Puppy Forum and Dog Forums banner

1 - 14 of 14 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I have a 4 year old dog whom I adopted about a year ago. She is the first dog for which I have been solely responsible for training, although not the first dog I've had in my life. To give some background, she was an indoor/outdoor dog at the time. She was very unruly when we got her, jumping on everyone, listening to zero commands, stealing food out of hands, was very dog-aggressive, etc. She was barely even house trained! She was mildly familiar with sit, lay, and shake, although she would do them all as a routine in order to get treats. She didn’t actually know what was expected of each command individually.

It’s taken a long time to get her to a mental state of mind where she could actually be trained. Now that I feel she’s ready, I’ve started using clicker training. I went through a few training sessions familiarizing her with clicker = treat. As soon as she started perking up at the sound of the clicker, I moved on to basic commands. I have familiarized her with sit, stay, and down. As I’ve mentioned, she was already a little familiar with these commands, so she caught on fast (or so I thought). She usually does these things when treats are involved, so I thought she knew what they meant.
I realized recently when practicing the commands outside, and even when we practice indoor “drills”, that she doesn’t really know what sit means, because if I tell her to “sit” after a “down” she won’t move back into a “sit”. I say sit and she just looks at me like I’m saying a word that has no meaning to her. It seems like after a while she gets bored even though I keep my sessions to a 15 minute max. I’ve considered starting from scratch to sort of wipe the slate clean, but I am afraid that this will only confuse her more.

I’m also want to teach her to stand, so that I can have a structured way to break a previous command in order to continue a particular command. I'm running into and issue tho. Her default position when in front of me is to sit. So I tried showing her the treat to get her attention, then pulling it away slowly to encourage her to stand and walk toward the treat. The plan was to click and reward the instant she was in a standing position. Well, she will only do a sitting crawl sort of thing where she inches forward without ever really leaving the sit position (this is another reason it’s been difficult to determine whether she knows sit, because she’s always doing it by default I usually don’t have an opportunity to give and reward the command). I've read about a technique of putting your foot in between the dogs paws to encourage a stand, but this isn't working. She just jumps back and remains sitting. Any suggestions to teach stand?

I’ve also dabbled in teaching her to touch, but haven’t got very far with it. I started by just putting my hand in front of her face and click/reward when she touched it out of curiosity. Problem is, her touching my hand is so sporadic that I’m sitting there most of the time with my hand inches from her face and her just staring at me. I’ve even tried scenting my hand like treats to encourage her curiosity and promote touching. No dice.

I’ve tried weaning her off of the food rewards because I thought maybe if I could remove the food stimuli I could find another way to motivate, but she is not motivated by play or any other type of reward and she doesn’t really seem to care about pleasing me because she is always looking/sniffing for the treat. If she knows I don’t have food then she doesn’t really care to listen. I’ve read that playing tug of war is a good way to reward a passive dog and allow them to blow off steam. I finally found a toy that she’s MILDLY interested in tugging, but even in the middle of a tug, she’ll drop it and run off sniffing for one of her food related toys. I’ve since removed all food related toys so she can’t play with them unless I give them to her (which I have completely stopped doing for the time being). In the meantime, I play with her only when the tug toy is involved (and it’s the only indoor play time she is allowed) so she can begin to associate play and fun with the new tug toy. This is a very new thing we’re trying and I have no idea if it will work.

Sometimes I think she is super smart because she does such a good job with training, then other times she behaves in such a way that leaves me so frustrated and wondering if she actually knows anything at all! I’m beginning to get really frustrated by the lack of progress. I see a recurring lack of interest in the training, but I have no idea how to motivate her. I really want to be able to take her outside and work with her on walks, but she is completely unresponsive on walks and hardly pays any attention to me at all when I try to give commands. She is only focused on sniffing. I currently walk her at my side, with a slip chain collar, so the only place she has slack when walking is by my side. Then I snap the leash when she starts trying to focus on sniffing or anything other than walking (according to Cesar Milan, a dog in roaming mode should not care about anything but following the pack leader). I find when using this technique that I spend the majority of my walk snapping and trying to keep her in a passive state of mind. She seems to always be in a completely distracted state of mind.

