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One of my biggest worries about standards is training/playing with a dog that’s not very food or toy driven. How do you manage this?
 

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Where did you hear that poodles aren't food or play motivated?

I don't have this issue at all. When I went to pick my puppy, the one of the first tests I did was taking out a bag of treats. All 6 puppies went nuts.

My standard is very treat and play motivated. It took a while to teach her to be ball motivated, but now, I can do long duration, long distance stays and other behviours in a chain just to throw the ball once. Lots of poodles would happily play ball for hours and have a ton of drive. You do have to switch treats up now and then, but I've heard of very few poodles who aren't food or toy motivated. Mine learned most of the basic obedience behaviours for frozen vegetables.

Occasionally she will get too riled up by something (squirrels), and I will have to distance her from it to get her to be able to accept a treat, but that's not a lack of food motivation issue, it's a lots of prey drive issue.

Eating her kibble? That's a different story, but treats and toys are great fun in our house.
 

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Pogo will work happily for treats. I need to pick the right value level, however. Plain old dog kibble is too boring. Bacon is too exciting, and he loses all ability to think. String cheese is good in moderation, as are many commercial treats. Nothing edible will draw his attention away from a squirrel.

It's hard to say how Galen will turn out, as he's still so young. He will work for treats until he gets bored. Yesterday I experimented with having him work for tennis balls. My goal was to teach him the command "back off." I made a fist around the ball and held it in front of him. Then, if he took a step backwards, I would flip the ball up so he could catch it. He played this game for over an hour.
 

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Most poodles are treat motivated even if they are picky eaters, but there are some that are not. I would ask breeders about their lines to get a good idea of whether the pups will be food motivated.
 

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My Asta was completely praise driven as a puppy, young dog. We stopped classes for a couple of reasons, one of which was the instructor did not like my praising Asta for work - said I should get him to take treats - lots of luck there. This is the same instructor who told me to put a choke chain on Asta. Out of there quick.
Asta still thinks the best reward in the world is praise and asking him to "Jump Up" (thank you Catherine for that)
He now will accept treats and I have discovered a few that he likes enough to work for - but I save those for very special accomplishments.
So I do think it is possible to train a dog with praise only. For the first 2-3 years that was all I did - praise him for working at a task.
He turned out beautifully except when it was my fault. Grooming was one area that I wished I had introduced more as a puppy. Hint to new puppy owners - groom and groom often. Get them used to the grooming equipment slowly but steadily. Make sure you can open puppy's mouth in preparation for dental visit or showing. Play with their toes, basically make sure you have been all over puppy and then do it often. As you can see I could write a book about introducing puppy to all things and do it often. It will pay off - sure wish I had done this with Asta.
 

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Both of mine are food motivated however, Wren is a very picky eater so I have to use human food like ham or turkey for training. He will not touch any crunchy trays and will not eat cheese. Raven will eat anything and would even work for kibble although I usually use a salmon jerky treat for her training.
 

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Groot isn’t food motivated unless we’re at home. He’s a really picky eater and usually will only take treats if he’s in the mood when we’re out and about. My husband blames me since he says Groot eats better than we do, but he’s pretty much always been that way. I find freeze-dried organ meat usually works best. I like heart since it isn’t as rich as liver and he prefers it to lung...

When he was younger, squeaky toys, tug toys and praise were great motivators for him. I would always carry treats as well but he wasn’t always interested.. Now that I have a food motivated puppy I realize how much easier training has been, but training Groot was still a joy to me because I view it as relationship building. I’m probably also better at my timing and more consistent now that I’ve been at it for years, but I do think the food also plays a big role. The main difference has been how fast I can add distractions and expect success. Either way, the first year is going to take lots of repetitions to ensure reliability.
 

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Where did you hear that poodles aren't food or play motivated?
Sorry if my question was offensive. I honestly haven’t met many standards, and it sounds like I ended up meeting an exception; the owner noted that her standard was a very picky eater and also didn’t really care for toys, and said that that wasn’t uncommon among poodles (especially the picky eater part). It’s made me worried about the ease of training.

I’m very glad to hear otherwise. Another breed I’m considering is a Golden, and what it boils down to for me is:
  • Goldens love pets and cuddles from everyone while poodles love pets and cuddles from YOU, and are aloof with strangers
  • Goldens shed and have that doggy smell (I’m more worried about smells than shedding; it just seems like the grooming + cleaning adds a lot of extra work for me)
  • Goldens are more agreeable and easygoing, poodles can be more sensitive (e.g. to environmental changes) and neurotic (I’m not sure what this means exactly... in Border Collies I think of OCD type behaviors)
  • Availability near me: I’m really interested in dog sports, and I found 2 very reputable sport Golden breeders willing to work with me nearby, whereas the sport poodles are all the way across the country
I know everyone here’s a bit biased, but have you noticed sensitivity/neuroticism in your poodles? I also saw this thread kind of comparing training poodles and labs for service work: Are poodles the best breed to be service dog?
 

