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Old 07-02-2010, 02:30 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Question How to train a dog that does not like food or toys ??

i have been really lucky to adopt a boy who is so well mannered and chilled but..

im trying to train various things.. the main one recall..

but he is not food orientated at all..

i have been recalling him / 50% of the time he comes straight away the other he is sooooo slow to respond..

but when he returns i give him a treat and he spits it on the floor !! tried many different things but he is not food orientated at all..

so today i took a brand new bright yellow ball/rope tug thing.. thinking when he returned id give him a little game as a reward..

but nothing not interested in the ball at all ??

i give him a big fuss but he gets that all the time anyway..

so i need a really good reward for when he does reacall !!

any ideas ??

thanks x
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Old 07-02-2010, 02:55 AM   #2 (permalink)
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It is hard to train a dog that isn't motivated by food/toys/cuddles. My Dobe Poppy was one of these, and I started agility training with her when I was about 10 and went through every kind of food and toy trying to find a motivator (dried liver, sausage, cheese, baby food, expensive kibble, cheap nasty kibble, cooked up heart, tennis balls, stuffed toys, squeaky ducks, tug toys....), in the end we figured out the best reward for her, would be her very favourite activity- running! After she had finished her agility run, I would turn her towards the open field behind where we practiced and let her go with a "GO RUN!!!" command, she would bolt off, do some loops then come back with a great big grin on her face. Everyone thought I was crazy for it, but it was the only thing that worked for my mental girl!! (luckily she somehow had a brilliant recall too...)

Not to say you should set the new boy free onto the fields lol, but as you get to know him better, maybe there will be something that pops up that he loves more than everything? Rolling over for belly rubs? Having ears washed/rubbed (Lottie comes running for her daily ear rubs hehe)? Getting brushed? I like to use brushing as another reward for Lottie when training recalls, something along the lines of "heeerrreeeee Loooottttiiiieee, BRUUUSH TIME!! BRUSH BRUSH BRUSH!!!" and she comes over and flops over for her brushing hehe
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Old 07-02-2010, 08:29 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Does he like balls, squeek toys, sticks? See what you can get him to play with before training. Eli is as excited about a stick as he is a ball. It depends on the dog. Does he retrieve anything? Try playing with him alone, a long walk and see if fetches or what he enjoys. Work on tiny recalls in the house at dinner time things like that. Sometimes praise does work wonders so go over the top when he comes.
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Old 07-02-2010, 09:59 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I find there are usually a couple reasons that certain dogs don't act motivated by their rewards we give them:

1. We haven't found their personal "currency" yet. Often, we give them what we humans think they will like, without spending a lot of time observing what they do in fact like. MOST dogs do just fine with things we pick out, but as you've discovered, there are those who are a bit more picky. Try everything, when it comes to food, even stuff that doesn't really make sense to you. Canned cat food ended up being IT for my George, when he was spitting out bits of steak, roast beef, chicken, and even tripe. As for toys, this jute frisbee thing was IT, when nothing else caught his eye. One of my dogs will fly over the moon for a slice of bread (not the best, I know, but useful for training a time or two.)

2. We're working over threshold with them. This was a huge part of the issue with George--he was just too quietly stressy to be able to accept food and toy rewards. He was sort of bombing around looking okay to the casual eye, but was really having a meltdown inside. You haven't had your boy long, and I'm betting he's having similar feelings and just can't focus or handle a lot of pressure right now.

In fact, if I'm in the slightest doubt George is about to shut down, one of the ways I check is to see if he's interested in food. If not, we needed a break a few minutes ago, and I missed it.

Good luck, and don't despair--George now happily works for, and eagerly gulps down even low value treats like plain kibble--I just had to get his stress managed and give him some time and some practice--even if they've had a bad past, they eventually learn training is fun and brings rewards, not abuse.
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Old 07-02-2010, 10:04 AM   #5 (permalink)
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RFR, that's some really interesting and good insight. I often struggle with Shanoa not being all the motivated by rewards, and I wonder if it's a threshold thing, especially with her reactivity. I just learned something new and useful - thanks!
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Old 07-02-2010, 10:05 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Don't know what to suggest Clare, but Ava isn't really that food motivated either. The thing that works best with her is tiny pieces of dried sausage. From the pet shop... they come chipolata style and I cut them up into little pieces.

Good luck!

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Old 07-02-2010, 10:22 AM   #7 (permalink)
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One other tip--be sure you have a hungry dog before starting training.

