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Taco is probably the best behaved dog I've ever had. I swear sometimes I think he understands every word I say when I'm asking him to do something for me. I've managed to teach him quite a few tricks, but I still feel like I've screwed up with my training method and need to start over. I've always used positive reinforcement (rewarding the desired/ignoring the undesired) but somewhere throughout the process I forgot to phase out the treats. He's at about 95% consistent with his commands when I have a treat in my hand, and anywhere from 0 to 15% consistent if I don't (except for "leave it" and for "off" since I didn't use treats for these). When I ask him to do something without a treat I get the "you're kidding me, right?" look.

Any advice for reteaching the tricks he already knows without the treats. As of now he knows sit, down, crawl, roll over, up (standing on his hind legs), and touch (just my hand at this point...the marker freaked him out and I haven't tried progressing with this one yet). He can also use his paw to ID the which hand is holding a treat...I'd like to switch the treat out for a non-food object.
 

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What about using a clicker? The clicker is associated with food- loading the clicker- and you use food at first, so that would probably be a good way to switch him over.
 

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Basically the way we are phasing out treats is to ask him to do several tricks in a row before he gets a treat. Over time the amount of tricks or the time he has to do each for increases. You want to keep the treats hidden from his view as well. Keep them hidden in bowls/jars around the house and in your pockets so he never knows when you have a treat or not. Once you get him slowly phasing out of treats you can give him a jackpot every once in a while to remind him that there is always a good reason to work for you. Also try to keep training sessions short and exciting, switch things up, do tricks he enjoys doing so that he is more likely to want to work. Also, see if he works for anything else like a toy and you can switch between toy reward and treat reward as you gradually phase.

You may want to implement NILIF so he doesn't get what he wants unless he does what you ask of him first. Want to go for a walk? Sit and stay at the door first. Want to sit on the couch with me? Roll over first. etc. Basically you are replacing treats with life rewards.
 

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To start, pay him like you have been but have the food come from out of sight. Remove food from being part of the cue. Once the dog will perform well with the food out of sight, you can start varying when you reward. Then you can start fading. But the key is "fading." It isn't "eliminating."

Just get the food out of sight. This ideally would be done on like the 3rd or 4th repetition of a behavior, but it's never too late!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I forgot to mention...cheese, liver, and other foods are his ONLY motivators. He is not toy or ball driven AT ALL. He doesn't even chew on things. I bought him a bully stick and he licked it once and never looked at it again. I'm telling you...he's part cat or something.

I'm going to try changing things up a bit. I may even get my kids involved and let either one of them throw the treat after I give the command. That way he learned to watch me instead of look for which hand I'm going to throw the treat from. I'll probably break the clicker back out as well. I swear that using it before opened up a part of his brain he'd never used before. I just need to remember to start fading out the treat a little sooner.
 

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We go to dog training classes - mainly because our dog loves the other dogs and because our trainer is his favorite person in the universe, and her suggestion for beginning to fade out treats was to make your hands smell of his favorite morsel. If you rub your "treat" hand in your pocket where the treats are kept - especially if there are a few crumbs lurking in there, he will never know if you have a treat or not - providing you always offer a treat with a closed fist so he can't see it. Worked well for us - doing his kennel club good citizenship award in a few weeks using this technique as treats are not allowed! We'll also be using the naughty cheese under the finger nails routine! lol. Mixing different kinds of treats in between giving no treats might also help - have a few of his favorites with a couple of mediocre sorts - then he'll never know what to expect!

Good luck!

Oscardoodles.blogspot.com
 

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Heh...I did the same thing for some things. What I did to help solve it (a bit...still a work in progress), was if it was something she would only do if she could see treat I would hold the treat but get her to do it twice, or do two things, then treat. Fixed it up a bit! There's still a couple of things Caeda won't do if a treat isn't obvious, but its "tricks" like lay on her side (which she hates doing, so I don't ask it much). Then I progressed to training on new stuff with treats, but hiding them behind my back (she knew they were around, but didn't see them)....then treatless all together for most stuff (sit and down have been treat free for ages).
dunno if that helps any...but don't feel too bad, you're not the only person that has made the treat mistake :)
 
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