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Training an older dog a new command

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

  
Lilly

1246457
 
 
Barked: Sun Jul 21, '13 8:00am PST 
We adopted Lilly in Feb of this year. She is 8 yrs old, and a retired dog from a kennel that trains and breeds hunting dogs. She holds a senior hunt title, and came to us with excellent manners and rock solid behavior.

While we don't hunt, we do make sure to regularly give her the opportunity to do water retrieves because she really loves it, and it's good exercise for her. We also regularly practice basic obedience.

The one thing she was not taught to do was a down or a down stay. Because she was trained to hunt, she needed to be up where she could see, and focus on what was going on, sometimes at a great distance. I would like to teach her a down command for her own comfort. When we have her out and about with us there are times when we stop to talk to people, or eat at an outdoor restaurant, and she will sit and wait politely, but NEVER lay down.

She does love her food and I've tried using treats as bait to get her into the down position. She wants no part of it and just sits there patiently looking at me. Should I just not worry about it at this point?

On another topic completely: In the whole time we've had her, we have never once heard her bark. Never. I suppose it goes back to her training. A noisy dog would not be a good hunting companion. I would just love to hear her bark...just once.
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Arya

Serious Face
 
 
Barked: Sun Jul 21, '13 9:28am PST 
Can you lure her into a laying down position?? By holding the treat near her nose and moving it slowly towards the ground. Make sure this is the highest value treat you can come up with. With her training, she might just sit and wait patiently for the treat instead of trying things to get it...but maybe with a high value treat she'll want it bad enough to move with it.

You can also try capturing the down with a clicker if you can't lure her. If she isn't clicker trained already, you'll first want to charge the clicker, which basically means just clicking it and giving treats until she associates the clicker noise with getting treats. Then you can practice using the clicker with commands she already knows. Sit, click, treat. Come, click, treat. Etc.

Keep an eye out for when she goes to lay down and click and treat as soon as she does. After a few times of doing this, you can start saying Down while she's laying down, and then click and treat. You don't want to say it too soon or she won't have any guess as to what your asking and might offer a different behavior.

http://www.clickertraining.com/node/644


Getting her to bark...you might want to contact the people you got her from and ask if there's anything she barks at. She's probably been trained to be quiet so it may be difficult to set her off on your own. Maybe get her really excited about playing a game, or go out with her in the yard and see if she alert barks at any strangers that walk by.
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Lilly

1246457
 
 
Barked: Sun Jul 21, '13 2:24pm PST 
Thank-you Arya. She's not having any part of the luring into the down position with a high value treat....and she is a dog who LOVES food...any food. big grin I'm going to give the clicker a try. She is very aware of sounds in her environment, so I think it is something that may work.

Her previous owners stated that they hadn't heard her bark in a long time either. She doesn't get too worked up about anything or anyone coming into her space...except for rabbits. She loves to chase the rabbits, even though she's never caught one. She loves water retrieving though, and I'm thinking that I may be able to get her a bit more excited by withholding the throw for a longer time. I also think that some of it is due to her being older and still doing some settling in (she lived in a kennel, not a house). This afternoon while we were outside I managed to get her excited enough to take off and do some "zoomies" around the yard. It's the first time we've seen her really "let go" like that, and it made me smile.
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Czarka, CGC- UJJ

Why walk when- you can run?
 
 
Barked: Mon Jul 22, '13 8:33am PST 
I'll second clicker training... and as you start this, do some reading on 'shaping' behaviors. You CAN teacher an older dog new tricks.

As for the bark laugh out loud ... No joy here. Charks is a pretty silent creature. Woofs are rare in day-to-day life. Excited barking (higher pitched [for a shep] and fairly rapid)? Yep, she gives that for agility and dock jumping... but critter stalking is stealthy.

You do remind me we've got to get out for some dock jumping this weekend wink
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Lilly

1246457
 
 
Barked: Mon Jul 22, '13 3:16pm PST 
Thank you Czarka. Is there a specific website, or book, that you recommend that would have information on shaping behaviors? Lilly is a pretty forgiving dog, but I'd like to get it as right as I can the first time around.

Quite by accident I discovered another trick she was hiding from us. I dropped my keys and looked at her and said "you could pick that up" and pointed at them. To my surprise she did pick them up and held them until I gave her the release command.

I'm having so much fun getting to know this dog, and haven't regretted for a single minute adopting an older dog. big grin
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Czarka, CGC- UJJ

Why walk when- you can run?
 
 
Barked: Tue Jul 23, '13 7:55am PST 
I'd have to dig a bit... but this is a pretty good discussion of shaping. We had a really good advanced ob class where the instructor would present us with a desired complex behavior (like "have your dog pick up the stuffed toy and put it in the basket, then pick up the basket and bring it to you") and we'd have to work it out.

You should take a look at Karen Pryor's Clicker training for dogs.

Be aware... if your pup didn't go through her earlier training in an R world (very common that field training involves some punishment), Lilly may begin much more afraid of making a mistake. For pure clicker trained dogs, they will throw behaviors happily trying to perceive your intent without worry of mistakes laugh out loud

Edited by author Tue Jul 23, '13 7:55am PST

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Lilly

1246457
 
 
Barked: Tue Jul 23, '13 8:40am PST 
Thanks again Czarka. I'm going to pick up the Karen Pryor book this weekend so that I have something at hand that I can reference. What I've been doing in the meantime is simply clicking and treating. I'm doing it at random times during the day so that she just learns to associate the click with something positive.

I think I can be fairly certain that there was some punishment included in her training, just by the way that she reacts to certain tones of voice and movements. She's not skittish, and she doesn't shy away...it's more in the way she holds her body.

What has been most fun about Lilly is watching her evolve into a dog who is part of the family, rather than a dog who lives in a kennel. (I don't mean to imply that she was mistreated in any way. She was well taken care of, has had all of the health testing available, and was taken out of the kennel on a daily basis for interaction with people, and I wouldn't hesitate to get another dog from her previous owners.) It's a beautiful thing to see this dog who is very calm and serious, begin to relax and show her more playful side. I won't ever again hesitate about adopting an older dog.
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Czarka, CGC- UJJ

Why walk when- you can run?
 
 
Barked: Wed Jul 24, '13 12:09pm PST 
Lilly sounds like just a wonderful dog... and she does, indeed, come from a different world. Believe you and she will enjoy the clicker wink
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