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Hi,
I have a middle sized mixed race dog (14 kilograms) which I could teach him the "down" command, thanks to some YouTube videos. The problem is that he only responds to the down command only if he sees the treat, and cannot go down if I tell him to go down without a treat, as opposed to the "sit" command which he does whether or not we have a treat.

The question is how did we need to train him so that he responds to the command without a treat?

Thanks!
 

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Do you reward the down with a treat every time? If so, start to only reward with the food treat every other time and then more random. Keep the dog guessing but even if you don't give the food treat to the dog for obeying, continue your positive verbal marker every time the dog obeys and then offer some praise.

For some dogs, assuming the down position on command is more difficult because it has been suggested it is a subordinate position for a dog to take.

Fading a food reward is a problem for many as there are so many dogs which will only work for food and that doesn't sound like your goal, which is smart.

If your dog enjoys a certain play toy like a ball or tug toy, start using that item as the reward. If your dog enjoys your praise, attention and play together use that as a reward as well.
 

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Thank you DriveDog, I would like to get more technical on the solution.
In the times I pass the treat and praise him verbally and with a pat, can I still show Mt dog the treat?
How do I know what is the ideal frequency of giving the treats? I can still show hum the treat at all times but to give him none.
 

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Even though I am not a big fan of using food treats in the long run, I generally will train a new behavior with the use of food rewards or a tug toy because they work. Once the dog knows the behavior or skill, I wean the dog off the food reward for its compliance. You ask what the ideal frequency should be as you fade the food reward. Start with the dog obeying and being treated every time, probably as you already have been doing. If the dog complies after 2 successes and receives food rewards, skip the third one but you certainly can keep the food treat visible if you choose, maybe later in the process the food treat doesn't need to be visible but the dog will know you have the food treat on you because of their scent capabilities. Achieve consistency on your dog's obedience in the 2 out 3 or maybe 4 out of 4, whatever works best. Once the dog obeys when one food reward has been skipped then start to mix it up a bit, 1 out of 3, 2 out of 6, 5 out of 5, the idea is to make it like a slot machine of sorts, they need to keep obeying and eventually they will hit a pay out. If the dog fails, reset the dog and try again, don't get in the habit of ever repeating a command as it will work against you in the long run. This is not as important when teaching a new behavior or skill.

More importantly, you need to devise a verbal marker, some people use clickers, I do not. I use the simple word " Yes", sometimes drawn out into a "yesssssssss", sometimes softer, sometimes louder, sometimes very excited, sometimes not excited, it all depends on the dogs adherence to the task at hand and level of success. When the dog nails a newer command, my positive verbal marker is a " YESSSS!!" and then a reward is given immediately. Here's the deal with creating both a positive and negative verbal markers, especially a positive verbal marker ( or clicker if you choose ) when a dog is learning a new skill and somewhat accomplishes the command, you need to INSTANTLY let your dog know of their success. The few seconds it might take to get a treat into a dog's mouth might run the risk of the dog confusing what it did and why it is being rewarded. Also, your positive verbal marker will condition the dog to know something good is coming its way when it hears your marker. Since your dog already obeys your sit command, try this. Command your dog to sit, the very moment and I mean the instant the dog's butt touches the ground, issue your positive verbal marker and then reward. Continue this practice so your dog associates what your verbal marker means, plus the dog will learn when it hears your verbal marker there is a reward coming its way. Then start to randomly reward your dog for a sit with the food treat but never stop using your verbal marker, it's something you want to ingrain into to your dog.

You could also start to put a few treats in your pocket, let the dog see this, reach into your pocket and give your dog a treat. Dogs are smart and as I said earlier don't need to see the treat as their nose knows. But having one in your hand while training a new behavior just increases the desire with both visual and the scent.

Consistency and accurate timing with your marker for success followed with reward of your choice coupled with patience and praise along with verbal cues which begin a training session AND end a training session will all work in your favor. My simple "let's train" cue when my dogs were all pups didn't get much of a second look but I said the same " let's train" EVERY time we would train and in a short time, each and every one of them knew exactly what was to take place and created anticipation which is a great tool to have when training. Every time we ended a session I issued a " We're done". Not just that it matters during a training session but it keeps it simpler for a dog when a defined beginning and end is created for all tasks.

FWIW, I have seen many dogs which will be more reluctant to down versus their consistency with a sit. I do believe what I mentioned earlier regarding that a down position for a dog is a subordinate position and tougher for some dogs to deal with than others due to their perceived position and makes training the skill a bit more difficult than a sit in the beginning.

