Have you ever wondered?

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by Barbara!, Sep 25, 2012.

  1. Barbara!

    Barbara! New Member

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    If your dog might just genuinely be slow? Do learning disabilities occur in dogs like they do in humans?

    As some of you know, I got my Rhodesian Ridgeback, Malyk, when he was about two-ish. He had basic training...sit, lay down, leash manners... But that was about it. I have been working every day, tooth and nail, to try to get him further along than that. I am beginning to think that I should stop, give up, and accept that I may not get any further with him. I wanted to get him CGC titled, but he just doesn't get it. Nothing I teach him sticks.

    He sits (when he wants to), lays down (when he wants to) and has leash manners (unless there is something he really wants to get to.) I have tried reinforcing sit and have tried to teach him that I don't have to have a treat in my hand for him to get a treat, but it just does not work. I am truly beginning to think he may have some sort of mental glitch.

    A few weeks ago, I thought that it may be that he just isn't paying attention. So we tried to work on some eye contact exercises where he recognizes his name as a cue to pay attention or look to me for direction. (Never had a dog that didn't do that anyways.) And he just didn't get that, either. This is part of the method I used:

    http://youtu.be/9oo6tcSxWWg

    He wouldn't gravitate from looking at my hand to looking at my face. (I even tried holding the treat in my teeth, YUCK.) We workd on that for two weeks, he hasn't got it, and here I am now.

    So my question is I guess, can there be mentally handicapped dogs? I love Malyk to death, no matter what.
     
  2. skittledoo

    skittledoo Crazy naked dog lady

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    I'm still getting to know Joey but I definitely have to say I've noticed he is different than my other dogs in areas of smartness. I don't know if I would say he is generally slow, but he definitely just doesn't seem as smart as Bamm and Cricket. Maybe he is smart in his own way and I just haven't quite figured him out yet, but my husband and I like to joke around that he is a derpy airhead because most of the time he is really is. He knows a few behaviors right now that we have been working on, but sometimes you'll ask him to perform a behavior he knows and has done numerous times and he'll look at you like, "ummm... urrr..."... so maybe he is a little slow lol. As much as I LOVEEEE intelligent dogs, there's just something about him that I completely adore regardless if he is smart or not or slow or not.
     
  3. Barbara!

    Barbara! New Member

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    I agree, Skittle. Malyk is like that, too. Something we have done thousands of times I can ask him to do and he just gives me this clueless look. But, while he may suck at obedience, he is an AWESOME cuddle-bug and protection dog.
     
  4. Danefied

    Danefied New Member

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    Rhodies do get the reputation for being slow when you try to train them because they are not motivated the same way more traditionally biddable dogs are.
    They are very smart, but they are problem-solving smart, not handler-focused smart.

    I bet if you give Malyk a problem to solve he’ll figure it out faster than a dog who looks to the handler for guidance. Yet the dog who looks to the handler for guidance is going to “get” obedience cues way faster.

    For dogs like this the book “When Pigs Fly” by Jane Killion is a real eye opener.
     
  5. Barbara!

    Barbara! New Member

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    I'd agree with that. Makes sense how he figured out how to open the door with his mouth. (It's a door KNOB, not a handle, and he figured out that with his teeth, lips, and paw, he can get it open.)
     
  6. Danefied

    Danefied New Member

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    Have you ever tried free shaping him?
     
  7. Barbara!

    Barbara! New Member

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    I am pretty sure I know what free shaping is, but just to be sure... Is the video I posted free shaping that behavior?
     
  8. Greenmagick

    Greenmagick New Member

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    There are so many different styles to teach that I have hard time thinking some dogs (who otherwise lead normal lives) really can't get it. Have you read When Pigs Fly by Jane Killion? She has great ideas in it for the non biddable dogs.
     
  9. Danefied

    Danefied New Member

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    No. That video is luring, which is very effective too, but not so much with dogs like rhodies. They see it as a bribe and they lose interest really quickly.

    No, free shaping is clicker training where you simply sit, and wait for the dog to offer behaviors. There is no end behavior in mind really, though sometimes end behaviors create themselves. The point though is for the dog to figure out the “game†of how to make the treats happen. For dogs like Malyk (and my Bates) its not just the treats that are the reward, but the problem solving involved in figuring out what behavior will make a click happen.

    Have you read any books on clicker training?
     
