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I've been trying to clicker train Tracker for almost a week now. I'm new to this, as is he. It's pretty clear to him that click means treat now. But what I haven't gotten across yet is that it's HIM and his behavior who holds the key to the cookie jar. I put a shoe box in front of him to get him to offer behaviors, and he'll poke it with his nose for a bit (and gets c/t'd every time), and then just looks at me and/or lies down (more comfy) and looks at me some more for many seconds, while the box is right next to him. And boy, does he loose interest fast if the treats don't come flying, and even then (I use hot dog pieces, which he loves) he'll quickly run out of steam (i.e. ideas). And that's all he ever offers. It seems to me that I need come up with something that works with his way of thinking at this point to help him get over the hump. Any suggestions as to what I can do with the only behavior on offer, which is pushing things with his nose? Any particular objects/set ups you used to get a somewhat "creatively challenged" hound to get it? I cannot believe he's the slow one; it must be the lack of experience on my part. It would seem to me that each breed would also have their specific strengths and abilities in the way they learn, which is why I posted here first. But just in case, does anybody know of a good clicker training forum online?

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When he lies down, you can click and treat too.

 

Are you wanting him to offer the same behavior, over and over again?

 

My dogs will stand there and look at me too. Sometimes, you just have to wait it out and give them a chance to make their next move. It's really interesting to see the wheels turning in their heads though. Like they know they are supposed to do something, but what?

 

Make sure the treats are very tiny pieces so you dog will keep wanting more. You might want to switch to something else really good too.

 

Also, are you clicking at the exact time that he does the thing you are clicking him for? Hope that made sense.

 

One other idea is to go ahead and assign a command to the behavior and see how that goes.

 

I am not sure if any of my suggestions are by the book but they worked well for us.

 

Jenn

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Guest CountryDogs

Hiya!

 

I teach clicker training classes and I see dogs pick up the click = treat thing at different rates. The idea of C/T the dog for offering behaviors is hugely fun but to encourage a variety of creative behaviors, I would click Tracker for ANYTHING he does with the caveat of "you can't do the same thing twice in a row". If he lays down, click. If he looks away, click. If he stretches, click. This can encourage some really creative behavior. If he does something again, ignore him and wait until he offers something else. Then when he had the idea that anything he does gets a click and treat, put the box back in front of him.

 

If you want to "up the ante" with the box and want him to do more than just nose butt it, wait until he's reliably nose touching the box. Then when he does it, withhold the C/T to cause a little frustration. You want him to say "Hey! Didn't you see that?" This will cause the dog to nose it harder, maybe push it toward you, bite at it, pick it up etc. when he does something different, then click him.

 

Good luck! :)

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That's a really good point, countrydogs (since I DON'T want him to repeat the same behavior over and over), that I for a while click ANYTHING he does. I've not done that specifically enough for his way of learning, I realize now. And then, even more specifically, DON'T c/t the same behavior twice in a row. This will hopefully get us both unstuck. I shall try that tomorrow right away!

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There's a term for this type of dog - it's not uncommon in shelter dogs and I think many of our greyhounds exhibit the same behavior of not realizing (or being afraid of) offering varying behaviors. Of course, the term is slipping my mind right now, but I'm not sure how important that is. My experience has been that certain greyhounds are this way to a greater extent than others, my female Neyla who was a spook when I got her and seems very "rule oriented" versus my male who I call a lab in a greyhound suit for instance.

 

Anyway, I had this problem when I first tried to do the 101 things with a box training. Neyla is really bright and she did really well in her clicker training obedience classes (they were still lure based reward training), but we always ran into problems with shaping so I gave up on it for a while. More recently I renewed my interest and I figured a couple of things out. One, you have to keep the rewards coming. If he's getting bored, frustrated or just plain giving up, you need to rethink what you're rewarding for. Initially you may just need to reward every time he moves toward the box, not just for touching it. And you need to increase that criteria SLOWLY. You also need to keep him moving. The best way I've found to do this is to throw the treat away from where we're working after each click. His natural reaction will be to go get the treat, then come back toward the box. Great, CLICK! Throw treat away, repeat. Once he's doing that reliably, then increase to asking him to make contact with the box in some way.

 

I actually don't recommend allowing him to get frustrated as recommended in the above post. That may work for dogs who have the natural inclination to offer behaviors, but my experience has been that allowing them to get frustrated removes the fun from shaping, which is the whole point. In the end, you want it to be fun and that will enhance their desire to offer behaviors as they start to pick up on what's happening. Allowing for frustration will only get you a dog that continues to give up.

