Puppy Forum and Dog Forums banner
1 - 20 of 55 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,997 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just realized this. I've had Brutus since the end of February and I haven't taught him a single thing. God knows I've tried. He's extremely food motivated. You'd think this would be a trainers dream. Sadly, I haven't taught him a single thing. I've had Zero just as long and taught him down, down/stay, sit/stay and some beginning leash manners. I've also taught him not to snatch food from people (although stuff on the floor he still finds to be fair game). Brutus I've completely failed.

It's not that I haven't tried. I've tried teaching him not to counter surf. I've hidden hot dogs on the floor throughout the kitchen. He finds them all, then jumps on the counter. I've used verbal corrections, leash corrections and Cesar's "claiming space" routine. I've clicker trained him and click/treated for doing anything but jump on the counters. I've tried "It's yer choice." His choice is to ignore the food in the hand and tip over the trash can or jump on the counters. I've tried teaching him how to sit. He goes nuts for the food in my hand, but I don't think he grasps that sitting is what he's being rewarded for. I don't think he gets the concept that his actions have consequences both good and bad.

Now I'm depressed that I have failed so miserably with this dog. Yes, he's a hound and yes, he's 10 years old, but still you'd think I'd be able to teach him something. The only thing I've taught him is "crate." He does this on command, but howls his head off as soon as you shut the door. He doesn't even grasp that going in the crate is what causes the door to be shut. How do you get through to a dog that just doesn't seem to get it?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,997 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
a. don't get frustrated.

b. get innovative


like with tipping trash....tried using TRASH as a reward for not tipping over the trash?
How so? He doesn't seem interested in eating the trash. He tips it, sniffs through it, then goes on his way. I think he's just curious what's in there. I'm open to any suggestions though.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,615 Posts
I'm curious about this boy.
Do you know his history at all?
All dogs have the capacity to learn. Really. Some just take longer to learn it and considering he's had ten years to learn all the unwanted behaviours it takes a long time to "unlearn" or replace them with new ones.
Do you do NILIF?
Do you manage the environment so he doesn't get a CHANCE to practice the counter surfing or garbage tipping? Remove the can, lock it up behind closed doors. Don't leave anything ON the counters to be gotten. The problem with assuming that training him out of the behaviours will work when the "opportunity" exists to continue the behaviours is that they are self rewarding behaviours. Every time he gets a chance to do it, he is automatically rewarded, which makes the behaviour stronger.

You are not a terrible trainer. You simply are not setting Brutus or YOU, the hulk, up to succeed.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,710 Posts
that was just a real life example of innovation...it cured one of my trash tippers...she wanted to eat stuff from the trash...so as a part of nilif I worked so that whenever she wanted something from the trash, if she nose targeted it and downed in from of it, i'd pull out a wrapper for her to lick or a piece of meat fat or whatever. the point...she wanted to eat trash...so I fixed up a scenario where it was ok to eat trash and where I was happy about her eating trash...which was much better in her mind than tipping over the trash, making mommy ignore her and not even getting any trash out of the bargain...

innovation..using your particular dog's particular individual peculiarites to modify behavior.

I can't tell you EXACTLY how to do it with Brutus...I don't know him like you do...

what I can tell you is to be observant. watch him do the things you don't want him to do. once or twice..let him get away with it and take notes on EVERY minute little thing he does. each twitch and tense of a muscle is a clue as to why. once you know the why...you can figure out how to use it to your advantage.

Just ask yourself..

"How can I make this situation beneficial to the BOTH of us?"
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,997 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I'm curious about this boy.
Do you know his history at all?
All dogs have the capacity to learn. Really. Some just take longer to learn it and considering he's had ten years to learn all the unwanted behaviours it takes a long time to "unlearn" or replace them with new ones.
Do you do NILIF?
Do you manage the environment so he doesn't get a CHANCE to practice the counter surfing or garbage tipping? Remove the can, lock it up behind closed doors. Don't leave anything ON the counters to be gotten. The problem with assuming that training him out of the behaviours will work when the "opportunity" exists to continue the behaviours is that they are self rewarding behaviours. Every time he gets a chance to do it, he is automatically rewarded, which makes the behaviour stronger.

