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 Trouble teaching new tricks.

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Female Join date : 2013-06-03
Location : Newfoundland

PostSubject: Trouble teaching new tricks.   Wed Nov 13, 2013 5:21 pm

Sorry if this has already been discussed but I did a quick search and came up with nothing.
Jasper was always easy to teach new tricks, he caught on to sit, lie down, paw, high five, come, and stay after only being showed each trick a couple times. Honestly I used to brag that he could learn a new trick in less than a day. Until he reached about 6.5 months; now I can show him something a million times and he becomes what I can only describe as confused and upset. I started with trying to teach him roll over and he would freak out if I tried to help him and once on his back he loses it and runs to his bed. So I figured "ok, not ready for this trick yet". Then we tried spin, I've managed to get him halfway but then he runs to his bed and won't look at me. Finally I thought "maybe these are too hard, we'll try bow first" so instead of trying to help him put out his front legs I say "bow" and  reward him whenever he play bows to me or stretches into a bow. It seemed like it was going good and he was getting it, until today when I tried to refine the command and he just backed away and whined at me then rolled and showed me his belly. I've done everything I did to teach him his other tricks, but for some reason he just gets very confused. It doesn't seem like defiance and refusal just to do what I want him to because he'll still do the commands he already knows.

I know it's a long post but I wanted to get in all the details! Basically tl;dr version: Jasper's become difficult to teach new tricks since he turned 6.5months and I'm at a loss for how to deal with it. Anyone else have this issue?
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Male Join date : 2013-02-05
Location : seattle, wa

PostSubject: Re: Trouble teaching new tricks.   Wed Nov 13, 2013 8:28 pm

Is it possible "confused and upset" is "stubborn and unimpressed"??

He's at the beginning of the teenage phase, which means the next 6-9 months are going to be much tougher to train him and get him to obey commands with the same level of interest you've been used to.

The good news though he's advancing in cognitive ability, so you'll have to work on mentally stimulating him and being rigidly consistent in teaching him what you expect: right and wrong. They regress in obedience to commands and engagement at this age. It's perfectly normal. Take advantage of his increased ability to engage mentally and start to physically engage his need for exercise at this age. No running on concrete or anything harsh on his body, but you can find grassy areas to tire him out.

He basically is bursting with energy now, physical and mental. Draining that energy and gaining his obedience is going to be more difficult for a while.

Hang in there though. They get really fun at this age and you'll see his personality blossom. Many of us saw our teenage brats paradoxically get more sweet and affectionate at this age as well.

Good luck!
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Female Join date : 2013-02-11
Location : NYC

PostSubject: Re: Trouble teaching new tricks.   Thu Nov 14, 2013 11:54 am

To me, it sounds like your dog may have a 'soft' personality. Essentially, that means that the dog is extremely sensitive to correction and either acts like you hurt its feelings or lays down and gives up if he/she can't figure out what you want. It sounds like Jasper is offering up submissive behaviors, or going to his 'safe place' in a way to appease you or get away from the stress of not knowing what you want. A hard dog can take a correction and move on and continue working, or if he/she can't figure out what you want, will continue to work though the stress of trying to figure it out. My first husky Tasha was a hard dog. She loved to learn tricks and would work until she figured out what I wanted. My parents have a golden that was extremely soft, and would pretty much curl up into a ball if you gave him a voice correction, offering submissive signs. Tail down, butt tucked, ears flat, head down, lip licking, head turning, etc. I scolded him twice for 'retrieving' my underwear out of the laundry basket, and ever since he won't retrieve anything! Dizzy is somewhere in the middle, but leaning to the soft side.

I have found the best way to work with a dog like this is to start any training session with a few 'wins' go through 2 or 3 of the commands he knows and make a big deal out of his success. Then, start working on the one you are trying to teach, if he seems stressed or like he's going to run to his bed, throw in one he knows and give him a win. Work to break it down into steps. If you want to teach roll over, just start with putting the dog in a down and wait. Eventually he will shift his weight and pop his hip out, reward that. Once he gets the hip pop, then gently guide his head down, so he's laying on his side, reward that. When he's on his side, play with his feet, reward it if he stays. Then finally, gently take his feet and roll him over to his other side. Then reward that.

Also, when Dizzy is thinking through things and trying to figure it out, a lot of times he will walk away and go get a drink of water. I wouldn't have allowed Tasha to do this, but for Dizzy, I let him. It's like he's saying, "I need a break for a second." After he drinks, I call him back over and give him a win or two before we go back into what he was learning. If he takes two water breaks, I call him back, give him a few wins and end the training session. Sometimes he can go quite a while, 30-40 min, and sometimes, with more challenging things, he can only go 10-15 min. When you end the training session, have a play session, play tug, chase, wrestle, whatever. Jasper will start to realize that when he sticks through things, he wins, AND gets a super fun play session at the end. Smile
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Female Join date : 2013-06-03
Location : Newfoundland

PostSubject: Re: Trouble teaching new tricks.   Thu Nov 14, 2013 1:36 pm

Thanks for the awesome advice, from both of you! I believe it's a bit of both; sometimes he seems unimpressed that I'm asking him to do something that seems pointless to him and sometimes his 'softness' kicks in and he gets upset that he can't understand what I'm asking of him.

I haven't had issue with excess of energy YET because he goes to the dog park and gets a lengthy walk daily. Along with a training session and play session every evening. I'm hoping to bypass that part of the teenage phase Razz

I don't know why it's never occurred to me before but he definitely has a soft personality. He's always the first to submit at the dog park, runs away when other dogs fight, and if we correct him for doing things he's not allowed to he'll go to bed for the rest of the night.
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