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Discussion Starter #1
For my four year old foster.

He now knows sit and down. I know he knows, he has shown that he knows them. But there are times he just blows me off. Either refuses to look at me (a-la, if i do not see you I do not have to obey you) or looks at me blankly. Even if I have a treat.

What do I do? Collar correction does NADA, useless. I HATE pushing the butt down as I fear injury (and a tap/pat/light push do not work)?

So how do I enforce it so he learns he cannot just blow me off, that sit means it no matter how he feels?
 

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Back up and try to figure out if there are patterns for where/when he won't comply. You may find that you are asking for the behavior in a context where you haven't practiced it as much, which means that he doesn't really "know" it as well as you think he does. (Remember that dogs are highly context dependent and don't generalize well.) Alternatively, there could be some reason why he doesn't want to comply (looking away suggests that he could be stressed, although not necessarily) that you can work through. It could be anything--lighting, your body posture, proximity of another dog (or cat or person)--so you need to get very analytical. I'm not a fan of collar corrections for static behaviors, but you can "remind" him with a quick upward tick of the leash (remember head goes up in order to get the butt down).

Are you training using ordinary life rewards? Sit/down before meals, going outside, going in the car, tossing the ball? I find it's the fastest and most fun way to drill these commands.
 

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What Nathan said. Plus you NEVER give a command that you cannot back up some way. Even if it's a lure with food into a sit, do that when you give the command.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Hmmm very good points.
He was pretty good in the house so I was trying to find quiet times during walks to start practicing. Maybe I am not picking my moments correctly then.

so I test out his attention before I try a command?

what if i don't judge correctly and he blows me off? I know I need to reinfoce but I can't treat him into position and I can't push his butt down (well I can but I fear injuring him cuz I really need to push down!)

ETA: yes to real life sits and such but there are not too many moments for that. No car. yes to sit for food. yes for sit to be let out of crate. and yes we practice in the house here and there during the day. The next step is really slowly introducing it outside the house during our walks, but I guess I need to be more cautious of my timing, choosing a time and place when he appears more receptive.

For "in thehouse" training I am trying to vary my body position when giving the command (i.e. not just when I am front of him, but beside him as well, or sitting even)
 

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Nathan's emphasis on context and generalizing is very important.

You might consider using a "NILILF" (Nothing in Life is Free) type of training at mealtimes. Very briefly, this involves that obeying a command earns a few more kibbles of food from your hand. You can Google the term for richer explanations and more suggestions on its use.

Also, are you giving a visual signal along with your verbal command? (E.g., pointing to the floor or ground when you say "Sit!") This usually speeds up training since most dogs follow visual cues better than auditory cues.

Also, are you using the dog's name first before giving the command, so it knows the next word will be a command, as in "Puff! SIT!"? And "Puff! COME!" "Puff! DOWN!"

Also, are you using a distinctive tone of voice -- different than your common speech -- as further indication to the dog that this is a command?

Finally, I highly recommend Jean Donaldson's book, "Culture Clash". This is about $10-12 + S&H from Amazon and it gives many training protocols for a variety of commands and activities. It's mainstream scientific psychology of learning principles.

Good luck.

 

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Hmmm very good points.
He was pretty good in the house so I was trying to find quiet times during walks to start practicing. Maybe I am not picking my moments correctly then.

so I test out his attention before I try a command?

what if i don't judge correctly and he blows me off?
Take it as a lesson to you and try again later. ;)

I don't think enforcing is nearly as important as working on your timing. Enforcing is for dogs who know a behaviour cold (as in, have performed it successfully too many times to count in numerous different settings and distraction levels) that have a good working relationship with their handler.

I don't think he really *knows* it (as mentioned above) and I don't think you guys have developed enough of a working relationship (as he just came to you) to be "enforcing" at this point.

Better to ensure you have his attention 100% and ask then. BIG reward for compliance. Slowly work on upping the distraction level and generalizing the behaviour. He may be four, but remember that this is all very new to him. ;)
 

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You're describing my Judy (7YO). She knows all the rules and commands, but she's always blowing me off or just being stubborn. Every day on our walk, I pause and say "Everyone sit and I'll give you your treat." Mitzi and Bruno sit and get their treat, but Judy remains standing so I say "If no one else wants a treat, let's go." and her butt hits the groung that fast.
I take them swimming off leash, and sometimes Judy goes exploring, doesn't come when I call and I have to go after her. Next time I take just Mitzi and Bruno as say, "Judy doesn't come when I call so she can't come." The next few times when I take all of them, she comes when I call. After some time, she always goes back to blowing me off. It is a constant battle to outwit her, but I wouldn't change her if I could. It's a part of her personality which also has a very sweet side.
A long time ago, I decided to accept her stubborn streak and give her extra attention and affection which brings out her good behavior better than scolding or correcting.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
thanks everyone.

some of the questions:
- yes we use hand signals
- I do as much of NILF as I can, try to remember that with all fosters really
- yes I am using his name alot but mostly as I am also having to teach him his name on top of everything else (it is a new name but i'm pretty sure he didn't know the one given by the shelter anyway)
- I have culture clash, will read it again soon
- he is very improving leaps and bounds on regular sits (i.e. now he sits before I let him out of hte crate, sits to get in the house, sits when he gets to me to wait for a treat, sits to eat....these are becoming "easy" sits. So I vary my body position to get him used to that.

The goal of my commands on the walks was to slowly introduce them in places other than my apt. (as I know dogs do not generalize). i was trying to pick quiet moments and starting slow but clearly I was not picking my moments right!

as of last night (thanks to your tips) I test his attention before giving a command, so far so good. when I see he is responding to my voice I give the command and he does very well. If I see his brain is gone or distracted (even if there are no visible distractions, hey, i'm not a dog what do i know) i just don't give any command.

Like I said he's actually come a long way in the 5 days I have had him. I'm just not used to starting so low on the latter! The last dog I had with little training was a cattle dog, but they naturally look at humans so it was easier. This guy has no clue that he should be "checking in" with me but slowly he is getting it.
 
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