You are not a terrible trainer. You simply are not setting Brutus or YOU, the hulk, up to succeed.
What little I know about his history is this: He lived with an old man all his life. The old man basically fed him and that was all. Beyond that, he was free to do his own thing. He even had a dog door so the old guy didn't have to bother letting him out. He wolfs down his food as fast as he possibly can which some people have told me is a sign that he wasn't fed on a regular basis. I don't know if that's true or not. He has stains on his white feet from eating dog food and then licking his feet. When the old man died, no one in his family wanted this dog and they turned him over to a rescue who turned him over to me.

I have removed the can, but this is my kitchen and it's usually useful to have a kitchen trash can. Removing the can does solve the problem obviously. There is nothing on the counters he can get into. He still jumps up on the counters though. I'm not sure why as the behavior can't be rewarding if he never finds anything, but that doesn't stop him. I'm not fond of basset drool on my counter tops.

I just don't get it with him. With Zero, a look is sufficient. A few minutes ago, I had his food bowl ready and he was jumping up and down and bouncing off the walls. I snapped my fingers and instantly he laid down and looked at me. He knows what he has to do to get fed. Brutus will wait quietly to be fed. That's about all I've been able to accomplish with him.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
363 Posts
10 years is pretty old. Do dogs deteriorate mentally with age, as we people do? At that age is there a reasonable possibility that his mental capacity is so diminished he just can't 'get it'? I mean in the human world some of our seniors are sharp as a tack but others have a very difficult time remembering what they already know much less learning anything new. And the age that occurs at can vary a lot. Doggy dementia ?

Any sort of baseline cognitive test you can do? I've seen them for puppies (Find out how smart your dog is!) though I have no idea if they are meaningful.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,615 Posts
He's still looking at the counters for two reasons: 1/ he's learned over the years that occasionally there is something good there, so it's worth a peek and 2/his nose can smell the roast beef you had three days ago. lol.
It's true that cognitively he may be compromised due to age, but it is more likely that ten years of complete independence/lack of structure/lack of attention has created a dog more accustomed to doing his own thing without human intervention. Necessity is the mother of invention. He did what was necessary to survive over those years.

And yes, a garbage can is handy in the kitchen.

I would institute NILIF for everything. Make the rewards AWESOME and even possibly hand feed him part of his meal. His biggest problem is he doesn't yet "get" that YOU are the giver of all things good, because no one ever was before. Four months is a short time, especially after ten years...

Keep up the good work and the good love you have given this boy. Even if he doesn't learn what you would like him to learn, you care for him and after all the neglect he deserves it, and YOU deserve kudos for doing all that you do.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,174 Posts
He wolfs down his food as fast as he possibly can which some people have told me is a sign that he wasn't fed on a regular basis. I don't know if that's true or not.
Just wanted to say this isn't true...well, it may be true of some dog out there, but certainly not most...all four of mine gulp down their food and three of them I've had since they were puppies and I can guarantee they've never known hunger.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
7,942 Posts
IMO dogs have different capacities to learn. Can Brutus learn? Yes. I am sure he can. Does he have an interest in learning? Probably not. He never has had to learn.

Brutus in very food motivated. I suggest you try this. Use his feeding time to teach him. Yup. You want him to lie down. Use his food, and his bowl, to get the lie down. No lie down = no food. I am using lie down and the behavior but maybe it is something else.

The fact that he surfs the counter after having NO reward should tell you everything. For a food reward this dog will learn something and never forget it. I suspect the trick is to use food.. and the witholding of same.. to get results. Can you persist and wear him down? Most people cannot wear a dog down.. they cave and feed them. Of course, witholding food for too long can be abuse.

As to the food gulping.. no abuse.. just dog behavior and he is a Bassett. Get a Buster Cube and feed him in that.

BTW I give you credit for trying to train him. I really do. I give you more credit for taking the old guy in.

As much as I like dogs I have to tell you.. if the only dog I could get were a Bassett, I would pass and not have a dog. I simply do not have the patience.... and both the dog and I would be better off for my knowing this.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,615 Posts
Yes Zim, it IS using the Premack principle and it just may work. Such is the fun of "doggy problem solving" trying different things until something 'sticks'.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,307 Posts
Hulk
I have said many times on DF that the way to become a good dog trainer is to train many dogs. You are just a work in progress.

