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Hi all,

I' m new to this forum and to dogs. Although I have lived with dogs, they were at a time when dogs were just dogs.

For the past 4 weeks, I have had guardenship of a Viszla (4 yrs) and a German Shorthair Pointer (2 yrs). These dogs are not new to me as I am their grannie. In the past, they visited at least once a week and are with me when the parents go on vacation. I had remained in a passive role.

Now, their home situation is in transition. The dogs came with basic training and I have a trainer to train me how best to help these dogs.

Here is what I need help with:
1. The Viszla ignores "commands" such as come unless he knows we are going out or there is food reward. Not all the the time but enough. How can I help him?
2. The GSP gets distracted quickly. For example, we are working on l10 minute down stays. She was good at the 5 minute down stay but with every minute added, she just gets up, looks at me with the I don't understand look. Now, she can't do a one minute down stay. How can I help her block distractions?

The trainer's methods are positive re-inforcement with praise and/or food. Now the dogs are looking for just the food.

Thanks in advance for your help
 

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For your Vizla, make coming to you a fun experience.
Take a look at this thread for ideas.
http://www.dogforum.com/dog-training/recall-9595/
You can play some recall games and offer rewards other than food (perhaps tug, a walk, etc.) Practice calling him to you, give a little reward and then release him to go back to what he was doing. And if you need to do something he doesn't enjoy, don't call him. Instead go and get him!;)

For your GSP's stay, start from the beginning as if you were teaching it for the very first time. So start with just a few seconds and build up your duration again slowly over time.
Be sure to feed during the stay at random intervals. Also decrease the number of treats you feed over time. And when you hit the 5 minute mark and begin to work towards 10, don't add a whole minute. Add perhaps 10 seconds each repetition until you reach 10 minutes. My guess would be that you just increased your duration too much and didn't reward frequently enough.
Also make sure that you are training distance, duration, and distraction separately. So if your working on distraction you need to decrease the duration of the stay. When first starting out, it's not uncommon to need to drop your expectations about duration to very short times around new and/or very difficult distractions. IME it is best to reward the dog during the stay for distractions. Start out by actually feeding during the distraction. Then after a few reps feed immediately following the distraction. And then finally you can reward randomly. This creates a dog with a solid stay around distractions because each distraction becomes a possible opportunity for reinforcement. ;)

Hope that makes sense!:)
 

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One tip that was helpful for me for training stay was to vary the length of the stay, rather than always adding more time. So you do a 3 minute stay, then a 1 minute, then a 4, then a 2, then 5 and then 1, etc, etc... Bree's stay has gotten tremendously better since I started that route rather than doing 1 minute, then 2, the 3, etc..
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank-you kmes and idealistinfire.

Both of you have pointed out the errors of my ways. I did increase the down stays for too long, too quickly AND combined duration with distraction work.

Thank-you for the reminder to break it down to small actions, set them up for success and build slowly. Still a learning process for me.

Another observation is that the dogs are focused on the food, not on me. Is this typical? Any potential problems? If so, any advice to move them from food centric behaviour?
 

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Dogs being focused on the food is pretty typical. The idea is to get a behavior solidly understood by the dog and begin to wean off treats. You can substitute a favorite toy or game, praise, and use treats randomly. For example, this time I offer a treat. next time I offer a treat. Time after that I will praise and the time after that I give a toy. Switching it up keeps a dog from getting too dependent on a particular toy or a treat reward.
 

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Once Bree knows a cue in one setting, I put the treats to the side where I am training (i.e., coffee table or an arm's length away outside), which helped Bree learn to focus on me. After all, if she's too busy looking at the treats, she'll never get one!
 

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Once the dog knows the command, randomize treating. Sometimes, Kabota will get a treat for every command, sometimes for every 5, sometimes for every other, etc. He knows he's getting treats at some point, so he performs every time, and since he's not necessarily expecting to get a treat every single time, he's not focused on my pockets.

I've never trained a 10 minute stay. Kabota tends to go to sleep after 3 minutes. :D
 

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I use a finger to indicate what I want my dogs to do. After initial training pretty much the only reward they get is praise. Then they're focued on me and not a potential food reward.

On the viszla, such an awesome hunting dog. You've got to take that dog out! We've a weimaraner and a vis but the viszla (before he got old) could beat the socks off any other dog in hunting. You're so lucky!
 
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