It sounds common sense, but sometimes we forget.
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Old 07-02-2010, 10:25 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Does he eagerly eat his meals? If so, I'd start by having him work for meals. Find to try a key to get him working for food. My friend uses baby food without onion for recalls ONLY.

I have a recipe for Tuna Brownies that almost all dogs I've met go crazy for. This is from the clicker solutions list
Tuna Brownies from Clicker Solutions
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

Drain 2 regular sized cans of tuna and pour into large mixing bowl. Regular size is the little 5 or 6 oz can. You can also use 1 large 12 oz can.

Mix in 2 eggs. You can include the shells if you want to add a little more calcium to their diet, just be sure that they are small pieces.

Mix in 1 1/2 cups of flour. I prefer to use rice flour - white or brown and have also used oat flour successfully. Regular flour can be an allergy issue for some dogs.

Add 1 tablespoon of garlic powder (or substitute with crushed garlic)

Blend well, into a doughy ball, and spread about 1/4 inch thick in a big,
greased cookie sheet.

Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until golden. Cut into tiny squares,
however small you need them. I also sprinkle extra garlic powder on top before putting it in the oven. I store them in the freezer because I make
several batches at a time but they do keep for a good bit in an airtight
container


for toys you might try fuzzy furry toys. I used a product called K9 magic which has tripe in it. It can be pricey and you have to use it quick or it molds. My friend uses it at her training facility and a lot of non-food motivated dogs love it.
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Old 07-02-2010, 03:10 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RedFawnRising View Post
One other tip--be sure you have a hungry dog before starting training.

It sounds common sense, but sometimes we forget.
its was 6.30 am with out breakfast so im sure he was hungry..

he was never a big eater of dry food apparantly ( he is a bit thin )

but he is now on raw and loving every mouthfull !!

i will ease up on him and just do fun stuff... i just really wanted to perfect the recall as most of our walks are off lead in the forest..

but i have a 30 ft training line and a flexi lead so i can always use those for a while !!

yes he has had a lot of change..new friends ( zeus and missy )
new owners new food and a new name !!

so fun fun fun it is from now on..

but he does seem very happy and chilled and loves playing tug and chasing the ball !!

thanks for the advice.. make a lot of sence !!
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Old 07-02-2010, 11:52 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Hey voodoo congrats on the new addition. Have you tried feeding by hand one bit at a time? It help me develop a bond with Boris my rescue Boy.
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Old 07-02-2010, 11:56 PM   #11 (permalink)
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try cats?
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Old 07-03-2010, 01:04 AM   #12 (permalink)
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I was going to suggest gerbils and squirrels--they fit in a pocket better.
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Old 07-03-2010, 08:15 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Sometimes if a dog was not played with as a puppy - they just don't know how to play.

I would get a toy and toss it - you might have to run and get it will cheering and carrying on. If the dog picks up on this and sees you want to start a game sometime they will catch on and take off. Only bring out the toy when you are going to play with them. Toss it up in the air and jump around and catch it. See if he shows any interest. It can take a while but might help build some toy drive if you can't get food to work.
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Old 07-03-2010, 11:44 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
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but he does seem very happy and chilled and loves playing tug and chasing the ball !!

thanks for the advice.. make a lot of sence !!
So you have been successful with the toys - great! You don't need to use food - most agility trainers of BCs only use toys since it is so easy. They keep toys in their pockets all the time. Good luck with your new boy. I also have 2 boys and when you know the temperaments and how they get on with other males, you can usually figure out if you can manage 2 males or not. My 2 are fine, but I am always alert.
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Old 07-03-2010, 12:26 PM   #15 (permalink)
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hey congrats on the new guy.

Keela was motivated by nothing. she always did her own thing until she discovered Cheeries and scampi crisps LOL
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Old 07-03-2010, 05:25 PM   #16 (permalink)
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So you have been successful with the toys - great! You don't need to use food - most agility trainers of BCs only use toys since it is so easy. They keep toys in their pockets all the time. Good luck with your new boy. I also have 2 boys and when you know the temperaments and how they get on with other males, you can usually figure out if you can manage 2 males or not. My 2 are fine, but I am always alert.
yes he loves playing ball and tug at home !! but when we are out and he is running free nothing interests him at all !!

i do remeber zeus being like this when he still had dangly bits... and thorns dangly bits will not be dangling anymore after next thursday so his attention might improve a bit.. you never know LOL !!
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