Author Topic: Puppy Training Help  (Read 1245 times)

Offline rocky_red

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 247
Puppy Training Help
« on: March 06, 2013, 10:47:21 PM »
My border collie x puppy is about 6 months old now. She has housetraining down, and knows her basics (sit, down, stay, come). She is pretty good at them all, but gets distracted really easily when other dogs or new people are around. Not too worried about that, just needs more practice.

What is bugging me is trying to teach her any new tricks. I am trying to teach her shake, how to jump through my arms, and jumping over my leg if I lift it up a bit while sitting on the floor (you work with what you have lol). She seems to really like the jumping tricks, but after a time or two, she seems to think that she is in trouble or something, and will only lay down, or try to hide behind me. I've tried different treats to encourage her, and while she has liked everything I've given her, she won't eat the treat right away. She wants to be able to throw the treat around for a bit, then eat it like 10 minutes later. I've also tried petting her when she does good, but she still seems to think she's in trouble.

Any ideas?

I plan on taking an obedience class with her, but they don't start for another few weeks.

Offline slynx

  • Posts Too Much!
  • *****
  • Posts: 918
    • Maya's blog
Re: Puppy Training Help
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2013, 03:55:26 PM »
Most people don't recommend teaching jumping tricks to young dogs -- it places a lot of stress on growing joints, even if the jumps are pretty low.  But more trick training is always great!  Maybe try some that include less jumping?  Like spin, cross-your-paws, leg weaves, nose or paw targeting, and so forth?

Only you know what you're doing in a training session (and even then, if you're like most of us, you are probably doing a lot of things you're not even aware of!).  From the sounds of it, something that is happening in the context of a training session is causing enough stress/confusion that your puppy is shutting down and/or engaging in displacement behaviors (unless she normally plays with each bite of food for ten minutes, it sounds like a displacement behavior -- something an animal does when it is stressed and redirecting its attention to some outlet for that stress).  She's giving you feedback that can help you become a better trainer -- so useful of dogs to be this way :wink5:

Things people often do in a training session that causes stress to their dogs include confusing them (by not being clear in training, by training a whole bunch of things at once, by changing what they are training halfway through, by rewarding one thing and then something completely different, giving them mixed signals, and so forth), intimidating them (usually accidentally, but when frustrated, many of us raise our voices, lean over the dog, assume strict expressions, etc..  Even when we're trying to act excited to get the dog excited, we can accidentally freak our dogs out!), overwhelming them (training something too complicated, training for too long), distracting them (waving food around, trying to train in a busy environment), and punishing them (telling a dog "ah ah" or "no" when it does something "wrong," even if you're also giving it a reward when it does something "right," makes a training session more stressful for a dog), and more.  Only you know if any of this stuff applies to you and your dog!

It is also possible that you're doing something in a training session that actually does make your dog think she's going to be punished.  If, just as an example, you regularly put your hands on your hips when you scold your dog, and you happen to put your hands on your hips in the middle of a training session, you could see how the dog might get confused!  I actually think this is the least likely explanation, for various reasons, but thought I'd toss it out there for you to consider when you're reviewing what you do.

Next time you train, try picturing exactly what you want to train, then breaking it down into really small pieces.  Small steps are easier for dogs to learn, and easy learning makes for more training successes.  Keep training sessions short -- like, a minute or two.  You don't have to end on a success or upbeat note, but I'd pick a moment to quit that happens before your dog shuts down and withdraws completely.  Afterward, think about what you did and look for things you could be more clear about next time, or even videotape yourself and play it back (makes you self-conscious, but is a great way to see what you're doing!).

You are very smart to observe that petting is not a reward in this context.  Most dogs actually don't find petting reinforcing during training sessions, so your dog is hardly alone!  Instead, I recommend small and meaty treats (not big crunchy cookies) as rewards, which are given very promptly as soon as the dog performs a better-than-average approximation of the trick.

I hope that your dog class is fun!

Offline rocky_red

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 247
Re: Puppy Training Help
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2013, 03:59:31 PM »
I was teaching her jumping, because it is something she loves to do anyway. Found it's usually easier to teach something that they already do, just add a word cue. She jumps over everything. Me, if I'm on the floor, the other dogs, anything that sticks up a bit. I know it's not the best for them, but if she already does it...? :dontknow:

She always likes to throw her treats around, she'll sometimes do it with food as well. And when I say 10 minutes, that is exaggerating a bit. She does throw her treats around longer than she does her kibble, but then she has a bowl of kibble and only one treat. I have tried different kinds of treats, she does it with all of them. Every once in a while she will just eat the treat, but not that often. She will just eat the treat if it is something she stole from my roommate's dog.  ::)

Training sessions are more like a game, a few minutes at a time, one thing at a time. I train her inside for the most part where there are a lot less distractions. Outside there are horses, neighbor's barking dogs, birds, etc. She minds pretty well outside, by why add the distraction to something new? I try to keep things positive, and I'm sure I raise my voice when I get frustrated, but she will start acting like that *before* I get that way. It's usually the I'm-about-to-be-punished attitude that gets me frustrated. I do train in small steps, and she was doing it ok before. Like I said, she will do it a time or two, and then act like that.

