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Discussion Starter #1
Bit of a long post again.. end of post for tldr.

So for a while now I've been having trouble training my dog.

A couple issues, it seems with most behaviours besides stay and recall, I can't get my dog to train past the 5 minute mark. Any longer and he starts doing other stuff, or he'll hump me by the end of sessions.

His body language also seems disinterested some sessions, particularly with lie down and look at me. Not looking at me, head down, panting, slow response.

I've been trying to train look at me for a while now. I did for a couple of weeks and teaching the verbal cue just never clicked, and I'm now having that same issue after I've started retraining it again. I've been following the akc articles on teaching certain commands.

It's unfortunate, before he was really responsive and I could train him for 10-15 minutes each session. Nowadays I train him 15 minutes per day.

I'm wondering if maybe I overtrained him to the point that he doesn't enjoy it anymore? There was this one time where I would kennel train him (he always disliked the kennel) have him wait for a while and meals would be his reward. Every meal, 10-15 minute sessions, and at some point he just started getting worse, hesitance to go in kennel, breaking off wait. So I stopped.

I'm also wondering if treats have anything to do with it? I usually use chicken outside of the house with things like recall, leave it, stay.
Inside the house I use these small soft treats since he was 9 weeks. But I always thought it was normal to use lower value treats in easier environments?
 

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Is there anything else he values higher than chicken? Any specific toys to get him excited to engage? Try a different high value treat. I've had some success using bacon, hot dogs and shredded cheese. Could be he's figured out he gets treats that aren't as good in the house so he doesn't feel like listening for that.

How did you go about training "look at me"? Did you hold a treat to your forehead to "force" eye contact? Make it foolproof? Get down on his level and make it difficult to avoid the eye contact? Where did you try to train this? Did you start in the house where he's comfy?
 

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Take a moment to consider whether he is bored, or confused -not sure what you are asking for so he gives up trying, whether you are trying to train to many things at one time, and/ or whether you are feeling stressed when he starts losing interest, which causes him to be stressed and unable to cope or learn. Instead of asking him to endure long 'training sessions' perhaps consider training in very short 'mini-sessions' (a couple of minutes at a time) one skill at a time throughout the day (and gradually working up to longer ones as he is able to cope with them). Or simply focus on 'capturing' - marking and rewarding offered behaviors you want him to repeat. Try to make it fun - a 'game' - rather than a 'job' (something he 'has' to do) - training should be fun for both him and you.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Is there anything else he values higher than chicken? Any specific toys to get him excited to engage? Try a different high value treat. I've had some success using bacon, hot dogs and shredded cheese. Could be he's figured out he gets treats that aren't as good in the house so he doesn't feel like listening for that.

How did you go about training "look at me"? Did you hold a treat to your forehead to "force" eye contact? Make it foolproof? Get down on his level and make it difficult to avoid the eye contact? Where did you try to train this? Did you start in the house where he's comfy?
Yes to all your questions.

We've tried cheese. He loves it, but we've noticed he tends to have diarrhea so we give it very infrequently.

Yes his treats in the house aren't as high value. Outside is when we use high value treats.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Take a moment to consider whether he is bored, or confused -not sure what you are asking for so he gives up trying, whether you are trying to train to many things at one time, and/ or whether you are feeling stressed when he starts losing interest, which causes him to be stressed and unable to cope or learn. Instead of asking him to endure long 'training sessions' perhaps consider training in very short 'mini-sessions' (a couple of minutes at a time) one skill at a time throughout the day (and gradually working up to longer ones as he is able to cope with them). Or simply focus on 'capturing' - marking and rewarding offered behaviors you want him to repeat. Try to make it fun - a 'game' - rather than a 'job' (something he 'has' to do) - training should be fun for both him and you.
Well I do train multiple commands a day, but not in the same session, different sessions. Usually 3-5 minutes. With the exception of recall and stay which tend to last a bit longer.

Not sure it's confusion. These are commands he could do before with a faster response.

Boredom, maybe, but I do keep it short.


I used to get stressed when training doesn't go well but I've toned down on it. Always try to end sessions on a good note.

It's hard for me to find creative ways to make training fun. I usually run back while working on recall, drop it during play sessions, sometimes have him follow me then sit. Other than that, most commands are done normally.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Also on a side note, I feel like I'm using too much treats. When do I start fading them out? It would seem especially hard to do with commands like recall, stay and leave it.

