Becoming harder to train. Not as motivated - Golden Retrievers : Golden Retriever Dog Forums
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-13-2019, 12:42 PM Thread Starter
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Becoming harder to train. Not as motivated

When Charlie was small he was a crazy food hog. He would do anything for his kibble. Lately during training hell spit his kibble out or just stares as me. He seems to be regressing too. I used to ask for a sit and immediately he would. But now hell stare at me and very slowly lower his bottom to the floor. He's just turned a year. (This is with any trick. He wont listen to stays as long either. He used to walk almost perfectly and now doesn't care and drags the whole time..) I don't know where we went wrong. I've used treats which give a bit more motivation but he's still slow and selective with it. And toys are not exactly motivating for him. Any advice?
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-13-2019, 12:51 PM
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Welcome to the hell that is a teenage puppy. You can try higher value treats but for us, we just have to go back to basics and change up what we use as rewards. My teenager (she's 11 months old atm) responds best to affection and touching. Treats at this point just get her to guess what I want in her impatience to eat. Keep going. You'll get through this. The general consensus is to go back to basics as if they are learning it for the first time.

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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-13-2019, 12:58 PM
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What does your trainer recommend - or what's going on in classes?

I'm going to a private shortly with both my dogs - and I take privates with somebody who puts 100% focus on building drive and motivating happy working dogs.

That might be a direction you need to go.

With my 10 month old - I don't 100% use treats to motivate. It's more like 40/60 - treats/play. It's also about doing things right the first time.

When you teach a dog to sit - you give a command or present a situation where the dog knows that if he sits, he will immediately get a treat (first step). This because he will get a treat now or later.

But sometimes people get sloppy in training and reward the dogs for sitting on second or third commands. <= What this teaches the dog is they don't HAVE to sit right away. They can sit after a while when they are ready.

Same thing for training heeling/walking. You should only give treats when the moment is perfect. The dog has walked 3 strides with perfect attention and brisk movement - JACKPOT. But a lot of people chain feed the dog while he walks next to them - his head down, his nose catching scents (sniffing the floor or airsniffing), ears and tail perking up while he's looking at something else. The reasons people have for feeding the dog treats in these situations is because they are not pulling. But you are reinforcing distracted behavior - which might lead to pulling. And you are also making treats less valuable because you are just giving too many without asking anything of the dog.

Might add that the bit about distracted walking is why I do not bring treats with when walking my dogs around the block and why we DO NOT train when walking around the block. Training is special. And it's easier to be sharp and precise when in controlled situations as the dog can handle.

Walks to me - are the dog's time. I think dogs should get to sniff and daydream just like I'm sniffing the air and daydreaming on the other end of the lead. You don't want to be constantly nagging or stuffing your dog's face while walking. This just breaks training purposes.

Anyway - my recommendation is to switch gears and making training time special and exciting. High value treats. Short training sessions. Only give rewards when the dog is perfect. And it follows - early on, you give more help and lower the bar so the dog can be perfect. Take distractions and other options away (ie recalls in hallways where the dog has only one direction to go, etc).

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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-13-2019, 02:15 PM
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Megora is right, find someone to teach you how to motivate with play as a reward half the time and you will find yourself becoming a MUCH better dog trainer. Report back here when you have tried it. It truly makes a difference.

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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-13-2019, 02:56 PM
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We recently experienced something similar while trying to return to field training with our 1 year old. Everyone is right, stop and think about what your doing, change it up. We ended up working with a new trainer that is far more reward and motivational based. It has made a world of difference. It's definitely made us better at what we are doing. We had to stop concentrating on field work so much and go back to obedience while teaching a few new tricks. We have seen a major difference.

Our situation is a little different because our guy had an injury, but we are all enjoying the change. I love seeing him excited to go out and train again.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-13-2019, 04:01 PM
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Yes, make the training more interesting and upbeat!

I'll repeat a story I've told before here. A friend of mine started competing with his young agility dog, and one of their first trials was in an arena normally used for horse sports. In the first run, half way around the course, the dog abandoned his handler and ran off into a corner to sniff all the wonderful smells. My friend was philosophical when he came out of the ring. Well, he said, I guess I know what I have to do now. I have to make myself more interesting than horse poop.

That, to me, sort of sums up the whole dog-human training relationship.

Be imaginative. Be upbeat. Keep a fast pace. Reward lots. Vary the rewards. Don't be predictable.

Best of luck! We've all been there.


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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-13-2019, 09:09 PM Thread Starter
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I put the treats away this afternoon and brought out the bouncing happy playful me and he was pretty good with the ones he knew.. back to hisself for the most part. But I don't see that working to teach him new things or further his knowledge from what he knows. I absolutely love his trainer we've had her since he was first new to us and we've learnt so.much for her. I think that it's just time to reassess the best learning method with him as.clearly treats wont do it. &#x1f615; hes all over the place at his weekly group class and she pointed out that hes only after the girls. So hes clearly just very distracted
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