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Hi everyone.
I have a wonderful Rottie/shepherd mix named Rudy, he has a great personality and I love him very much. I have learned very quickly that dog training is not something I excel at, and Rudy is a damn genius dog and seems to have figured me out well and all my failings and reacts accordingly! I've put him through 2 obedience classes, but I don't have an obedient dog (my own fault)!
My main issues with Rudy are:
  • He ignores unless he knows I have treats
  • Recall is lacking (again my own fault)
  • He acts like I don't exist when he is off leash
My top issues with him is the fact that he pretends I don't exist when it is convenient for him to do so (99% of the time). I hate the fact that he simply ignores me. Its like I'm background noise that he pretends doesn't exist as long as possible. He is a sweet loving dog, but he really sees me as this person he doesn't have to listen to. Its not like I want a robot obedient dog, I just want him to respond to my commands when necessary (like around our farm animals!). His recall is absolutely terrible, this is my fault, but I have to keep him on a long line 24/7 outside (I have a huge yard/property so a long line isn't a problem for him), he recognizes that he has a long line on and doesn't wander off. If I let him loose leash free, he knows it immediately and ignores me and wanders off (not too far, but refuses to acknowledge ANY commands). I'm terrified he will get out of his leash one day and wander someplace dangerous and I won't be able to catch him (he likes to stay 10-15 feet ahead of me, he is VERY aware of where I am and outpaces me ever so slightly to evade capture...).

Overall he is a great dog, but I find myself depressed that I will always have to keep him on leash and never depend on him to listen to me. He can't get adequate exercise on leash. I would love to exercise him more in the woods (I used to take him on 30-40 minute hikes everyday w/ his doggy best friend down the street) but I eventually gave this up because his recall got so bad (and the wandering got progressively worse, one day he almost got run over by a car and that was the end of it!). I tried hiking with him on leash but it was an unpleasant experience for both of us (he was desperate to be off leash and I was irritated by his craziness, he tripped me a couple times. I know I gave up its my fault...).

Ug, he is almost a year, I need to start a new training regimen to undo his current attitude. He knows most basic commands, the issue is he knows he doesn't have to follow them. I don't repeat them more then once, I always try to carry through commands, but somewhere along the line I screwed up and Rudy figured me out to the extent that he no longer listens. Or maybe I am wrong about this. Either way, any advice is much appreciated.
Thanks!
 

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First how long is your leash? Mine stay off leash & I live on a race horse farm & come with us to the barn every day. One is a young dog (pictured to the left in my sig below) who loves to play with the other pup we have here, man do they ever get to romping lol. My dog Buddy (he is the middle pic in my sig below) will play wih them a tad but will quickly lose interest & find a quiet place to Lie down lol.

I trained mine using a harness & a horse lunge line, teddy him that freedom has to be earned, I reccomend the sticky "nothing in life is free" if you are worried about treat dependence try swapping it out with a Fav toy that he gets to play with when he returns to you. What helped with the rescue we have is I have him plenty of positive feedback (attention & praise ) whenever he was near me (prolly drove OH crazy lol) not just with treats, but with attention & just letting him know my joy in having him with me. It seems as tho off leash is such a Great thing to him right now that he goes crazy with the new freedom. Do you have a safe escape proof large fenced area (other then his yard) that you could practice in? If songs or him there & do some leashed practice, then let him off when he is doing well. Let him explore & call him ONCE if he doesn't respond then leave him there , go off around behind somehing & "hide" & see how long it takes for him to miss you, when it seems as tho he is looking for you then reappear & call his name in the most enthusiastic voice.

I'm no expert now by this is what worked best for me. Good luck
 

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The problem is basically this - you have not trained your dog adequately but you expect the dog to respond to commands even though you have not adequately taught the behaviors in the first place. How can a dog do something it hasn't learned to do?

No need to be ashamed, since I think you share the same problem as 95% of dog owners out there, only some of the dogs out there seem to respond well despite their owner's training shortcomings.

Check out kikopup videos on youtube demonstrating some common training methods like recall.
 

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Conventional training suggests that first you teach the behavior, such as Sit or Come.
Then you teach it in different locations.
Then, you re-teach with distractions.
Then, you teach with distance.
Each incremental time, you start from the beginning, and each time the dog will learn faster.
 

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Hmm...I think you should maybe try:
1. when you train a dog, once you know he has learned the behaviour (i.e. does it 9/10 times with verbal and hand signal cue), then randomize when you give them treats. That way, they never know when they will get one! Treats may also not be reinforcing for him - his reward may be play, attention, petting, fetch - you have to figure out what your dog is willing to work for.
2. He shouldn't be off leash if he's not reliable on recall. Maybe in a fenced area, but even then, if there are other dogs and people around, he shouldn't be off leash if you aren't 100% in control.
3. Make sure you get him to perform the request if he doesn't comply. If you ask him to come, and he doesn't, you need to either start running away from him and get him to chase you down, or start recall training from square one (i.e. he doesn't know what come means). Again, this behaviour is best learned with SUPER reinforcing treats and rewards.

