Food is not a reward

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by corky, Dec 22, 2009.

  1. corky

    corky Ontario BSL rescue

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    I need some tips for training a one-year-old rescued foster dog who seems not to respond to food. He is very attention-deficit and easily distracted. We are trying to work on heeling and other basic obedience, but food is not an incentive for this dog. We've tried a variety of dog treats, cheese, meat and baby carrots with no result.
     
  2. Fran101

    Fran101 Resident fainting goat

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    maybe a toy? a favorite tug or a short game can sometimes be a great reward :)
     
  3. BostonBanker

    BostonBanker Active Member

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    Where are you trying to train and when? You may need to find a quieter, less distracting place to start training. Try it at a time when your dog has had some running and playing time, and also when they are a bit amped up from lack of exercise (my dog is actually easier to train when she has some pent-up energy, but many dogs do better if they are tired). Train before you feed the dog, so they are a bit hungry to start. Other treats to try - peanut butter, baby food or wet cat food, tuna fish - think about really stinky smelly soft things.

    You can also use other things as rewards, such as toys or play opportunities like Fransheska mentioned. At one point when there was a VERY distracting groundhog hanging out outside the agility field, I had to ask Meg for something, then would release her to go run the fence line as her reward. I was amazed it actually worked! She'd come back to me when called to earn another chance to go look for the groundhog!
     
  4. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

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    How long have you had the dog? Some dogs take some time to settle in to their new home and new routine before they will start eating regularly and really come out of their shell.
     
  5. Criosphynx

    Criosphynx New Member

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    less distractions, skipped meal, and the best reward you have. Also what Lizzie said...som'times dogs appear to not be motivated by certain things because they are new :)
     
  6. corky

    corky Ontario BSL rescue

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    Thanks for your ideas.

    I have known this dog for only a week and have volunteered to walk him every day. He has been in rescue for at least six months in three different places including a kill shelter, rescue group and now a private foster where he is one of about six dogs.Unfortunately his current place has no secure space, indoors or out, where I can really exercise him, so we depend on swift walks on-leash in the residential area.

    I've read about keeping treats in my pocket on the side I want him to walk on and to reward him when he does heel. He doesn't want the treats and doesn't heel. I'm not sure how I would incorporate a toy into training him to heel.I have had him in my back yard to play catch and he loves that. He can retrieve a ball for hours, but he won't heel for cookies. The idea of giving him something soft and stinky is a good one, but I'm not sure how to offer that as a treat during walks on leash.

    I can ask his foster mom not to feed him until after his walk with me.
     
  7. Dekka

    Dekka Just try me..

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    The other thing is what are you using for treats? The whippets won't work for cheap grain filled treats (the jrts will work for anything)
     
  8. corky

    corky Ontario BSL rescue

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    I've tried a few different dog treats, cheese, another dog's food (my dog's favorite treat) and carrots (another of my dog's faves).
     
  9. Dekka

    Dekka Just try me..

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    hmm then yes I would try waiting till you know the dog better and try in very low stress areas.
     
  10. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

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    I would not work on training him yet, since you have not built up any kind of relationship at all with him yet. He's probably still very uncomfortable in the home that he's in, and then taking him on walks is probably also a little stressful (though sometimes necessary).
     
  11. corky

    corky Ontario BSL rescue

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    Any tips on building that relationship? This dog is getting his LAST CHANCE, if you know what I mean.
     
  12. Zoom

    Zoom Twin 2.0

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    Play with him, brush him, massage him...touch and training are the two biggest things. It's easier if he lives with you though...if his foster mom can get on board with this, it will go MUCH smoother for everyone!

    You said he's a ball fiend, use that to your advantage! Keep his attention on the ball when you walk and find that position to hold it in that will have him walking on a loose lead...don't worry about a textbook heel now, just not hauling on the leash all the time. But when he does hit that "sweet spot" use either a clicker or a verbal marker like "yes!" and then let him have the ball. You can either to a short toss so he can catch it, or if you're in an area where it's safe to do so, throw it and drop the leash so he can go after it (or use a long line).

