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When puppy doesn't respond to first time command

7476 Views 20 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  Pawzk9
Hello, I am new here and have a quick question. I do have Ava enrolled into Puppy classes but it's a little too late to call her and I am curious now. Ava is amazingly smart and in my home, she listens to every command including: come, stay, sit, leave it, okay/done, hold, fetch and more. I can tell she just loves to learn. Although, when she gets distracted, it takes a bit more.

If my 10 week old Puppy does not respond to my first command, ie: "Sit", when she usually does, what should I do? I know that you are not supposed to repeat yourself, but I am unsure on what to do than. I do not want her to get away with not listening but I do not want to have to say, "Come. Ava, come. Come. Ava, come.".

Some of the things I have tried:

I have tried letting her see and sniff the treat by putting in by her nose and than raising it above her head to get her to sit. If that doesn't work, I try to push a bit on her bum but that makes me feel like I am going back to first base. If she doesn't want to, she will just get right back up. Stubborn girl =P

If she is out back and I ask her to "Come" she normally will. The odd time, like if she can see the neighbor's Dog, she wont. I rattle the treat cup and if that doesn't work, I pretend to leave her by shutting the door. I have a door where I can stand on my tippy toes and watch her but she can not see me. This doesn't seem to work either! I don't want to run after her so she thinks it's a game so normally, I just wait it out.

What in the world did you do and what worked?
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Personally, I am of the opinion that puppies can do no wrong. They are just too young to understand everything I want them to. So, for me, in these early stages of training I am teaching the puppy what I want. Then as the pup grows, I will work on teaching the pup when and where I want it.

If I were you, I would be keeping training sessions short and highly rewarding. I would lure the puppy into a sit by taking a treat and moving it over their head. When their head goes up, their butt comes done. When their butt is on the floor I will give her the treat, maybe saying "Good" but nothing else. I would do this a lot. Once she gets it, meaning when I put my hand over her head she automatically sits, would I say "sit" and begin associating the word with the behavior. I would repeat this whole scenario over again in another room. Then the backyard, then the front yard, on leash, etc. I wouldn't jump ahead and say "sit" until I was 90% certain that when I say that, the dog will sit.

So, yes. You do not want to repeat cues. You want to give cues when you are 90% sure the dog will obey. If the dog does obey, I would give them a delicious reat. If they don't obey, I would wait a minute. Then, I would lure them as I did in the past and hopefully their brain would go "Ohh, I know this game! I have to put my butt on the ground!" then I would reward.

As far as come, don't ask the dog to come unless you are sure the dog will come. Which means when you let her outside, put a small long leash on her. When you say come, be happy and cheerful and have lots of yummy treats. Say your come word and if the pup doesn't come, very GENTLY drag her over and when she is there give her lots of treats or let her back out to play.

Puppies learn well with games. Look up "Recall Games". Here is an example: Recall Games

To me, it sounds like you are adding your cues too soon. You want to teach her the behavior and then when she is doing the behavior, add the cue. In this case she doesn't understand what exactly you are asking. Dogs are bad generalizers too. A sit in the living room does not equal a sit in the dining room. You have to teach her that a sit means "butt on the ground" wherever I ask by practicing the sit everything you can think of. I would focus on making everything super fun where the pup can't help but have a blast and begins to love the short (2-3 minute) training sessions. You can do this 6x a day even if they are short and rewarding. Thats 30 minutes of training overall, but to the puppy it feels like nothing. Then once she gets the behavior, add the cue. If the dog was rewarded enough and understands what you want, the dog won't have a problem obeying.

NOW, just wait until she hits her teenage years. That is something different entirely lol. But at 10 weeks you want to keep it all fun and games and if she doesn't obey the first time try luring her with the treat and remind her how she learned it. Then she will eventually say "Ohh..down means that one thing where I had to lay on my belly. I get it now." If she doesn't obey then I would say "oops" and walk away. Then I would think very hard about what I am asking and if there was a way I could make it more clear (maybe breaking up the behavior into tinier steps).

Does all that make sense?

Here are some good vids too:
Puppy Recalls
Puppy Attention
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Sooo, all and all, Ava did soo much better today! I just needed to step back a minute and not rush her into everything. She loved it too (probably how ridiculously excited I was) and she ran all the way back and was just having a blast.
Yay! Congratulations! Sounds like she is starting to get it. It's wonderful when there is some clear progress happening. Good work! It should only get better from here on out and if you run into any trouble just take a breath, think about it, and help her make the right choice so you can reward her. Sounds like she is doing wonderful though.