I like your style, as through the years I have met a number of one dog trainers that were legends in their own minds.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,851 Posts
Don't be so hard on yourself, Hulk. A 10 year old Basset, who's never been required to adhere to any sort of structure or follow any rules, should be a very tough nut to crack. I've never had a Basset, but many people have described training one as a form of ritual masochism. Even starting with a puppy.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,710 Posts
Yes Zim, it IS using the Premack principle and it just may work. Such is the fun of "doggy problem solving" trying different things until something 'sticks'.
its funny. before I came to DF...I never knew there were actual names and scientific theories behind all this stuff I was doing with my dogs. I just did what seemed logical.

Hulk...you said that he just tips the trash, sniffs it and goes about his way? Does he ALWAYS do it exactly like that? Has he Never pulled out something to eat?

if its just sniffing...maybe offer him an opportunity to sniff? like once a day take him over to the trash, let him sniff and then as you begin to lead him away..give him a reward....like..you reward him for walking AWAY from the trash can..and everytime you see him head for it...call him, and reward him for walking AWAY from the trash. and keep doing the "ok you can sniff" ritual where he sniffs it and walks away without tipping, for a reward.


or with the counter surfing...maybe include him in your kitchen cleanup. When it comes time to clean the counters, let him get up there..and then reward for getting down. always give the reward for getting down.

make it a part of Nilif.

that worked for my sis's counter surfing Rat Terrier.

the idea being to reinforce going away from the counter, reinforce getting down off the counter...and then you can sort of morph that into not getting up there to begin with..its shaping...starting with a similar behavior to what you want and then slowly changing the similar behavior into the one you want.

I have found this approach to work well with independantly minded dogs. You sort of set it up to make them think THEY thought of the idea in the first place. like "Oh I WANT to not get on the counter because its better that way.."

just some food for thought.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,997 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
IMO dogs have different capacities to learn. Can Brutus learn? Yes. I am sure he can. Does he have an interest in learning? Probably not. He never has had to learn.

Brutus in very food motivated. I suggest you try this. Use his feeding time to teach him. Yup. You want him to lie down. Use his food, and his bowl, to get the lie down. No lie down = no food. I am using lie down and the behavior but maybe it is something else.
That's not a bad idea and is essentially how I taught him the crate command. The only thing with this method is I'm limited to basically just two commands a day.

The fact that he surfs the counter after having NO reward should tell you everything. For a food reward this dog will learn something and never forget it. I suspect the trick is to use food.. and the witholding of same.. to get results. Can you persist and wear him down? Most people cannot wear a dog down.. they cave and feed them. Of course, witholding food for too long can be abuse.
How would you suggest using food to get him to not counter surf? As I said, I've tossed bits of hot dog around the room on the floor. He'll find them all, then counter surf looking for more.

As to the food gulping.. no abuse.. just dog behavior and he is a Bassett. Get a Buster Cube and feed him in that.

BTW I give you credit for trying to train him. I really do. I give you more credit for taking the old guy in.
I have a tug a jug that I normally feed him from. It keeps him occupied for a long time and I love it. But since it's hard and rough I can't really feed his meals that way right now. I have a buster cube, but I'm not a fan of it. I can't get it open to clean it and it seems like the dog never manages to get all the kibble out of there.

I kind of ended up with this guy because I'm a soft touch and I kind of have to train him since he's now sharing my roof.

As much as I like dogs I have to tell you.. if the only dog I could get were a Bassett, I would pass and not have a dog. I simply do not have the patience.... and both the dog and I would be better off for my knowing this.
This is the conclusion I'm coming to. I don't think I would own a basset again after this guy passes. I love how laid back he is, but I am finding I don't have the patience to teach him. Zero learned down in just one 20 minute session inside. He picked it up outside in about a quarter of that time. I love training him. Brutus is like talking to a wall sometimes.