I'm also confused (which is probably confusing my dog) about how to react when she partially does what I want. For instance, I say sit... she lays, then sits. I want to reward her because she eventually sat. But I don't want her to think I always want a lay/sit when I say sit. So how do I break the command in order to give her a fresh sit command without confusing the intention of the command, and without confusing my dog such that she loses interest?

Sorry for such a long post, but I wanted to give as much background info as possible so you can all get a good picture of what I'm doing and how my dog behaves in general. Maybe those of you more experienced will be able to notice a pattern which might be affecting my training?

Thanks in advance for any help!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,186 Posts
She is only focused on sniffing. I currently walk her at my side, with a slip chain collar, so the only place she has slack when walking is by my side. Then I snap the leash when she starts trying to focus on sniffing or anything other than walking (according to Cesar Milan, a dog in roaming mode should not care about anything but following the pack leader). I find when using this technique that I spend the majority of my walk snapping and trying to keep her in a passive state of mind. She seems to always be in a completely distracted state of mind.
Please, please, please forget everything you learned from Cesar Milan. He has no idea what he's talking about. Pack theory, dominance, it's all been disproven for decades. Of course your dog is distracted outside- outside is a distracting place! So many smells and sounds and sights, so interesting! On top of that, every time she tries to investigate any of this great stuff, she gets snapped. Poor thing. Please buy her a nice flat buckle collar and throw that choke chain away!

You can't work on commands outside until they're firmed up inside. Then you're starting all over again outside as if you never practiced inside. It is frustrating, but eventually it works. You just have to have patience.

I don't command sit from a down. Sitting down is different from sitting up, so I use the word "up" to mean sitting up.

As to everything else, you've been doing this for a year. At this point, I'd suggest finding a PR trainer (none of that dominance stuff, no choke chains) and get a different perspective. You'd be amazed what an outside perspective could do for you.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,556 Posts
I am far from an expert, but I will offer you my thoughts based on what you've written.

It seems that you a very knowledgeable and genuinely want to have a better relationship with your dog. She is lucky to have such a caring and attentive owner. You seem to also have done your research, so I question why you are choosing the training protocol you have. You use positive methods and marker training in the house, but corrective/punitive methods on walks. I think this is confusing the dog more than anything, and could be the reason she is regressing on walks and seems unmotivated. I am not advocating for one or the other, as I personally believe there are merits to both 'camps', but in your case I would suggest just sticking to positive training and ditching the choke collar.


I really want to be able to take her outside and work with her on walks, but she is completely unresponsive on walks and hardly pays any attention to me at all when I try to give commands. She is only focused on sniffing. I currently walk her at my side, with a slip chain collar, so the only place she has slack when walking is by my side. Then I snap the leash when she starts trying to focus on sniffing or anything other than walking (according to Cesar Milan, a dog in roaming mode should not care about anything but following the pack leader). I find when using this technique that I spend the majority of my walk snapping and trying to keep her in a passive state of mind. She seems to always be in a completely distracted state of mind.
Have you tried using food on walks? I know you want to try weaning her off food rewards, but with her unreliable responses thus far, I think it is too soon. I would carry a treat bag with some very high value treats, such as raw meat, cheese or anything she really really likes. I would take her outside on a flat collar or martingale and wait until she gave me even a small amount of attention. If you want to use the clicker, feel free but I find that my hands can't handle it accurately on walks. I would mark (click or 'yes') and then treat. Take just one step and c/t for any attention. You aren't necessarily looking for a heeling position just yet, but rather just some sign from her that she acknowledges you are on the other end of the leash. I think of loose leash walking as a team sport. I don't particularly like Cesar Milan's methods for training LLW, and I think his protocol lacks a base of fundamental knowledge in the dog of what is expected. Your dog did not grow up walking on a leash and probably didn't know what one was or what it was used for before you came alone. I would check out 'Silky Leash' and 'Penalty Yards' which are two different methods of training a LLW. My suggestion for now is to used a flat collar and stop snapping the leash. If she is pulling to go in one direction, I would just stop and wait until she acknowledges you. The first few walks might be painfully slow and it will most likely try your patience, but she will get it and it will stick.

