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My boy is a rescued 4yo (extremely oversized being 31" and almost 95lbs), who is very smart, but a bit on the pokey side with commands. He can now pass his CGC, and we are waiting on the next official titling around next week. The person before me had the dog for 2 years, and during the time, used tons of negative reinforcement (beating him to a pulp for pooping in the house, getting on the 'wrong couch', not listening to commands etc). And because of the way he was taught the basic sit, lay, stay, he has an EXTREMELY laid back and "im only doing this because you'll probably hit me if i don't" attitude. I have taught him much more than this, and we just began taking weekly obedience classes with a local schutzhund trainer and doberman breeder. In the house, if I have food he is very responsive and will do things almost immediately. However, without food that he can visibly see/watch, and especially outdoors, he'll take plenty of time just to sit down (It is harder for him to sit down quickly with his awkward size, but thats probably just an excuse for me to feel better about it xD). He absolutely loves our daily off leash runs, and our recall is going very well so far, with nothing but positive reinforcement. He is also loves to play a game of "find it" in which I will give him a scent then hide the item somewhere for him to find it.

Now the problem is with the basic commands and leash walking (as I was not the one who taught these things). He just seems to HATE listening to me without a hunk of meat hanging in my hands while doing these basics. For instance, he was "taught" to "heel" by having the leash yanked hardly, so if you even barely snap the leash to get his attention, he will cower for a second then proceed prancing around as if nothing in the world bothers him In training, I use a prong collar (correctly) and he will only need the slightest touch to keep him near my side. Although he will do this, his expression is miserable to say the least since he has been taught that if he steps away he will only be yanked. We are trying to get his CD title within the next year, but I think it defeats the purpose of doing the obedience training, when he is miserable doing the basics.

I have also been training a rhodesian ridgeback mix puppy (only ~5 months old) to do everything almost perfectly, he will sit, down, stay, roll over, shake, come (and sit at my feet anxiously waiting another command), leave it, and walk near me without pulling a bit, and he doees everyone of the things I ask him quickly, responsively, and happily. I have used similar methods with both of the two amongst many other dogs, so I know this has to be more of what Zeus's previous owners did than my own doing. I keep hearing more and more of how poorly dobe's react to negative reinforcement, so I guess this what everyone meant :roflmao: . As he is my first doberboy, I am always looking for help!

So far I have worked on more and more positive reinforcement, and every other command except for sit, down, and heel have improved exceptionally. If anyone has any tips for "rehabilitating" this guy I would greatly appreciate it! He certainly seems to want a job, just not one he's been beat over. Also, he is learning the look command, but i absolutely can NOT get him to look at me when outside, even in a sit stay or down position, even with food, completely ignores it. Any suggestions on this huge novel I wrote would be greatly appreciated!! Thanks
 

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Sorry to hear your boy was abused physically...and thanks for making a loving difference.
I am not a supporter of using any form of treats, for OB on/off leash.
- much like giving a kid $1 to clean their bedroom in grade1 and in grade2 they want $5...lol

I train with much play first and keeping it fun for the dog.
Lots of play training builds:
- desire to please, in a dog
- eye focus
- human bond & sharing of love
- listening ability, to your voice pitch

So if you want to wean off the "hunk of meat hanging in my hands while doing these basics":
a) I would suggest playing fetch ---------> then some general OB
b) I would suggest playing tug ---------> then some general OB
c) repeat a & b
 

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Even without the physical punishment he has endured it may be that he did not have a ton of drive to begin with (many oversized dogs lack drive). How does he respond to play rewards? I use more and more food in training with Cairo, because for her too much play rewards can spin her into orbit. For the right dog for the right reasons it is fine, especially in the teaching phase. I would move away from using the treats as a lure however. They need to work for you and not just the treats. Introducing a marker such as a clicker may allow you to move in this direction.

Another aspect of this is that for Cairo, she is so fast and so environmentally sensitive that she anticipates commands. She can become to see a movement to correct as the signal for doing the command. This obviously can become a problem when trying to develop a competition dog. Recently I have been working on giving commands in a very calm quiet voice. In addition since attending the Yogi Zank seminar I make sure there is a gap of 5 seconds or more where I am making absolutely no physical movement. That way the dog begins to associate ONLY my calm voice command with the signal to act. It is amazing how easy it is for subtle movements we make to be part of what the dog looks for to do an exercise.

With his history hands on physical corrections may not be the way to go. Once he knows exercises then an e-collar on low level stims, properly introduced under the direction of someone who knows what they are doing, for correction is probably going to be a more effective approach.
 

