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For the most part Oban has been doing great. The gentle leader has made introducing him to new people in a controlled way much easier, and his on leash good behavior is translating to meeting people off leash. I haven't had him go crazy jumping up in weeks, which is awesome.

However, he seems to be having some adolescent issues. He's great on commands indoors, but his responses are slipping outdoors - it's just much harder to get his attention than it used to be, and he often gets up immediately after going down. He also has seemed a bit more inclined to chasing the poultry the past few days, (I have him on leash around them so he can't actually do it) something he hadn't done in weeks, and he's been more rambunctious around the cows as well.

I've read about raising criteria in response to adolescence, but I'm not sure what this would look like in my case. Should I limit off leash time? He has so much energy it feels critical to give him that time to work it out. Should I just stop all training except when I'm confident I have his attention, but when I do train him require immediate response for a click? I'd previously felt like I was making progress asking for sits/stays in more and more distracting situations, but that seems to have gone out the window. Thanks for any help!
 

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Whenever training regresses, back up. If you don't think he'll respond to a cue, don't give the cue. Raising criteria means requiring longer sits, downs, more distractions, farther distance and speed of compliance. Raising more than one at a time can set you back. Break your criteria down into small segments so you have a lot of opportunity to reward. More short sessions are better than a few long sessions.
 

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I've had this problem with my adolescent dog for a while. I spent a lot of time trying to work with him when he was ready, not giving cues if I didn't think he'd respond, but that meant I spent a lot of time letting him do whatever he wanted (like sniffing/lunging/ignoring me on walks or while outside). His impulse control and focus outdoors wasn't improving despite working on this things in lower distraction environments very successfully.

Just lately I have cracked down on his behavior outside - basically an NILF approach. We don't go anywhere, not even out the door, if he's not calm, quiet, and not pulling. I was spending too much time thinking "If I can just get him into the training class, I will work on his behavior inside" when I needed to focus on his behavior *all* the time. It hasn't been that long, and I haven't always been strict about it (sometimes he is still on a harness and long line and can be an idiot for a little while), but it is making a difference. I have increased my expectations for his behavior and he has stepped up.

I do use treats, and will randomly reward with a "yes" and a treat when we are walking, but I'm trying hard not to over use them. It's one thing to start with a high rate of reinforcement when the dog is learning, but it's also freeing to be able to leave the treats in the car and get good behavior just because the dog has no other option - getting to go somewhere is the reward. My dog knows where heel position is and that it will be rewarded, but now it's no longer a choice to walk next to me politely or run ahead like a nut. As a side effect, for a while after a training session his responsiveness to cues goes way up - his recall (on a long line) is so much better after we have worked on him being calm and connected to me, despite not actually doing any specific work on his recall.
 

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Was that directed at my comment? I was pretty clear that I do use food, all the time actually. But sometimes I think it can work better to use the life rewards of getting out of the car, or moving forward, especially because food isn't always a high value reward when faced with something the dog finds extremely stimulating.
 

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Yes, it was in response to your post but not meant as criticism. Life rewards are valuable and provide good teaching/training opportunities. I simply didn't want anyone to feel, as many do, that using treats is bribery or so inconvenient that they'd rather not. I have shifted away from the NILIF protocol. Not that I don't ask for behaviors in return for something the dog wants because I do. I just don't use it as a daily training protocol. I like rewarding behavior I want to see repeated.
 

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I do the same more often than not, but I am discovering that when something in the environment is so much more rewarding for the dog, sometimes just rewarding the good isn't enough. My dog can be great, and I can reward him, but if I don't have some other way to hold criteria he can just run to the end of the leash and be crazy and frantic again, and then we get a ping ponging back and forth. He knows what good behavior is, and how to get a reward from me, but I have only recently figured out how to require that behavior all the time and it doesn't involve increasing my rate of reinforcement alone.
 

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To make it clearer, I do reward for good behavior, but my dog desperately needed a consequence for bad behavior, because doing what I didn't want was so reinforcing. So now he has clear consequences (go away from what he wants, even back to the car where we can leave entirely) and he understands me much better. By just rewarding the good he didn't see any issue with also doing the other things I don't want.
 
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