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Discussion Starter #1
Hello everyone!
Granger is now 9.5 months and he is really regressing with his training. The "come" command (with a treat) hardly works. Other commands when just taking a walk like "sit" doesnt work. I'm afraid I can't take him on off leash places because he seems to ignore me. How do I retrain him because what I did before is not working. Tell me your experiences and solutions, please! Thank you in advance!
 

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What you are dealing with is puppy "adolescence". Think of Granger in the context of a human child in his early teens.

The best advice I can give you is to keep up with the training and tell yourself, "This too shall pass."
 

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Yes, you could try dry fish :p

From my previous dog (male GSD) I had to rely on his mind and be very, very patient. He will come because he loves you and he is attached to you.
I would lay off treats, rely on my bond, tryst my dog and it may turn out be a very rewarding experience.

Try this: Time how long it takes for Granger to check in with you (without calling him) as you let him explore off leash... normally it's in around 15-30 seconds.
 

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I have the same feeling of regression training that happened around the same time with our pup. Thank for sharing. It's amazing how many "stages" there are of training a puppy and it's nice to know that I'm not crazy and others are experiencing similar things!
 

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My puppy ignores me on a walk if he is focusing on others whether people dogs or other distractions. What I do is give a command lets say sit. If he doesn't respond I give swift pull to the side on the leash. If he stills ignores I take my index and middle fingers and do a very quick jab in the side of his neck. Make sure you do this in the side not the front, and not hard just firm enough to say hey focus on me not the distraction. Seems to work but of course some distractions are too strong to control a puppy.
 

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Relax. This is normal.
Granger is in the "testing phase". He's basically challenging your decisions and determining if his ideas are better than your ideas. This is not a dominance issue, or an Alpha/Omega thing. He's just growing up.
Now is the time for you to "up your game". You need to work with Granger and show him that your ideas are more fun and more exciting than his ideas.
You are absolutely not trying to dominate him. If you try to dominate him, he will shut down and then you will need to restablish confidence and trust to move forward.

Get him back on the leash, or checkcord and work all of the basic commands. I guarantee you that he has forgotten none of them, and you just have to let him know that even though he is growing up, you still call the shots.
Once he comes around a bit, which shouldn't take more tha a few minutes, make the training fun and exciting. Move him out and don't let him have much time to make his own decisions. Keep him moving, even if you have to run to do it.
Take him to new places to train, he may be a little stagnant and just needs something new to challenge him.

As for the treats; I'm sorry, but it's time to stop the treats for performance methods. What you are now experiencing is what I refer to as "holes"in training. Granger learned "tricks" to get treats, and it was important to him that he pleased you too in the process. Now it's a little less important to him,and he is able to make a decision on his own concerning the treats. I never want my dogs to make a decision concerning a command. I don't want them doing it out of fear, or out of reward, I just want them to obey the command because it makes sense to them and is a natural as can be.
My dogs get lots of treats but never for performance or obedience.
 

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Gunnr said:
As for the treats; I'm sorry, but it's time to stop the treats for performance methods. What you are now experiencing is what I refer to as "holes"in training. Granger learned "tricks" to get treats, and it was important to him that he pleased you too in the process. Now it's a little less important to him,and he is able to make a decision on his own concerning the treats. I never want my dogs to make a decision concerning a command. I don't want them doing it out of fear, or out of reward, I just want them to obey the command because it makes sense to them and is a natural as can be.
My dogs get lots of treats but never for performance or obedience.
This^^^

I don't use treats for training. When I give treats it is a surprise and never expected. Nice post!
 

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I dealt with this a few mos back and am surely going to face it again in a few months, but here are some things that I've done that have helped and great advice I received:

-Someone suggested this to me & it really worked in our case: try not to poison your "come" command by saying it too much. Allow your dog to sniff and explore and be a dog as much as possible so that you allow him fun. Point things out to him that he likes so that you are part of his fun and he trusts you. When I tell my dog, "look!" he goes absolutely nuts because he's associated it with something near that he just shouldn't miss. When I do use my "come" command, I try to reward my dog sporadically by either releasing him again when he came, so that come doesn't = end of fun or by giving him something super nice that he loves. Our recall has vastly improved, because coming with me means something awesome happens! I also have taught him a "go get it" or "go sniff" command to counterbalance the "come" and to try and get him to understand that my direction is something really fun. Your obviously not going to be able to have all fun, but try to get it balanced in that direction.

