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Discussion Starter #1
My puppy is a week shy of the 5-month mark. Training was going swimmingly until about a week or so ago when he started ignoring commands, particularly the come command. He is also doing it with other commands if I don't have a treat ready for him, but it's most annoying when he doesn't come when called.

I've been careful not to use the command for unpleasant things; I go to him when I want to wipe his tushy and put his harness on. I would love to be able to take him to a dog park, but until he consistently comes when called, it isn't going to happen. I'm not in any kind of shape to chase a poodle running at full speed!

Please tell me this is just a phase, like the 'terrible twos' in children and that he will snap out of it in a few weeks if I can only wait it out.
 

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Our Cavalier King Charles was the same way...unfortunately all the way up until he turned three. He really had a hard time multitasking, so if he was sniffing or looking at something, he couldn't focus on listening. Really, it was annoying. We just kept working with him on a long lead, and gave him a little tug to get his attention, and finally he gets it. Of course he's a sweet little guy, but not quite as smart as a poodle, so hopefully it will work faster for you? Give it a shot!
 

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This is a typical age for this behavior to start. In the beginning, they are so in awe of you that they follow you around like a puppy.:) Now that he is getting older, he is asserting his independence a bit.

You are also seeing the downside of total positive training and always using a treat. No treat.... no compliance. Bummer for you.

I would put him on a long line. You can make one by going to the hardware store and buying some nylon cord and a clasp. He should drag this long line everywhere he goes both in the house and outside. He must be supervised so that he does not get hung up. If he doesn't have the long line on, he has to be confined somehow.

This is the informal recall:

Let him wonder. With the end of the line in your hand, call him ONCE in a happy, clear and upbeat voice (FLUFFY COME!) and sort of trot backwards taking up the line. If he comes.... PRAISE PRAISE PRAISE. I would get into the habit of giving him the treat around the back and through your legs. This will teach him to come close and ideally straight up to you.

If he doesn't come, take up the long line, give him a collar pop and reel him in. Don't give him a second command (you will really need to watch yourself so that you don't.... it is very easy to do). PRAISE PRAISE PRAISE.

He will learn that there is a negative consequence to not coming when he is called the 1st time and a bonus (treat or praise) for coming.

IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO ONLY ISSUE A COMMAND WHEN YOU HAVE THE ABILITY TO ENFORCE IT. This is the biggest mistake owners make. If you can't enforce a command, eventually your dog will know that he can blow you off.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you so much, I will definitely give that a shot.

I'm also very happy to hear that this is a normal phase, and I really hope he snaps out of it sooner than CKC! ;)
 

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Its normal like Cbrand stated.

I use treats only to teach something new and that is it, once he gets it I do not use treats just praise. I also only use treats when show training.

I also correct dog in seconds if a command is given and dog ignores you. I keep them in check , if you don't it will lead to dominate behavior as the dogs grow up.
 

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I'm glad you posted this, we're having the same problem as well. :( He comes, but not close enough to where I can get to him, he darts away.
I liked what cbrand said, with the long lead and treating through the legs (good idea!!).
 

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IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO ONLY ISSUE A COMMAND WHEN YOU HAVE THE ABILITY TO ENFORCE IT. This is the biggest mistake owners make. If you can't enforce a command, eventually your dog will know that he can blow you off.

That is the number one mistake owner makes when teaching the informal recall. I tell my students that if your dog isn't on a leash then you can't use your recall cue. I teach all my dogs a "magic word" in my case it's cookie. Cookie always means that they are getting a treat and they will come. Keep in mind too that at least in the teaching phase you have to be more interesting than anything else in the dog's enviroment.


There is by the way NO downside to all positive reinforcement training :rolffleyes: Only a downside to not finishing the training.
You have not finished the training process and this is the problem, not the training method itself. It's pretty common to see people get stuck in the always give a treat mindset so you aren't alone. You HAVE to eliminate the food or toy reward for every behavior before you can call that behavior learned. It shouldn't take you very long either. Once a dog knows a cue you begin to reward with food or toy only every second or third time, then you stretch it out in your training to every third or fourth time and so on. By not knowing if a treat is comming the behavior actualy strengthens.

It also sounds a lot like you perhaps haven't done much in the way of distraction training. To a dog's mind when you change the situation even slightly, say you add a squirrle or change the location you have basicly changed the behavior. In order to get really solid behaviors you need to go out and practice them in all sorts of locations not just at home. I have my students go out and practice at a local park here as well as a big outdoor shopping center that allows dogs. See if you can find places like that to practice.

As for correcting in seconds, not a bad idea UNLESS you didn't have the dog's attention in the first place. Hopefuly by now you have taught the dog an attention cue that means look at me. I use my dog's names for this. If I say their name I expect them to look at me. If I'm going to call my dog to me what comes out of my mouth is "Saleen, Here". If I just yell Here or come or dog get your butt over here without first getting her attention whatever I just said usualy gets ignored. My dogs are very responsive to vocal cues, my correction is vocal unless the dog is reeeeallly out of line or just not listening no matter what. This holds true for client dogs as well.

