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I have a 16 mo old Rottie who I am going to start showing in Rally. He's been trained using treats but I need to wean him off for the show ring. There are certain commands like "Down" that he refuses to do without a treat. Any suggestions as to how to break this? I am trying lots of positive reinforcement.
 

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Good for you! The more Rotties in the obedience ring the better. :) As far as weaning from treats just start spacing them out more and more. Every 3 followed command, then every 5 then once in awhile. Use praise as your reward instead of a treat. Why will your dog not go down without a treat? Are you still in the luring phase of training? If so, keep using the treats until he is understanding the command, then begin to back off. I would LOVE to see a few hundred pictures of your boy. :) ;) Alright a few pics.
 

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It sounds like you might have skipped some steps in handling the treats and now he is dependent on them. I'm not sure where you've gone wrong/how you handled the treat/reward training so, I'll recap the basic process:

Treats are an excellent way to lure the dog quickly into the position(s) you want where you immediately reward and praise.
Once the dog understands the command (sit/down/come, etc) you start varying the timing of the reward....treat after 2 repetitions, after 3, after 1, etc. In conjuction with the variable schedule, you also slow down the delivery of the treat...no more 'rapid firing' of the reward.
Next step is to add a 2nd exercise ie; a sit plus a down and then treat. Then, add 3 exercises and treat, etc.
To continue the weaning process, you no longer carry the treats....they're left on a table or a chair. Both the two previous steps and this one teach the dog to wait for it (delayed reward).
Too often, treats end up being used as bribes (do this/that and you get a treat).
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Just thought that I should report back that my Rottie and I successful completed our first Rally competition today, obviously with the use of treats, and we scored a 90 out of a possible 100 and placed 3rd in the class (1st and 2nd place both scored 91). I just kept doing mini training sessions with him and used lots of positive reinforcement in place of treats. I did luck out as there were no Downs in the course. Thank you all for your replies and advice.
 

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Think of it this way - it's not that he's refusing to do it without a treat. For him, the treat is part of the cue. He never learned down on a verbal command, he learned to lay down when you say it when you have a treat.

You can either start fading out the lure (pretend you have a treat in your hand, but don't actually) and turn it into a hand signal, or re-teach it from the beginning using capturing or shaping, without a treat in your hand when you teach it.

And congrats!
 

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guyz, how could you make your dog master the "come" command without treat?!
I mean my puppy can "site", and "down" even without treat, but I cant manage it in come command,he only comes when he sees the treat., any advice?
thx in advance.
 

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Reward him for coming to you when you're not holding a treat, but you didn't call him. Get him in the habit of just coming to see you.
 

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guyz, how could you make your dog master the "come" command without treat?!
I mean my puppy can "site", and "down" even without treat, but I cant manage it in come command,he only comes when he sees the treat., any advice?
thx in advance.
Same way as above - it's just another command.
 

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Tooney's advice is always solid. Definately take it to heart.

Have you tried doing puppy push ups? It turns the idea into a game and gets a faster response time. Start by using the treat as a lure and try to get the dog into a sit and then a down and then a sit and then a down ect. . .at first only doing a couple changes of position and then a treat. Sorry, I'm not very good at explaining myself without being able to show you! :p

Also you can use the idea of "chaining" which is usually associated with clicker training but doesn't have to be. Work on downs for a few minutes and then throw in a sit and then a down, then maybe a sit and stay and then a down, then sit, shake, heel, front, whatever commands he knows, and then down. The key being that they don't get the treat until they get to the down command. The idea of this is that getting the next command becomes a reward in and of itself because the dog learns that they are getting closer to getting the treat. Then when they hear the down command they do it really quickly because they know that they finally got to the command that when performed will get them the treat.
 

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how to do this, when I call him he wont come unless he sees a treat, how to do it without!!
In your house, he NEVER comes anywhere NEAR you if you're not holding a treat? I doubt it. Don't call him. You need to read my whole post. Don't call him. Reward him for coming to you any time. Don't show him the treat.
 
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