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Recall Training - Adolescent Pup

Discussion in 'Dog Training: Principle and Practice' started by Ashley Sagnis, Nov 19, 2018.

  1. Ashley Sagnis

    Ashley Sagnis Registered Users

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    Hi All, first post here on the site.

    First of all, thank you to Pippa for the recall training article, it was the only really elaborate + structured step by step I have found on how to train your dog to come when called. Made me feel very hopeful, as I am starting late into the training game with an adolescent dog :)

    To start off, Blitz is a one year old pup (lab/pitbull mix) The only other dogs I have owned growing up were jack russell terriers & rat terriers, and for whatever reason they would never leave my side while off leash, so there was essentially no recall training needed. I was very naive to assume that a lab/pit mix would be the same. I thought if they stayed close off leash as a puppy, it would continue on. I was right for the first 8 months of his life, but now that he is hitting the adolescent stage, he is running off and not returning, making him untrustworthy to be off a leash at any time, which makes me very sad.

    My husband and I are fully committed to using the recall training plan and have completed Step 1 and are moving on to Step 2. We first realized we were making pretty much every mistake on the list (chasing him to play, repeating cues over and over, bribing, etc. yikes!) But we are moving past that, and trying to start fresh.

    Here is my issue and question for you. Blitz has a very mellow temperament, he always has. Even as a puppy I thought something was wrong because he was so mellow. He doesn't get super excited about food, toys, praise, anything.... He is a happy dog, we are just finding it very hard to use food as a training tool because he is not overly excited by it. We are using top notch treats (chicken, steak, cheese) and are only feeding him 2x per day on a schedule. And only training before meals so he is hungry.

    Any advice or similar experiences.
     
  2. Michael A Brooks

    Michael A Brooks Registered Users

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    Hi @Ashley Sagnis
    Welcome to the site.
    I'm not sure whether the following applies to you. I would put him on the NILIF diet. He doesn't get any food unless he follows cues. As I understand your account he is getting 2 meals without doing anything. Accordingly he is not motivated to follow your cues. Or have I misunderstood you?
     
  3. Ashley Sagnis

    Ashley Sagnis Registered Users

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    Hi Michael, thanks for the response! I do give him basic commands before he gets food such as "sit" and "wait" until I release him, he is good at that. And there's not really much recall training I can do before he eats because he follows me around (weather I have food or not) I see a lot of dogs jump when they hear the crinkle of a food or treat bag from a mile away, it seems like my guy could care less. He is a really well behaved dog when there are no distractions, but I suspect it's going to be really heard to add distractions slowly when he doesn't care to much about treats or toys.
     
  4. Michael A Brooks

    Michael A Brooks Registered Users

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    Hi @Ashley Sagnis

    I meant he doesn't get a free meal at all. What he would have received for a meal is saved solely for training.

    Some questions:

    1. Is he a fussy eater?
    2. Have you tried everything? Apple, cheese, watermelon, roast chicken, pate, sardines?
    3. Is he overweight?
    4. Is there anything at all that motivates him? Ball, sock? Tug toy?
    5. When you train is he distracted?
    6. Has the vet checked his hearing and eyesight?

    i have to admit that food may not be the issue. You have successfully taught him sit, wait and some release cue. Presumably with food treats. No?

    It would be useful to see some film of you teaching him recall. Are you up to uploading a file to this site?

    In order to deal with the inability to get distance in the recall, this is what I would try: Get the help of your husband to ensure he stays while you leave. Your husband can attempt to engage his interest. Then call his name. Then Come and run backwards away from him. You should be really exciting. He should be on a long line. Don't pull him in. The line is just for safety purposes.
     
  5. Jo Laurens

    Jo Laurens Registered Users

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    Hi Ashley. This is not really what we'd call 'training with your dog's meal' - the dog is doing ONE behaviour, and then getting ALL his food like that. Training with your dog's meal, means your dog earning every single piece of his food from training and working with you. If the dog shows a lack of interest at any point, then you stop training and you put the food away until the next meal time - don't offer any. You don't need to do only recall training, train anything you like at all - the point is that the dog doesn't get food for free and has to earn it.

    For some dogs, even this may be a step too far to start with. In which case, you might need to implement something like this for a couple of weeks, before you again attempt to train with meals:

    http://www.sue-eh.ca/page24/page39/
     
  6. Ashley Sagnis

    Ashley Sagnis Registered Users

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    Michael,

    Thank you for the thoughtful response, some really good info!

