Who Needs Treats

Discussion in 'General Dog Training' started by tx_cowgirl, Feb 7, 2009.

  1. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    I've been thinking about my training with Zeke and racking my brain trying to figure out how to do more advanced tricks. If I could figure out how to channel his intelligence, I think trick training would be a wonderful way to keep his mind entertained. Zeke is not food motivated by any means. He doesn't like treats.

    Now mind you, I don't mean he's just picky(which he is). This dog rarely takes treats even at random. And luring?? HA! That's a concept that I am wondering if he will ever learn. He's happy to eat his meals, but it's very slowly. He doesn't care to work for it---if he doesn't get to eat, so be it. He's got his tennis balls...he's got his family to snuggle with...who needs food? That's no exaggeration--he would probably lose 10 pounds before he would even consider working for his food. It's not that he's not intelligent. By far, he's the smartest dog I have ever worked with. He's a canine Einstein in a furry black-and-white package. His littermates were food and toy motivated--they'd do anything for anything, so long as it involved...well, reward of some kind. A good snuggle was more than satisfactory. But Z just takes no interest in food. I even once tried to teach him to take treats by clicking for interest in the treat. I tried clicking for interest in the treat and then tossing a tennis ball--combining his toy motivation with clicker training. So I had a $30 tub of treats...who cares, that 99 cent tennis ball is the best thing on God"s green earth!

    He knows basics--sit, down, stay, a terrible recall, a flawless retrieve, shake, high-five, directed jumping, back, and walking well on a leash--thanks to the Gentle Leader, my first experience with one. Beyond that, we're just not getting anywhere. He'll fetch a tennis ball, but I can't lure him with one. We do a little bit of agility just as a hobby--he learned by watching Rusty, my very food-motivated Rottie mix. I did no training at all...he watched, he did it, great! I've tried treat after treat after teat. Freeze-dried liver(initially, lots of interest!), Pupperoni, cooked chicken, sliced apple, sliced carrot, kibble, WalMart brands, Petsmart brands, PetCo brands, expensive, cheap, whatever--if it's been on a shelf it's been in my house. The one thing he hasn't had a go at is rolled dog food--used it with Mud before but not Z. Honestly, I think I would get an initial reaction but nothing beyond that.

    I'm not at my wit's end, but I just wanted to see if anyone has any stories or advice with working with entirely toy motivated dogs. Z's been this way since he was a pup--everything he knows now was rewarded with praise when he was a pup--yes, this means me "putting" him into a position. Yes, I claim to be a positive trainer, but this was the only way with Zeke. He was never uncomfortable by any means, and he enjoyed training thoroughly. He learned at amazing speeds and I don't regret anything I did with him. He liked it and was never unhappy. It wasn't until Mud came along that he realized how fun tennis balls were, and then he was hooked. He's always looooved snuggly stuffed animals but has never wanted to work for them. So...ideas? Thoughts? Suggestions? Rants? Anything? :dogsmile:

  2. snooks Experienced Member

    I bought some extra squeakers that you replace dead ones with--so just the little bulb that you push like a clicker and squeak. My puppy has been very barky and fixated on the people in class. She LOVES people. She loves squeaky toys. Just to break off her fixation I would squeak and her head would fly around then click and treat her returning to me or run a couple of steps back and treat her. Non food treats that interest her usually involve animal products or pelts. I have a rabbit pelt tug that she took a liking to. I take my bag of tricks and sometimes different things work depending on the distractions. I have a tennis ball tuggy toy with a nylon hande that is very popular. Have you tried peanut butter too? That usually gets her where liver or tripe won't.

    I mentioned on another post changing my leave-it from a conversational tone to a wheee fun tone worked very well. I made it as fun of a command as let's go which has an emotional attachment of ohh I get to go somewhere. The trainer asked that I try her squeeze tube with cat food in it last time and it did a good job but boy was there some diarrhea after. I cook most of my dogs treats and food. For most dogs that wouldn't be a problem. Apparently REI sells them prefilled with cat food. So maybe if Zeke's tummy is tougher than my pup's the cat food would be more enticing. The non food motivated part is tough. Hopefully you can experiment and find something fun and maybe animal/bird pelt or feathers to pull on, tugs help me a lot.
  3. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Lol, he's not a tugger either. :doglaugh: He's so notoriously picky with everything. If he plays with Mud enough, he will find the fun in some toys...but sometimes he just doesn't care. Just give him his tennis ball and he's happy. If given as a treat, he'll eat one or two of my Peanut Butter/Oatmeal Chunks(in the recipe forum), but beyond that...eh. He'll snuggle and play with his stuffed animals on his own time, but won't play with them with people. I don't know if he would go for cat food, but I'm fixing to get a cat, so I guess we'll find out. :) If I could find a treat he would go for, I could probably help him learn how fun all toys are, instead of just tennis balls.

    He's so picky it used to take a while to get him used to a new tennis ball. The first time I had to get him a new one he looked at me like, "But that's not mine." Many, many, many more tennis balls later, he's much more open-minded. I did buy one of those big Kong squeaker tennis balls, and so far he's mildly interested in it. It's going fairly well. The best way for him to learn is to watch--but even watching all my work with Mud, some things aren't quite clicking with him. He is definitely a sight learner though.
  4. pattymac New Member

    I jsut bought Bayley an Airdog tennis ball that's got a rope on one end and sort of wubba type strips on the other end, maybe something like that would get his interest?
  5. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Haven't tried that ropes-with-balls yet, but thanks for the idea PattyMac. Typically he's not interested in tennis balls with things attached, but we can see again. We need to make another trip to Petsmart anyway. I'm going to try the rolled dog food, which has been my intention for a while, and see if he has any interest in any of the toys on the toy aisle. Lol.

    On the plus side, YIPPEE! We had a tiny breakthrough yesterday. Normally he won't lure with a tennis ball, but yesterday I caught him in high-drive mode, and I quickly brought the tennis ball around from his nose towards his tail in a full circle. He spun around, much to my surprise, and I very happily tossed him the ball. He of course jumbled it around in his mouth and bowed at my feet, dropping it. I gave it another go, and another, and another, and another. YAY! It took me a little while to get it just right and figure out exactly how to make him follow it, so he doesn't have it down perfect just yet. But now that I've got it down with him, I'm guessing he'll have it perfect today. Very smart pooch. ^^ Anywho, so that was our success yesterday. A happy accident.

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