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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Gah I can't even explain how excited I am. Theo is my nearly 10 year old beagle (his birthday is June 25th! We're officially in the month long count down!). He has absolutely no manners. My boyfriend agreed that he can come to live with us if he becomes a polite dog after training.

We're training through PetCo. I know that all PetCo trainers aren't reliable, but I really like ours! She's only been training professionally for one year, but she was telling me about all of her own dogs who she has self trained throughout the years (~10). She's VERY into positive reinforcement, absolutely no punishment or force is allowed. She was excited to meet my dog and was eager to learn about him. She's also been very prompt with phone calls, and she seems to really care about the individual needs of the dogs in the class. For example, she's only accepted two dog's into the class that Theo is in. The other dog is a german shepherd who can be dog reactive (excessive barking), so she wanted an older and calmer dog to pair him with (which would be Theo). She isn't going to accept any more dogs into the class, and she assured me that if the other dog scares Theo with his excessive barking, she will put the divider between us and work with us individually.

So with Theo we're going to work on...
-Basic obedience (sit, stay, come, down, etc.)
-Loose leash walking
-Being polite with food (i.e: not jumping for his dinner / trying to steal food out of people's hands). Also, we talked about the food aggression (he will growl if you try to take away a bone, or if you get too close to his food bowl while he's eating), and she said she would give me tips for this
-Separation anxiety and the barking that goes along with this

He starts June 12th! The course is only 6 weeks though so we'll probably have to sign him up for another. We have a lot to work on together.


.....Now, how do I get my boyfriend to agree to come too? He's currently not very interested, but the trainer and I agree that he should be involved in the process!
 

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This was something that my husband and I struggled with. Since he had had several dogs before, he didn't think training was necessary and he "knew what to do". I had never owned a dog and wanted to go through training. I got him to go with me, but he mostly just sat there on his phone. We didn't alternate the training and I felt really frustrated because we were paying all this $$$ to help our puppy, and he was learning two different training styles...one with the trainer and another at home!

So, if anything, that could be your inroad...if you want the training to be really effective, it's important that both people who will be primarily interacting with the dog act consistently when it comes to how he's trained. Otherwise, it's confusing for your dog and it may take longer to see training results.

Here's what's funny: my husband sloooowly adopted the training methods we were taught because his typical stuff wasn't working! The only thing he can do without using the trainer recommendations is get our dog to drop stuff. For some reason, our pup listens to him and drops immediately but not with me! By the way, our dog is named Theo, too! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
That's an argument that I can use on my mom. You see, Theo is still living with her for another year (the boyfriend and I are taking him next summer when we move into pet friendly housing). I've asked her to come too and she said, "Well, I expected you could teach me what you learn and I can reinforce through the week". I mean I can do that, but I'd rather she come, and you make some good points.
 

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lol @Jenibelle and @Bigargylesock, my boyfriend was exactly the same way. He had a lot of opinions about training dogs, like he thought after her Good Manners/basic obedience class she would just "be trained" and we wouldn't have to worry about her afterwards, he didn't understand that training is an ongoing process. He also has a lot of bad habits that even making him go to the class with me didn't cure, like calling her to "come" when he knows she won't listen, repeating commands like "sit, sit, sit," oh, and I had to confiscate the clickers from him recently because he was clicking her whenever she ran away from him to get her to come back -__- He completely ruined her "stay"- I had to retrain it using the cue "wait" instead.
He also spent a lot of time on his phone during class- it was really rude to the trainer.

I guess I was able to convince him to even go with me in the first place because 1) The novelty of a new dog made him interested in spending time with her and 2) I told him that if I was the only one that worked with her during the class, she would only learn to listen to me and not him.

She still only listens to me now and he always sulks about it. But I've told him why she listens to me and he still doesn't change his methods, so that's his problem.

Sounds like an awesome class and trainer though! I hope you enjoy it!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
We had Theo's first class today! :D It went SO well.

He was so well behaved with the other dog. He didn't bark back, not once. And he worked really well under the distraction, which surprised me! We just did some basics today.

We played the "name game". Whenever he wasn't looking at me, I would call his name just once. If he looked at me - GREAT! I would say "yes" and treat as soon as he looked at me. If he didn't look right away, I made noise to get his attention (a whistle worked great), and again "yes + treat" as soon as he looked.

We practiced luring. I had a treat in my hand and I put it on his nose, and he followed the treat. After a few seconds, "yes + treat".

After that we did "focus". I did a quick lure and then bright the treat to my nose. The goal was eye contact. After a few seconds of eye contact, "yes + treat." The trainer wants us to work up to 30 seconds of eye contact this week.

We then did sit. Which is great, because although Theo knows to sit for something he wants, he doesn't actually know the COMMAND sit.

