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Doesn't respond to voice commands

1264 Views 13 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  Bluemoods
I have a 18 month old Toller. She knows about a dozen tricks by hand gesture, but doesn't seem able to learn them by voice command.

She does her puppy obedience commands by voice well enough (she comes when i say "come"...), but when I tell her to "spin", she looks bewildered and then does tricks she knows at random; apparently hoping one of the is "spin". When I move my finger in a circle she immediately spins.

Many of them she has known for year, but just doesn't seem to connect verbal commands to the behaviors. How do I improve this?
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If it hasn't helped in a year, then you are doing it wrong. Maybe if you post a video of what you're doing, we can help. Timing is everything.
The year thing is also something I want to address. Because if you are training efficiently, you should see change in one or two sessions. I'm not saying things will be perfect in that time. But I think one way to measure success in training is seeing change in behavior. And you can often see that in one session. If you are not seeing any change, it's time to change YOUR behavior.

Here's an example from my training, and I'm working on teaching him "limp" (carrying one paw in the air while moving forward).
-I started with paw targeting (touch paw to my hand). Easy and successful. I was able to get that with complete consistency.
-I wanted duration. Keep the paw in my hand. Success.
-I wanted to duration plus forward movement. Paw in hand, lure forward with a treat. Success.
-I wanted to fade my hand. I tried having my hand just a little far forward so that he would come forward/paw target, miss my hand and do one little limp/hop. I did have some success with this. However, he mostly just waved his paw in the air. After about five 3 minute training sessions over the course of two weeks, I did not see an increase in 'limping'. We were stagnant. Time to change my plan.
-I went back to general paw targeting. This time, I held my hand higher so that he would have to hop up to touch it. No more luring. I had success with this in the first session I tried it.
-Session two with the new method, very consistent limping, and I was able to fade my hand. Now I have a clear path moving forward.

Honestly, if I was a better trainer I would have changed my technique sooner. But here are some big takeaways:
-The original method I tried worked with my older dog, who is a pro at this trick. What works for one dog might not work for another.
-Behavior should change in a couple of training sessions. Training is about noting these small changes towards your goal.
-Training sessions should be short and fun.
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But without seeing what you're doing, I can only guess that it's one of these:
-You are not waiting long enough after presenting one cue
-You are doing too much with your body or voice
-You are presenting multiple cues at once
-You are unintentionally luring
-You are not aware of your subtle body language (ex. leaning, eyebrow movement, etc.)

Impossible to say without seeing, which is why I recommend video. This topic is something I talk about in the beginning of my entry level training class. Usually owners see progress within 5 minutes. But I go around and each person gets different advice, because each dog is reading something different from their owner.
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