In certain areas he can do these commands 8 times out 0f 10. In others it's less so. Like recalling him out of our bedrooms lol.
 

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Off the top of my head, I would say you need to shorten the training sessions. If he is panting, not looking at you and so on, it means he doesn't want to do this any more. Personally I think that 15 minutes is usually too long for a training session for any dog unless the dog is eager to do more after 5 or 10 minutes. Some of the best trainers in the world say that they never do more than 5 minutes at a time.

Do not worry that you are using too many treats, and don't try to fade them out while you are still working with making training fun and interesting and exciting for him. that would be completely counter-productive. Instead, raise the value of the treats, use different treats, make it fun and exciting for him, and always stop the training after 3 minutes. If he is still interested and wants more....good! It means he may stay engaged longer next time. It's always good to leave the session on an up note, and for the dog to want more is a good up note.

Doing tiny little bits throughout the day is a good idea. Ask for something, and reward and praise if he does it, then don't ask for another thing.
Ask for very simple things only one at a time and then reward heavily.
Never continue if the dog is not focusing or starts giving off the stress signals you have described.

some great videos on training can be found on youtube if you search for KIKOPUP. She is amazing and is a world-renowned trainer.

Also, if you used to get stressed when training you have probably passed that on to your dog. Dogs are very sensitive to stress in their people and he may think that training is a scary thing because you get stressed. The more you can make it fun for you as well as for him, the better it will go.
 

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Don't rush phasing out treats- especially not for important things like stay or recall. Even with an adult, fully trained dog, a reward of some kind should be given for these things. After a couple years, you can get to the point where many of these rewards are just things like a lower-value biscuit or some praise, but you'll still want to mix in higher-value rewards, like play, a game of chase(especially for recall, this is a great way to speed up recall- by running away from the dog, it makes it more fun), or meat. (as well as release to the environment) You want to always keep the dog interested and excited to "play" the "obedience game".

Have you tried making your rewards more varied? (For instance, you give him a piece of cheese for one reward, a dry biscuit for the next, some bacon for the third, dry biscuit again for the fourth and fifth, and a soft treat for the sixth, then praise for the seventh, then chicken for the eighth - or something like that) This makes the dog more excited to play the obedience game- it's known as "slot-machine psychology", and it's what keeps humans going back to casinos- it works for dogs, too.

Make sure to keep training exciting, it really should be a game. Too often we humans just go through commands, especially boring ones like "sit" or "lie down" and show very little excitement when giving the command. Dogs will mirror our own emotions when training. If we seem excited, positive, and eager to train and seem to be having fun, they'll be ready to train (usually) and be having much more fun- decreasing the likelihood of stress during training.

Have you tried something other than food rewards? Many dogs prefer a good game of tug, fetch, or wrestling, and a few even prefer excited praise. These can be used in training sessions, (especially for recall, because it makes the dog more excited) or during play sessions. For instance, while playing tug, ask for a "drop it"- (to teach this, you completely top moving the toy and act uninterested until the dog does a "drop it", then you make the reward a resuming of play.) then, have your dog "sit", or perform whatever other behavior you are trying to teach, and as a reward, resume play. Many dogs prefer this, because it's incorporating learning into play rather than setting aside a specific training session.

When teaching a "watch me" command, it's best to rely on capturing the behavior. You can make a funny noise or just wait for the dog to look at you. When he does, reward heavily. Just remember that direct eye contact is a threat in "doggy language", so training this should be taken slowly, rewarded heavily, never forced, and done with lots of patience and understanding.

The fact that your dog does better with certain types of training could be significant. What do you do differently when training things like stay or come? Do you act more excited? Give better or more treats? Maybe your dog would have more fun if you tried to teach him a trick. Give him a break for a while on the "necessary" behaviors, and teach something like "shake" or "spin". People tend to be (subconsciously) more patient, less stressed, more excited, and more fun when doing something that's "just for fun", so the dog tends to enjoy it more. This could give your dog a chance to have a more positive experience with training.

And lastly, make sure you are not moving too fast, and that you're breaking everything down into small easy steps. It's possible the dog is just confused and therefore stressed.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Off the top of my head, I would say you need to shorten the training sessions. If he is panting, not looking at you and so on, it means he doesn't want to do this any more. Personally I think that 15 minutes is usually too long for a training session for any dog unless the dog is eager to do more after 5 or 10 minutes. Some of the best trainers in the world say that they never do more than 5 minutes at a time.

