Odie is a few days away from being 11 months old now. I've been working with him almost daily since he was 12 weeks old with the game of fetch. Here's my problem
I've been training with treats, and as long as I have treats he will fetch the toy, bring it back, and drop it directly in my hand, and recieve his treat. He will do this until he's exhausted. It's perfect.
But, if I don't have treats he won't give the toy up without a bunch of coaxing. He'll fetch the toy, bring it back, but he won't give it up. The second I reach for the toy he turns his body or walks away in an effort to make me chase him. I don't chase him however. I have to keep calling him and telling him to drop it. Eventually he does it, but it frusterating
If treats are not involved he doesn't play the game right. Considering he plays perfectly with treats it tells me he understands the game, but why does the game change so much without treats after 7 months of training? What am I doing wrong?
When you are playing fetch w/treats are you giving him a treat everytime? You need to start phasing them out. Have the treats but only give him one every 2nd turn of fetch... then every 3rd... then every 4th... then every 2nd to mix it back up and then every 5th... then every 3rd etc... eventually he'll never know when to expect the treat and hopefully you'll be able to phase them out altogether.
You might always have to even just keep the treats in your pocket for awhile but not use them. Anything you need to do to phase them out I think!!
Try using a long lead to make him come all the way back with the bumper.
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My dog plays catch with my wife, but plays 'chase me' with me. When we first started fetch, unless he brought back to her and gave it to her, she'd ignore him and wouldn't reward him.
Me, being the more exuberant with the pup of the two of us, would chase him around the yard or room. Fun for him and me. Though I wish he'd just bring it to me and drop it. The treats help.
Good advice from sarahyne and gulfcoast. Don't make him be treat dependent, and when he doesn't come, haul his butt back in on a line.
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I agree with previous suggestions but have my own twist on the situation.
#1 Don't use special treats for this type of training. Reserve them for very special occasions or needs lsuch as the-absolutely-must-come-recall. Instead, for the reward (reinforcement), pre-measure the next meal's kibble and use some of that for your reinforcement. That will eliminate the reaction of "if I ain't getting something special, I ain't working"
#2 As already suggested, go to an intermittent reinforcement schedule. Giving reinforcement for every correct response quickly leads -- as you've discovered -- to extinguishing the response when the reinforcement is not given. It's more effective in training to reinforce every correct response in the initial stages of learning; this leads to the fastest acquisition of the response. However, once the response is mastered, it'll become far more resistant to extinction (i.e., the response not being given) if you switch to an intermittent schedule.
Consider if you were playing a slot machine. If every time you put in a quarter and pull the handle, you get a bunch of quarters back -- you'll keep pulling the handle. But if time after time you get nothing back, you'll soon stop putting in your quarter and pulling.
But most slot machines are set up to have a variable or intermittent schedule of paying off and that results in people continuing to play.
You can go from a reinforce on every trial to a reinforce randomly, say, 6 out of 7, then 5 out of 7 trials, then 4 o/o 7, then 3 o/o 7, then 2 o/o 7, then 1 o/o 7. The position of the missing reinforcements should occur randomly in the series. If you ever notice a decline in performance, increase the rate of reinforcement just enough to bring it up to snuff.
#3 Don't teach your dog to "drop it" --- instead teach him to place it in your hand when you say "Give!" in order to get the reinforcement. That'll save you from having to bend over and pick it off the ground. And it'll also elimate the "catch me if you can" game when YOU don't want to play it. There's nothing wrong with having a "drop it" command ; it can be very useful to have when he's picked up a rotting carcass. But the "Give!" is more appropriate and useful in the situation you described.
GulfCoast's suggestion of using a long line attached to his collar is also helpful and in no way is a substitute for the other suggestions above.
ETA: I SHOULD'VE said to also give praise (e.g., "Good boy") at the same time you're giving the treat. You should also give that at the times you're not giving the treat (at the time of accepting the fetched object) -- it helps bridge over any frustration at the lack of a treat.
Puff [YF, AKC field line (from competing HT/FT breeder) 62 lbs, dob: 8-'01]
Bess [BF, AKC bench line (from competing show breeder) 55 lbs., 1967-1981] "Poor Bess, the Wonder Dog":
Sounds like you need to just do a refreshers course on drop it and leave it.
As soon as your dog has this down 100%, you're going to be good to go.
Command your dog to "sit." Then "give"
Also, don't be so quick to take the toy.
You might also try trading with him. I use 2 tennis balls and won't throw the second ball until she drops the first one.
Also, about taking the toy, It might help if you sometimes take the toy and then immediately give it back. It teaches him that giving up the toy doesn't necessarily mean he loses it or has to run to get it again.Originally Posted by TN_LAB
Another point to consider is what VTEnviro mentioned. If he refuses to give you the toy and starts turning / running away, just fold your arms, turn away from him and ignore him for 5-10 seconds. He'll quickly get the point that when you ask for the toy, the only way to get a response is to give it to you.
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I trained Bauer this way too. He is extremely toy/retrieve driven, so it worked great. I would have 2 toys, and he was ready to go for the next one as soon as he returned the 1st one to me. I use commands, but normally he has already given the toy before I have a chance to ask him to. This probably wouldn't work with a dog that wasn't toy/retrieve driven. In that case Sarah's suggestion for phasing out treats would be my choice.Originally Posted by TN_LAB
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