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Gizmo is an 11 week old pup we recently rescued from a kill shelter, he's a Shar pei/German Shepherd/Pitbull mix. He's very intelligent and never ceases to amaze me .. until it comes to getting him to cooperate or do basic things. We've been working on "come", "sit", "stay", "leave it" and potty training... This has been ongoing daily training for 3 weeks. With rules and commands enforced/practiced throughout the day consistently.

But he's not grasping any of it.. he's not food motivated, but he's always hungry.. reward him with petting and he bites your hand, vocally praise him and he pays no attention.. we don't want to clicker train, because our other dog isn't and it'd be nice to have them both listen to the same command in the same way.

So other than biting, chewing, digging and barking, along with cleverly out smarting us, we can't get him to do much else. He already weighs 30lbs, has paws bigger than my 6 yr old dog and really don't want him to turn into a 100+ lb monster that doesn't listen, or have manners.

Also, not sure if it's important or not.. but we don't crate or confine our dogs, they are free range in the house as well as the fenced yard. The pup has a "yard pen" designed for toddlers (like you buy at Walmart" that we put him in only when we leave and for "time out", but even then he has half of our spare room to explore.

Any ideas are appreciated.
 

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Clicker training doesn't change the commands or how the dog obeys them. Clicker training is just using a click - or a word - to indicate that the dog did what you wanted and a treat is forthcoming. You don't ... use the clicker to give commands, or have to carry it all the time or even use the actual clicker. It just, literally, works by predicting reward and allowing you to accurately mark the behavior that is being rewarded.

That said: At 11 weeks old, he's not going to have an attention span, and he's going to bark and bite. Spend some time just giving him treats for things like 'looking at you', playing with him with toys to avoid the biting, and making yourself relevant to his life.
 

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Might be a dumb question, but how on earth do you teach him that pottying inside isn't allowed when he's got free roam of the place?
 

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Sounds like a pretty normal 11 week old puppy, to me. They're busy exploring the world and they have a 2 minute attention span. They bark. They bite. I wouldn't expect a whole lot in the way of manners quite yet.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
For the pottying question: This is where having a very well trained dog already really helped. He follows her around nose to butt and copies/learns a ton from her.

She sits by the back door to go out and barks at me if I'm busy/not paying attention. He's quickly picked up that sitting by the back door and waiting patiently, or barking equals being let outside. I'm not sure if he just naturally prefers doing it outside or if he just loves being outside that much, but I can say he's almost 100% accident free.. guess I'm lucky in that aspect.

The only time I find a piddle puddle is in the morning (by the back door) if i forget to pick up the water bowl around 8pm.. I never find poo.

We never crated our 6 yr old dog as a pup either.. some people do, some don't.. I personally disagree with crating, but to each their own. They always have access to their own "quiet area" undisturbed by people and the hustle and bustle of daily life, so they get the "den" experience. They're just never forced to stay there.. with the exception of the puppies play yard when I need to leave.
 

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There is nothing wrong with not crating in daily life but PLEASE make sure your dog experiences, and is comfortable, with being confined. If he ever has an injury or illness that requires the pup stay at the vet or confined for healing, having a dog who panics at the idea can be a big problem.

That said, again, nothing wrong with not crating most of the time. It DOES mean you're going to have to work harder to do that 'make yourself fun and relevant' thing, because the dog is free to do all sorts of self-rewarding things away from you. That can be a good thing, and I'm certainly not a 'working with me or crate' fan, but it does mean you're going to have to work to make general life less interesting and time with you MORE fun to get that attention on you that you want and need to train effectively.
 

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There is nothing wrong with not crating in daily life but PLEASE make sure your dog experiences, and is comfortable, with being confined. If he ever has an injury or illness that requires the pup stay at the vet or confined for healing, having a dog who panics at the idea can be a big problem.
This! Nothing like having to listen to a dog who's never been crated or otherwise confined in their life scream their head off and/or thrash about trying to escape in the kennels at the vet. It upsets the other dogs, and gives the people working there a headache. It was much easier working with dogs who'd never been on a leash.

I haven't always used an actual crate, but previous dogs were confined to a relatively small area until they had the idea that the bathroom was outside.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
He's fine with being in a crate, just as he's fine with being in the pen. He was born, raised up and whelped in a small cage with his mother/siblings at the shelter, he came home in a crate and he's in the pen atleast once a day and he's never complained, he just flops down finds a toy or a Kong and goes to town.
There is nothing wrong with not crating in daily life but PLEASE make sure your dog experiences, and is comfortable, with being confined. If he ever has an injury or illness that requires the pup stay at the vet or confined for healing, having a dog who panics at the idea can be a big problem.

That said, again, nothing wrong with not crating most of the time. It DOES mean you're going to have to work harder to do that 'make yourself fun and relevant' thing, because the dog is free to do all sorts of self-rewarding things away from you. That can be a good thing, and I'm certainly not a 'working with me or crate' fan, but it does mean you're going to have to work to make general life less interesting and time with you MORE fun to get that attention on you that you want and need to train effectively.
 

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Have you tried fresh treats like shredded (cooked, unseasoned) chicken breast or cheese? Alternatively, if you feed kibble you could try feeding part or all of his meals as rewards instead of simply putting it down in a bowl. My boy is a total food hound these days, but it took him a few weeks after coming home to really settle in and take treats. It could simply be a matter of him maturing a little and getting more comfortable in your home. If he loves playing, you can also use quick tug or play sessions as a reward. Another thing you can try is incorporating hand signals into your cues, if you aren't already. Dogs pay a lot of attention to our body language, and many seem more naturally inclined to pick up and respond to hand signals than verbal cues.

CptJack is right about the clicker - it's simply a device to practice what's known more broadly as marker training. You "load" the marker sound (can be a click from a clicker, or a marker word like "yes", or pretty much any short, distinct noise) by pairing it with a reward until the dog looks excited and anticipatory when he hears it. Then, when you're training, you can use the marker the instant the dog does the right behavior to communicate "that is correct and what you're getting a reward for". So you still train a verbal cue - say, sit - but you're communicating more efficiently by marking the moment the dog's butt hits the ground as the behavior you want. Once the dog "gets it" you can fade out the marker pretty easily and have a dog who performs the behavior on cue alone.
 

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1. Address the nipping - both Pits and GSD puppies nip; look up the term Bite Inhibition on the Web, and use your favorite method consistently.
2. Sounds like one predominant quandary is the reward. Try what DaySleepers suggested. Moreover, your attention may be rewarding ... it will be obvious - a Pit craves attention, a GSD may take it or leave, and a Sharpei may be too independent to care. BUt, you should already know if your pup craves your company, and general play. Another potential reward is a thrown ball, or a thrown toy leading to a brief tug session.
3. Boiled chicken, cooked liver, liver treats, or squalene (shark liver oil) may serve as a motivating treat?
 
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