And then, we did down. I was SO surprised with how quickly he picked this up!! In his almost 10 years we never, ever went over down. Ever. And after a few tries he was offering it over and over again.

All in all it was a lot of fun and I'm really proud of him! I think he enjoyed himself too.
 

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yeah, dogs learn QUICK with marker training, IME. I had my parent's dog auto-sitting on our walk today after 3 repetitions. She hasn't gone over that in almost 6 years, probably, and when I first "taught" it to her it was almost all through correction based stuff she she never was really excited to do it because I don't think I ever really gave her treats on our walks.

I'm a total nerd over training classes, lol. I like working on our own, but there's just something more satisfying about being in a class to me when we're working for some reason.

ETA: I personally don't love using a whole lot of luring in my training, because I've found for very food-motivated dogs (which all the ones I've ever had have been) it can be too hard for them to learn while staring at food. Both my current pup, my parent's dog/childhood dog, and my first dog before her have all been super fixated on food when they can see it, and I've found that when trying to train eye contact I got better results if I captured the behavior instead of luring it. Usually this meant I had to teach it in the least interesting environment possible, which is usually my living room or back yard, because in a more interesting place like the park or street (where I got often to train) or in a group class there's always more interesting places to look than in my eyes. I found luring for eye contact took a lot of repetitions before the dogs actually understood what I wanted from them, because 1) they were too fixated on the treat and their internal dialogue was just "foodfoodfoodfoodfood", and 2) because when you use the luring method it usually means you have to incorporate and eventually fade some sort of hand signal, and I don't like using hand signals at all in my attention command- I want to be able to do it with voice alone, and with capturing I can just skip the intermediate step where I use hand signals as well as my voice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I'm afraid that this may be an issue. He is HIGHLY food motivated. How do you train without the luring?
 

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Training without luring involves a lot of shaping and capturing behaviors, and to be able to do these things often involves a dog that is aware that their behavior has consequences on their environment and that they can elicit rewards by offering behaviors that they have not been asked to do. This usually involves first teaching the dog to be a good student, which might be hard in an older dog. What I would suggest is teaching targeting behaviors that you can use sort of like a lure, but without actually using food as a lure.
Here's an article explaining the difference: Targeting vs. Luring | Karen Pryor Clicker Training

Using targeting to get the animal into the position you want is a good way to make training less frustrating when you're working with a dog who hasn't learned that they can offer behaviors, or isn't "operant". (this isn't the correct use, scientifically, of that word, but I like it because it gets the point of what I mean by it across)
an overview of different ways to get behavior: Getting a Dog to Offer Behaviors for Clicker Training

I cannot give enough praise to the book "When Pigs Fly" by Jane Killion. I recommend it a lot, because its a really good, thorough explanation of force-free training and is specifically geared towards how to train an "impossible'/ non biddable dog. Beagles are one of the big examples of a non biddable breed- they don't usually care what their handler wants, they're very independent and are really good at finding reinforcing behaviors that don't involve you or your input, especially sniffing. In order to effectively train a dog like this without wanting to shoot them you have to play to their strengths and develop something of a different approach than you would use for something like a Lab or Border Collie that is naturally tripping over themselves to do what you want. Jane Killion is a Bull Terrier breeder (another wildly independent/non biddable breed) who does a lot with her dogs, and she has very good advice on how to make the non-biddable dog more like the biddable dog and thus easier/more fun to train. Below is a blog post talking about Jane Killion's methods, which is also a good overview on how to train an "operant" dog.
how to create the dog who offers behaviors: Reactive Champion: Jane Killion Seminar: Shaping

With a non-biddable, independent dog like a Beagle, the best thing you can do to help the dog learn is to allow them to solve problems themselves, start with a very high rate of reinforcement and taper reinforcement slowly, and especially to put fun behaviors on cue to use as rewards. It is usually very easy to put sniffing on cue, and I do it for all my dogs because I don't like them to be sniffing while we're walking, because it usually incites pulling in an otherwise really good loose leash heel. SO, I have certain times I let them sniff and just sort of follow where they go- I know the places dogs in the neighborhood like to sniff so I'll go there and give them their command ("go sniff") and then let them have a blast while I meander along behind. I teach this by standing near a place I know they're likely to sniff, waiting for them to start sniffing, and then as they do say the command I want to use for it, and stick a treat in their mouth. Eventually, they start looking to me after I say the command because they realize it will be followed by a treat. When they're doing that reliably I'll say the command when I have a feeling they're going to want to sniff something, and then if they do start sniffing I jack pot and rain treats down on them while praising excessively. I then practice often on walks- I taught it to both my dog and my parents dog in a manner or a week or so.
 
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