Don't be so hard on yourself, Hulk. A 10 year old Basset, who's never been required to adhere to any sort of structure or follow any rules, should be a very tough nut to crack. I've never had a Basset, but many people have described training one as a form of ritual masochism. Even starting with a puppy.
I almost adopted two basset puppies. They were just too cute. I just can't figure out why I can't get through to a food motivated dog. You would think that a heavily food motivated dog would be a trainers dream.

Hulk...you said that he just tips the trash, sniffs it and goes about his way? Does he ALWAYS do it exactly like that? Has he Never pulled out something to eat?
I think I catch him before he gets that far most times. With it being the kitchen trash I'm sure there are food stuffs in there that he would try to eat.

if its just sniffing...maybe offer him an opportunity to sniff? like once a day take him over to the trash, let him sniff and then as you begin to lead him away..give him a reward....like..you reward him for walking AWAY from the trash can..and everytime you see him head for it...call him, and reward him for walking AWAY from the trash. and keep doing the "ok you can sniff" ritual where he sniffs it and walks away without tipping, for a reward.
You've never met Brutus so I won't mock you for this suggestion. This guy is extremely single minded. I'm told all hounds are this way. He gets something in his mind (or his nose usually) and nothing will persuade him. You can call him and he'll ignore you. You can pull on a leash and he'll ignore you. You can wave a t-bone in your hands and he'll ignore you. He is very persistent when he gets something in his head.

or with the counter surfing...maybe include him in your kitchen cleanup. When it comes time to clean the counters, let him get up there..and then reward for getting down. always give the reward for getting down.

make it a part of Nilif.

that worked for my sis's counter surfing Rat Terrier.

the idea being to reinforce going away from the counter, reinforce getting down off the counter...and then you can sort of morph that into not getting up there to begin with..its shaping...starting with a similar behavior to what you want and then slowly changing the similar behavior into the one you want.
I don't like this for the same reason I don't like the idea of rewarding a dog for jumping off furniture. It doesn't teach the dog that jumping up is the behavior you don't want.

I have found this approach to work well with independantly minded dogs. You sort of set it up to make them think THEY thought of the idea in the first place. like "Oh I WANT to not get on the counter because its better that way.."

just some food for thought.
I don't think Brutus would think like that. I think he would get the idea that getting off the counter is good, but that wouldn't stop him from getting up there in the first place. Plus, he's usually not up there long. He gets up there, sees that there's nothing interesting there and gets down.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,778 Posts
That's not a bad idea and is essentially how I taught him the crate command. The only thing with this method is I'm limited to basically just two commands a day.
That would imply that you reward him with the entire bowl of food each time. Typically when people suggest using meals for training, they mean using the kibbles themselves as a reward. So something like three kibbles each time he follows the command, jackpot handfuls when he has some kind of breakthrough, etc. This allows you two complete training SESSIONS a day rather then just two opportunities to use one command.

I don't like this for the same reason I don't like the idea of rewarding a dog for jumping off furniture. It doesn't teach the dog that jumping up is the behavior you don't want.
But remember in training the idea isn't so much teaching what you don't want but teaching what you DO want instead. He doesn't really need to understand that jumping on the counters is bad just so long as it no longer benefits him to go up there. Trying to get a dog to understand something is 'bad' is usually adding an unnessicary step to your training. It's much easier to simply redirect the behaviour into something that you find more desireable.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,710 Posts
but it DOES teach the behavior you want...it just goes about it differently.

the only other thing I can think of is to bar him from the kitchen entirely. gate it off, make it utterly inaccessable unless you happen to be in there.

like I had to do with my dog and the cat boxes. *pukes* I took steel dog crates and put the cat boxes inside them, tied off the door so only the cat could fit in. problem solved.

tried weighting down the trash can so it CAN'T be tipped over? like put a concrete block or two inside of the bottom so that he physically can't get into it? if it just keeps not ever working...eventually he should stop I would think..
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,997 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Keeping him out of the kitchen is out of the question. It's the only room in the house besides the bathroom with a hard floor so it's easy to clean. It also opens to the backyard so it makes sense to keep the dogs and their crates in there.

In the four months or so that I've had him, counter surfing has never, ever paid off for him. He's never, ever got anything off the counter. The behavior doesn't benefit him short of satisfying his curiosity I guess. Yet, he still does it.
 
1 - 20 of 55 Posts
Top