The long line is a fantastic idea for anyone, obviously as mentioned before you have to be able to reinforce that cue. However, you don't want to get into the habit only only being able to inforce it from 4-6 feet away :) Chances are if your dog ever got loose and you needed to call him back he wouldn't be just 6 feet away. You can make a long line if you're feeling handy out of lighter weight rope and a bolt snap that you can get at any hardware store. Easy and cheap and you can decide what length you want :) The method already posted using the long line to teach come when called is what I use for all my training classes, minus the collar pops (again unless you had the dog's full attention to begin with). I jump ALL over students for using leash correction in my basic level classes, I really push them for good attention and vocal control since when you realy need this command to work for you you're dog isn't likely to be on a leash. In addtion to what was posted I teach students to get into the habit of taking hold of their dog's collar or otherwise touching the dog once he gets to them. This is so, again if your dog ever got away from you, they would already be in the habit of comming close enough to you for you to get the collar or pick them up when you call them back.
 

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The method already posted using the long line to teach come when called is what I use for all my training classes, minus the collar pops (again unless you had the dog's full attention to begin with). I jump ALL over students for using leash correction in my basic level classes, I really push them for good attention and vocal control since when you realy need this command to work for you you're dog isn't likely to be on a leash. In addtion to what was posted I teach students to get into the habit of taking hold of their dog's collar or otherwise touching the dog once he gets to them. This is so, again if your dog ever got away from you, they would already be in the habit of comming close enough to you for you to get the collar or pick them up when you call them back.
Agreed. Attention is one of the very 1st lessons that should be taught.

Re the collar pop..... So what do you do when your dog does not come when it is called? Do you just reel it in? What do you do if you call for attention and your dog does not give it?

I like the collar pop. It doesn't have to be hard. It just gets their attention.

I believe a training long line should be about 20' long.
 

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Agreed. Attention is one of the very 1st lessons that should be taught.

Re the collar pop..... So what do you do when your dog does not come when it is called? Do you just reel it in? What do you do if you call for attention and your dog does not give it?

I like the collar pop. It doesn't have to be hard. It just gets their attention.

I believe a training long line should be about 20' long.
I use correction chains for all of my dogs , I like this method and have been using it on dogs for over the ten years I have been training them :)

IMO there is no right or wrong method of training you just have to see what you like and see how the dog response to it.

This is what lead me to start clicker training Enzo he response it very well.
 

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Your right Roxy there are very few wrong methods of dog training, only methods used improperly or straight out abuse. I used correction chains on my first dogs, but no longer. Training in my school of thought is about communication and I've found other ways to communicate. For example with markers, like you're doing with the clicker training.

Cbrand, do you realize you have become my new favorite forum memeber? :) Don't take that the wrong way, I enjoy reading your posts on training, especialy since you do a lot, even though we're sometimes on opp. sides of the fence.

To answer your question first I have to address the attention part. If I cue for attention and don't get it, which with puppies or super disctractions I may not, Im in the habit of touching the dog in the teaching stage. A poke in the back of the head or butt usualy works or tweaking an ear. I also have sucess when I first start out with that annoying kissy noise, you know what I mean. I have a rule in my classes that all attention training is to be done within arms reach of your dog to start. This is because I want to avoid the natural temptation to use the name to teach come when called. Once you get attention at two feet you work it at 3 and once you get 3 your jump to 4. I'm big into progressing and chaining behaviors.

In teaching, when we first start using long lines in my class you get those few dogs who can't handle that and don't respond to the first cue. In these cases if attention is the problem I shorten the line for the student and have them try ONCE to get the dog's attention with any other sound they can make after he fails to respond to his name the first time. I'm not in the habit of teaching dogs to count, or so I tell my class. As such I gripe at anyone giving cue's over and over, 'don't repeat the cue!!!!!" If they still fail to respond then they can give a little tug to get attention or go get the dog. I personaly usualy encourage them to go get the dog if they had their attention. It makes it clear that they are going to back up whatever they've said.

If I have an adult dog, who's been reliably working the behavior for quite some time who fails to complete a cue when I call them my reaction depends on the nature of the failure. I try and keep myself in the mind frame that if the dog the dog's failure is really MY failure and I need to step back and look at where we went wrong. If the Saleen gets called, and looks over at me and then decides to saunter off in the other direction She gets ONE verbal correction and maybe an addition direction, (EH EH!! LEAVE IT!) if she should fail to respond to that and so far she's only done that once, she gets popped(collar). However if I didn't have that dogs attention I go get the dog. If a super distraction appears sometime between the cue and the time the dog gets to me Leave it comes out and then a verbal correction if needed and then follow with a bit of tension on the leash to remind them to keep comming. If she's off lead, which is rare for me to call her when she's loose b/c of her age and inexperience, and she fails to come I go get her scruff of neck or collar and bring her back to whever I was when I started. Then I practice a couple of recalls frm short distances to make sure I haven't lost anything.

