My 5 1/2 month old lab will sit,stay,come,down when she knows there is a treat to be gained. However, she acts as if she has no idea what "sit" means if there is no food. How do I transition from food motivation to praise motivation and still get consistent results?
copying from another post: Get a handful of treats and close it in your fist. Show your fist to the puppy so that it can smell the cookies.
Crouch down or sit on the floor and extend your arm.
Puppy will sniff and mouth at your hand trying to get the treats - wait her out, not letting her get at the food.
The INSTANT (and I mean the first split second, initially), puppy backs off or breaks away from your hand, say "YES" and give the puppy one treat. Once she is immediately backing away from your extended hand, part two:
Wait until she looks at your face (even for a split second) before "YES" and reward. Part three would be waiting for increased length of sustained eyecontact, but for a baby puppy, 2 or 3 seconds is fine.
Also, when you are working obedience exercises (other than the one above), get the treats OUT of your hands. Have them waiting on a table or in a pocket - when you get the right behaviour, mark it with a YES or GOOD and THEN reward.
A good class will help you wean away from the treats.
It's common at this age. They are testing us... and this is where so many owners fail to follow thru and just resort to bribery.
Get to a class if you aren't already there. It's time to teach puppy some work ethic. Much of what you'll need to do will depend on your goals for your puppy. Certainly if you ever want to trust her offleash or do any kind of competition at all, she's got to listen and work because you said so, not becuase there may be a treat there. Rally type classes are pretty good for this,imo.
It's time to start weaning off treats, so treat for only the prompt, nice responses. Straight sits, not slouchy. If she's slow, you say "oh well!" and turn around. When she's fast, give lots of praise and treat. Keep raising your bar of expectation. These are smart dogs--- also very manipulative.
keep puppy guessing when you're going to treat them...ie don't treat every time, but treat like every 5 times. It will keep them guessing.
Dani, Rider & Rookie
SHR Watson's Safari Rider, JH, WC, CL1-R, RA, CGC, TDI
SHR Endeavor Put Me In Coach, RN, WC, CGC
Member Since 6/2003