Do not worry that you are using too many treats, and don't try to fade them out while you are still working with making training fun and interesting and exciting for him. that would be completely counter-productive. Instead, raise the value of the treats, use different treats, make it fun and exciting for him, and always stop the training after 3 minutes. If he is still interested and wants more....good! It means he may stay engaged longer next time. It's always good to leave the session on an up note, and for the dog to want more is a good up note.

Doing tiny little bits throughout the day is a good idea. Ask for something, and reward and praise if he does it, then don't ask for another thing.
Ask for very simple things only one at a time and then reward heavily.
Never continue if the dog is not focusing or starts giving off the stress signals you have described.

some great videos on training can be found on youtube if you search for KIKOPUP. She is amazing and is a world-renowned trainer.

Also, if you used to get stressed when training you have probably passed that on to your dog. Dogs are very sensitive to stress in their people and he may think that training is a scary thing because you get stressed. The more you can make it fun for you as well as for him, the better it will go.
The problem with that is he's almost always panting, not making eye contact.

And I already do short sessions. I stoo when he starts iSorry if that wasn't clear. I used to do 15 minute training sessions.
Off the top of my head, I would say you need to shorten the training sessions. If he is panting, not looking at you and so on, it means he doesn't want to do this any more. Personally I think that 15 minutes is usually too long for a training session for any dog unless the dog is eager to do more after 5 or 10 minutes. Some of the best trainers in the world say that they never do more than 5 minutes at a time.

Do not worry that you are using too many treats, and don't try to fade them out while you are still working with making training fun and interesting and exciting for him. that would be completely counter-productive. Instead, raise the value of the treats, use different treats, make it fun and exciting for him, and always stop the training after 3 minutes. If he is still interested and wants more....good! It means he may stay engaged longer next time. It's always good to leave the session on an up note, and for the dog to want more is a good up note.

Doing tiny little bits throughout the day is a good idea. Ask for something, and reward and praise if he does it, then don't ask for another thing.
Ask for very simple things only one at a time and then reward heavily.
Never continue if the dog is not focusing or starts giving off the stress signals you have described.

some great videos on training can be found on youtube if you search for KIKOPUP. She is amazing and is a world-renowned trainer.

Also, if you used to get stressed when training you have probably passed that on to your dog. Dogs are very sensitive to stress in their people and he may think that training is a scary thing because you get stressed. The more you can make it fun for you as well as for him, the better it will go.
Thing is he's usually panting a lot throughout the day. Even before training starts. It's hard not to find a moment to train without him already panting. The only time is when he wakes up, but he wants cuddles at that point of the day lol.

And he's usually already not looking straight at me when training starts (which is why I've been trying to teach look at me) but he still performs the command most times.

We already keep training sessions quite short. 3 to 5 minutes.

As for changing up treats. Yeah probably something to try.
Don't rush phasing out treats- especially not for important things like stay or recall. Even with an adult, fully trained dog, a reward of some kind should be given for these things. After a couple years, you can get to the point where many of these rewards are just things like a lower-value biscuit or some praise, but you'll still want to mix in higher-value rewards, like play, a game of chase(especially for recall, this is a great way to speed up recall- by running away from the dog, it makes it more fun), or meat. (as well as release to the environment) You want to always keep the dog interested and excited to "play" the "obedience game".

Have you tried making your rewards more varied? (For instance, you give him a piece of cheese for one reward, a dry biscuit for the next, some bacon for the third, dry biscuit again for the fourth and fifth, and a soft treat for the sixth, then praise for the seventh, then chicken for the eighth - or something like that) This makes the dog more excited to play the obedience game- it's known as "slot-machine psychology", and it's what keeps humans going back to casinos- it works for dogs, too.

Make sure to keep training exciting, it really should be a game. Too often we humans just go through commands, especially boring ones like "sit" or "lie down" and show very little excitement when giving the command. Dogs will mirror our own emotions when training. If we seem excited, positive, and eager to train and seem to be having fun, they'll be ready to train (usually) and be having much more fun- decreasing the likelihood of stress during training.

Have you tried something other than food rewards? Many dogs prefer a good game of tug, fetch, or wrestling, and a few even prefer excited praise. These can be used in training sessions, (especially for recall, because it makes the dog more excited) or during play sessions. For instance, while playing tug, ask for a "drop it"- (to teach this, you completely top moving the toy and act uninterested until the dog does a "drop it", then you make the reward a resuming of play.) then, have your dog "sit", or perform whatever other behavior you are trying to teach, and as a reward, resume play. Many dogs prefer this, because it's incorporating learning into play rather than setting aside a specific training session.

