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 General Inquiry

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joemamma474
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Male Join date : 2015-02-28
Location : Michigan

PostSubject: General Inquiry   Mon Mar 02, 2015 2:23 pm

Hi all,

This is not my first dog but it is my first Husky. His name is Tuco, and he is just over nine weeks old. I had some general questions about training and behaviors in general. My wife and I certainly did extensive research on the breed, but each dog is a unique individual and I had some questions ours...

So first of all, I was having trouble getting him to show interest in food as a reward (wouldn't really pay attention to treats unless they were put right on the floor in front of him). As of this weekend he became much more receptive to training and food as a reward, and even caught on very quickly to coming when called, sitting, lying down, and giving eye contact when his name is spoken. I know he will probably go back and forth on paying attention and not, and I'm already seeing some of that. For instance, he will still follow the commands most of the time unless he is distracted by something (obviously we haven't worked on listening around distractions yet) but I notice he gets much more perked up when he sees me to go get some kibble to do training. I'm trying to figure out how to work with him without him seeing me getting the food ready, so I don't have him just wanting to do work when he knows I have food. Again, it hasn't been an issue yet, but he is just very attentive and always catches me picking up some kibble when we get ready for a training session.

Does anyone give their dog a food reward for doing their "business" outside or do you just stuck with praise? Ours has been doing great with going outside, very few accidents (in fact I'd say he's gone outside 90% of the time). I'm not sure how much he is connecting going outside though, since we usually just take him out after naps and that has been good enough. Eventually I would like to work on training him to alert us using some bells hanging on the wall, but that will be a while from now. Just curious if there are additional tips anyone has on this.

How should I go about training him to stop certain unwanted behaviors? For instance, with biting, we are removing whatever he is biting, or taking him away from it (like with our sleeves, lifting up our arms or getting up and moving away) and then putting a chew toy in front of him instead to encourage him to chew that. It seems to be going well in terms of how much he chews my wife and I, but how can we work on not chewing furniture and other items? I know he will be doing this as a puppy and don't expect it to just stop, again, just looking for tips. And I'd rather not just use a bad-tasting spray to discourage him - I'd rather he learn some rules about what to leave alone. On a similar note, how can we train "off" when he tries to get up on furniture? I know there are a lot of ways but I was curious what people have had the most success with.

I know this was long but any advice would be appreciated. I'm big on pretty straight behaviorism (positive reinforcement, corrections when necessary, but really just working on rewarding positive behavior and redirecting bad behavior). I don't want to argue about the science - my education is in behavioral science, so there won't really be any convincing me that positive reinforcement is incorrect, because I feel like I have a strong understanding of it. Keep that in mind in your replies. Smile
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seattlesibe
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PostSubject: Re: General Inquiry   Mon Mar 02, 2015 3:45 pm

I'm not so sure there are ways to increase the interest in food. Seems like it is either there or not. You are perhaps coming on too strong with too much training and tiring your puppy and thus stifling the overall motivation. Just a thought.

Training "Off" of furniture is pretty simple. The trick is the catch the initial impulse to jump up, as once the puppy is up on the furniture then the emotional thrill and satisfaction has already rewarded the behavior and now you would then be correcting backwards...for lack of a better term right now.

So you can train Off by catching the impulse to jump. Hang out on the floor with your puppy and find some way to tempt him to jump. When you see the body language or intent, issue your verbal correction or physical obstruction (like simply blocking the access to the space with your hand or arm) and then once it has sunk in, reward for remaining engaged to you while on the floor. Keep repeating this basic protocol.

I'm not sure how you exactly feel about the issue of direct corrections (positive punishment) vs redirecting towards incompatible behaviors, but, this is one of those issues because it is a spatial boundary where the impulse to access the space has to be checked, as simply rewarding a temporarily incompatible behavior does nothing for the impulse to enter the inappropriate space.

The same protocol can be used for training them to not enter a room or bolt through a door. It's basic boundary / threshold work.

I think with a young puppy in the first week or so rewarding for using outdoors for pee/poop is great because you are conditioning him at this point, but eventually rewarding stuff like this is overkill because it will eventually just be default behavior, not "good" behavior. While it's new though, treat it as "good" behavior during the conditioning process.

