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Discussion Starter #1
Hello, First post here.

I picked up a 3 year old (I'm told) german shepherd girl from a shelter a couple of weeks ago. She has obviously had physical abuse and neglect and no training at all but is a sharp girl at figuring things out she wants and experimenting.

I have a couple of examples of her experimenting to get what she wants. First week I gave her a couple rawhide bones, the second one was obvious she wanted to bury it, looking in corners in the house, pawing in corners, etc. but I didn't let her out and after a while she stashed it some place.

Next morning I put on my jacket and take her outside to do her morning thing, came back in and tossed my jacket on the sofa as usual, walked in the kitchen and got my coffee and when I came out she had gone and retrieved the bone and laid it on my jacket on the sofa. Sure enough I put on the jacket and open the door and she goes straight to the fence and buries it.

A few days later, I go to sit in the computer room. She doesn't like that room and always whines a little or sighs when she realizes she has to go in their to be at my side, and her velcro attachment to me overrides her aversion. She is vocal about it though. So yesterday she went and got her fave toy and tried to lure me out of the room... Made me laugh out loud.

I also have a pool, I was afraid she was going to fall in as she had taken to leaning way out over the pool to get a drink. I tried dropping to all fours and going to the steps on one side and "stepping in" with my hands on the shallow steps, sure enough next time she wanted a drink from the pool she used the step to step her front feet in and get a drink. I then showed her the steps on the other side the same way, and now she uses that step too.

She's learned come, sit and lay down as well. I taught her to come and lay down easily with food, I started her on a clicker and she picked up sit in just a couple of sessions and has already connected it to the command. I've also been doing attention exercises doing a C/T for eye contact with not so quick results. She obviously is pretty attentive of my actions though or at the least my proximity.

She does great on a leash, and takes very small corrections to heart. I've used her love of our 2 walks a day to teach her not to bolt out the door, and she sits perfectly and patiently for the leash to be hooked when she sees me pick it up and I say sit. She already connected the word leash with a walk. She's even quickly losing the prey drive pull when she sees a squirrel close, because at the slightest pull I just turn around and go the other way.

Problem is she doesn't see any reason to obey commands unless food is involved, and only high value enough food. She grew up neglected and doesnt seem to really even enjoy, or even totally trust petting too much. Always a little on guard but it's getting a bit better.

Question is how do I get her to desire praise and approval enough to motivate that sharp brain to -want- to do what I ask and be driven to want it? Any good ideas for building that type of drive? My goal is to have her obey well enough to drop in mid chase if she's after a squirrel.

Or will that probably come on it's own accord if I just keep working on it.

I do probably pet her and praise her way too much and not make her work for that just to build a bond and trust and show her that affection and praise feels good.. Kinda like a drug dealer setting up a habit in a junkie in my mind.. Should I only praise and pet if she works for it?

Part of that is I'm trying to build trust and get to allow me to be able to trim nails and use eardrops without a herculean struggle. I have achieved a lot of trust in a very short time though, she's absolutely glued to me around the house and goes nuts greeting when I come home from work. She basically allows me to handle her, but not enough to roll her on her side from a down.

She has a persistent ear infection and she's gone from yelping before her ear is even touched, to now allowing me to handle them, run my fingers around in them, and I give her ear drops with a soaked cotton ball. That took a week. I used high value treats and rewarding for letting me handle her ears, prolonging the contact and manipulation a little longer each time before the treat.

But other than using her love for walks and high value treats, she knows exactly what I'm asking her to do but she seems to have no drive, or maybe more accurately sees no reason to follow my command. She seems to see no value in it.

Any ideas on some exercise I could try to build a drive to want to follow my commands?

Should I maybe continue to build up pleasure in affection and then start slowly withholding it and making her work for it? Or start doing that right away?
 

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Cute stories. Thanks for sharing.

I also have a pool, I was afraid she was going to fall in as she had taken to leaning way out over the pool to get a drink.
You might want to be careful she doesn't do that too often. The chlorine and other chemicals in pool water is not healthy to consume. Occassional, small amounts isn't harmful. But, if she injests too much, she could get sick.

Or will that probably come on it's own accord if I just keep working on it.
As for the main part of your post, it sounds like she's doing very well -- and that you're doing everything right. If she's only been with you a few weeks, everything is still new to her. The trust between you and her is still being built. Just keep doing what you are doing training-wise and things will come. It sounds like you've made a lot of progress in just a short time.

Should I only praise and pet if she works for it?
Yes, though that doesn't mean you have to reduce how much you are petting and praising. Check out the NILIF (nothing in life is free) sticky in these forums. :)
 

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You're going to have an outstanding relationship!
You're doing all the right things. Praise...and working for praise alone is a long term consequence of building a stong relationship/bond. Keep at it....give praise but, be sure you're giving it for valid reasons. Praise is different than affection so use it judiciously.
Try building play drive into your training....use a tennis ball, frisbee or squeaky toy as the reward instead of food. That can be a huge motivator but, it can take some time to teach the dog how to play and to eventually make the connection that work means playtime is coming.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
You're going to have an outstanding relationship!
You're doing all the right things. Praise...and working for praise alone is a long term consequence of building a stong relationship/bond. Keep at it....give praise but, be sure you're giving it for valid reasons. Praise is different than affection so use it judiciously.
Try building play drive into your training....use a tennis ball, frisbee or squeaky toy as the reward instead of food. That can be a huge motivator but, it can take some time to teach the dog how to play and to eventually make the connection that work means playtime is coming.
Thanks for the reply.

I try to get her playing, and she will a little. She'll chase a tennis ball a few times, and bring it back close to me and drop it. I got a fleece tug toy with a tennis ball on the end, she likes it but won't really pull against me and seems to get bored with it in a few minutes.