 

To that end, also keep sessions very short so he doesn't lose interest. Use human food for training treats. As long as he doesn't have stomach issues, don't limit yourself - scraps from your last meal, steak is a favorite, hot dog pieces that have been microwaved until they're nice and crisp, we even use things like raw pieces of fish since my dogs are raw fed. Keep the pieces small so he can eat them quickly.

 

My other suggestion would be to consider shaping a different behavior, one that your dog will find rewarding in and of itself. My guess is that exploring a box isn't all that interesting to a greyhound. However, speak might be. Or for Zuri, teaching him to spin was in his opinion the. best. thing. EVER. :) My favorite trick that I taught Neyla was to blow bubbles. I wouldn't suggest this as your first behavior to teach if Tracker isn't fond of sticking his muzzle in water, but it would be easy enough to find out. Fill a wide bowl with a bit of water and drop some hot dog pieces inside. If he dives in readily, maybe blowing bubbles is a good one to teach (without the lure of course - scroll down to find the video on that page I linked to). I found it really easy to break it down into smaller increments so even though Neyla was a little reticent about the water, I was able to teach it in about a week (and we won best trick at our annual GH picnic :colgate).

 

Two great resources for shaping:

 

The Thinking Dog: Crossover to Clicker Training by Gail Fisher - this is where I got a lot of good info about the dogs who don't automatically offer behaviors. She's talking mostly about shelter dogs or dogs who have been trained using punishment, but it all applies to our greys as well and I found it very insightful. Plenty of practical training info too, it's by no means a theory book.

 

Karen Pryor's Reaching the Animal Mind - there are videos on her website that correspond to much of the material in this book (that's where the blowing bubbles idea came from). Don't Shoot the Dog is an excellent resource and a great place to start for background on positive training, but I think this book has much more to offer in terms of practical information about using shaping to train your dog. You can use the resources on the website even if you don't have the book too I guess.

 

I hope this helps.

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Jen, CPDT-KA with Zuri, lab in a greyhound suit, Violet, formerly known as Faith, Skye, the permanent puppy, Cisco, resident cat, and my baby girl Neyla, forever in my heart

"The great thing about science is that you're free to disagree with it, but you'll be wrong."

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That bubbles trick is hilarious!! I immediately after reading your post, Neylasmom, tried the treat in water test and all he did was drink the water to get to the hot dog... We'll try again tomorrow. But on the Reaching the Animal Mind I also watched the Scotty with ball video and since Tracker has an easy time nose butting things, I pulled out a ball and he immediately started pushing it a bit. Since a ball rolls, unlike a box, that's a fun and easy thing to teach, and in addition might get him interested in balls generally (he's got zero interest in toys). I also tried throwing the treats on the floor, which greatly confused him because he's so used at getting them from my hand. So between the pushing the ball and looking for treats on the floor he got a bit discombobulated, but I think we're on the right track.

 

I also like the suggestion to work with behavior that Tracker finds rewarding, and not get stuck on a box. I'll try the spinning suggestion. I assume you shaped that from a turn of the head until he completed a circle?

 

Your post has also been very helpful to me in pointing out that some dogs/hounds in particular won't offer behaviors readily. That's 100% true for Tracker. So far I've always stopped before he got to the point of frustration and just rewarded whatever small movement he'd make. Together we're figuring this out, step by step. It's so interesting to collect this information from other people's experiences here on GT and better and better understand breed specific behaviors. It helps to know it's not just me.

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It might help to take things a few steps back and really get down to basics by scrapping the official shaping sessions and tackling things separately. So one thing would be to just work on getting him comfortable taking treats other than straight for your hand (there are other reasons this is useful, like tossing a treat on the floor when rewarding for a stay keeps the dog focused on the ground and makes him less likely to try to get up to get the treat).

 

Also, the other poster's suggestion of rewarding anything at all was a really good suggestion - clicks for all behaviors simply so that Tracker starts to realize that his behavior is related to those clicks. You might even notice an aha moment when he makes this connection. If you want to still do sessions, make this all you do.

 

And I also had the additional thought that you could work first on capturing existing behaviors, starting with ones he does often. That may be even better than trying to teach a new behavior that would be fun. Don't pick something subtle like an ear twitch, pick something obvious like a sit, down, or playbow. And just click in every day life, don't stand around waiting for him to do it.

 

You can combine the latter two into a little game for yourself. Keep treats and a clicker on you at all times and just challenge yourself to find clickable moments throughout the day. We reward our dogs too little for behaviors that we like but that we've come to expect, like lying quietly on a dog bed or not jumping on us when we have food. Make those teachable moments and increase the frequency he gets clicked.