I'm also confused (which is probably confusing my dog) about how to react when she partially does what I want. For instance, I say sit... she lays, then sits. I want to reward her because she eventually sat. But I don't want her to think I always want a lay/sit when I say sit. So how do I break the command in order to give her a fresh sit command without confusing the intention of the command, and without confusing my dog such that she loses interest?
I would clear the commands up better in her mind. Only work on sit for a week and then down for a week. Work on them separately first and then from different positions. A sit from a stand is much different than a sit from a down, and should be treated as if a new command. I have found some dogs especially resistant to going from a down to a sit, so keep working on it but realize that she hasn't yet generalized 'sit'.

I’ve tried weaning her off of the food rewards because I thought maybe if I could remove the food stimuli I could find another way to motivate, but she is not motivated by play or any other type of reward and she doesn’t really seem to care about pleasing me because she is always looking/sniffing for the treat. If she knows I don’t have food then she doesn’t really care to listen. I’ve read that playing tug of war is a good way to reward a passive dog and allow them to blow off steam. I finally found a toy that she’s MILDLY interested in tugging, but even in the middle of a tug, she’ll drop it and run off sniffing for one of her food related toys. I’ve since removed all food related toys so she can’t play with them unless I give them to her (which I have completely stopped doing for the time being). In the meantime, I play with her only when the tug toy is involved (and it’s the only indoor play time she is allowed) so she can begin to associate play and fun with the new tug toy. This is a very new thing we’re trying and I have no idea if it will work.
I think you are on the right track, but I would use her food motivation to your advantage for a while longer. I would continue to put away all food items unless you are involved, as well as toys. Good things come from you, period. The exception to this IMO would be a stuffed Kong if you are crating her. Play around with all different types of toys. Ones that make noise, roll, wiggle, spin, whatever. Also try different textures. Heck, take her to Petco (if you think she'd do okay) and have her sniff and look at all the toys. Let her choose. I have a very unmotivated dog, and it took a lot of trial and error but I can finally get him interested in a ball, so it is possible.

I’ve also dabbled in teaching her to touch, but haven’t got very far with it. I started by just putting my hand in front of her face and click/reward when she touched it out of curiosity. Problem is, her touching my hand is so sporadic that I’m sitting there most of the time with my hand inches from her face and her just staring at me. I’ve even tried scenting my hand like treats to encourage her curiosity and promote touching. No dice.
Ah yes, the elusive touchless dog. I would try teaching it for a specific object. You can use a touch stick (Premier makes a cool one) or use a post it and a regular clicker. Place the object far enough away from you and c/t from any interest in it. Slowly move the object once she is reliably touching it and when you can get her to reliably touch it in any position, move it to your hand. This is the reverse way then I have always taught it, but I hope that it might be helpful.

I've read about a technique of putting your foot in between the dogs paws to encourage a stand, but this isn't working. She just jumps back and remains sitting. Any suggestions to teach stand?
It may take longer but you could always just capture it.


Good luck and let us know how its going.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the reply Amaryllis!

I don't want this to become a big debate about Cesar Milan and whether we agree with his techniques. That being said, I do feel I should mention that I personally have had much success with his techniques so far in getting my dogs general "manners" in check. She is very well behaved indoors and much calmer now in general because of me changing my interaction with her based on Cesar Milan's suggestions. Regardless of how you feel on that subject, I do respect his techniques since what I know of them has worked for me.