She's on predisone and an antibiotic to get rid of the ear infection though, she may get more playful when she's off that I hope. She seemed a little more playful before I took her to the vet.

For now the big fun reward is going for a walk. She always gets all perked up for that.

I've always raised pups, first time with an adult, it going to be more of a challenge but I'll get there. I do have a few free training sessions they gave me a coupon for when I adopted her. I've never needed that before but I'm not so sure it might not be a good idea this time around.

New story though, I decided to train her to target my finger with a command so I can point at stuff, or rather touch it with my finger, and have her check it out. I started by dropping a treat now and then while on a walk and she wasn't looking and then pointing it out to her. I thought she got the point and decided to try again yesterday morning and pointed at a June bug floating in the pool by the edge, she goes over and sniffs, scoops it out of the water and checks it out, crunches it and eats it.

Now she's patrolling the pool edge and trying to scoop out anything in reach every time we go out back, and sniffs the yard out for June bugs. Must have tasted good. I gotta watch what I teach her a little better.
 

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Play doesn't come naturally for most dogs but, once they get the hang of it they can get almost obsessive.
Dogs are the only animal in the world that will follow where we point and where we look. That ability needs some nurturing/practice but, it's beautiful when it all comes together.
 

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Dogs are the only animal in the world that will follow where we point and where we look. That ability needs some nurturing/practice but, it's beautiful when it all comes together.
Um, actually, that's not true. It's a skill that dogs have to learn, but that more visual species (for example, some birds, and I believe other primates and elephants) pick up much more easily. Teaching a dog to 'mark' a direction you tell them to look in is a tough skill!
 

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Um, actually, that's not true. It's a skill that dogs have to learn, but that more visual species (for example, some birds, and I believe other primates and elephants) pick up much more easily. Teaching a dog to 'mark' a direction you tell them to look in is a tough skill!
Scientific studies have shown that dogs have the inate ability to follow where we look but, you're right it has to be developed/cultured. Wolves and chimps (our closest relatives) fail this test and it hasn't been observed in any other animal including elephants.
Dogs have one other skill that no other animal has....the ability to fast map. Scientists were stunned in 2004 when Rico the Border Collie could fast map. It was thought to be a human only trait. They're scrambling to see if other animals can fast map but, so far, the dog is the only one.

Here's an article with more information. I seem to have misplaced my original paper that covered this experiment.
http://chronicle.com/free/v51/i32/32a01201.htm
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Scientific studies have shown that dogs have the inate ability to follow where we look but, you're right it has to be developed/cultured. Wolves and chimps (our closest relatives) fail this test and it hasn't been observed in any other animal including elephants.
Dogs have one other skill that no other animal has....the ability to fast map. Scientists were stunned in 2004 when Rico the Border Collie could fast map. It was thought to be a human only trait. They're scrambling to see if other animals can fast map but, so far, the dog is the only one.

Here's an article with more information. I seem to have misplaced my original paper that covered this experiment.
http://chronicle.com/free/v51/i32/32a01201.htm
Interesting article.

The fast mapping doesn't surprise me, my last dog was a border collie lab mix and she knew quite a lot of words. All the rooms in the house, the vehicles, all her toys, all my shoes and boots, lots of the furniture, several types of food, and after learning quite a few as pup she generalized well the concept of names for things and for actions and would learn a new name or command quite easily, sometimes on the first exposure. I've always been amazed at how smart some dogs can be.

I've seen lots of dogs mimic, funny though it's usually the untrained headstrong dogs that haven't had a very close human relationship I notice doing it most. That's why I tried the front feet in the pool with Hope, and she mimicked it with only one example.

There are a lot of concepts a dog can "get" in my experience, if they are put in the proper situations to get them to generalize the concept. Figuring out how to present situations to get them to generalize a concept is the hard part.

I found a wiki on Rico the border Collie...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rico_(Border_Collie)

I had to put my last dog down at 16, and didn't, or couldn't replace her until now, about 15 years later. Hope seems to have a lot of potential, but she's also had 3 years of learning how to interact, or rather not interact, with people in the wrong way I have to get her past.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Just to keep folks up to date...

After a little more time Hope has started giving me a sit, down, and now shake hands and get up pretty reliably with treats, especially the shake hands part.. It's becoming her default "I'm not sure what you want" behavior now when a sit doesn't get it.. I used a clicker to teach her sit, but I've just use my voice as a marker for the rest.

The ears are getting better, Vet did new slides today and said today the left ear is clean of bacteria and the right ear about 90% clean. Tons of the most disgusting black crud has come out of that ear and continues to do so though less each day.

Weaning off the predisone now, antibiotics and twice a day drop for two more weeks and hopefully I can get her off the drugs and get back to normal behavior.

She doesn't pull after a squirrel much anymore unless it jumps out under her nose, and not at all for a cat.

I can't wait to get her healthy and back to normal behavior without the drug side effects and start working.

The trust built up with her ears is paying off I think, she'll let me clean them out with cotton balls and give her drops though she obviously doesn't like it, but the vet can't touch them without a struggle and yelping.

I'm beginning to really believe she was abused by a man, she's only given warning barks to approaching men, never women, so as a big guy it may take a little more care and patience as that could be holding her back with me. I'm starting to think that may be what I need to get her to open up, she seems to be getting better with more trust and working for treats and learning.

Teaching stay is next, then working on come, sit, down and stay until they are reliable without a treat waiting. She's been more expensive for a rescue than I had planned, $175 to the shelter, $500+ for the first vet visit and pills/drops and $175 today at the vet but I think she's definitely worth it.
 
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