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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Aayla is starting to reach the point where I am very happy in her training and feel like I can spare some time to work with Kota. I feel like every time I do anything with him I'm ready to blow a fuse. He doesn't like toys, only likes praise on his time, and only likes treats inside the house on his own time. (Unless we are eating at a diner, then he is pestering us for our food, which he may not even eat)

I can't figure out how to get him to do anything except for negative punishment. He knows how to sit, shake and speak. That's it. He has no name recognition, or recall. I make him sit and wait for his food, that only worked because of negative punishment. I withhold his food until he stays out of my space and sits and waits. If he approaches me I remove his bowl. He doesn't get to walk until he does not pull. I've made some progress with his grooming anxiety through conditioning...and so on. That's only with our highest value treat and inside the house only. Even if I take him into our backyard for grooming he won't take anything.

I just want a somewhat recall and to able to handle his reactivity problems. Yet I cannot find a single way to do anything with him. I also would like him to stop pooping and peeing on the concrete part of our patio outside the doggy door, but at least its outside. He has recently decided that the grass is doggy lava. (thanks to the rain). He is diabetic so we can't limit his access to water or keep him crated for long periods of time. (like when we are gone working). He is also teaching Aayla bad habits that I want to stop.

Anyone dealt with dogs like this? He just doesn't care for us or rewards. I hate to think the only things I can do are things that can be dealt with through negative punishment.

It comes to the point that since I can't reward him for anything he takes more man handling. Want him out of the room? Grab his collar and drag him out or push him with your feet. Want him to come to you? Go to him, grab his collar and take him where you want him to go. He is barking outside at the gardeners (that are with the HOA so we can't predict when they are going to be there) I have to catch him and drag him inside. Everything is man handling and I hate it. My BF just yells at him and intimidates him, which does work for some things. I try to get him to stop but its hard when I can't even show him an alternative way to make things work. Everything I have tried does not work.
 

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For reactivity, have you looked into BAT? I know I suggest it a fair bit but I really do like it. The rewards are functional as opposed to treats/toys/praise and its primary goal is for your dog to feel safe regarding triggers via safely allowing him to gather information on his own and rewarding good choices.

I've also just started reading "When Pigs Fly" by Jane Killion. My terrier mix isn't quite as stubborn as your Koda but can be a bit stubborn so I figured I check this book out. I literally just started so I can't give any glowing recommendation but it's rated pretty highly so may be worh a look.
 

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Wow, sounds like a tough dog.
What do you consider high value treats? It may take a while, but every dog has a treat that he will go crazy for. For my female that would be dehydrated liver or heart. Not cooked in anyway, just raw dehydrated. My senior likes baked crunchy, fishy smelling treats or dehydrated whole small fish.
So you are saying he doesn't know his name? I changed my dogs name when we got her from the rescue, and she learned it by being rewarded when she looked at me when I said her name.
The housebreaking issue can only be solved through constant supervision, really. If you catch him, sniffing around or about to pee, bring him outdoors immediately. Praise and high value treats afterwards.
What tone of voice are using for praise? My Mali doesn't react at all to a neutral or even somewhat high voice. I have to literally squeal to get her excited for something. Luckily that isn't the case with my senior, he his happy as long as he gets food.
For reactivity ( I assume leash reactivity is meant here) I find that the best positive method is a head halter. Easy redirection, even with a powerful dog. I worked with a 150 lbs shepherd mix once, and combined the head halter with with a front clip for more control. When you redirect click and treat, or only treat if you don't utilize the clicker.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
@PoppyKenna I've actually been really wanting to get the book BAT 2.0, I'll look more into it if you think its something that will help for him. He is so oddly fearful with people in our house, but is okay with them outside the house as long as they ignore him. Our condo is so small that its hard to give him distance. I'll look into those both, thank you!
@Ursie - Right now his high value is some type of food that I can eat. If I'm eating it, it becomes higher value to him. So cheese, cooked ground beef, cooked turky. He just is not food motivated, I've tried everything hot dogs are meh, liver meh, salmon crack meh. He was free fed meatloaf, steak, casserole and pork roast for most of his life. So he doesn't have any food drive.

I've been trying to teach Kota his name for months. He still doesn't bother to look at me when I say it. Lots of just say his name and treat, for weeks and then I try to add a pause and he has made no connection between his name=treat. He isn't deaf, I know that for sure.

