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Yogi is over 4 months now. We got him at 8 weeks old. He knows how to sit, lay down, "touch", look at me, and come. Sometimes when we ask him to perform a command when we don't have a treat, he just looks at us and doesn't perform the trick. This kind of worries me! When do we phase out the yummy stinky treats for tricks?!
 

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Once the dog has the hang of the command, meaning he/she does when you say it without hesitation, phasing out treats and substituting them for praise and toys should work just fine.
 

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Hehe I was thinking of posting the quantum leap video too, seems I was beat to it! I think the video explains it rather well. Not phasing out the treats could make training a real hassel as the dog will always be expecting a treat, then if you don't happen to have one on you...well the pooch doesn't listen. Wishing you the best on your training!:D
 

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I think most people have problems with fading the treats out because they never faded the lure. It's a step by step process and if you go right from a lure to nothing they don't know what to do.
For example.
Using the lure to sit (by moving over the head of the pup with a treat) is done for say, 15 reps, then you PRETEND you have the food in your hand, do the same movement and reward from your other hand or from behind your back. Then you make the movement smaller and go from bending over the puppy to standing. Then you add the cue word and continue rewarding. Then you go to variable rewards, eventually replacing some of the treats with praise or the opportunity to go outside or whatever.

I personally don't ever stop rewards of SOME sort..whether that is just a "good girl" or a treat or whatever, but that's just me. I like when someone says thank you for what I do, even small things..so I do the same.
 

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I personally don't ever stop rewards of SOME sort..whether that is just a "good girl" or a treat or whatever, but that's just me. I like when someone says thank you for what I do, even small things..so I do the same.
I believe that is what you are supposed to do.:p It should never be food rewards ONLY, its always always always both a food treat and verbal praise. When you phase out the treats you start with less treats but always continue with the verbal praise. At the end of the training the dog should be doing a command on cue and the verbal praise should suffice.
 

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I keep dogs on a variable reinforcement schedule pretty much forever. I just decrease the frequency. My dogs OCCAIONALLY get treats for doing even simple stuff as adults and with very fluent behaviors- but it may be once in a great long whlie- or it may be more freuquent if they're giving me extra effort. They DO get lots of praise more frequently, but I think a random extra reinforcement keeps things sharp and keeps attitudes good.

The whole trick though, is to phase out the treats slowly. If you're using treats correctly (as a reward, not a bribe- they appear ONLY on the completion of whatever you're going to reward, which may not be the complete behavior*, and the presence of treats in your hand or pocket doens't mean the dog will get one (or get one from that source.)

*It's important NOT to fall into the trap of rewarding ONLY a perfect complete behavior too early. If you're working on heeling or loose leash walking and your dog is consistantly walking 15' on a loose leash, reward at 17' if he's doing well there- don't try for 20' and give him the chance to screw up and miss the 19' he did correctly.)
 
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