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I finally went ahead and signed Mia up for training classes. I have been trying to teach her basic things on my own just to make living with her more bearable, but I decided we need help.

There are two things that make training her difficult for me. She has literally boundless energy and she is very hard to motivate. The energy thing is really frustrating, but probably my fault. It seems like whatever we do, she is still up for a few hours more. I am working on that, though.

When it comes to actual obedience type training, Mia is darn near impossible. She likes treats, but not enough to keep her focused if something better is going on. She doesn't play with toys or even with me, all she does is wrestle with Landen. I just can't keep her focus. This is probably related to her energy level, but is harder to remedy.

So, Mia is going to classes with an actual trainer to see if he can help. I am also working on getting her even more exercise and maybe trying to find a treat or game she likes. We will see how things go, I am actually a little bit terrified that she will be kicked out of class. That would be embarrassing. In the meantime, does anyone have any suggestions as to how to make training my problem child more effective and more enjoyable? Thanks!!
 

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It's drive. The motivation for the reward.

There are High, Medium, Low Drives. The low driven ones are really hard to train due to the lack of motivation. Keep them as a house pet or a bag dog. You can train them, but don't expect high energy execution or willingness to be active. Type of dogs are like cuddle dogs and nothing else. Not all but giving more of an understanding of psychology.

In terms of reward you can break it down to using a toy to elicit retrieve drive or bite drive or chase drive or use food for food drive.

The medium driven dogs like to play fetch or tug or food but not for a long time. They loose interest quick when in front of distraction. The relationship part is that the dog has to look at you as a source of fun for the dog at the same time he's doing his thing.

High driven dogs are a bit easier but the duration part such as sit stay is a bit tricky but still trainable. You can carry a ball for retrieve driven dogs, do a string of commands and release them with a ball.

If you have a medium driven retrieve driven dog. He may play fetch for a few throws and get bored. But a High driven retrieve dog will go crazy and obey with more focus for the ball cause the drive is so high.

So place your dog into High Medium and Low drive and what is a high value reward. If food is not rewarding, and toys aren't reward but all she does is cuddle and be a lap dog, let it be. You can't force a low retrieve dog into a high driven retrieve dog. No point.

I wanted to elicit more prey drive into my dogs. They don't play fetch in public only at home. So I bought a stuff toy of a rabbit. tied a string to it and made it as if it's moving and I got to build the drive up to a certain level. But you'll hit the threshold where it won't go any higher and you have to just deal with the fact.

It's the Medium driven dogs that get a lot of huss and fuss. They give you mix reactions. One day they love chicken, then they don't or get bored. Or they want to kill that stuff toy at home but in a park it's just nothing and they just want to sniff grass.

Most dogs like to chase their owners. So you can use that as a reward in a park. Just jog backwards. Say sit, mark and release with a chase.

But yeah, if it's low drive and low reward for your dog, don't expect much. That's why competition winners have high driven dogs, not low.
 

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That's the thing. Mia has no interest whatsoever in cuddling and being a lap dog (she is 45 lbs. and a furry mess, so I'm not complaining about that...). She has no interest in playing fetch or tug or much anything. She doesn't care about food. We do run around together, but once you get her wound up, this dog will not stop. So no focus there. All she wants to do is run around and play with her brother.
 

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Don't worry about the lack of focus or attention in the face of distractions. That's advanced obedience and not reasonable to expect it at this stage.

There are also different approaches to obedience training.
For example heeling....let's say the dog is bouncing up and down while trying to do a heel pattern. Most handlers will correct rather harshly for that bouncing around instead of working with that enthusiasm while at your side, continue to make the heeling enjoyable and guide the dog into no bouncing.

I give that example because that's one where most folks would say the dog is unmotivated to heel when the opposite is true....the dog is having a blast...just lacks the polish.
 

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A dog with "boundless energy" is not typically one who is hard to motivate. You just haven't figured out what motivates her. A tug on a rope or a tossed tennis ball can be a reward. Not all dogs are obsessed with food.
 

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That's the thing. Mia has no interest whatsoever in cuddling and being a lap dog (she is 45 lbs. and a furry mess, so I'm not complaining about that...). She has no interest in playing fetch or tug or much anything. She doesn't care about food. We do run around together, but once you get her wound up, this dog will not stop. So no focus there. All she wants to do is run around and play with her brother.
Ok so your dog doesn't care for toys or food...so can you lure with food, with a piece of steak??? If not, then why are you bothering with training. Like I said, a low driven dog being rewarded with low value reward is dumb. You're not going to get anywhere.

Use marker training for this. Do a slight leash pull, when your dog gives in and goes in that direction, mark and reward with a run around. Eventually, the leash pull will be a cue to "move in this direction" you're not pulling to drag, you're giving pressure. After a while, you can maniplate your dog in directions without it being a correction.

If luring and doing leash pressue don't work, you have to physically place the dog into positions then mark and reward.


If you are trying to reward with a low reinforcer, it won't stick as long as using a high value reinforcer. In marker training, you release with a reward following.

If running around with you and his brother is THE ONLY HIGH VALUE REWARD, then that's your reward and you have to use it.

Work with a 20-50 foot line. Since your dog has no interest in food and you can't lure or whatever, for sit, tuck his tail in, mark it and release him with a run around. Gather up the line, recall, and repeat.

Don't feed your dog for a day. Then use a juicy steak. My dogs like turkey treats than beef. You have to find out personally, not the trainer.

A dog that has no other drive except to run around, a dog that doesn't have a retrieve drive or prey drive or food drive but just to run around, that's a tough one since your dog doesn't view anything valuable...just running around is high value. Got to use what you got.

Don't expect much from the trainer to fix anything. As a guidline, a behavior highly rewarded is repeated next time.

Judging by the post it seems like you feel your dog has no source of reward other than running around. Gotta use what you got.

A dog with "boundless energy" is not typically one who is hard to motivate. You just haven't figured out what motivates her. A tug on a rope or a tossed tennis ball can be a reward. Not all dogs are obsessed with food.
Yeah she said her dog isn't interested in tug or a toy.

Bounless energy doens't mean anything if you can't reinforce the dogs behavior with a valuable reward.

A person who has too much energy from drinking coffee but nothing to use that energy is usually called a tweeker.
 

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Yeah she said her dog isn't interested in tug or a toy.

Bounless energy doens't mean anything if you can't reinforce the dogs behavior with a valuable reward.

A person who has too much energy from drinking coffee but nothing to use that energy is usually called a tweeker.
The point is that the dog is motivated by something. If not a tug toy, treat, or ball, then something else. Just gotta find the thing. I had a dog who was not particularly interested in meat, mildly interested in cheese, but went bonkers for the stem from a head of lettuce. In the extremely unlikely event that the dog is not motivated to work for anything, it will probably be motivated to work to avoid something. The use of aversives can (IMO) increase the value of rewards.
 

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