If I try to bring him to the place where he is supposed to pee he screams and thrashes. Yet he will go there on his own to eat dirt. Just doesn't want to pee there and if I try to take him there it is an extremely negative situation. I'm tempted to get a gate and make a little channel from the doggy door to the grass. I'm afraid he will just pee/poop in front of the doggy door, step in it then bring it back in our house. He is already outside when he is going, just not on the grass.

I've used every tone of voice, he only somewhat reacts sometimes to a baby talk, mellower voice than I would with most dogs.

He is reactive to a lot of things. He is slightly dog aggressive, so reactive on and off a leash. He is people reactive inside our house, men more so than women. He is very skittish of people he doesn't know VERY well even touching him. He lived with my BF's dad his entire life and still acts skittish though my BF swears his dad never even yelled at Kota. He barks at noises, people walking outside our house, shadows, noises and so on.
 

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Hmm. I have worked with high drive dogs pretty much my whole life, so I do not have to much experience with dogs like this. Your signature says that he is part Chow, if you know that for sure that would explain his independence. Keeshonds to tend to be stubborn.

Considering he is diabetic, I do not assume you could withhold food or feed less? I used to not feed my corgi mix before heading to training in order to keep him lively. (is this considered punishment?) A hungry dog always works better than one that just ate.

I mean, even if he is a chow mix, he should be able to learn his name. Is there nothing that Kota likes to do? Nothing you can use to your advantage? Can't be that he just sleeps around all day. I had a friend who trained his rather unmotivated Dutch Shepherd with a chew toy as a high reward. He got to carry it around after he did something good.

A behaviorist or trainer might be a good idea by now. Unless you have plans for this dog to perform or work, I think resolving the potty and reactivity issue would be a pretty good start for him.
Again, I do not have to much experience with the breed nor with dogs that lack drive. Maybe someone else in the forum has some better tips. ;)
 

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I used to have a chow mix!

He was very low drive for food and toys. Until you build that drive, use what he likes. Even if you have to cook food for him. I used to have to bake chicken just to play focus games with Otis, but eventually, he was able to do incredible things for a tiny piece of kibble or a game of tug. You have to really do training at their pace and balance skill and challenge: Too easy and they are bored and walk away. Too hard and they are overwhelmed and walk away. Chows will not suffer a poorly designed training session. You want to build the love of learning and food and toy drive typically can grow from being associated with training sessions, IME.

Chows (and chow mixes) tend to be very independent, aloof dogs who aren't affectionate in the traditional way dogs are. Sometimes, luring tends to be a tiny bit stressful, as you are invading their personal space bubble and trying to get their bodies to move in certain ways. I recommend trying shaping. However, you have to be VERY good at shaping to get a chow (or a chow mix) into the game. Use a high value reward and a high rate of reinforcement in a very short session.

They also don't really care about petting and praise as far as a reward goes. Petting is VERY much on their terms. Otis preferred quiet praise vs animated praise once I taught him that praise meant he was on the right track (learned by association--he got more praise when he was about to figure something out).

When training, incorporate breaks in the training. Train like two reps of something, sit down somewhere. If he does his own thing, OK. If he comes to you and say, "HEY? I want more chicken!" Go and train him some more. You want to set up situations where he is asking you to get up and work with him. In addition, teach a "go sniff" or a "be a dog" type of cue so you can incorporate breaks in training outside, too.

Otis used to be VERY reactive as well. I recommend BAT 2.0 above. I used BAT with Otis and it was SUPER effective. 2.0 is supposed to be even better and I've already used 2.0 with my new fearful girl and she's a thousand times better!

I found that my chow mix (I say mine, but he was my dad's and I just trained him while I lived with my dad) blossomed with positive techniques. Don't get too frustrated and just remember that the more difficult the dog, the more he can teach you. Don't be afraid to get help and work with a trainer.

Otis taught me so much that I use with my new dog: A high drive, sensitive terrier mix I got from the shelter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
@Ursie So have I! I've worked with a lot of high energy dogs that are eager to please, which is why I am at a loss for him.

Kota is already overweight. It is suggested that he gets fed 1.5 cups a day, and I feed him about 3/4 a cup in an attempt to get him to loose the weight. Its hard that he doesn't move much throughout the day. I cannot withhold food (he HAS to eat twice a day before his insulin shots), and I don't want to feed him any less. So right now he already is hungry (kind of begging us to feed him). Yet is we try to make him work for it he disengages. I'm kind of wondering if I can work with him holding his food bowl, that's the only time he seems focused and energetic. Maybe I can put peanut butter in it and let him lick a bit?

