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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Duchess will work alot for treats...when she was a puppy we trained her all the time with treats...getting her to heal...holding the treat in front of her nose etc...eventually we now put the treat in our mouth...and when she knows she is training she doesnt mind working without getting a treat for awhile. I now only give her a treat after each finished excersise...
the only thing is I think her treat dependency is going to be a problem in the ring since treats are not allowed. There are two things she is dependent on...
treats...and the ring...or atmosphere of being trained.
She is two....solid in all her stays...including stand...she will come when called etc...its just without treats she wont be as driven as she would with treats...

My question is...what is the most postive way for a dog to be weaned off using treats but still maintaining their passion to train?

I think I will start by training in different locations...like taking her to the dog park in large field on a long lead or the petstore...or outside the petstore...maybe I just need to train her in all different places so that she understands that when I give a command it is to be done correctly and formal no matter where she is.
 

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What i used to do with Tia was first i would do an exercise then treat then repeat the exercise and no treat, mix it up on a regular basis and also always hold your treat hand in same position treat in there or not and always extra praise if the exercise is completed without a treat.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I can do that...I also had a question about praise when you are competing...In a book I read that praise is allowed...but only between excersises? How does that work?
 

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Here they say "exercise over"you can use praise then.
 

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LD, would she work for a toy? You need to gradually phase out the treats. She should be doing this stuff for you because you're asking her, not because she'll get fed. I like to use treats only at the very beginning while teaching the dog the meaning of the command. As soon as the dog gets it, I start phasing out the treats and substitue in vocal praise. Treats are special ammunition only.

Start using other forms of reward, your voice, your touch, a play with a toy... mix them all up. One time give her a treat, another just praise, another time pull out a ball out of your pocket and throw it for her (assuming she'll like that), another time do nothing special. Make sure there is no pattern. If you make yourself unpredictable, the dog needs to think more. Things get more interesting when they're not repetetive.

Also work all your commands into daily life. Don't just train her during a formal training session. Take advantage of every thing in life that can act as a reward. Getting fed, getting petted, being allowed to go off leash, being allowed to approach a dog or person, being allowed to jump out of the car, being allowed to walk through a door, getting her leash put on to go for a walk.

Taking her training to differnt places is a good idea for desensitizing her to her surroundings. That in itself won't necessarily proof her commands, but it will help her not to get distracted as easilly.
 

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Definately work in different settings. We work on walks, in the park, in the backyard, wherever. Throughout the day we will use a command sporadically. Training in my house is a daily ritual. All day, with short sessions twice a day.

As for the treats, we use them here and there. When we learn a new command, we get them until we pick up the command. Then, we will get a treat once and them maybe miss a treat with just verbal praise and petting. Get another, miss another two or three. The key is to not let them know when they are getting a treat. Around here they say "Exercise complete" and you can give verbal praise and petting.
 

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That's a problem I got to see up close and personal last month. One of our puppies (well, she's 4 now) is co-owned with a novice person. She owned a Doberman before but the showing and trialing is all new to her. We attended training classes together for the past 2 years and this summer she wanted to trial Jessie for her CD. Jessie is also very reliant on working for the treats. Her owner just didn't make a transition from treating all the time to treating unexpectedly and for only the best performances.

And she had big trouble in the trials she entered for that reason. She did manage to get 2 of the 3 scores needed for her CD but she blew 4 other trials, and mostly for that reason. Her heeling was lousy when she wasn't being led around by a weiner.

Be grateful you recognize the problem and can start to wean Duchess off the treats. As I mentioned, treats should now be coming for the BEST performances, not just doing it. As others have said, get her used to verbal praise only. I don't personally see the point of substituting a toy at this point because you can't take that in the ring either (I use toys in training, I have nothing against that but it may be counterproductive in fighting the particular problem you have right now.)
 

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LD, I am not a huge "treat" person. Rommel gets them, but not all the time. Not because Im against giving them....but honestly, I will forget to grab them. I go in spurts. But I have found that a super happy voice works just as well. Not just a "good boy"...but a really high pitched "good, good, your so smart" You can say anything as long as you are smiling, happy, and energetic. Rommel just melts when you talk to him like that, he would do anything you wanted. Im sure you already do something to this effect, but just lots of encoragement..
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
As I mentioned, treats should now be coming for the BEST performances, not just doing it
thanks guys that will be my new motto lol. I think will work for reminding ME when to give her a treat :)
I just wanted to make sure the transistion is still positive training work...I didnt want to have Duchess to start to hate training just cause she isnt being fed.
 

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The advice that MaryandDobes and Zucker give is excellent.

I use treats in the beginning as a lure to get the dog to find where he should be for heeling, fronts, when teaching the down, for speed in the recall and things like that but by the time they actually know what the command means I am mostly using verbal praise and pets for good work--I throw in the ocassional treat because it will keep them working hard in hopes that the next thing will be food--the big time treat.

Remember that you are only in the ring for about two minutes for the individual exercises and except when I'm training the down position I don't use treats for sits and downs.

Working in different locations (also known as proofing) is a wonderful training aid--when your dog can work in a park with other dogs around or in a shopping center with lots of people and at a playground with kids around and ignor it all and stay tuned to you you know they are ready for the ring.
 

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I started weaning out treats because I was afraid of having Java put on unwanted weight. Now she obeys commands (most of the time) because I told her to. However, because she's 15 mos, I haven't phased treats out altogether - but I mix it up so that she never knows when she's going to get one!
 

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MaryAndDobes said:
I don't personally see the point of substituting a toy at this point because you can't take that in the ring either (I use toys in training, I have nothing against that but it may be counterproductive in fighting the particular problem you have right now.)

Dogs work differently for food and toy rewards. Food tends to give slower and choppier perfomance. You have to pause to give the dog the food and you have to wait for the dog to eat it. Even if that only takes 2 or 3 seconds, the pace of the exercise slows down.

If you're rewarding with a quick tug game with a ball on a rope, you're maintaining the dog's drive and speed, you're even improving it. You don't have to wait for the dog to pause and swollow the food. The toys also don't disapear so to speak like food does. You give the dog the treat, it eats it, it's gone. While the dog knows there are probably more treats where this one came from, the ball is always there. The dog gets it, then has to give it up, and has to work for his right to get to play with that same toy again. He knows it's there, and it's the exact same item he just played with and he wants it back! Toys can act as a better teaser and therefore motivator then simple treats.

There's a slightly different concept involved and I think provided you've made the toy cool enough, in general the dogs will work harder for the toy and be more animated and willing. Watch carefully dogs that are being worked for food and dogs that are being worked for a toy or praise, there is a slightly different focus involved.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
If you're rewarding with a quick tug game with a ball on a rope, you're maintaining the dog's drive and speed, you're even improving it. You don't have to wait for the dog to pause and swollow the food
in order to do this Duchess would have to learn to "give" on command each time and not get any urges to decide to lock on for her life to the toy. ive been working on it...but till then there is no getting a toy out of her grip. lol so we can't work with a toy for now...perhaps a tennis ball...but she will easily squeeze those flat when she doesnt want to give.
 
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