thread for working with dogs with high prey drive is a good idea...
    Tigerlily, suggestions on working on recall away from prey after a good night's rest. :)
  3. ambara Active Member

    I've taught Hauru not to chase animals by letting him chase animals as a reward. It does reinforce chasing but it doesn't matter because it's now under my control and anyways Hauru's pray drive is so high that little reinforcing can't possible make it worse :p When he sees birds or whatever, he comes to heel because that's how he's learnt to ask for permission instead of just running off on he's own.

    More on the topic, mudi is supposed to be a breed that's bred for working with humans but I've never had a dog that is this hard to motivate. Funny how things go. The only things that really interest him are chasing and tracking animals and guarding he's territory. And since those behaviors are not that well accepted in human society... yeah. I can't exactly let him go kick the **** out of the neighbor's dog for doing great in our training so it's been real hard trying to find something that I can reward him with. I wish I could take little bit of Rohan's enthusiasm and put it into Hauru. Rohan could easily spare some, he gets so excited about rocks, iron shovels, old bottles... doesn't matter. Every object is the most fun thing Rohan has ever seen and he's willing to do anything to get to play with it :D So easy!
  4. running_dog Honored Member

    The way I think with dealing with chasing is that really there are two separate training objectives. 1. Recall from the ultimate distractions (eg/ rabbits) and 2. Ignore something as if it never existed (eg/ sheep). Both of these are attained by well trained working sighthounds.

    1. The farmers over whose land I walk have said they don't mind their rabbits getting some exercise. Personally I don't want him to catch rabbits but nor do I want to cut him off from something that is such a key part of his makeup. I need to be able to make the decision as to whether he is to chase (if there is a tractor, machinery, fishing line, car.....I need to be able to stop him). Therefore if I reward Zac with the behaviour that he first wanted he gets to understand (hopefully) that he doesn't always lose his fun by obeying and that sometimes I am the source of the ultimate reward that he wouldn't otherwise of had. I think my rationale was like after a recall sometimes giving the ball back to the dog to carry so it doesn't think you always cheat it by stealing the ball? So sometimes it can get treats and a chase, maybe the chase is not really a reward but about not cheating the dog?

    2. With sheep I spent a LOT of time (5-15 minutes every morning for about 6 months) doing retrieves and recall in a field next to a sheep field. I walked him through sheep fields regularly, I still work as close to sheep as I can while training. At that time I used negatives but I now suspect that most of Zac's steadiness comes from regular training near sheep not the negatives. Zac is never deliberately off lead among sheep, he has never chased sheep (despite a couple of accidental opportunities). It would be terribly counter productive to reward leaving sheep with chasing sheep. He must NEVER chase sheep.

    So in the 1st case I think rewarding with chasing works but in the second case it doesn't. With the rabbit skin reward it would be the lazy option, do I chase this rabbit and probably lose it down a hole or recall and get to play with that lovely smelly furry tug toy? It might work
  5. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Okay, makes much more sense now. I've always been confused when working with Zeke as to whether or not I'm being counterproductive with the same type of exercises, but I've done them anyway because it's the only thing he finds rewarding.
    I think something like Treiball could be the answer for Zeke. Maybe a little Treiball exercise could be his reward for leaving or ignoring the cat....
  6. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Tigerlily, with cats I actually started working with Zeke at Petsmart. We would get as far away from the adoption center as possible while still being able to see the cats there. Armed with a squeaky tennis ball(he has an obsession with squeakers, although he doesn't typically play with squeaky toys, and an obsession with tennis balls--noise distraction combined with the love of his life), I would work on recalls and heeling here. If I thought I was fixing to lose him, I'd squeak squeak squeak the tennis ball and become really exciting. When I could heel a certain amount of time and have recalls without him paying any mind to the cats, we'd move a little closer and work some more. At times he would have to heel straight towards the adoption center without looking at the cats, but we wouldn't get so close that I lost him. (By the way, "losing him" was him tensing up and locking his eyes on the cats--he had an unbreakable eye-lock on cats. I could be dragging him away and it was like he was in a trance until we got completely out of site and then it was like he would wake up.) I also did recalls away from the cats, again starting out where he could handle it and it wasn't hard. Eventually we got to where we could heel right past the adoption center, and all around in front of the adoption center. I can't have him sit right in front of the adoption center and call him away just yet; it's a lot of cats instead of just one and if he sits there for very long he does go back into his trance. With just my one cat at home, I can call him away pretty easily.

