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Dumb dog, smart dog...dealing with frustration

5855 Views 23 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  ThoseWordsAtBest
I'm having a difficult time dealing with my frustration with training more than anything. I have two dogs. One is a 1.5 yr old cocker spaniel. He's a very sharp dog, eager to please, motivated by food and affection and learns very quickly. I can usually teach him a simple trick in just 5-6 repetitions and can get it down very solid in just a session or two. He's fun to train because he learns so quickly. My other dog is a 10 year old basset hound. I swear he's as dumb as a box of rocks. He's motivated only by food and even then, he's very easily distracted. I can be holding a hot dog and he's distracted and wondering what's on my counters or what's in the trash or what's behind the refrigerator or whatever. I'm still working on getting him to sit on a regular basis. He will sometimes do it on command to get something from me but other times he looks at me like he has no idea what is expected of him. Getting him to sit and getting him to sit calmly are a completely different thing. The latter seems to rarely happen. At one point I thought I had trained him to not jump on the counters. He never did this when I was around at least. Now he doesn't seem to care and seems to have forgotten all the training.

How do you deal with frustration in training two dogs with such different learning speeds and capacities? I'm afraid I'm getting really frustrated with the hound and it's not helping the training process.
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I, at the very least, feel you. All three of my dogs are on completely different wave lengths. My mutt is ridiculously smart. There isn't any thing she can't be taught. In just watching me from the sidelines attempting to teach our Elkhound to bow, she just did it. No luring, nothing. I just said "Jack, bow" while looking at my Elkhound, and she did it.

My Elkhound? Big dumb. He's older and spent a lot of his life outside, so we give him the benefit of the doubt, but teaching him any thing is like pulling teeth. He at least learns eventually, unlike my dachshund, who I am convinced is mentally retarded. We work with these guys every day, and he still can't even sit on command. We'll think he's got it, and then twenty minutes later I'll tell him to sit and he just stares at me. :p
I'm coming to the conclusion that my basset knows what he needs to do, but simply chooses not to do it unless there's something in it for him. I had a rawhide (which he absolutely loves) and was trying to get him to sit before I gave it to him. He tried for about 5 minutes to jump up and get it while I was telling him to sit. Then he tried running around me and trying to sneak up on it before I could yank it out of his grip. Then stopped, walked around me and tried jumping up to get it again. Finally, he sat (as I'd been telling him to do the whole time) and I gave him the rawhide. The look in his eyes said, "The stupid things this guy makes me do just to get a toy. It's so unreasonable."
I don't know what my doxie's deal is. It's almost harder in a way to teach him with treats because he gets so focused on the treat that it's almost like he doesn't hear me at all. He just stares at the treat, a big stupid grin on his cute little face, wagging his tail. We can't even lure him into a sit. Just keep staring and smiling. We had to start kicking my mutt out of the room because SHE was the impatient one. At first she helped guide my Elkhound and he would learn by mirroring her, but now she'll immediately do whatever I'm directing them to do, and if they don't do it, she just barks and barks like "Give me the treat, I can clearly do it!!"
Always train them separately. If they stare at the treat don't give it to them, try training them to focus on you. Look at treat = no treat. Look at you = treat.
Normally, yes, but my mutt was a useful training tool for our Elkhound, so I let her stay during training. She actually helped him along light years ahead of where he was when we were attempting by ourselves. He was abused most of his life and lacked any confidence and trust. He feeds directly off her and for months would not do any thing without her by his side.

I know when to appropriately give a dog a treat in training. We clicker train. I was just lamenting with the OP on training a dog who is less than cooperative than the rest.
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