  10. *blackrose

    *blackrose "I'm kupo for kupo nuts!"

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    I'll have to look in to that book, sounds interesting.

    I was lucky and Chloe was both super intelligent (her problem solving abilities are awesome) and handler focused. I've grown to really appreciate that.
     
  11. Danefied

    Danefied New Member

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    Get out of my brain :p
     
  12. crazedACD

    crazedACD Active Member

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    Skye is sort of like that..I go back and forth wanting to really buckle down and get some more training going with her, but when I do I end up a little discouraged. She just isn't biddable or motivated by much. The critters lurking along the fence line are way more interesting to her than what I'm doing. I don't think she's slow at all, she just learns differently and there is nothing that is a true reward for her. Maybe if I strapped a squirrel to a remote controlled car..hahaha.

    I HAVE met dogs labeled as autistic or mentally challenged. Plenty of them I don't see it. One boarding husky, the owner said the dog couldn't even learn sit. Well..I got the dog sitting on command in a few minutes..walking on a loose lead..I didn't tell them but yeah. There was an episode of Dogtown where Golden Retriever rescue dropped off a GR that they said couldn't be trained to live in a house, was mentally unsound. This guy lived with the dog for a few weeks and the dog was fine. Maybe you just need a different angle with him?
     
  13. Laurelin

    Laurelin I'm All Ears

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    I definitely think dogs can be born 'off' and not mentally all there. Why should we assume we're the only species that can have mental handicaps? I don't think I would ascribe that label to a dog like yours that seems to be unmotivated.

    I do really think Trey had some sort of mental handicap but it is hard to explain. He was just so bizarre at times and so unable to read other dogs' body language or people body language and would react totally the wrong way very often. He also had no common sense and would not function well at all without tremendous guidance. (I'm talking about a dog that would have something get in his way and he'd get 'stuck' until someone rescued him. Or a blanket on his head would have him motionless forever until someone removed it).

    Maybe it was all just fearfulness, I'm not sure. Even our vet was convinced he was not a 100% normal, functioning dog. But he was actually pretty trainable and once he got something, he got it for good.
     
  14. AdrianneIsabel

    AdrianneIsabel Glutton for Crazy

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    I'm positive Backup is "different" no matter how much shaping I do with him.

    I love him though, as challenging as he is. LOL
     
  15. Greenmagick

    Greenmagick New Member

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    :p

    Seriously though...that book is such a "a-ha" book!
     
  16. Lyzelle

    Lyzelle New Member

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    Some dogs, it's definitely a training issue. Zander's smartness is way different from biddable smartness. He's a major problem solver. Macie was mastiff slow, but obviously all still there. Same with Goose. Clear temperament problems, but nothing seriously, mentally wrong.

    Others, I do believe they *can* be off, usually due to other health issues, though. Tucker the Boxer was probably due to strokes/seizures. Dante's was Thyriod. Indy's was severe dehydration as a pup, possibly nerve damage some time after her mother was hit by a car and before we got her. Or possibly because my mother dropped her at a week old. Who knows.
     
  17. Barbara!

    Barbara! New Member

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    I read a generic one lying in the break room at PetSmart when I worked there, but other than that, only Internet articles. I have a whole list of books I plan to get once I am caught up on cash. It's been a rough year for all that.

    Either way, I will try the shaping. He loses interest quickly and his brain tends to melt so maybe this will be more interesting for him. He is pretty food motivated to the point where his eyes bug out and he drools, but it's the kind of motivated where he has tunnel vision and is just constantly like "treat treat treat omg treat treat". And then if I don't have the treat on me, he looks at me like "uh, yeah...no." Even though I have taught him I don't have to have the treat on me for him to receive it. He is a pretty difficult dog.
     
  18. skittledoo

    skittledoo Crazy naked dog lady

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    I've been hearing about this book quite a bit lately. I need to read it.
     
  19. Danefied

    Danefied New Member

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    If he's that treat obsessed, he probably needs to be doing some doggy zen stuff. Look up "Its yer choice" on Youtube. The Susan Garrett video is my favorite, but there are lots of good examples out there.
    Once he understands treats have to be earned, THEN start working on some free shaping - as in 101 things you can do with a box, that kind of shaping - no end behavior in mind. Just asking the dog, what behavior will you offer? And reward for any effort.
     

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