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Naavi has very low drive for a lot of stuff (she has almost no prey drive and a lot of 'fight' drive) but she looooooves her food (especially when I quit feeding her except out of my hands so that she'd get stoked over it) so that's what I used to get her to speed up her commands. I basically started over, getting her to drive me for the food instead of me trying to increase her drive. The change has been amazing and I now have a dog who has snappy, immediate responses instead of lazy, I'll-get-there-eventually responses.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Naavi has very low drive for a lot of stuff (she has almost no prey drive and a lot of 'fight' drive) but she looooooves her food (especially when I quit feeding her except out of my hands so that she'd get stoked over it) so that's what I used to get her to speed up her commands. I basically started over, getting her to drive me for the food instead of me trying to increase her drive. The change has been amazing and I now have a dog who has snappy, immediate responses instead of lazy, I'll-get-there-eventually responses.
What exactly do you mean by this? Sounds pretty similar. Sorry i tend to read sentences backwards and over analyze everything! Zeus too has a rather large 'fight drive'.

About his lack of prey drive per say, I'm not sure I can necessarily say his drive is extremely low? He does not enjoy running after balls, and he not only ignores it but he acts very weird about asking him to retrieve something that is very far away. He absolutely loves catching things and playing tug of war. As soon as he either catches, picks up or 'wins' the tug of war game, he shakes his head veraciously multiple times (with his big goofy ears slapping him in the face) and he absolutely loves it. He also attempts to 'hunt/ catch' any small animal, be it my mother's zoomy jack russell or a squirrell. He will even crouch down and crawl before pouncing/running off as if he is hunting the animals. He loves chasing anything thats small and living, just not balls or toys. When I throw it far away he acts like he's been taught that means to 'leave it', where as most high drive dogs will happily run off to get it.

Now I have only read a couple books and articles about drives etc, so I am in no way qualified to say how drivey he is. So Rosamburg, I certainly agree that with his size he probably is a less drivey than most dobermans, people usually comment on how laid back he seems (inside atleast). I was also debating on whether to start introducing a clicker, But that may be the best option.

As far as play rewards, I'm not sure he understands that its a reward exactly. And I usually do not use many treats, as he knows exactly what good boy means and loves a quick belly scratch, its just when he knows there is no physical treat to be eaten, he's much pokier. I will try t play some tug of war between training sessions/breaks though. Thanks everyone!
 

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Have you heard of clicker training? There is a method called capturing. That means you have a clicker on you and a reward but you aren't "in training mode". You do not ask him to sit. If he sits on his own, click treat and then go about your business. If he sits again (even if it's 1 hour later), clicke treat and go about your business. It might keep him relaxed if he isn't in "training mode" since previous owners used such negative methods. And it might get him thinking that he can earn rewards.

I might do other shaping games with a clicker too. There is something called 100 or 101 things with a box. Basically the dog gets clicked for anything he does that interacts with the box.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I'll have to give that a try! I've used clicker training with previous dogs, but i always seem to misplace the clickers :p I'll just have to tie it to me while I'm in the house or around him.

I have used good boy to in place of a clicker with great success (After two day of teaching 'out', he will zoom out of the kitchen happily, despite the tasty morsels in the kitchen) Even if I dont give him an actual food treat, just saying good boy, he'll wag his little nub then mosey on his way. I'll have to go pick up a clicker and start doing what you recommended. Thanks
 

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Sirai Dobermans
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Sounds like he's praise motivated. I've got a shepherd mix whose only "drive" is digging holes and swimming--neither works in obedience class. She isn't food or toy motivated and gets bored so easily, but she will work for praise! An excited "GOOD GIRL!" works every time. With her I've had to learn to be over excited and when she follows commands I throw my hands in the air and say "GOOD GIRL!" or "YES!" or "EXCELLENT!"

I look pretty foolish, but it keeps it exciting for her and so far it's worked well for us.
 

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Have you tried talking to him the whole time in a happy voice? I know it sounds crazy but some dogs I know in our rally class really respond to the handler talking to the dog and telling him/her what a good pup or whatever - even hurry up is in a high happy voice along with all "commands" - make sense??? I also think the clicker training is a good way to go. But if he is so praise motivated more praise might lift his spirit & confidence - and he may find training fun & happy.
 

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I really like Adara's suggestion for clicker training but I honestly have no experience with such an abused dog. I'd think it would work nicely as a positive training method though.

Good luck!