I guess the person who did the puppy classes just quit, so now they don't know when they will do the next class. Hopefully they find a new, good, trainer soon.

Offline slynx

  • Posts Too Much!
  • *****
  • Posts: 918
    • Maya's blog
Re: Puppy Training Help
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2013, 07:03:58 PM »
You can also use soft food as treats.  Like a dab of peanut butter, a tiny squirt of cheez whiz, or get an empty squeeze tube and fill it with anything (canned food, creamy peanut butter, cream cheese, pureed treats, whatever).  Harder to throw around!

If you want to watch some training videos that are very well explained, look up Kikopup (Emily Larlham) on youtube.  She has some fabulous training videos and is a terrific trick trainer...very inspiring, and it can be helpful to watch someone else doing it even if you can't get into a class right now!

Offline A_STEW

  • Posts Too Much!
  • *****
  • Posts: 590
Re: Puppy Training Help
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2013, 01:35:29 AM »
I'm in an obedience class right now, and honestly it's like I have a different dog. He learned sit, stay, wait, come, let's go, leave it, off, up, down, move, and "go play" so easily. His behaviour is so much better. I like that it is in a group setting, he basically has puppy ADD and can't concentrate around distraction, so by getting him used to it right away he's become much more controllable out in public. The BEST thing about the class though is that she also teaches agility, so she has the props. At the end of the class she has us run through a mock course, and my dog likes it so much I'm going to put him in a real class, for a basset he can sure jump, totter, and balance like a pro. He's at the point of standing, all 4 paws, on a yoga ball.

I would say that if your dog starts shutting down during training it's just her way of letting you know she's done. The brain strain related to learning new tasks, or doing old tasks in a new environment, is incredible. She's still so young, still very much a puppy, and  I think she's just letting you know what she can handle at this stage. Start doing very short training sessions a few times a day, and stop before she thinks she's in trouble. Try like twice, and go back to everyday life. You always want to end on the best note possible. Even stopping for a break to play with a toy, or go for a short walk, can be extremely helpful. They read into such subtle body language, always stop before you start feeling frustrated, bored, or whatever.

Offline rocky_red

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 247
Re: Puppy Training Help
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2013, 01:45:03 PM »
Yeah, I've stopped with that trick, she won't even do it at all now. On to other things.

She is doing really well with her obediance training, it's just the tricks she is having issues with. I still want to do the obedience class, because she does get distracted around other dogs. Just wants to play aaaaall the time.

Offline A_STEW

  • Posts Too Much!
  • *****
  • Posts: 590
Re: Puppy Training Help
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2013, 01:47:57 PM »
Lincoln is almost a year old and he's still easily distracted. He's also stubborn and will just completely shut down every once in a while during training, like lay on the floor and refuse to move. They're funny little animals to be sure.

Offline E-marie

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 134
  • Love my girls! <3
Re: Puppy Training Help
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2013, 07:14:11 PM »
She's acting scared. (Correct?) So don't be firm with her - at all. Give her amazing treats, or in your case toys.
Your type of breed is hyper, so give her her favorite toy! Let her play with it a bit.
Treats don't work for all dogs. Most small dogs will take forever to chew, and don't like to play. That means you give them extreme praise.
Some hyper dogs (Like yours) don't want to eat their food for awhile. That means play.
Some dogs, (Like mine.) only get praise by treats, otherwise it's not worth it to her.

Most puppies have something like ADHD. They'll only listen for a short while, and then zone out. Try to keep your training sessions short, simple, and don't work on the same trick over and over. Work on it, at max, 5 times, and then take a break.

Keep up with obedience training, and try simple tricks. Shake is the easiest trick to learn. (In my opinion.)

Feel free to PM me or correct me if I gave useless info!  :P
 
OK, nevermind I read your other post. Another thing I learned is to stop when she's still learning, and training. I'm not a professional (Infact I'm only 13) and I've honestly never heard of that! Go to obedience class, and talk to the trainer. They're WAY more experienced than me!
« Last Edit: May 10, 2013, 07:19:14 PM by E-marie »
Lilly, Shadow RIP Daisy, Star, Peanut, Amber, Ruby