-your dog needs help choosing you over instinct. You feel as though your training has regressed; really your dog's interest in his drives has just ramped up. Keep working on training, get back to the basics like impulse control in the house and getting his attention through a "look at me" or "watch" command (let me know if you need steps for this) and start trying it outside on a leash or check cord. He's going to want to chase critters over listening to you, but he needs you to teach him how to stop in his tracks and turn his back on that interesting critter just because you asked. This is done through patience and repetition and with slowly increasing the stimulus (proximity of an animal to him), along with a leash to gently guide him back to you and praising him like crazy when he chose you. Another great reward is releasing him when he chooses you. That's a major jackpot.

I hear (and agree) that adolescence is one of the most, if not THE most, challenging times, and this is when most owners give up. Keep up your training and just recognize that your dog has much larger desires now and that it's your job to teach him to overcome them by being a great leader. You'll get through this!

Laura
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thank you everyone for your responses!

Gunnr: How do I "up my game" and have Granger know that I am more exciting and fun than his ideas? I am having trouble keeping his attention without treats. Please give me some ideas on how to keep his attention and have him interested.

Laurita: Please give me the steps for the look at me or watch command. How do you enforce good behavior without treats?

Thank you again for your responses. I am willing to work hard with Granger but he seems very set on ignoring me and it gets very hard to see any progress. Granger was great as a younger pup. He did have a lot of moments when he would grab things around the house and have us chase him, but he listened for the most part. Now that he ignores everyone, it's very hard to create a strong bond with him. He also tends to bark like crazy when you're trying to have him focus on something he's not interested and sometimes tries to mouth you. Not bite but a strong mouth. How I prevent this from happening?! Thank you!
 

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Grangeristhename

Upping your game is more mental than physical, but sometimes being more physical helps.

For the past few months Granger has been "growing up" and was pretty dependent on you. Now he's becoming more independent, which is necessary for him to become the bird dog he was bred to be. he's doing exactly what he should be doing right now.
The same attitude he's blowing you off with now, is the same attitude that will allow him to crash through briars and brambles, and maintain the focus needed to track down foot scent and cripples. Believe it or not, it's a good sign that he is ignoring you at times.
He is in essence asking for more from you now, and letting you know he needs more challenges, and this is how he is communicating it.
He's also being a little dirtball too, but it will take a little while to sort out the willfull disobedience ( dirtballness), from the instinctive drive component that is beginning to kick in.
I would begin to let him range more. Get a bell on his neck, take him to a large wooded area ( Forest or Wildlife Management Area), attach a 30'-50' checkcord to him and let him go.
Keep him moving, and get him into all sorts of different cover. Let him strectch out his legs and blow off some steam. Believe me, you're going to be doing a lot of running.
Once he's blown off some excess energy get ahold of the check cord and start all of the commands at the run. Basically think of it as having him heel and come in a lazy manner on a 50' line. You're not looking for him to come all the way back to you, or come to a heel by your side. Your just trying to change his direction and keep him focused on you for input.
Look for him to change direction with you with just some slight encouragement and maybe a little gentle tug.
You're going to let him get away with a little nonsense here. If he doesn't resopond to the commands and move in your direction, you keep moving in that direction and let the checkcord do the work. Keep moving him, but make it fun. Lots of praise, enthusiasm, and energy on your part.
It's not strict obedience training at this point. It's more of introducing him to a new playing field and working out the rules together. It's a new level where mentally he has more freedom to physically exert himself under some control.

He's got the obedince component trained into him already. He just needs a little slack, and some time to put it together.

By the way, he's not "regressing", he's "progressing". ;)
 

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I totally agree with the above post by Gunnr.

To add and to answer your question- I'm not sure how you are with your dog, what you guys do for fun, etc, but try to spend quality time in some open land like Gunnr suggested and bond in your time together. When you do this, try to stay quiet when you're around your dog and exploring. Don't call his name too much, don't say, "granger, no! granger, no!" etc. Just allow him to explore, take in all the scents, search, etc. When you want to talk, say something exciting or fun for him to get ramped up with you.

In response to the above question, I'm actually a fan of reinforcement used wisely. Not everyone agrees with me and that's totally fine. I personally think it's helped to teach my dog what I want very quickly by reinforcing him with things he loves in a sporadic fashion. There's a difference between treating him when he makes the right choice and putting a treat in front of his face and asking him to do something.