It should quickly convert to just a normal default expectation that does not require a reward. The more rewards you give, you are flooding the relevance of that reward and the bar will have to raised higher and higher.
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MiyasMomma
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Female Join date : 2014-06-26
Location : west Texas

PostSubject: Re: General Inquiry   Mon Mar 02, 2015 3:49 pm

I have a dog that even as a puppy, treats were not of interest to her to train with. So the positive "good girl" and shoulder rub, were her rewards, and still are. If using kibble for training(imho, is the best way, instead of treats), try bagging up a few days worth of food. That way he doesn't get excited.

As far as the potty aspect. I started with doing the same as you, taking her out after naps, eating, etc. While doing her business I said good girl go potty. This reinforced the whole scenario.

As you can probably tell I am very communicative with Miya, she has always thrived on positive reinforcement. I will admit that there were some things I did with Miya pre 4months old that change after 4 months. In that I used time outs for jumping on me and mouthing me. The way I did it was still verbalizing, so that time outs was lessened and the verbal command was more often, until the mouthing just stopped. So how I did it was saying enough as I got up and walked away and placed a barrier between her and me. Today and probably the last year and a half using the word enough is all I have to do to have her stop what ever bad behavior, as in trying to play with kitty, or with me too rough, particularly inside the house. I also hand fed pre 4 months old and used the words "be gentle" so she associated my hand as being a delicate object, so the mouthing was also reduced in this manner.

Using the be gentle command has worked as well as "mine". Swapping toys for the bad behavior is ok, redirection, for pups again pre 4 months old. I slowly transitioned the redirection to commands, since by 4 months she generally understood what I was asking of her. I realize some people do not believe in these types of training. I agree with treat training will eventually not work, since you want the command to work, and bribing creates other issues. However, at a young age, where commands are not understood, I found positive reinforcement and redirection in conjunction to commands was the best way for me to train her to what I wanted her to do. So the transition was redirection with a command like be gentle or enough, until it was more command vs redirection, or in your case treats/redirection.

The furniture thing, I allow Miya on the couch, however, if she gets the crazies, I use "off" and tell her to get a chewy. Or if she gets the crazies it's be good or enough, then off. She knows and has known her different foods, i.e. bone, chewy, ear. Again this was through me verbalizing everything repetitively. So Miya off get your chewy is enough for her to get down, since she knows she can not eat on the couch. Redirection, I suppose, but I also think it's respect and understanding commands.

I do follow my own way of training. I don't think any way is right or wrong. It's all about results, and how comfortable you feel at training. So what I did when Miya was a pup, is not how I do things today. I do verbally talk to Miya a lot, she is my best friend after all, so her command knowledge is quite high. She also knows many hand signals. Huskies are extremely intelligent, they are stubborn. I use her name almost always in order for her to do what I ask, otherwise it clearly is me talking to the husky behind her, lol. I rarely use the word no, I found as a pup redirection and the command I was looking for was far better than using no. I also, understand she is a dog, and needs me to be a dog too sometimes. So we found a way to have a happy medium, in our training. So we do rough house outside, in order for her to let out some of her dog energy, but even then I incorporate training. I feel training is never ending and reinforces a good husky, just probably not a perfect dog(if this were the case, and I needed a perfect dog I would have gotten a gsd).

I will also add, that puppies need to communicate, and this is why most do the whole nibble on your feet and hands thing. Taking her outside, even today at age 2, we play a variety of games, he favorite even as a pup was tugs. Since I was engaging in play with her, she could use her mouth, but I also threw in commands, such as drop it, leave it, and enough. For me this was teaching her commands that I felt were important, but also taught her respect for me. I always start and stop the play, but I play like a husky, which fulfills many of her husky desires.
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joemamma474
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Male Join date : 2015-02-28
Location : Michigan

PostSubject: Re: General Inquiry   Mon Mar 02, 2015 4:05 pm

Thank you both for the replies.