If your dog is not listening to you, try to implement "Nothing in Life is Free". So, before he gets any meals, playtime, attention, affection, pets, treats, he needs to perform some kind of behaviour (sit, stay, paw, shake, etc). Particularly before meals, they will be more likely to comply. He will soon learn that it's worthwhile and pleasing to listen to you! Try not to get frustrated around your dog, or exhibit negative/stress behaviours and attitudes, as dogs really pick up on that, and tend to prefer people who exhibit calm, relaxed states.
 

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I agree with others, it's not that the dog ignores you, it's that he's not fully trained. This is a common problem because people don't know what's really involved in dog training. "Hey, I got him to sit a few times in the living room, he knows sit now! Why won't he sit in the kitchen? He must hate me."

The problem is, dogs don't generalize. You and I know that "sit" means "butt on the floor in every and any situation", but to a dog, sit means sit on rugs, sit in this room, sit for this person. You have to train every situation separately. Obviously, they pick it up faster each time, but it is a total retraining.

As for not performing without treats, you need to fade the treats to prevent this. Eventually, you're reinforcing randomly, which is a very powerful form of reinforcement. (If you want to see evidence of the power of random reinforcement, check out a casino.)

This is all fixable, really. It's completely normal stuff that just needs a little effort on your part to resolve.
 

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I agree with the others, and would also suggest you consider training the concept of "voluntary attention" with a clicker. You start by clicking/rewarding when the dog looks at you (or even visibly pays attention to you at all, at first) without your having said the dog's name. No command at all. Then you walk with the dog on a leash, stopping often, and click/reward the dog when he looks at you when you stop. Then you walk with the dog on a leash, still stopping often, but this time you wait for the dog to sit (without you giving a command). Repeat, repeat, repeat. Eventually, you can put "sit" on command this way. I'm explaining this in a very cursory way, but it really is simple to put in practice.

Once you get "voluntary attention" down, you have a stronger foundation for teaching recalls, heeling, stays, etc. It teaches the dog that paying attention to you will pay off. This was the first thing we did in our obedience class and I think it's a great concept for most dogs.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for responses. All good advice. I will be aggregating the info and implementing my strategies to retraining him. He knows most commands, but due to my failings I haven't reinforced enough.
Also, I've been overusing 'stop', 'no!' (ug not calm relaxed behavior. He is a chewer), and 'Rudy'. I have to fix this. I read all the books about positive training before I got him and somehow I thought it would be a piece of cake- little did I know! 24/7 training vigilance is needed...
I will work on recall and the other suggestions. Hopefully I will make some progress. It is needed as we have farm animals and I need him to listen to me (which means I have to train him to resist the ultimate distraction)! He is my first dog that I'm trying to train (my previous dog was a daschund and a super spoiled terror).
 

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All great advice. But I especially like THIS to help combat aloofness ...

I agree with the others, and would also suggest you consider training the concept of "voluntary attention" with a clicker. You start by clicking/rewarding when the dog looks at you (or even visibly pays attention to you at all, at first) without your having said the dog's name. No command at all. Then you walk with the dog on a leash, stopping often, and click/reward the dog when he looks at you when you stop. Then you walk with the dog on a leash, still stopping often, but this time you wait for the dog to sit (without you giving a command). Repeat, repeat, repeat. Eventually, you can put "sit" on command this way. I'm explaining this in a very cursory way, but it really is simple to put in practice.

Once you get "voluntary attention" down, you have a stronger foundation for teaching recalls, heeling, stays, etc. It teaches the dog that paying attention to you will pay off. This was the first thing we did in our obedience class and I think it's a great concept for most dogs.
 

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I think the advice you have been given, especially the voluntary attention with clicker is the way to go.

But just wanted to add. The fact that your dog sits, when you have treats, etc. suggests that he has done some learning already, so you did good at some point!

Just under a year of age, and GSD's go selectively deaf. ie. i train bernie every single day of his life, yet from 10-12 months, he pretended that he couldnt hear me suddenly, and would wander off, not far, but not come back when told, just in his own lazy time. So same behaviour, but in a dog that has been trained daily, so dont beat yourself up love, you've got a teenager that wont listen. Would you criticize a parent for this?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks again for advice. I have been working with Rudy (playing the recall game-he loves this!) and he is has been improving. I stop calling his name Rudy unless I absolutely want his attention, I now mostly use his nickname 'stinky' when I am casually talking to him. I started giving him treats when he looks at me while walking (if I stop), or if I call his name and he looks at me/is attentive/walks towards me so he knows his name means he should pay attention. I realize I try to do my commands on him in high distraction environments (when he sees one of our rabbits), and at that point he is waaayyy overcome with rabbit driven desire at that point to even be able to listen.
It will be a long way off until I can rely on him to come to me, or let him off leash- but I'm happy to be making progress!
 

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My dog is very smart and she is six years old and only just started coming when called consistently... Though I got very lazy for a year or two on her training. Don't give up! Training is so much fun... I delight in working with my dog and seeing results.
 
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