When teaching a "watch me" command, it's best to rely on capturing the behavior. You can make a funny noise or just wait for the dog to look at you. When he does, reward heavily. Just remember that direct eye contact is a threat in "doggy language", so training this should be taken slowly, rewarded heavily, never forced, and done with lots of patience and understanding.

The fact that your dog does better with certain types of training could be significant. What do you do differently when training things like stay or come? Do you act more excited? Give better or more treats? Maybe your dog would have more fun if you tried to teach him a trick. Give him a break for a while on the "necessary" behaviors, and teach something like "shake" or "spin". People tend to be (subconsciously) more patient, less stressed, more excited, and more fun when doing something that's "just for fun", so the dog tends to enjoy it more. This could give your dog a chance to have a more positive experience with training.

And lastly, make sure you are not moving too fast, and that you're breaking everything down into small easy steps. It's possible the dog is just confused and therefore stressed.
Well with commands like stay, leave it, and recall I give higher value treats, usually chicken. Just because those commands are of utmost importance and seem to be more difficult.

And with higher value treats like bacon,, cheese etc. I thought it should be reserved for teaching something new or in environments which it's harder to perform commands.

Seems like capturing would come in handy. But then how do you go about adding a verbal cue when your waiting for them to perform the behaviour unknowingly? Most articles I've read say to add the verbal cue before giving the hand cue/performing the command. We've been doing that with little to no success. The one time we did it with play dead it took weeks for him to learn the Vera cue through that method.

Also with changing up the treats. How would you go about changing it up? Every few commands? Every few sessions? A few days or weeks? If it's too frequent I'm assuming the higher value treats would lose its value.
 

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Switch up the treats even in one training session. It will make it more exciting. And you can use the high value treats for lots of things, not only save them for things that are more challenging.

The way you capture is: You wait until the dog does what you want. When the dogs does it, (we will use sit as an example), then you click or make your marker sound and treat. then you wait for it again. When he sits, mark and treat. After several repetitions of this the dog will probably sit because that seems to be getting him treats. Reinforce that several times with the treats.

Next, you wait until his butt is heading towards the floor and at that point you say "sit". Repeat many times. Then, try saying the cue or making your hand signal, whatever you want to use, and see if he sits. If he does, extra treats and praise. If he doesn't, don't say the cue word again and go back a step, only saying it as he is actually in the act of sitting. After a few days of this, try cueing him to sit again.

Don't repeat the cue, say it once and if he doesn't sit, do nothing. Don't say the cue word before he knows what it means, because you are just making a random sound he doesn't understand. that is why it seems to be taking so long for him to learn. The method above teaches him what the word means. If you do things in that order, you will have much better success.

On the other issue...your dog sounds very anxious with all that panting. Have you had a vet check just to make sure the panting is not from a medical cause? I recommend it. If it is anxiety alone, you might back off on the training for now and concentrate instead on making the dog feel safe and comfortable, doing whatever the dog needs to stop being so anxious.

How long have you had this dog? If he's new, he may need more time to settle in. If you have had him a long time, ask yourself what has changed recently, or what is ongoing that could be making him anxious.
 

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I agree with Madra. When the dog does what you want, you say the command, say "good" (or whatever marker you use), and reward. It may also be helpful to just reward for any time he looks a t you at first, without adding a command, to help him gain more confidence- since eye contact is a challenge, he may be worried he will upset you by looking at you, or view your looking at him like a threat.

(You switch up the treats by just giving a different one almost every time)And as far as switching up treat values, try this: what is the one thing your dog loves the most? His absolute favorite treat. Then take that, and use it for the essentials like "stay" and "come" about 80-90% of the time, and the other 10%, use his second or third favorite. But never use his #1 favorite for anything but essentials. (note: this #1 "treat" could also be play, if he prefers)