Give some of this a try if you care, you'll find what works best with the frequency of treating or not. As long as you make it fun and captivate the dog's attention, you will have him downing no problem all the time, with or without a treat.
 

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You are using the treat as a bribe and not as a reward.

Bribe ~ shown before the behavior is done. Reward ~ Offered after the behavior is done but is not shown.

There's also a lure, which is when the treat is used to lure a dog into the position the owner wants. It's used a lot in training sit and down. Lures should be faded out quickly or they will become bribes.

Keep your treats out of sight, you can put them in your pocket, a treat pouch, a container on a shelf, where ever you want, just not in direct view of the dog.

I like clicker / marker training. My dog knows that I usually have treats somewhere on me, but he knows that it's his getting me to either click, or say my marker word that gets me to give him a treat. He's learned that click or marker word always gets him the treat. Because of that he's willing to perform cues without my having to show him the treat.

http://www.dogforum.com/training-behavior-stickies/thoughts-training-food-1219/
Fifteen Tips for Getting Started with the Clicker | Karen Pryor Clicker Training
 

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. He's learned that click or marker word always gets him the treat.
Just curious, you always food treat your dog every time the dog obeys? Or just every time you click? Or both?

I could see doing this in the beginning of teaching a new behavior but once the behavior is learned by the dog, I always fade out the food treat and introduce other rewards such as praise, a quick tug or toss a frisbee keeping it fun for the dog and building the duration between any rewards. Basically, using the dog's anticipation of the reward as the motivator. Dogs are pretty smart and once they know a reward is coming but not necessarily when ( as long as it eventually does ) it keeps the dog on its toes and obeying.

You brought up a very valid point which I missed. Using a food scrap as a lure at times to help guide the dog into the desired position is a good way to go in the beginning. It does make the process easier for the dog.
 

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Just curious, you always food treat your dog every time the dog obeys? Or just every time you click? Or both?

I could see doing this in the beginning of teaching a new behavior but once the behavior is learned by the dog, I always fade out the food treat and introduce other rewards such as praise, a quick tug or toss a frisbee keeping it fun for the dog and building the duration between any rewards. Basically, using the dog's anticipation of the reward as the motivator. Dogs are pretty smart and once they know a reward is coming but not necessarily when ( as long as it eventually does ) it keeps the dog on its toes and obeying.

You brought up a very valid point which I missed. Using a food scrap as a lure at times to help guide the dog into the desired position is a good way to go in the beginning. It does make the process easier for the dog.

If I click or say the marker word, nowadays I usually use a marker word, he always gets a treat. I use them to let him know he's gotten what I want correct and that a really tasty treat is coming, Zody is highly food motivated so food works best for us in the beginning.

What I do not do is click every time he obeys once he's reliably doing a behavior. Once he's reliable I start to vary the rewards, and rarely use a clicker or marker word unless we're doing a training session, I'm working on LLW, or on reactivity. For example, I often will stop in the middle of playing with him and ask for a cue, when he does it I praise him and start playing again. On walks I may ask for a cue if he's really wanting to go sniff at something, usually the cue is wait, once he stands still and stops trying to go to the smell I'll give him his release cue and let him sniff. Other times I'll ask for a cue when out and about, practicing cues in the real world, and I'll praise and give him a treat for obeying or I may use continuing the walk. Zody knows he'll get something for obeying, but he doesn't always know what it will be, because of that he's willing to work for me. I do also string cues together like you do and he's fine with that.
 

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I sort of "wean" my dogs off of the treat. First I use them to lure them into the position I want (i.e. down) and treat.
Then I pretend to grab a treat and lure them with my hand into the position. Once he lays, I click then I grab the treat from the bag and then give it to him. Dogs will typically learn to think that if they do the behavior, whether or not the treat is in the hand, they will get the treat.
Eventually I lead this into hand cues, and pair it with voice commands.
I don't remember what source I got this from, but it's working for me so far.
 

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My luring method looks a lot like Alia's. I pretend to pick up the treat but only rub its scent onto my fingers which I hold like there was a treat in them. The other hand actually has the treat. I lure the dog into position with the scented hand and immediately reward with the other hand, likely accompanied by the marker (a click or a word).

I intend to teach the dog that the reward can come from another source or direction but it is still worth following the lure hand.

Then I stop scenting my fingers but still keep them in luring position, in the pinch that mimics holding a treat. Step by step I change the lure into a hand signal which will later work like command. Meanwhile I have also slowly increased the time/distance between the lure and the reward. It would give me time to produce a treat from a pouch/container when the training advances. The dog should start to see that it can get rewarded without the lure but only if the behavior is correct.
 
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