    So, all you need is to get some squirrels, skunks, rabbits, and geese and do the same thing. :D

    Lol. Maybe if you could get a 50 foot leash, or even a 100 foot. No, you don't have to buy one. I bought 100 feet of rope at Tractor Supply Co(any farm supply store should have a pretty good selection of rope) and a clip, and made a leash out of it. I made a handle on one end and put the clip on the other and it's pretty close to 100 feet long. I got it for Zeke's off-leash training and for Deuce, the English Setter I worked with. 50 feet wasn't enough for some of the stuff I was working on.
    Anyway, that way you could work on his recall and still be able to keep him from going after a skunk if he decided that was more exciting. :) I don't know if that would work for you or not; you have trees and stuff......I live in flatlands with not a whole lot of trees; if the dog takes off they are tearing across a field, lol. Not really anything to get tangled around or caught up in.
    Sorry, I'm not much help here. :/
  7. sara Moderator

    I've been really slow with Ollie's recall, I try to NEVER call him when he may not come (I screwed up with him when I first started with him) so now, we have a decent recall when nothing is around, but if he's distracted at all, I doubt he'd come. I'm slowly (very, VERY slowly) adding criteria, and he's doing amazing! I ALWAYS throw a party, and play tug, give treats or throw the ball... (sometimes all of them! :D) I only let him off leash entirely if we're in a completely safe place, where he will not see another animal or person (deserted country roads) He'll spin on a dime now when hearing "come" and always looks back at his name... He'll even sit and down at a distance after his name... as long as there's no distractions! :whistle:

    There's ways of making a reward more rewarding. When I adopted Oliver, he liked to play, but toys weren't that rewarding, the GAME was. and a ball was ok, but retrieving was kinda boring. Well, he now thinks a ball, a toy, a tug game or a game of retrieve are very ultimate rewards! I limited my play with him, but made it count when we did play, and it really helped that I had a friend with a ball obsessed Pit Bull, who really got Oliver on the ball! I never played for nothing, he had to do something first, and I never played when he bugged, I just ignored him... now the second I LOOK like I MIGHT want to play, Ollie's up like a shot! :LOL:

    I cheated though... when I wanted to teach him to play tug reliably with manners... I used a retrieve game as a reward for letting go of the tug, and the tug as a reward for releasing the ball! LOL It really tightened up his ball game and his tug release! :sneaky:
  8. sara Moderator

    I've been really slow with Ollie's recall, I try to NEVER call him when he may not come (I screwed up with him when I first started with him) so now, we have a decent recall when nothing is around, but if he's distracted at all, I doubt he'd come. I'm slowly (very, VERY slowly) adding criteria, and he's doing amazing! I ALWAYS throw a party, and play tug, give treats or throw the ball... (sometimes all of them! :D) I only let him off leash entirely if we're in a completely safe place, where he will not see another animal or person (deserted country roads) He'll spin on a dime now when hearing "come" and always looks back at his name... He'll even sit and down at a distance after his name... as long as there's no distractions! :whistle:

    There's ways of making a reward more rewarding. When I adopted Oliver, he liked to play, but toys weren't that rewarding, the GAME was. and a ball was ok, but retrieving was kinda boring. Well, he now thinks a ball, a toy, a tug game or a game of retrieve are very ultimate rewards! I limited my play with him, but made it count when we did play, and it really helped that I had a friend with a ball obsessed Pit Bull, who really got Oliver on the ball! I never played for nothing, he had to do something first, and I never played when he bugged, I just ignored him... now the second I LOOK like I MIGHT want to play, Ollie's up like a shot! :LOL:

    I cheated though... when I wanted to teach him to play tug reliably with manners... I used a retrieve game as a reward for letting go of the tug, and the tug as a reward for releasing the ball! LOL It really tightened up his ball game and his tug release! :sneaky:
  9. running_dog Honored Member

    I've got to celebrate! Zac did 4 amazing recalls today just for food and praise rewards, first recall he hadn't noticed a family of deer and he pelted back to my whistle (reward and leash). I surreptitiously made sure he saw the deer and he went dual hyper, ears flying everywhere as he tried to look at the deer AND offer me "touch" and "sit" and "watch me" AND guzzle the treats all at the same time :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:. Then once the deer had gone I let him off the lead again, he tried to spot the deer three times, each time I called him and he flew back instantly. No negatives. Happy dog, Happy deer, Happy ME!

    No roadkill required :).
    Anneke likes this.
  10. sara Moderator

    FANTASTIC!!! That's sooooo awesome!!!

    And I'm very glad you didn't need roadkill! :LOL:
  11. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Whoo hoo congrats! Yay Zac! :D

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