Volume of treats for loose leash walking...?

Discussion in 'Clicker Training' started by BonnieScot, Oct 29, 2017.

  1. BonnieScot

    BonnieScot Registered Users

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    I've had to go back to basics with Bonnie (working cocker)- so we're clicking and treating for attention on a loose leash and she's coming on well.

    We have a regular walk that we do round the village 3 or 4 times a day. We vary the routes and once a day just walk to a little pocket of grass to play fetch. I know the point is to reduce the treats as she gets better in less distracting environments, but I feel like a treat machine at the moment! And the volume of food I need for those walks to be successful is a little more than she needs for the full day (she gets nothing from a bowl at the moment). Do I just go with it as if I'm consistent she'll start to need less to achieve the walk and it will correct (and she won't get fat?). I know I need to be patient with the process, I know. I think this is the point that I give up and try something else too, so maybe being scientific about it will help....
     
  2. snowbunny

    snowbunny Registered Users

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    Yup, you need to spend a lot in rewards to start off with. I wouldn't want to be feeding more than my puppy's daily allowance, though, even knowing that the amount will reduce in time. It's great that you're allocating all her food to training; that's a really effective way of using food to get results.
    It would be useful to have a little more information. How are you using the treats at this stage? Are they a lure, or are you streaming them? Do you provide them at regular intervals, or do you mix it up? Is she struggling with distractions on the walk you're taking her on? What sort of distractions do you have to deal with?
     
  3. BonnieScot

    BonnieScot Registered Users

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    Thank you for getting back to me.

    Some detail for you.
    • She's two and a half, not spayed, has a phantom after each season, and a big lass- about 18kg and long and muscly. For a working cocker.
    • Spends 3 days a week at day care.
    • I'm the only one who walks her and she's a mummy's girl.
    • Walking has been our nemesis. We've had all sorts of help and I've gone from clickers to gun-dog to stopping and starting, to going the other way...Anything positive I've tried. I used to do long distance walking with my border terrier Rosie. I can't do more than 6 miles without weeping with this one.
    • We had a nice long spell where she was on a harness and a 5m line for the bits of the walk she couldn't get off leash. But she started hunting on the long line and it was getting dangerous.
    • We've gone back to a 6ft adjustable (halti) leash that I can attach at both ends if I need to. But it's mostly at full length.
    • This has made a massive difference- she can't get a hunt started, so she's more attentive on the whole.
    • But she's always in front. I've been worked on treating for position with her, so she turns to me, I click, and then the treat is delivered at my left leg. Been looking at Sophia Yin's stuff again.
    We've been out twice today, about 5 miles, and gone through about 200g of Millie's and roast chicken. So I've technically no food left to train with and two walks in front of me.

    She got off twice in the last walk in two different locations, first time chased her ball and ran around, second time went too far away (birds and nice smells) and reminded me why I bought Total Recall. When I hid she did a comical run back looking for me.

    Any advice would be really welcome! The thing I really struggle with is how to let her have an engaging walk (sniffing and being off lead) with making sure she's got good lead manners. She's so bright and I'm convinced she's just not sure what I want, hence the length of time it's taking...

    Sheila
     
  4. snowbunny

    snowbunny Registered Users

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    @heidrun is our resident spaniel expert and I believe that spaniels are always difficult to train to walk "nicely" because of their desire to hunt. I think you probably need to be very clear in what exactly you want; it certainly is possible to train them to walk to heel, but it might be unrealistic, and maybe even quite punishing, to have her doing this for extended distances.

    Are you planning on working with her? I think that with working cockers, you have to be actively active (if that makes sense) pretty much all the time, giving her jobs to do so she doesn't go self-employed. So, even if you're not planning on taking her shooting (in which case, I'd definitely ignore what I say and take any advice Heidrun has to offer), rather than thinking in terms of a traditional walk with her walking alongside you, I'd be giving her things to think about along the route. It might be five paces then a "middle", ten paces then a leg weave. Another ten and a catch of a ball, jumping on a bench, a little retrieve, a hunt for kibble etc etc. Spaniels are so "busy" that giving them tasks can be more rewarding than food, once the behaviours are learnt. I find this with my Labs, too. It means you end up with a dog that is engaging with you a lot, because you're the one that gives the tasks - and remembering that you have to give tasks that she wants to do, too, hunting being a big one. The successful completion of a task can earn a food reward, of course, but rather than it being food, food, food, you end up with behaviour, food, then behaviour, behaviour, food. It's not exactly a relaxing way of walking, but I don't think you signed up for that when you brought home a working cocker :D
     
  5. BonnieScot

    BonnieScot Registered Users

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    Thanks Fiona!