He does sleep all day. Sometimes he goes outside to watch and then goes back inside to lay down. He does get excited for walks, but about 15 minutes into his walk he wants to go back. My BF likes to take him off leash when we are out in the mtn (finally convinced him to stop doing that), he will walk with us for a while before deciding he is done and just walks off to the car. He doesn't run from us but isn't thrilled about being out. Its like a light switch, he goes to being excited about exploring to wanting to leave in an instant.

I'm going to be working with some trainers so I'll start talking to them about him and see what they say too.
 

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My BF likes to take him off leash when we are out in the mtn (finally convinced him to stop doing that), he will walk with us for a while before deciding he is done and just walks off to the car. He doesn't run from us but isn't thrilled about being out. Its like a light switch, he goes to being excited about exploring to wanting to leave in an instant.

Haha, that sounds exactly like my Aussie mix. She didn't used to be that way, but she's 12 now and "over it". She explores happily in our pasture, but when we go to the lake she gets out to go to the bathroom and wants right back in the car. She wouldn't come at all but she looooooves car rides.
 

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@ThatYellowDog,
Train with him holding his food bowl. Feed him his dry food if that is what he wants. It will only allow two sessions of training a day of course, but it would be a good start. :)
Honestly, the feed recommendations are always way to high on dog food. My 30 pound dog is supposed to get two cups according to the package but he only needs 3/4 cups a day to maintain his ideal weight. He is a senior, and used get a whole cup when he was active at dog training everyday, but he would be obese if I fed him the recommended amount.
 

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It could be and issue with Kota's medication balance, do you monitor her blood sugars at all? Does your vet alter the insulin dose based on her restricted diet? Is the inattension worse on some days than others? I'm not really familiar with dog diabetes but I come across it in humans a lot. There is also some evidence to support diabetes related dementia in difficult to control diabetes.

I know this doesn't offer any direct solutions but it could go a way to explain some behavior.
 

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This basically describes my dog Koda (Norwegian Elkhound). She is not motivated by toys or praise. She isn't eager to please at all. She is mildly food motivated even then if she is distracted I could stick her "highest value treat" under her nose and she will not move. Her biggest motivators are new people, dogs and the environment. Which does not make training easy. I struggled for many months trying to find something to keep her motivated. She knows the basics but it was a struggle. I even had two positive reinforcement trainers come and basically shrug their shoulders because by the third session she was ignoring them as well.

She still doesn't look the majority of the time I say her name. And almost everything is on her time, but it has gotten better. The biggest thing that has helped for me was training for several months in a zero distraction environment and we are just now at the stage where I am adding little distractions. Also clicker training has helped a lot. She has never been motivated by the tone of a voice so that has been extremely helpful. And for my sanity consistency, celebrating the tiniest of behavior changes and changing my expectations were the most helpful.

She has really improved in the last month, so it does get better and easier!
 

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There are dogs with a big "will-to-please" and then there are the other ones, the independent like mine. To train an Akita isn't a easy thing, especially if you want to do competitive sports and the Akita needs to learn to retrive things.

Sometimes he's motivaded by food but thes he has his day, unconcentrated and not willing to cooperate. What I do then is to tie his leash up at somethings a few meteres away. And then I do the whole training for myself and I ignore him complete. It must look really ridiculus. I do everything; heel, sit-stay, throw things and go after it my selfe and so on. My imaginary dog is great and does a really good job. It gets treats and I prise it a lot in a happy and high tone. In the meantime my dog becomes more and more frustrated. (Don't use another dog, yours could become jealous)
After a few minutes I get him and ask if he's now willing to do something with me. And it works, he's then like another dog and really willing to listen.

In this way I show him that it's not about "I would really appreciate if you do something with me" but more a "you have to be realy lucky if I do something with you"
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
@PipsMom So It does really sound like I need BAT 2.0. Haha

Sounds like you are describe Kota exactly with his personality. I just started shaping with my Aussie, she loves it and things click quickly for her. I'm going to have to introduce the clicker to Kota, maybe that will work better than anything else. Verbal just doesn't seem to get across to him at all. I know Kota is going to teach me extreme patience, cause we know I'm going to need it! Aayla and Kota are such polar opposites, that i'm going to feel well rounded if I can get to Kota.
@Chas - I've suggested to my BF to get a glucose curve on him, but he doesn't feel like he needs to. I'm really putting my foot down on him taking responsibility for his dog so I'm not going to start covering his dog's vet bills. (I feed, pay for any treats/chews, wash, brush, give medication, take out for the small amount of exercise he gets, and now its going to be training) Plus I can't afford his dog's vet bills plus my own.