And as far as how often to switch, just make it totally random. Perhaps, if you have a treat bag or plastic baggie, you could just mix a variety of treats in there, and just reach in and grab something- whatever you happen to pick up is what he gets. You would have one bag for essentials, with mostly #1 value treats plus a few #2/3. You would have another bag for training in difficult environments, new things, etc. that had a mix of #2 and #3 level treats, and a few medium value treats, as well as a few low-value treats. You would have a third bag for "easy" training that had about 25% #3 treats, 60% mid-value treats, and 10-15% low-value treats Later, you can have more of the mid-to-low value ones, but while your still having this problem, you want lots of high-value stuff.
--------As an example, for my current dog:
#1: chicken
#2: excited play
#3: bread (yes, really- she loves the stuff)
Mid-level: Soft treats, cheese
Low: Dry biscuits, (these are low-value for most dogs) praise
******So for her, I Give chicken or excited praise (or both) for essentials, bread or play for difficult obedience or new tricks (with some soft treats and biscuits mixed in), and biscuits and praise mixed with soft treats for brushing up on things she already knows- with the occasional piece of bread. I also finish every training session by doing something easy- such as a sit, or a recall from only a few feet, and give level #2(play) or several pieces of #3. This makes sure we are ending on a fun, stress-free note.

Or you can just randomly take different treats from separate containers- just make sure you don't do a consistent pattern (for instance you give him a lower value treat after every 3 repetitions)or he'll catch on and obey only selectively.

Since your dog seems stressed by training, do everything you to make sessions fun and easy, and keep your body language relaxed and nonthreatening. And, of course, no punishment
 
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Discussion Starter #14
Switch up the treats even in one training session. It will make it more exciting. And you can use the high value treats for lots of things, not only save them for things that are more challenging.

The way you capture is: You wait until the dog does what you want. When the dogs does it, (we will use sit as an example), then you click or make your marker sound and treat. then you wait for it again. When he sits, mark and treat. After several repetitions of this the dog will probably sit because that seems to be getting him treats. Reinforce that several times with the treats.

Next, you wait until his butt is heading towards the floor and at that point you say "sit". Repeat many times. Then, try saying the cue or making your hand signal, whatever you want to use, and see if he sits. If he does, extra treats and praise. If he doesn't, don't say the cue word again and go back a step, only saying it as he is actually in the act of sitting. After a few days of this, try cueing him to sit again.

Don't repeat the cue, say it once and if he doesn't sit, do nothing. Don't say the cue word before he knows what it means, because you are just making a random sound he doesn't understand. that is why it seems to be taking so long for him to learn. The method above teaches him what the word means. If you do things in that order, you will have much better success.

On the other issue...your dog sounds very anxious with all that panting. Have you had a vet check just to make sure the panting is not from a medical cause? I recommend it. If it is anxiety alone, you might back off on the training for now and concentrate instead on making the dog feel safe and comfortable, doing whatever the dog needs to stop being so anxious.

How long have you had this dog? If he's new, he may need more time to settle in. If you have had him a long time, ask yourself what has changed recently, or what is ongoing that could be making him anxious.
We've had him since he was 8 weeks, now 11 months old.

We did have a vet check but not for the panting, we did mention it and they said it was normal.

I do tend to repeat the cue sometimes. Usually responds the second time around. However, I don't think he doesn't know the commands, because a lot of times his response is instant, and almost always is if he's looking at me. (In the house)

For example, a few days ago I had him on a stay just outside our house. He lasted 4 minutes, a few days later I do the same thing and he breaks off at around the 1 minute mark.

And mind you this doesn't just happen with verbal cue, but the hand cue as well. Though less often.
 

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Your dog can do stay for four minutes outside the house? Isn't that very good? I remember reading that in competitions the stay is only for 2-3 minutes.

How long do you guys aim for with the stay command?
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Your dog can do stay for four minutes outside the house? Isn't that very good? I remember reading that in competitions the stay is only for 2-3 minutes.

How long do you guys aim for with the stay command?
It's just right outside our house by our sliding door, and he's hanging out there anyways. Doesn't last any longer than a minute usually when we go take him to places, a minute or two at best.

And I'm not sure. Don't know anything about dog competitions.

I never thought of a time goal. Just as long as he stays until release. we've never gone past the 10 minute mark inside the house.
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
Ok, so ive just been trying to capture moments when he looks at me and treating. I thought it was working the past day and a half as I noticed him making eye contact more. But just now he started humping me after I treated him for looking at me. :/
 

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Ok, so ive just been trying to capture moments when he looks at me and treating. I thought it was working the past day and a half as I noticed him making eye contact more. But just now he started humping me after I treated him for looking at me. :/
He is probably excited. Have you tried redirecting?
 
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