I could ramble on about this forever... I really find recalls one of my easiest behaviors to teach and have little to no trouble with them. (Straight sits for formal recalls are sometimes a different matter). I always make the recall a big party, loud clear happy voice, trotting backwards like you mention or an all out game of chase me (where the dog gives chase not the other way around) loads of praise and hand clapping and of course the jackot reward which depends on the dog. Usual the only times I get refusals are A)when I failed to fully get the dogs attention and I called him anyway or B) I have a dog going through that wonderful age where the general response to everything is "Why?" or "Make me" lol.
I wouldn't argue that the occasional collar pop isn't warrented, I just don't let my basic students do it. Students in private training may be an emergancy or in more advanced classes get to use different methods so long as they are methods I don't consider abusive. I don't allow hitting, shaking, or any other potentialy painful correction and don't allow certain collars in class settings. I try and keep myself middle of the road and mellow.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I have been using 'watch me' to get his attention, and it's the only thing that seems to get his attention. I guess our magic word will probably be 'hot dog' - he loves Nathan's beef and cheddar, which is his high value treat reward used for special occasions.

I walk him almost halfway across Manhattan on 40th Street almost every day, so finding an area with distractions is not a problem. I will start doing anti-distraction training with him in the park--lots of birds and people there!

Teaching him to walk on the leash without pulling is a work in progress, but we're getting there. I discovered that switching from a 6' to a 4' leash has made a huge difference. This is one of the times that I've used the hot dog; if I let him know that I have it, and start walking, he completely focuses on me. That is a great feeling (even if it's really the hot dog he's interested in and not me LOL).

I use a Puppia harness, so I do give him the occasional tug to correct him, especially when he stops to sniff something and doesn't respond to 'leave it' (which he is doing wonderfully most of the time).

I'm just really having fun with our training. I have a lot of OCD related issues and having him around to focus on instead of myself has helped tremendously. I also get a real sense of accomplishment when he 'performs' for other people. I say, "Are you a good boy?" and he nods his head and either snorts or barks. It's very cute.

WonderPup, I wish you were closer--I would definitely enroll in one of your classes. I feel like I should send you a check. :)
 

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Haha, you'd be out of luck if you lived closer right now, I just put a halt to all of my training classes until next year. My doctor was having a FIT with me teaching after she told me to knock it off until after baby is born. Stupid pregancy.... *eye roll*. I probably won't be able to start any new classes until at least April. :(
 

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Congrats Wonderpup. :)

Marian:
Check out this link, but you have to choose the 'teaching your dog to come' video :)
I love this guy, he's awesome:
http://animal.discovery.com/videos/zak-george-project/
Uh huh....

First, regardless of what this guy says about Pit Bulls being pullers, that bitch is pretty soft. I can imagine that she does not need much correction other than a verbal one. I'd like to see him try to work this on my neighbor's 110 lb Lab.... the one that pulled her to the ground when he took off after the squirrel.

Next, that training session looks like magic but but he never left the parking lot and we never got to see that method in a place with lots of distractions..... like the public sidewalk. I'm not saying that it won't work, but lets see the real world application. :)

Finally, a bit off topic, but can I just say that I HATE HATE HATE the nylon leash he is using. IMHO it is far too wide and bulky for effective training.
 

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Cesar Millan is not a training god. LoL, most of the good trainers I know can't stand him or his show and I get a lot of clients that I have read his book and are now in private training to fix the problems they now have which were worse than what they started with. I dont know much about the other guy, but I kind of agree that the video wasn't as informative as it could have been with showing how this works in real life so to speak.
I'm personaly a fan of Victoria Stillwell. I am always entertained when I catch her show LoL, I just love how blunt she can be.
 

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Well obviously different trainers work with different dogs, as different methods work for different dogs.

Zak George knows what he is doing, he is just different to a lot of other trainers. To each his or her own. I used his methods to teach Flip sit, stay, fetch, play dead, speak, shake hands and high five. While that was 'fun' stuff, I really believe that it established a great line of communication between us. In obedience class this weekend we were head and shoulders above the rest of the dogs there. The trainer commented on how focused he was on me.

Check out his youtube videos, he has the most amazing frisbee dogs I've ever seen.
Animal Planet just signed him on for a show named Superfetch, and he's getting a ton of positive feedback on it.

I like Stilwell too.

LOL Stains and the cupcakes!
 

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I'm another Stilwell fan. The dominatrix stuff can be a bit much, but I like her approach and think she gives great advice. :)

I'm not a Cesar fan... I think his method primarily works because he has a natural affinity with dogs but does not translate to the average joe. I know most professional dog trainers don't really like his methods and think they're out of date.
 
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