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Not offended - just genuinely curious, I've not met a non-food motivated poodle - if you find the right treat :)

Picky eater is very normal. I use a variety of treats from kibble to cheese and salami when training, and she enjoys working for her food and puzzle toys. But dinner? Meh, especially if she's even slightly stressed (new place, new routine, etc). I try and just let her not eat, rather than try and cater to her and create a picky eater. Toppings help. That being said - I know a lot of fat goldens. I doubt Annie will ever get fat with her eating habits - she eats as much as she needs, and no more.

Sensitive - very. She accidentally nipped me today while we were playing, and I yelped in real pain. She spent the next 2 min "apologizing", dancing around, licking my face, low tail wag -"I didn't mean to! I'm so sorry!" Traditional dominance based training would not be effective with her - clicker training works really well. She also gets bored quickly, so training needs to be varied. Sit twice, shake hands twice, lie down, then turn, then .... Never more than 5 reps, max, of any one thing, preferably no more than 2, even when first learning. Luckily - most things don't need more than 5 reps to learn, and with clicker training, she seems to mull it over later and the next time we try, has already figured out exactly what I want even if she didn't get it last time. She remembers the good, and the bad, very quickly - I stepped on her tail while trying to teach her to back to back look at me (we both look over our shoulders at each other). Now she jumps every time I move behind her at a sit.

Neurotic - not really, but she has a lot of prey drive, and can be mildly anxious if routines change and she doesn't know what's going on. That being said - she loves going new places and meeting new people - she may not swarm all over them like a golden though. She has a lot of "joy" to her - people meeting her for the first time often say "wow, look at her RUN!"

Dog sports - others can comment, but I think most conformation lines do well in sports. My poodle (conformation bred) definitely is a dog who needs a job - if i don't find one, she will. I'm in her first ever training class right now (intro to dog sports), and she's doing very very well and catching on very quickly.

I like goldens, but they strike me as less dignified and a lot less independent, and a bit less more forgiving to train. The goldens I know would cheerfully do something 15 times in a row. I meet a lot in the dog park, and the goldens adore me because I throw a ball or a stick, and will pet dogs who stand near me, but I couldn't live with the constant adoration, and need to be touching, and petted, and the need to carry EVERYTHING around, and the stealing of socks and other items that people drop. A lot of the goldens I meet are very rude, and jump on people, and jump on other dogs, and tend to be a bit clumsier/more inclined to knock people and other dogs over and barrel straight into people without putting on any brakes. At the dog park I go to, its "Oh. The goldens are here."

As for hair cutting - goldens shed, a lot. If you cut a poodle short every 4-6 weeks (google "retriever clip") poodles are very low maintenance, no brushing required. It takes me about 3 hours do a simple groom. I suspect I would spend about the same amount of time grooming a short no-frills clipped poodle as I would spend vacuuming and using a deshedding tool on a dog that sheds. YMMV.

For finding a breeder - maybe check the standings from last year at local sports comps, and see if you see any poodles, and who bred them?
 

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Goldens are sweet dogs and I have seen some in agility that I loved. That said, I find a huge difference in cleanliness. Goldens are slobber monsters while Misha never even produces enough saliva to drip while panting. Misha, like many poodles, does really love strangers. He just is more playful than snuggly. He is not aloof to them at all. He likes to get attention but plays hard to get with strangers. A house party is Misha's idea of great fun.

I think goldens are easier first time dogs because they are not as sensitive and tend to be super dog and human friendly (when well bred). Poodles may not be as stranger obsessed as a golden but they are still people friendly dogs. I wouod also be surprised if you can't find a good poodle closer to you. Standards are the easiest variety to find and many breeders place in performance homes. There isn't a real conformational divide.
 

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Buck is very food motivated, but discerning. He wouldn’t work for green beans or kibble, unfortunately. He didn’t need a lot, just a crumble of treats like turkey bits, or cod skins. Cheese, hot dogs, braunschweiger are high value to him. Praise is important to him, too. Preferably served with a treat:)
I love GR’s as other people’s dogs. They are sweet as can be, but the drifts of shedding and the ball obsession puts me off.
 

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Goldens are very much prone to being neurotic. There are multiple in our neighbourhood alone, which tells me there must be a bad breeder nearby. So always do your homework when choosing a puppy.

But yes, they are indeed often insatiable eaters, while poodles are typically much more discerning and better at self-regulating. For Peggy, at least, that doesn't interfere with her appreciation of a good food reward.
 
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