ETA...I also like Jenny's suggestion. It's amazing what a super happy voice can do for some dogs. I've taken dogs who seemed like total deadheads when with their owner and immediately got a really excited, willing dog out of them simply by changing my voice. A lot of owners don't realize how monotone and boring they may sound normally. I'm a pretty dry person but I can turn into a crazy cheerleader when I need to get my dogs moving and grab their attention. It really can work wonders. :)
 

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Could you try having him do something simple like moving ahead to go over a low jump and when he does it cut loose with all kinds of praise and bootie spankings and excitement. Have one big happy party for his success. Make it the most fun thing in the world. Then turn around and do it all over again. If he is a "pleaser" this can be a big motivator for him.
 

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For the basic commands, I would try clicker training and perhaps change the cue words? At least for a while. It sounds like his old owners may have poisoned the cues for the basic behaviours, you need to start from the beginning and train them or shape them from scratch, then add a different cue, and a different hand signal than you would normally use. And just keep reinforcing the good responses. My dog was similar in some ways when I got him, 6 months of clicker training and he is a different dog now, willing and happy to do things for me, as opposed to doing it as slowly as possible and sometimes with a complete rebellion of running away and air snapping from the other side of the room.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I have recently started sounding as silly as possible like alot of you all mentioned and always talking in a super 'rewarding' positive tone. We will keep this up and see how well it worked.

I was almost considering re-teaching him the basic commands he seems to hate in german (I've had nearly 6 years of it) instead. Some do sound similar, but it may be a way to differentiate from his 'old' commands, after all he had 3 years of it. Im going to pick up a clicker today and begin using it to train these commands. Im so grateful to all of the wonderful suggestions and help!

As an aside, we began feeding raw 2 weeks ago as I was tired of trying to undermine his allergies, and he already has SO much more energy than before, hopefully I can translate this into workable energy. Poor guy was fed stuff like pedigree and ol roy and was nearly bald! 2 weeks into it and his body is *still* purging itsself of all the built up crap in his system.
 

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I have recently started sounding as silly as possible like alot of you all mentioned and always talking in a super 'rewarding' positive tone. We will keep this up and see how well it worked.

I was almost considering re-teaching him the basic commands he seems to hate in german (I've had nearly 6 years of it) instead. Some do sound similar, but it may be a way to differentiate from his 'old' commands, after all he had 3 years of it. Im going to pick up a clicker today and begin using it to train these commands. Im so grateful to all of the wonderful suggestions and help!

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I am sure it is much more about who is saying the commands and how they are saying it as well as physical cues more than just about the command words. That said it would not hurt to use German commands to get more of a fresh start. I remember a few years back a man came to our club with his GSD. This dog is one of the hardest/toughest dogs to ever come down the pike. There was an extreme amount of conflict between the dog and his handler, particularly in regards to the aus (out) command. If the handler said out the dog would attack the sleeve for 30 minutes. In his prior training they had 2 Dogtra e-collars turned up to 127 as well as an electric sleeve. That is how ridiculous the situation had gotten to. It was a long process and never fully secure but the dog was able to achieve multiple Sch3 titles when a lot of people had written him off. One of the things that was changed up was the "out" command was changed to "Leave".
 

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I started my training off with lots of treats, when she started focusing on me more I started making her do multiple commands before a treat so she doesn't know when the treat will come. But always praised her after she did something I wanted her to do.
I've been using cues such as...

Sit
Lay down
stay
off
out
leave it
bed
no

recently I lowered the amount of treats and started training her with her own food in the morning and evening with a clicker that I got a week or so ago, hoping after a couple months it will improve her with obeying commands.
 

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Many years ago, I "inherited" a blue Doberboy that reacted very similar to what you describe. He had been trained by his previous owner, and while he wasn't abused, per se, he was trained with a choke (slip) collar, jerks and stern words. Thus, whenever you asked him to do something, he kind of cowered down, and he would do it, but very slowly.

At the time I was working at a Dog Training School, and one of the instructors there suggested I start over from scratch and re-train him in German. I did and it worked wonderfully. He didn't associate the new words with the rough method in which he was trained.

Good luck to you and your boy.
 

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I started my training off with lots of treats, when she started focusing on me more I started making her do multiple commands before a treat so she doesn't know when the treat will come. But always praised her after she did something I wanted her to do.
I've been using cues such as...

Sit
Lay down
stay
off
out
leave it
bed
no

recently I lowered the amount of treats and started training her with her own food in the morning and evening with a clicker that I got a week or so ago, hoping after a couple months it will improve her with obeying commands.
I started doing the latter with my bitch and solidified her formal OB training noticeably in just a week. I used her whole meal of kibble morning and night in conjunction with switching over to a clicker for reward and e-collar for corrections.
 
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