Kota does seem to be consistent in his behavior and activity levels though. He is just always aloof and reactive.
@steen1121 - I'll have to keep trying with the 0 distraction for a while then. Its so hard because even in the house, if he sees a shadow move, or hears a noise outside the house, the session is over and done. I can't completely get rid of distraction here. I'm glad I'm not alone in struggling
@Eishun - The sad thing is that I'm pretty sure Kota would still not care. He might throw a fit about being tied up. (he does NOT like being confined) then soon as I would get him, he would cease to care because I solved his problem of being restrained, thats all he wants. He has little desire to actually be around us. I mean a dog that can (in the middle of the mountain wilderness) decide to just walk off and leave...alone really doesn't care to be with his family.
 

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@ThatYellowDog - Glad my experience might be able to help you and Kota. When starting with the clicker, click fast, click often and use a very high rate of reinforcement. I usually start with targeting. Otis did not take to shaping very quickly, but once he figured out that HE made clicks happen through his behavior and it was up to him to figure things out, he got hooked. I also clicker train my guinea pig.

Positive methods work really well with these low-motivation dogs if one understands the methods. I've worked with hundreds of dogs of many breeds and temperaments. You really need to learn every dog's quirks and honor who they are and you'll go far.
 

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That's a difficult situation. I absolutely agree that you shouldn't have to shoulder the costs. How long has Kota had diabetes?
 

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I may be reading this completely wrong, but what I see here is a fearful, shutting down dog. No dog is stubborn...this is a human trait. No dog can learn if it's stressed and reading between the lines, without knowing or seeing your dog ( or you and bf) I think this may be the case and the more negativity and shouting that goes on the worse it could get.
I think you said you were going g to a professional trainer? Hope this will help get a different perspective.
Apologies if I've got this entirely wrong.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
@Chas They diagnosed him when he was 2 years old, he is now 5 years old.
@Linda_Hazel - While he is fearful in certain situations, he isn't always. He is fearful of strange people, dog aggressive and has some issues with being confined/restrained. Yet that isn't him always. I feel like I'm good at reading dog body language. He isn't lip licking, tense mouth, tense ears or body. He is pretty easy to read, when he is feeling worried or insecure, even a little bit his tail droops down. When he is happy or when he is acting reactive, its curled over his back. Stubborn typically just means resists change despite persuasion. The persuasion has been treats, affection, toys and so on. When I try training (even in the house, and ignoring everything) he isn't stressed he just doesn't find what I'm doing rewarding enough to change whatever he is doing.

Though yesterday I tried to incorporate him into a training session. He was largely uninterested when after practicing our sit and shake I asked for a lay down he left. I let him come and go so he doesn't feel like he HAS to train. In those cases I notice that he does shut down.

After that I brought Aayla out and worked with her, Kota seemed to get more interested so I started working with them both at the same time. The whole jealousy factor works! I had Kota working on a rotation of sit, down and stand. Aayla got to work on name differentiating, while Kota just worked on basics. I'd only ask him to do a few behaviors before getting up and walking around to disengage. They both would follow me around asking for more. So I got in about 3 sessions before he had enough and I disengaged because I wanted to stop before he did.

I guess working with both dogs together for now is going to be our best option. I'll have to get a camera out to record. It was really nice to have him somewhat focused for once.
 
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Lots of good advice, and do consider the medical component. As a diabetic myself, I'm not interested in anything when my sugars are off. :)

Often we tend to think of rewards in "praise, treats, toys." Don't fall into that trifecta. I and my students have used some pretty creative rewards!!

My American Eskimo wasn't too hyped up for treats or toys either. But...she LOVED to dig. So I put her "dig" on command ("Dig to China Laika!!) and I gave her a hole n the back yard where she was allowed to dig. I used it as a reward. When she would do something good I asked for, I would release her to go dig in her hole with me cheering her in her attempts to reach China. She LOVED it.

Another person has used pine cones for a pine cone obsessed dog. Bird dog folks have used quail wings. I have released my shelties to chase planes for a reward. I've heard of someone who took their dog for a drive for rewards. That would be a very slow training process, but it worked for that team.

Think outside the box. What does your dog like? Does he really like a massage in the sun? Boom. Training reward. Does he really like sniffing other dogs' poo? Boom. Training reward. Does he like chasing you while you scream? Boom. Training reward (as long as it is done in play and not aggression.) Don't get boxed in with the concept that you must use treats, toys or praise for reward.

Lastly, look into the book, "When Pigs Fly." It is about how to motivate the hard to motivate dogs. It's been very helpful to my students.
 
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