So, with regards to "off" since you mention catching at the moment before the behavior happens, do you find that idea works in general with keeping them away from items you do not want them around (for example, sniffing around near curtains, or cords)? We have him under constant supervision so he is never able to go chew something dangerous, but we do see him go near some items that we would prefer he just leave alone altogether. So if he starts moving in that direction or sees those items, could I simply block him and then reward him for moving away from those objects? Is this essentially training a "leave it?"
What about training him to actually come up on the furniture on command? Do you find that the behavior occurs any less frequently if they are trained to do it on command? I know initially he will offer it up if he gets extra reward for it, but once the idea that it is only rewarded when performed on command has sunk in, might that reduce it?
I am not against positive punishment if the timing is right. I just find it a little tricky to administer sometimes.

So far I haven't done anything more than some petting and enthusiastic "good boy" praise for eliminating outside, and I didn't think treating was necessary, I was just curious. So, if praise is good enough for everyone else, I'll leave my routine at that.

It sounds like what I was hoping to do eventually is consistent with what both of you are doing with your dogs. So that is encouraging. From what I'm hearing, it sounds like with consistent redirection for your dogs coupled with a verbal command eventually got them understanding the verbal command without needing to constantly remove them from the situation? Like, we play tug quite often, but when he gets really into it sometimes he accidentally gets hy hand kind of hard and I rmove myself and the tug toy while indicating that biting me was what made it stop. So, soon enough you anticipate he will catch on based on that?
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MiyasMomma
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PostSubject: Re: General Inquiry   Mon Mar 02, 2015 4:30 pm

I am full on board with eventual verbal command only, I used the 4 month mark, simply, because she did learn quickly, it may have been younger. I kept to training times like I would walk with her times, so at 2 months old 10 minutes of walking/training, add 5 minutes for every month, and did this somewhere around 8 times a day. I also know that with this method of training, I would tire her a lot, so her mouthing was lessened, because she didn't have a need to express extra energy, since I zapped it through play/train.

With "leave it", yes, I did start with redirection and use of those words. Until the command is all I use. Example, she got a hold of an empty paper towel holder, and she tore off a piece and husband was trying to get it from her. I walked over and said Miya drop it, she did, then leave it and I picked it up. This also happened a few months ago out side, he chased her around the yard with a dead mouse in her mouth. She was thinking it was a game, and he was getting the play growl from her whenever he tried to get mouse. He finally called me over. I said Miya sit, drop it, Miya leave it, and told husband to pick it up, lol. Being firm in tone of voice, with the exception of be gentle, with be gentle I do use a more soft tone of voice, always use a calm voice regardless of being soft or firm.

With the potty outside thing, yes I think using the good boy and petting is a way to eventually not having to use treats with other command training. Since he's receptive in that way, he will be receptive in other commands. I do verbalize the word potty, simply since I do not use bell training. Miya definitely knows what "potty before bedtime" means. Yes I know that sounds crazy, haha. Consistent repetition is key. As far as chewing furniture, I have been successful with the word "mine" along with be nice. They do grow out of certain bad behavior, so patience is also key.
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Huskyluv
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Female Join date : 2009-06-23
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PostSubject: Re: General Inquiry   Mon Mar 02, 2015 5:02 pm

Another thing to keep in mind is that even typically highly food motivated dogs may be less so or not at all when in a new environment/home. Sometimes they need time to adjust and increase their comfort level before they go food crazy. That was the case with 3 of my 4 dogs, and each took a different amount of time before showing interest in food rewards. Considering your pup is only 9 weeks old, I'd give it some time (weeks at least) before writing off the food motivation.

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joemamma474
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Male Join date : 2015-02-28
Location : Michigan

PostSubject: Re: General Inquiry   Mon Mar 02, 2015 5:13 pm

I'm not writing off food at this point. In fact, he really has started showing much more interest in it this past weekend. His confidence and comfort in the house seems to have dramatically increased. He even decided to take an adventure up the stairs to the second floor (which is a little frustrating, since he understandably isn't as good at venturing back DOWNstairs). I think he has really become comfortable enough to start some more active training, though nothing rigorous at this time. I noticed he liked "working" for his food yesterday even though he had a full dish available to him on the floor.
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aljones
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PostSubject: Re: General Inquiry   Mon Mar 02, 2015 6:15 pm

@joemamma474 wrote:
I noticed he liked "working" for his food yesterday even though he had a full dish available to him on the floor.  