So, next plan of action is to play "Hide-and-Seek" to get her to come more often. Anyone have suggestions to take the aggressiveness out of the game? She tends to get over;y excited after just one go and starts biting, latching on to my clothing and growling ect.
When you run you are essentially triggering her prey drive and her desire to run, chase, bite, and "kill". This is all a game for her.

So, for me personally, I would get a tug toy. You can get them online a lot of places or if you go to Petsmart you can get a soft tug toy. Or you can just use an old dish rag. When you run and she's catching up, whip out the toy and say some word that means she can grab it, like we use "Get it!". She will probably grab it and try to "kill it" and you can play a small game of tug with her. You want to teach her to let go on command too. So when you want her to let go you bring out a yummy treat and hold it by her nose, when she lets go of the toy to eat the treat, say your word that means spit it out, we use "Out", then giver her the treat. Repeat. Run, yelling her name, "Ava! Ava!" and when she goes to chase you say "Come!" and bring out the toy, let her "get it!" and play a little tug, then make her out it.

This will build her drive for toys which does two things, makes toys and tug a rewarding game that you can use to reinforce good behavior instead of always using treats, and gives you an outlet for her "prey drive" of biting and "killing" something. If she really ends up really loving the tug game then reserve it just for recall training. It will strengthen her recall if she only gets to play her favorite game when you do recalls. Coming to mom = best game ever!

If you don't want to do that then simply follow your rules for biting. If she bites you then just say "Oops" and stop moving, cross your arms, look up and ignore her completely. If she bites then the fun game ends. You can use this along with the tug game. If she bites you instead of the toy, fun ends.

The only rules are that she let's go when you say "out" and she only bites it when you say "get it" (or whatever other words you use). You can practice this in the house at first too using treats. When she ends up loving the tug game, you can use "get it" as a reward for her outting the toy. So she spits it out on command and then you immediately start the game again with "get it" as a reward.
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Simply because small children are scared of big Dogs, naturally, and when small children are scared- they run. When a small child runs, it's a Dog's instinct to chase them.
Exactly. There are threads that come up around here about this very problem. My dog will chase small kids who are running in an instant. It's just a natural thing for both species to do. It's all about managing your dog and the environment as best you can. It can be hard though.

When I taught Ava "Fetch" I taught her the word, "Leave it" and "Hold". I will try using these words. I took Tug-O-War out because she began playing Tug-O-War on the Poodle's neck in Puppy class. The toy is actually a great idea though. Keep her teeth off of my hands, pants and feet!

I will try another Toy and let you know how it goes. Thanks!
You just want to be careful that the words you use aren't the same word for a different behavior. For example, I taught my dog that when I hold something up to her and say "take it" that means she is to hold in it in her mouth until I say so. "Get it" means it is a game and she can pull and shake it around with me. You don't want to make anything too confusing. For us, "leave it" means whatever you are thinking about doing right now, don't do it. "Out" means that whatever is in your mouth comes out right now. It's a subtle distinction but you want distinct separate cues for different behaviors. But, if you try it and it works for you then go for it. Dog training is a very personal and specifically tailored program depending on the dog and handler and whats works for me may not work for you. Again though, dogs have a hard time generalizing so leaving something alone on the floor and spitting something out of their mouth are two separate things. "Out" and "leave it" for my dog are completely two different behaviors and thus have two completely different cues. Does that make sense...kinda?

I wouldn't attribute the tugging to the poodle-chewing personally. Playing tug with a toy and playing tug with another dog are seen differently by the dog, I think. She may have been over aroused and playing a little too rough in which a short break or time out to settle down is appropriate, but tugging doesn't lead to aggression or more rough play. Not from what I've seen or experienced personally. That is, as long as the tug games are controlled by you and the dog only grabs a toy if you say and let's go when you say. If she gets too rough or starts to not play by your rules, get the toy back someway and end the game for awhile.
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I don't know if you would be interested, but in case you are, this site is phenomenal.

Training levels - Sue Ailsby

Sue Ailsby is a dog/llama trainer who wrote these training levels to help handlers teach competition and sport dogs so that these dogs gain the foundation skills they will need in their future sport. Essentially teaching the dog how to learn (and creating a pretty darn well behaved pet). She explains how to do everything and it is all taught positively. It starts easy with teaching sits, downs, stays, leave its, etc and progressively gets harder to where you are teaching down at a distance or going around something or retrieves. She explains how to do each step and then when you can progress to the next level. This link is for the old levels which are free. She wrote "new levels" (recommended too) and is selling them in book form right now but the old levels work just as well if you want to read through them and see if you want to try them out. It's nice because it is basically a lesson plan that you can follow and see progress with.

Ava is young and your interest in training can lead to a lot of fun sports with her :wink:
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