    Yes, the whole 5m line thing was borne out of me wanting her to be able to use her nose on a walk and not just marching next to me. Bonnie being good on a long-line is an engaged happy dog who sleeps more! PC Bonnie she gets called in the winter with that blue flashing collar.

    So the catch 22 is that I don't particularly want her at heel, loose leash would do, but if I give her too much leash she will start hunting. And loose leash seems to be an ambiguous thing to teach her with a long line, and easier with a 6 ft. But 6 ft doesn't give her much autonomy. Paradoxes everywhere.

    Also, I'd happily take her so many places if we could nail this. There's an amazing 18 mile circuit from my house, going through two country estates, some beach, some road walking, and then country roads. I'd happily do that with her and let her have a snuffle along all those hedgerows, but only if she's not going to pull. 18kgs of muscly determined cocker at just the right centre of gravity (for my 5 ft 4 in) can be handful.

    Thank you for listening.
     
  6. BonnieScot

    BonnieScot Registered Users

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    Sorry, no, not working her, but would be happy to try, and good ideas about mixing up the walk. :)
     
  7. BonnieScot

    BonnieScot Registered Users

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    And then....

    Just took her out her early evening walk and didn't pack any food. We just did it naked. :p

    She was a bit perplexed that I'd crouch down to give her a big cuddle for some excellent attention, but she was much better than I thought she would be. Maybe the treats had become the routine and 'noise' and without them she can focus on what's being asked. Might take a toy out later, and a treat for a good recall. Who knows. I swear this dog is here to teach me something.
     
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  8. Lara

    Lara Registered Users

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    Others with more experience on here will step in if I am giving bad advice, but here is something that has helped us. I am in the (long) process of training nice walking on lead. If I tried to get loose leash walking for an entire 5 mile walk or however long you want to go, I would go mad and certainly run out of her food allowance. This is because, for the current rate of reinforcement she needs, 5 miles is too long to be working on that skill, particularly somewhere sniffy and ‘hunty’. It’s really helped me to have a cue to allow the dog to be out in front, out of ‘position’ when I want to give her and me a rest from training during the walk. So, when her lead is attached to her flat collar, I use ‘stay close’ and that means loose lead, in position, and she has treats as regularly as required depending on the distraction. As a little break and reward, I attach the lead to the back loop of her harness (so it feels very different), let the length out a little (not long enough to hunt, though) and say ‘ok, go sniff’. She knows this now and moves out in front, and a tight lead is allowed with occasional changing of sides. So using that, we can go for as long a walk as we want, on lead, and I train ‘loose lead’ for part of that walk but not all of it. And ideally intersperse walking with fun games as well. I have found that she has started dropping back into position now even when she is supposed to be out front, because it’s rewarding to be in that position. I guess it might be worth trying? It just sounds like you might be trying to do loose leash walking for longer than your dog’s current skill level allows, if you are running out of treats?
     
  9. BonnieScot

    BonnieScot Registered Users

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    Hello. We rarely do 5 miles at once on lead- like you it would drive me mad!

    I've done another two walks with her with no treats at all, and it's been a revelation. To me, that is. A revelation that I don't need a large bag of food!

    I think I will take some food out for exceptional behaviour though- this morning she was off lead in the street (pre 5 am as I was going for a train) and recalled from a bird (which is unheard of). Last night we took a squeaky out and that was a nice way to get her attention too.

    I'm going to sound really hippy dippy now, but I do wonder if the food has been such a feature of our walks together that now that it's not there, we can concentrate on communicating with each other? Maybe because I'd not faded it properly it had just become what we did on a walk? Who knows.
     
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