 

I think if you start doing a little of all of this, you'll soon have a dog who gets that his behavior affects the clicks and that clicker training is fun and then you can really dig into the shaping session.

 

Oh, regarding the spin, I know I've seen a video of that behavior being taught too - maybe on Karen Pryor's site as well? If not, it was probably in one of the training seminars I attended, which won't help you, but yes, you startw ith any movement in the right direction - could be a head turn or a paw lifting and then go from there. Dogs tend to have a direction they prefer to spin in so you might also try to identify that first and then work in only that direction. For Zuri it's counterclockwise. :)

 

I meant to also say that I think it's great that you are doing this type of training. I wish more people had the level of interest and motivation you do. :)

gallery_12662_3351_862.jpg

Jen, CPDT-KA with Zuri, lab in a greyhound suit, Violet, formerly known as Faith, Skye, the permanent puppy, Cisco, resident cat, and my baby girl Neyla, forever in my heart

"The great thing about science is that you're free to disagree with it, but you'll be wrong."

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I started today with tossing treats on the ground and found it really helps to bend down a bit before I drop the treat from my hand so he can follow my hand with his eyes and then see where the treat lands much more readily (some treats bounce a bit, I've found!). This seems to help him. I also started c/t whenever he offers behavior throughout the day. And we also do short sessions when I just c/t specifically for whatever he offers me, like turning his head, looking straight at me, pointing his nose between his forelegs when he's lying down etc. I think I've gotten a feel for the flow of things with him in terms of how he responds in the moment and to just be creative with whatever he might be doing (I'm saying "doing", because he's not "offering" yet).

 

Thanks for the compliment on my doing this; it's so much fun to watch his mind work and having my creativity and timing tested that I don't understand why not more people do this either! What a wonderful foundation for a canine/human relationship.

 

I have "The Thinking Dog" on order...

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One other idea is to go ahead and assign a command to the behavior and see how that goes.

 

I do this pretty much 100% of the time -- name the behavior that the dog is doing. I *want* the dog to repeat that behavior (altho I won't ask until I think he's got the command-behavior link reasonably well down). For example, if I want to teach the dog to lie down on command, I might arm myself with treats (and clicker if desired) and watch for when the dog is about to lie down so I can associate the command and reward with the action. I don't want a random assortment of actions, not sure what the point is of that.

 

ETA: I also try to find something easy for the dog to learn, like shaking hands (easy for most dogs tho not all), to extend the training session just a smidge. Dogs love success, and an easy win helps keep them fresh and interested.

Star aka Starz Ovation (Ronco x Oneco Maggie*, litter #48538), Coco aka Low Key (Kiowa Mon Manny x Party Hardy, litter # 59881), and mom in Illinois
We miss Reko Batman (Trouper Zeke x Marque Louisiana), 11/15/95-6/29/06, Rocco the thistledown whippet, 04/29/93-10/14/08, Reko Zema (Mo Kick x Reko Princess), 8/16/98-4/18/10, the most beautiful girl in the whole USA, my good egg Joseph aka Won by a Nose (Oneco Cufflink x Buy Back), 09/22/2003-03/01/2013, and our gentle sweet Gidget (Digitizer, Dodgem by Design x Sobe Mulberry), 1/29/2006-11/22/2014, gone much too soon. Never forgetting CJC's Buckshot, 1/2/07-10/25/10.

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I have "The Thinking Dog" on order...

:yay I hope you like it. I looked through it again yesterday and there is so much useful information. I had forgotten how much background she gives on the evolution of training, the 4 quadrants, the principles behind positive training, etc. as well as step by step instructions on teaching a lot of behaviors. I want to spread the word about this book b/c I think so few people know about it compared to things like Don't Shoot the Dog, etc. which, while great books, are not as practical imo.

 

I was wrong though, it doesn't appear that I got the info on dogs that don't offer behaviors from that book. I racked my brain trying to remember the term I was thinking of and where I heard it, but I'm at a total loss. I remembered one, which is learned helplessness, but that's not the one I was thinking of. It's totally not important for your purposes, it's just really bugging me now. :lol I actually think maybe I heard it at the ABMA conference I attended so now I'm going to have to dig up my notes from that. :P

gallery_12662_3351_862.jpg

Jen, CPDT-KA with Zuri, lab in a greyhound suit, Violet, formerly known as Faith, Skye, the permanent puppy, Cisco, resident cat, and my baby girl Neyla, forever in my heart

"The great thing about science is that you're free to disagree with it, but you'll be wrong."

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