I'd suggest that's because it's the interaction with his human more than it is a food thing. As has been said on this forum many times, you can do so much more with a pup who've doing it for you rather than one who's doing it for a edible reward (or out of fear).
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joemamma474
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PostSubject: Re: General Inquiry   Mon Mar 02, 2015 9:07 pm

What about times where he doesn't seem interested in me, food, or play? I know that will happen, and I know they can have a mind of their own. I am also aware that not EVERY second of the day is a good time for training. But are there tips for getting your dogs in "training mode" so they want to engage for rewards? Also, should I just stick with food rewards for the time being because of how young he is, or find other ways to implement other rewards at this time?
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seattlesibe
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PostSubject: Re: General Inquiry   Mon Mar 02, 2015 9:28 pm

It sounds like you are expecting too much too often. A dog is not a lab test, so you can't expect output all the time for your input.  

They are emotional beings who exist outside the framework of conditioning and response to stimulus.

This is especially true for a puppy.

It just sounds like you're a scientist frustrated with the test not responding as you'd expect.
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joemamma474
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PostSubject: Re: General Inquiry   Mon Mar 02, 2015 10:26 pm

I really cannot emphasize ENOUGH that I am NOT expecting these things of him RIGHT NOW. I am trying to think AHEAD for later problems that could be encountered and receive some feedback from people who may have encountered problems. I am well aware that he is just a puppy right now. I know you don't entirely agree with all aspects of behaviorism or some science, but please don't identify me as some sort of caricature of a behaviorist. I am bonding with him, we are not constantly training. I did not imply in my post above that I was frustrated with him at any point, I was simply asking about how to transition to different rewards in the future and asking for tips. I know he is an animal, not a test in a lab, and I would never approach him like that. I'm not sure why you are viewing me through that lens even though I am a proponent of positive reinforcement as per verifiable and repeatable science (but also not against punishment and other methods as well, as long as they are appropriate). So, again, please do not misinterpret what I am doing with the puppy or the reason I am asking the questions. I am not trying to be overly sensitive about this. I am new to these boards and wanted to gather input from a variety of different sources, but I can't help but feel condescended with some of the replies I am getting at times, possibly because people are not understanding my intent with some of my questions.
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amymeme
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PostSubject: Re: General Inquiry   Mon Mar 02, 2015 11:08 pm

For teaching not to chew on things or climb on things or anything you don't want him to do...in addition to switching with a toy or removing him from the couch, as soon as you see him even THINKING about a misbehavior, I just use a verbabl "Uh huh huh" - you can wag a finger along with the verbal. I don't yell or get stern or anything - just a matter of fact sort of "eh eh ehhh." He'll get the message in time.

I think maybe once he has become more accustomed to his new environment, he will respond more to rewards. Right now everything is new and exciting and disconcerting and curious...he's probably highly distractable, too, no?

One thing I have often said is that even when you are not training your dog, you are training him...it's just a process of coming to know what is expected.
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joemamma474
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PostSubject: Re: General Inquiry   Mon Mar 02, 2015 11:11 pm

Thank you Amy. That's what I'm noticing about him...just a lot of things for him to investigate and so he doesn't always find my wife and I to be a priority. That's fine, he's normal. When you give the warning do you move him away from the area or let him continue to do what he is doing?
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amymeme
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PostSubject: Re: General Inquiry   Tue Mar 03, 2015 12:21 am

At his age, the warning and the removal are pretty much simultaneous - he hasn't got a clue what your "squawking" about. This sort of what I mean by you're training him whether you mean to be training him or not...it's just everyday life and you are his guide as to how to negotiate his surroundings.

Also - you asked about a good time for a formal training session. After he's had some play/exercise activity - dissipate some of that energy. And, at his young age, probably even 5 minutes is plenty long (Ami, even at a year, 10 minutes was about it before he was a leapin' and a playin'

Just keep the sessions short, sweet and joyful - he'll respond.
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