    1. Not a fussy eater, just not overly excited about food. We have never given table scraps or people food to avoid begging (until now, only for training)
    2. I have not tried all those, only cheese, chicken, steak. Maybe I just need to explore more until I find something he can't resist!
    3. Not overweight, he's a very lean dog and healthy.
    4. A toy or a treat will motivate him on occasion if he has a lot of energy, but usually no, he's very mellow.
    5. So far I have only trained in the fenced back yard with no distraction. Of course a squirrel or bird will come along and he's gone, but I just try to regroup when I have his attention back.
    6. We have an appt coming up for vaccines so I will mention my concerns and have it checked out.

    I will keep training in the backyard for now, and recruit my husband to help, thank you!
     
  7. Ashley Sagnis

    Ashley Sagnis Registered Users

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    That's great advice, and a great article, thank you. When you say training with your dog's meal, meaning earning each piece of food. How exactly do you train like that? Do you have the dish of food full and set it down every time he completes a command? Or do you have it in your hand and he receives it like a treat each time?

    Thanks again!
     
  8. Michael A Brooks

    Michael A Brooks Registered Users

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    Hi @Ashley Sagnis

    I would normally let Jo answer your question because you had directed to her but since Jo and I have been saying the same thing here's my attempt.

    Measure the amount he would have received in the bowl. Now put all of it in your treat pouch. Wear the treat pouch.

    Now start a training session.

    Cue him to watch you. He looks at you. Yes and treat. Cue him to sit. If he complies. Yes then treat (another bit of the kibble he would have received in the bowl for his meal).

    Then ask him to do something else. Say sit and stay for 10 seconds. Suppose it is perfect. Say Yes and jackpot. One piece of kibble. Then another piece. Then another piece. Then play with him for 10 seconds.

    Then cue him to sit for say 15 seconds. If successful Yes. Give release cue and then give him a treat. Play with him.
    Then cue him to sit for say 20 seconds. If successful Yes. Give release cue and then give him a treat. Play with him.
    Then cue him to sit for say 12 seconds. If successful Yes. Give release cue and then give him a treat. Play with him.
    Then cue him to sit for say 10 seconds. If successful Yes. Give release cue and then give him a treat. Play with him.

    Finish the training for that session.

    It does not have to be so formal to get some of his food. Use some of the kibble in training pouch to give him treats for being calm in the crate. Or if you cue him to stay out of the kitchen while you pack the dishwasher, he gets Yes and treat if he complies. You have the treat pouch on so you have a ready supply of rewards for compliance.

    In an hour's time start another training session. Start with watch. Now move onto say down stays.

    Over the morning you will work your way through giving him cues during formal and informal training sessions. When he complies he gets some of his food allocation as a reward. He doesn't get the food for free in a bowl. He does n't get food for being cue, even though I'm sure you think he is!

    Note the formal training sessions are short in time and also consist of some fun play. He gets his food allocation by following your cues. You can be generous with exemplary performance. Somewhat stingy (= 1 piece of his kibble if it's okay).

    It may be the case that you have to first motivate him to like food by following the article Jo had given you the link.
     
  9. Jo Laurens

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    Yes, what Michael says! You can put the food in a treat pouch if you like, or you can just put the bowl on a nearby table and take bits out of the bowl as you need them.

    Jean Donaldson's DVD that accompanies her 'Train Your Dog Like a Pro' book, has lots of great training ideas for people starting out to follow:

     
  10. Saffy/isla

    Saffy/isla Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    Hi Michael A Brooks, I was reading your post with interest, thankyou so much for such an informative reply to Ashley Sagnis, I'm going to put into practice all of this with my pup.

    It makes complete sense and I can't believe I hadn't done this before as my pup is 9 months old now. I have just been feeding her 3 boring bowls a day, now she can work for it, which she will love.Thanks
     
  11. Michael A Brooks

    Michael A Brooks Registered Users

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    Hi @Saffy/isla

    Thanks for feedback. I'm heartened that you had an aha moment.

    Please note that in a bid to ensure that your dog still gets the allocated portion, one might be inclined to use continuous reinfrcement for behaviour the dog knows well. You should of course put that on intermittent reinforcement.

    Reserve the continuous reinforcement for teaching new behaviours, or when you raise the criterion of performance of something the dog had benn working on..

    if you decide to teach something using shaping, you will use a fair amount of the allocated portion in just a few sessions. I taught my dog targeting, the initial steps of scent detection using shaping, and a laser pointer retrieve using a mixture of shaping and luring. All exercises used many treats.

    It's entirely up to you. Just don't get stuck in the rut of continuous reinforcement.
     
    Saffy/isla likes this.
  12. SafetyGearGuide

    SafetyGearGuide Registered Users

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  13. Michael A Brooks

    Michael A Brooks Registered Users

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    Hi @SafetyGearGuide

    Welcome to the site?

    I think we need more information. Is your dog a fussy eater? Do you attempt to train him before or after meals? And how did you try to interest him in tug toys? How big are the food treats?
     

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