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Unread 02-16-2013, 08:26 PM   #1
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Default Re-train to speak?

I made the mistake of allowing my GSD to get lazy about speaking on command. Now, he will only bark out loud about 20percent of the time. The rest of the time he just goes "huff huff". I've been trying to get him excited, to get him to "speaK" on command, but...not having much success. (I don't think he finds me too exciting)
I have been training him for the past year and a half, and am training him to search. I need him to alert bark when he finds someone. I do have a helper.
Any ideas?
Oh, and I can't get a pic. to post from "My Pictures". I read here how to do it, but Its not working for me. Can anyone help me?

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Unread 02-17-2013, 03:04 AM   #2
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If he is performing the right behaviour 20% of the time, you should be able to simply reinforce the correct trials, and increase the reliability of the behaviour. If this isn't happening, you need to ask whether you are reinforcing only the correct trials, and whether what you are using to reinforce with is valuable to your dog.

My guess from your post is that if your dog is not getting excited, whatever you are using as your reinforcer isn't really working for your dog. Does he get motivated about other training generally?

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Unread 02-17-2013, 11:28 PM   #3
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The motivation I've always used is treats. He does want them, and tries to please me, but gives up if I push too much for the correct response. He's a coming 2yr. old, and in his "adolescent" stage. He does get distracted easily if he's fresh, so I usually wait until we've been excersizing for 30min. or more.
I love your idea of finding something else to excite him. At times like this a fresh perspective is just what I need.
Thank you for your insight.

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Unread 02-18-2013, 02:21 PM   #4
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Are you giving him treats if he does complete the task? Ie: a bark if he is giving up and not barking but still gets a treat then he will get the idea and realise I don't have to bark to get a treat! You probably knew that in any case : May be a higher value treat like a hot dog will get him to 'speak' Good luck and let us know how you get on!
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Unread 02-18-2013, 07:50 PM   #5
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Yes, I don't know what sort of food you are using but could you move to a higher value food just until this particular behaviour is more reliable?

Alternatively, if he loves to chase balls or play tuggy with you, rather than wearing him out before your training session, have him train with the game being the reinforcer.

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Unread 02-18-2013, 10:20 PM   #6
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I agree with Kaos here.

You said you don't think he finds you too exciting...Well that is the root of your problem. Even upping your rate of reinforcement won't work if he's not impressed by it.

Remember that stimuli in the environment can be rewarding to your dog. Some behaviors are self reinforcing, they cause specific neurotransmitters in the brain to start firing off, which cause a feeling of pleasure. Smelling a unique smell in the dirt can be a self reinforcing behavior. Giving chase to a squirrel can be self-reinforcing. Some behaviors are breed specific, like pointing. My neighbor's pointers will focus on birds in the palm tree and point at them, and that's a self reinforcing behavior. My border collie will watch and/or herd the cats and other animals, again, self reinforcing.

In order for training to be successful, you HAVE to be more interesting and more rewarding than the other things he's being distracted by. He's 2, he's more than capable of focusing on you without being distracted. It's just a combination of him not having a reason to focus on you, and also perhaps not being trained to focus on you.

Try switching your treats. Unless your dog is an odd one, there will be a difference to him between a dog kibble reward, and a cooked chicken reward. My border collie will work for a tug toy too. We're training in agility and we use the tug toy a lot as a reward. Sometimes it works better than food!

I also agree with Kaos' suggestion to train with a game rather than wearing him out before a training session. I know for me, the energy my border collie has is GOOD, and when he's psyched out about something, it's actually easier to train him. He learns faster and the reward of a tug game becomes much greater because of all the energy he has. He's got a lot of focus when he's chasing a ball and he's hyped up about it. I can use the ball to channel that focus into agility.
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Unread 02-19-2013, 06:13 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sugardog View Post
I know for me, the energy my border collie has is GOOD, and when he's psyched out about something, it's actually easier to train him. He learns faster and the reward of a tug game becomes much greater because of all the energy he has. He's got a lot of focus when he's chasing a ball and he's hyped up about it. I can use the ball to channel that focus into agility.
Absolutely, I feel the same way about my dogs who do competitive obedience. I never train after a walk, and if I have a competition coming up I won't walk the dogs the day before either. I want them fresh and amped.

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Unread 02-19-2013, 07:51 PM   #8
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Thank you all for your replies. Definitley "food for thought" lol. I will try these suggestions. I have recently been offered a fenced in area of about half an acre that will allow me to do much more off leash, like playing. Im going to go back to some of the basics as well.
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Unread 04-24-2013, 07:45 AM   #9
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My puppy never barked when i got him. EVER!

I wanted him to bark to scare people away should they try to steal him. (He has been targetted by thieves already)

So i tied him up by a post in my yard. I tried teasing him with treats and toys but he didnt seem interested.

So i just ran backwards and forwards! He then started barking! I IMMEDIATLY gave a treat for the LOUDEST barks. anything else was ignored. He does do alot of gum flapping sometimes before he barks.

I have a video in general chat i think called what tricks can your puppy/dog do training him to bark for the first time!

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Unread 04-24-2013, 01:52 PM   #10
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Don't have any answers but curious. Are you training him to be a rescue dog or the like?
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