    Many dogs won't respond well to training until after they've settled in and formed some sort of a bond with at least one person. And if this dog has been bounced around, which is sounds like he has been, it's going to make it that much more difficult. The dog has gotten used to listening to himself and probably has some idea that it doesn't matter what he does or does not do, he's not staying in any particular place. I had a foster lab a lot like that and it was a PITA to work with her until she realized that she wasn't going anywhere anytime soon and then she began to open up and work with me.
     
  13. misfitz

    misfitz Ruddy Buttinski

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    How long has he been in his foster home? If he's stressed out at all, he wouldn't be very interested in food. He might just need some time to adjust, and feel comfortable in his new home.

    ETA: Yep, like everyone else has said. :D Good advice already given.
     
  14. BostonBanker

    BostonBanker Active Member

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    Clean Run: Squeeze Tubes

    You can also get these at camping stores apparently. I've used them when no other treats would do. Great for things like loose leash walking, because the dog can continue licking the opening for a bit as you keep them at your side. I would mix wet cat or dog food with a bit of water to make it thinner and put it in. A spray can of squirt cheese also works fairly well.

    Others are right though - this is a very rough situation for the dog to be learning in. I'm very impressed that you are working to help him out. If the leash walking is part of why he is difficult to adopt, what about getting him in a no-pull harness? It's a quick fix that might make him more adoptable, and when he either settles in more in his foster home, or gets into a life-long home, the actual training can begin.
     
  15. corky

    corky Ontario BSL rescue

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    Boston and Zoom, thank you! Those are all great ideas about the ball, stinky treats and a harness.

    Yes, pulling on leash (and jumping up) are two things that keep him from being adopted, I believe. The other, I think, is that he seems to be part Pit Bull. I am going to have him DNA tested because the more of a mix he is -- fingers crossed -- the more adoptable it might make him for people who fear these breeds. He was in Pit Bull rescue for a while and no one wanted him because he wasn't pitty enough. *Sigh*

    [​IMG]

    This experience is reminding me of what I went through when we adopted my step son who suffered from post-traumatic stress and an attachment disorder thanks to his bio mom.
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2009
  16. BostonBanker

    BostonBanker Active Member

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    Oh my word - he is adorable! Definitely part or mostly pit - seems like there is something else bulldog-ish in there as well. Don't waste your money on the DNA test - they aren't very accurate, and I do believe that most will not show up any pitbull anyway.

    Oddly, I think he'd go in a heartbeat around here.
     
  17. adojrts

    adojrts New Member

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    Does he really enjoy the walks and wants to go on them? If so, use the walks as the motivator and the reward, if he is pulling or not in the position that you want him in, bring him back (nicely/gently), go to a loose leash again and then proceed. If he starts to take up the slack and move out of position, stop and bring him back. He will quickly figure out that by being in the correct position that he gets to do what he wants which is the walk.
     
  18. Promethean

    Promethean New Member

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    No one has mentioned that food is more motivating when you are hungry. Have you tried training before his meals, when the dog is presumably (if you aren't over feeding) hungry? Of course under stressful situation - too much pressure during training? - some dog won't take food. Try skipping a meal and training and at the end of the day complete the full ration.
     
  19. corky

    corky Ontario BSL rescue

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    Boston - Its actually my hope that a DNA test would show a real mix of things because it might make him more marketable as an adoptable rescue.

    adojrts - I'm not sure that he enjoys walks. He does enjoy being outside and he does enjoy playing catch. He's always excited when I come to get him.

    We're spending the day with him today. He's having a good romp off-leash in my yard with the kids. I'll try some leash time later. Thanks for all of your ideas.
     
  20. Beanie

    Beanie Clicker Cult Coordinator

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    The problem is that it won't give you anything accurate. You might as well make up what mix he is because that's essentially what you'll get back from the DNA test - made up, random results. => If the problem is that people look at him and think he looks like a pittie mix, being told he's a mix of something else won't really change the preconceptions of people who are letting "PIT MIX" stop them from adopting him... =<
     

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