|Barked: Mon Mar 10, '14 9:49am PST |
|As you've figured out, clicker training (ie, marker training, etc) uses a lot of food, especially when the dog is young or just starting out. The early stages are all about laying a proper foundation with your pup -- one where the pup finds working with you reinforcing. But on top of that, the puppy needs to find you MORE reinforcing than its environment. That can be difficult, so, again, you will be using a lot of food or other similarly reinforcing-but-controllable items like toys and play.
As your pup grows and learns self control and has a long history of finding you reinforcing and fun, you can gradually reduce the amount of food you use. Basically, consider food like a paycheque. If your pup is young and the simple act of paying attention around a distraction is seriously hard work, pay the pup big time for his effort. If your dog is older and he knows "sit" like the back of his hand, you may not pay him much/at all for it, but if he heels beautifully with you as you walk down the street and a squirrel runs across is path and he ignores it (tough for a dog!) I would again pay him big time for his hard work.
I still carry kibble about when I walk my dog off leash to reward focus around distractions and recalling promptly, and she's 4.
So, to repeat, consider the food a paycheque. You don't go into the office happily every day for fun - you expect a paycheque for your hard work. Your dog will learn to love to listen to you, but recognizing your dog's hard work and showing appreciation will keep your dog working hard next time too. You'll learn to use things other than food, like toys or getting to sniff an interesting lamp post, and your dog will learn that he can get what he wants if he does what you want. The food doesn't have to be forever, but you should always aim to be the biggest provider of reinforcement for your dog.
Re: the digging, I've heard that most hound pups are big diggers. As you've already noticed, it's a self-reinforcing behaviour. I would either manage the behaviour by not leaving him unattended outside and redirecting to something fun if he starts digging, or I would give him an area where he's allowed to dig to his heart's content like a sandbox.
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