The cementing commands where I'm having my issues and where I would really appreciate feedback, if anyone has any!

To clarify, I do not say "sit down." I agree, that is a different command entirely. I give one command, and when that is performed, I give the next, and so on. I've been trying a sit/down/sit sequence, but she will never get up to sit after a down. I started giving multiple commands when I started trying to wean her off of the food rewards (once I felt she had mastered each individual command on it's own). But now I'm wondering if I started giving multiple commands in order to wean too early and it's confusing her?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,193 Posts
I would suggest that instead of "weaning off" of food, you should think instead of randomizing it. Instead of sit, then a treat, do down, sit, treat. Sometimes the dog will get "good girl!" and sometimes there will be food. Randomizing is everything. You get all of the results, but lose the dependence. I don't think there's ever a point to completely eliminating food if you randomize well enough. I don't treat for day-to-day stuff anymore, but when I am working on the "extras" there's always going to be a payout at some level. My dogs may run an entire agility course for a treat at the end or work for several minutes at obedience skills, but somewhere in there will be a random reward.

The thing with food is that the dog shouldn't know if you have it or not. It should just appear. Food should not be visable when you are asking for a behavior. If the dog sees the food before deciding on obedience, you are bribing. If the food comes from out of sight, you are rewarding. Most food "issues" come from food being part of the cue. I set food on countertops and ask for a sit then grab the food from the countertop if the dog does the sit correctly, for example. Even if I lure a behavior, I lure with food 2 or 3 times, then I use my hand signal as a lure without food and reward from the other hand if the I get the behavior I want. The key is to get the food out of the hand almost immediately. (as in 2 or 3 reps!)

Hope some of that helps.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Thanks, +two!

I was trying a flat collar previously and she was nothing but pulling. I switched to a slip mainly because I was having issues with her slipping out of her collars. She used to get very excited when other dogs were in the area, pulling really hard and sometimes managing to slip her collar. It finally occurred to me to try a slip collar because that would be the only collar that would be sure to eliminate her slipping out of it what she got excited by another dog. Only after having it for that purpose did I try Cesar's technique with the walking. I think I will take your advise, tho, and go back to a flat collar. Maybe she'll act differently now that she's a little more used to walking calmly next to me.

So you are saying when we are out on walks, the better way to llw is to capture the spontaneous moments when she gives me attention (eye contact)?

What about getting her attention when she's about to spazz out over another dog? I usually use a double slap on the thigh to signal attention, but when she's about to spazz that doesn't always work...but the leash snapping does, somewhat. Do you think I should stop the snapping here, too?

I'll work on teach the sit from a down as a bran new command. It never occurred to me how unique each sit must be to the dog! I'm still working on finding her perfect toys :) She get's a little nervous in petsmart, so the time isn't always productive. But I keep trying! I'll also try touch with a specific object. Maybe that will help her focus!

Thanks again for all of the great advice!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,584 Posts
Thanks, +two!

I was trying a flat collar previously and she was nothing but pulling. I switched to a slip mainly because I was having issues with her slipping out of her collars. She used to get very excited when other dogs were in the area, pulling really hard and sometimes managing to slip her collar.
You need a martingale! They prevent her from slipping the collar- below is an example but any pet store should have them. Be sure to fit it correctly.

http://www.petsmart.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2751399
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,946 Posts
How about using what the dog wants (opportunity to sniff) as a reward for what you want (heeling). She heels for 5 seconds, you release her to sniff for 10 seconds. Rinse and repeat, then raise your criteria (longer heeling before reward). You aren't going to make any progress unless you can make the dog WANT to do what you want her to do.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,186 Posts
What about getting her attention when she's about to spazz out over another dog? I usually use a double slap on the thigh to signal attention, but when she's about to spazz that doesn't always work...but the leash snapping does, somewhat. Do you think I should stop the snapping here, too?
Yes, here's why. I assume by "spazz" you mean she barks and gets aggressive. In return, you cause her pain. In time, she comes to associate the pain with seeing another dog. She didn't like other dogs to begin with, what do you think she feels now?

