Proper way to reward with treats

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Proper way to reward with treats

This is a discussion on Proper way to reward with treats within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; I am currently working on stand and loose leash walking with my pup in training. Currently so she can learn the behavior I have a ...

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Old 09-04-2018, 11:24 AM
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Proper way to reward with treats

I am currently working on stand and loose leash walking with my pup in training. Currently so she can learn the behavior I have a treat in closed fist as a sort of lure to show her what I am looking for. She likes to sort of open her mouth and try for it even though my fist is totally closed. My question is, if she is still doing the other behavior, am I OK to reward her? Or is that going to further teach her she can mouth things. When she jumps or lunges for things she is not rewarded. Also, are there any more effective ways to hold a treat for this form of teaching?
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Old 09-04-2018, 12:14 PM
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That's my thing with treat training. It's always a bit of a grey area and I'm still not sure exactly what the dog thinks I'm rewarding! (I've been working on quiet, the dog stops barking and comes over for a treat when I say 'quiet', but how does he know I'm rewarding the quiet and not the barking?).


For leash training, I'd only treat after she's been walking next to you for a few seconds. But the only dog I've ever had that did fine on a leash came to me that way so I'm not exactly an expert.
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Old 09-04-2018, 01:25 PM
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Could you put the treats elsewhere, a bag or pocket and just pull it out when she does what you want?

Just an idea
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Old 09-04-2018, 04:32 PM
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No you shouldn't feed treats while she's trying to mug you. It will make it difficult to fade the lure.

I use a lot of this system, I teach Zen so that dogs realise that mugging is not the easiest way to get a treat.

Last edited by Chas; 09-04-2018 at 04:35 PM.
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Old 09-06-2018, 12:23 PM
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This is where the concept of clicker training comes in...although I do not use one, that immediate marker after the desired behavior is what is important followed up by the treat.

I use and immediate "GOOD" or "YES" to mark the rewarded behavior...then dig out the reward.

The issue with lure training beyond establishing the concept is that now my dog is too smart and knows when I have treats or not and only listens when I do vs drilling the behavior any time.

Last edited by Pax; 09-06-2018 at 12:26 PM.
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Old 09-06-2018, 01:12 PM
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My take...


Luring can be a quick and effective training method, but tricky as people often get stuck, not really ever fading the lure.


If your dog is responding to the lure (food makes the behavior happen), it's time to switch to reward (behavior make the food appear).
Make the same hand signal, but without treat in hand. When your dog responds, mark (if you use a clicker or verbal marker), then get a treat out of pocket and reward your dog.


If the mouthing continues (after the switch from lure to reward), it may be a timing error. Mark before mouth touches skin and get the reward to your dog as quickly as possible.
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Old 09-07-2018, 08:16 AM
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Replace the mouthing with the dog having to establish eye contact as a prerequisite for receiving the reward. Teach this discipline separate of other behaviors so it becomes a default action and then incorporate with the rest of your training where applicable.


It sounds like your dog is totally fixated on your hand holding the treat which is not where you want your dog to focus. Train to get your dog's stare/eyes locked on to you when appropriate.
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Old 09-10-2018, 04:32 PM
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They say that lures should be faded early.

I hold the lure in a pinch like position. When I say the reward marker I release the treat to be eaten. I have sort of shaped behaviors by reinforcing a part of a lured behavior at first instead of luring through the entire behavior and then rewarding.

I make a couple of repetitions with treat lure.
Then I only fake taking a treat in the lure hand. I still keep my fingers in the pinch position and I may have scented my fingers by touching a treat. If it is a tricky dog I may hold a treat. But the actual reward comes from the OTHER hand! This way I teach the dog to expect the reward elsewhere. With an easily bored dog I may reward for very small steps at first to reinforce the idea that the reward is out there and it will appear.
The next phase to me is to not scent my fingers.
Then I stop faking that there would be anything in my lure hand. I still pinch.
Then I fade the lure hand and often transform it into a hand signal.
After teaching some tricks this way I had a dog who followed pinched fingers like another dog follows a target stick.

One thing you could use is to train a target. It can be an object or as I've done with my puppy, a hand in one position. I just produce the target object and have treats ready. The dog is often curious and tries to investigate what is in my hand. I mark and reward that. The dog soon figures out she has to touch a certain spot to get a treat.
Target can then be used in stead of a lure. I don't use targets as themself often but I like that my dogs know the idea that when I introduce a new object to a training situation, it is worth approaching and trying. Often I want the dog to interact with the object somehow.
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