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Thread: How to Get a Consistent Sit

  1. #1
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    Default How to Get a Consistent Sit

    Geoff the Airedale is now nearly 8 months old.

    Up until about 2 weeks ago I would say sit with a hand signal, and he would sit. We practiced this all the time and he was good at it.

    However, just lately, I have got the stare with 'you want me to do what', or he just ignores me. This happens especially when something more interesting is on the horizon.

    I don't say sit, sit, sit, sit. I say it once and wait. I do clicker training, so if he does it straight away (which still happens from time to time) click and treat. If he doesn''t do it, we walk a few steps more and repeat. Then sometimes he does a big sigh and does a very slow 'if you insist' sit. You can almost see him rolling his eyes.

    Any suggestions as to how I can get him a bit more focussed with a snappier response. We are practicing attention (from the book When pigs fly, which is written for training dogs like terriers - who don't just do it because you ask them, they like to know what is in it for them) but I am wondering if I am doing something wrong or if I could do something better or more effectively.

    Many thanks for your help.

    Regards

    Curly Girl

  2. #2
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    i do clicker training as well at it sounds like your doing all the right things, perhaps you could get some high value treats (like cheese, kabana, cooked chicken etc) for when he does a sit straight away and only give him the value treat then. also have you heard of jack-potting? basically if the dog gives you a really good sit or drop of whatever you give him three of four treats and continuous praise to show that what he did is a way to get a bigger reward than normal
    "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn't merely try to train him to be semihuman. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming partly a dog." - Edward Hoagland

  3. #3
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    Hmmm. Maybe I need to up his treat mix. At the moment it is supercoat kibble, cheese, chopped up fresh skinless hot dog, the same hot dog but cooked in microwave till crispy, and some sausages from the BBQ that got burnt.

    I cut it all up, mix it together and keep it in a tupperware container with a lid in the fridge.

    Then I take a handful and he gets a random selection as we go. So he never knows exactly what he is going to get. I do jackpot, especially when we are doing recalls. Maybe I should add a chopped up BBQ chook to the mix?

    Thanks for the idea.

    Regards

    Curly Girl

  4. #4
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    Curly girl

    Does he like to play tug? You could add that in as a reward. Be patient, only reward the good sits, ie if you get three ordinary sits - reward those, then next offering - only reward the more enthusiastic response. Ie every time you get three (or maybe five for an airedale) good responses, increase the criteria to get a treat eg a more enthusiastic sit or a sit in the right spot (ie next to you or dead in front of you, whichever).

    You also want a kind of pokie machine addict response - ie reward at random times with random value rewards, once you get going, but jackpot with the response you really like.

    Also anything you feed all the time - loses value. BBQ chook will be good for a couple of days, and then you have to switch to something else, like fresh fried liver. Or dried fish - I kid you not. Or someone else's treats - they're always better. Or toast and promite still warm from the toaster.

    Anything I eat seems to have higher value so if dog is not working how you want - pretend to eat (or in case of BBQ chook or cheese - actually eat) the treat you were going to give him and get really excited about it like you're trying to win a cooking competition by getting everybody to think your stuff tastes best. Think "Meg Ryan eating breakfast" excited...

    And what I learned most recently is that it is ok to end a training session without getting a good response ie on failure and it is better to do that than make getting it right easier, once a dog knows what you're asking for. Looking at you like you're stupid or getting it wrong three times in a row usually means the dog doesn't know what you want. But continuing to reward crap response ie a slow sit will make it hard to get a fast one.

    If you do end a session without the success/reward, still have a play session before you pack up, that's called "relationship building" and if you're getting a lot of failures - every few minutes or more have a play session (eg game of tug or whatever airedales like) - that's called a balance break and helps renew the dog's focus and interest in trying.

    Can you tell I just got back from a Susan Garrett seminar?

  5. #5
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    Cool, was it a good seminar. You are obviously inspired by it. I aspire to doing that once Geoff and I get our act together. I think agility looks like fun.

    Sadly (and this may be an operator error) Geoff isn't into tug or frisbees or balls or even squeaky toys. He likes chewing things to pieces methodically, and running around the house like a maniac.

    I am trying to make tugging seem fun (my son and I pull against each other being excited and Geoff likes watching, but doesn't want a turn). And I throw the ball to myself and he trots along next to me when I run to pick it up, but more out of interest to see what the crazy lady will do next, and you never know she might have some food.

    I think from what you have both said, the first thing to do is up the ante on the treat side of things.

    thank you for your suggestions

  6. #6
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    You can get a tug toy that you put food treats in. Mushy ones that come through are best, and then you can gradually transfer the enthusiasm for food to the tug toy. Or you can use food to build excitement and then teach tug the same way as you teach sit. Ie break it down into little steps.

    There are also tug toys that are nice and chewey, ie leather wrapped around a rope with loops for handles at both ends.

    Something else SG talks about is working through the "don't wanna, don't hafta" moments that all dogs can have but terriers specialise in.

    Tug-It Advanced with Bungee

    And if your dog likes things it can rip to bits, these are good and will last a short time as a tug toy.
    Clean Run: Skinneeez Stuffing-free Dog Toys

    You will get funny looks from people who think your dog is killing a ferret.
    Do not let your dog do "victory laps" with any toy, it has to be about playing with you. Sigh.

    The kinds of toys I'd let dog use to amuse himself would be the kong or squirrel dude types. But I suspect SG's dogs only get toys when they're working.

  7. #7
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    Every single thing Hyacinth said- terrific advice.

    AND... if you can get the tug game going, DO let your dog have a win... in fact many wins! Even if you have to pretend Geoff was so tuff he won the tug from the crazy lady! Just don't let him take off with it- ie let him win, then ask for a "give" and treat reward... and keep it only for training sessions

  8. #8
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    I have no qualifications in training whatsoever.
    disclaimer
    I reckon your bang on the nail when you imagine the dogs eye's rolling.
    I get that with my GSD.
    I got him addicted, and i use the word psychologicallly and medically in this instance. Addicted to a frizbee.
    He'll do anything, rapier fast, for a frizbee.
    At which point we are stuck.
    Dog training classes, and my dogs stance and gait have, "im so darn bored" all over it.
    Take him training with a frizbee, and my GSD turns into a bordercollie, all crouching down, shivvering with anticipation of the next command, ANYTHING, just give me the frizbee!.
    This is called, training in drive.
    Im part way through.
    as you can see.
    But it sure does get rid of bored dogs eye rolling.

  9. #9
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    bernie,

    If I may ask, how did you do it?

    We have several frizbee/dog discs types of things which he will dutifully look at as I caper around waving and throwing them, but that is about it.

    We didn't get him till he was 5 months old. One of the trainers at dog club said that he obviously wasn't socialised so he missed the opportunity to learn how to play. He has good dog manners and is very friendly (but gets excited easily)

    So I keep hopping about the yard, hoping that he will think it's fun eventually.

    cheers

    Curly Girl

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