It is useless to work with a dog that is already spazzing out. At that point, all you can do is remove the dog from the situation and snap yourself for allowing yet another reinforcement of unwanted behavior. You have to work under threshhold. If she spazzes at 20' away from another dog, work with her 25' feet away. Give her treats. Ask her to look at you. Work your way closer, slowly, slowly, slowly. If she spazzes, move back.

I did this with my old dog. I had to start out about 80' feet back. I am not exaggerating. His former owner loved to snap a choke chain. Love it so much, Muggsy had a perfect ring of bare skin on his neck, a scar from the constant "snapping". By the time I got Muggsy, his natural dog aggression had reached nuclear levels. After a year of intense, positive work, we could pass 5' away from another dog and Muggsy would go stiff, but he'd look at me, I'd say "good dog, Muggsy" and he'd keep walking.

I'll work on teach the sit from a down as a bran new command. It never occurred to me how unique each sit must be to the dog!
It's hard to think like a dog. Dogs don't see cause and effect and they don't generalize at all. Generally speaking, though, if a dog isn't doing what you command, it's because they just don't know what you want. Or they're really distracted, but 9 times out of 10, they'd like to obey, if only they knew what you were babbling about.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
How about using what the dog wants (opportunity to sniff) as a reward for what you want (heeling).
I've tried, but I don't really think she gets it...lol. After I get her to heel, she's usually lost interest in whatever she was trying to sniff. So the "reward" is kinda lost on her at that point.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
192 Posts
I've tried, but I don't really think she gets it...lol. After I get her to heel, she's usually lost interest in whatever she was trying to sniff. So the "reward" is kinda lost on her at that point.
this sounds more like frustration, she's still not quite sure... your words may say one thing while your body says another. This is were a class or a provate training session can really help. Humans are verbal learners/thinkers. But dogs learn and think visually... it's a lot like shouting english, slowly, at someone that only speaks chinese; saying it louder doesn't accomplish much!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,406 Posts
Thanks, +two!

I was trying a flat collar previously and she was nothing but pulling. I switched to a slip mainly because I was having issues with her slipping out of her collars. She used to get very excited when other dogs were in the area, pulling really hard and sometimes managing to slip her collar. It finally occurred to me to try a slip collar because that would be the only collar that would be sure to eliminate her slipping out of it what she got excited by another dog. Only after having it for that purpose did I try Cesar's technique with the walking. I think I will take your advise, tho, and go back to a flat collar. Maybe she'll act differently now that she's a little more used to walking calmly next to me.

So you are saying when we are out on walks, the better way to llw is to capture the spontaneous moments when she gives me attention (eye contact)?

What about getting her attention when she's about to spazz out over another dog? I usually use a double slap on the thigh to signal attention, but when she's about to spazz that doesn't always work...but the leash snapping does, somewhat. Do you think I should stop the snapping here, too?
For spazzing, look up Leslie McDevitt's "Look at that!" game. And give your dog enough distance to stay under threshold (i.e. when your dog is over threshold, it's spazz attack time) If you are snapping the leash while she's looking at another dog, frequently dogs associate punishment with the approaching dog and you can create a more wary, reactive dog.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Hey everyone...Thanks again for all of your helpful advice! Just wanted to give a quick update while I have a few minutes. I picked up a martingale collar and that alone is working wonders to help control her dog excitement issues while we're out walking. I've also been working on asking for a random sit while we're walking, which is helping her to focus on me a little. Since I've started doing this, I notice she actually stops to look at me when I try to get her attention when she begins to show interest in another dog! I count this as a step in the right direction! :)
 
1 - 14 of 14 Posts
Top