I recently purchased and read Pat Miller's The Power of Positive Training, 2nd ed. and it was excellent. I wish I had heard of it sooner, but it really helps with training. A few people on here have been using clickers and have seen great results with it, so if you're interested you can get one at any pet store for cheap. All it does is make a clicking noise to show your dog at the precise moment that he did the right thing, because often our own praise is ill-timed, inconsistent, etc. You begin by clicking and offering a treat and over time, they begin to associate the click with feelings of pleasure and it is a reinforcement in itself.

In the house, when Granger is distracted, get near him and just wait patiently for him to look at you. The second he does, click and pop a treat. When he turns his head away and looks back at you, click and pop a treat. The more distracted he is, the better the treat needs to be. In my experience, sweet potato, blue cheese, and hot dog are wildly popular. Keep doing this a few times and then start saying look at me when he's doing it pretty consistently so he begins to understand what the phrase means. I use "look at me" but you can just use his name, use "watch," whatever you like best. Once you have this in the house ok, take him somewhere not too distracting. You could try your driveway on a leash. He'll be distracted but the second he looks at you, click and treat. Keep doing it and then try with the "look at me" command. I work on this command when I take my dog to outdoor restaurants and cafes to increase his level of distraction. Then I began doing it on our heel practice. I also use it if we're going somewhere really exciting and he wants to pull like crazy to get there. We ain't moving unless he looks at me when I ask and then we take a few steps forward. Those steps forward are his reinforcement. So you don't necessarily have to use treats, you can use anything that they want to reinforce them. Hope that helps!!

Laura
 

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Laura, thank you for that explanation of "watch me", I really had no idea how to teach that. Brooklyn picks up thinks very fast, and that skill will be so helpfull!
 

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You are very welcome. It also helps if you're wanting to get your dog to sit or lie down in a distracting environment but he/she isn't looking at you (low probability of them following the command). Instead you can first ask for a look and then ask for what you want. Keep in mind that at first it will be hard to get in distracting environments so you may want to start rewarding when he/she barely turns his/her head so that it's an easy request and then require more and more for the reward.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thank you Laurita, Gunnr, and everyone for your responses!

@Laurita: I am going to buy a clicker once I get off work tomorrow morning!

@Gunnr: What commands should i start teaching him with him out in the field. Unfortunately for Granger, I do not hunt. But I remember a post that you wrote where you told us to train Vizsla's as if they were to hunt. What training and how should I start to train Granger?

Thank you, everyone! This surely helps a lot as there is now a new focus and journey for Granger and I!
 

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Grangeristhename

In my opinion the most important command in the field is "come", followed closely by the "Hup" command. There are more commands for certain that a finished bird dog needs to learn, but these two by themselves would make for a pretty successful day hunting, even if the dog and handler hadn't worked on the rest.
These commands are based on the "Come" command and the "Heel up" command, but there is a new twist.

When "Come" is taught, on the leash in the backyard, the expectation is that the dog comes all the way too you. In the field however " Come" means not only that, but is also the command to get the dogs attention and move him in another direction.
For example; If I'm out hunting Gunnr and she's getting into an area I can't possible follow her in to. I'll give her the come command, and change direction. This means two things to Gunnr; One is that she has to begin to come in. Two, when she notices I've changed direction she know she is supposed to in front of me. The "come" command is not "reinforced" here simply because I don't want her to come to me, just change direction and get in front of me. A slap on the thigh, or a clap, followed by the change in direction is enough now. She is "supposed" to be aware of me. Sometimes she needs a little help though. ;)
The "Hup", or "Hee-up" is literally a slurred "Heel up". In this instance though I again am not enforcing it. What I am looking for is for Gunnr to return to me and lazily move parallel to me in a new direction for a short time before being sent off.
These are the same commands I used with all of my dogs on the mountain bike. So they're not just used for hunting.
I think that if you could poll the folks that hunt on the forum, you would find that after the first year or two hunting they're rarely giving their dogs any directions and everything begins to happen a little more "automatically". The dog knows what to do. In time Granger will begin to do all of this on his own,and the vocal communication between the two of you will be very minimal. I rarely do more than clap my hands, or give a guick "Hee-yup" or "Co-mon" in the woods. It's just not necessary.
Granger will get there soon,sometime in the next few months. A little more maturity and some work and he'll be fine.
 

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kellygh said:
One of my favorite words "dirtball!" ;D Good posts by Gunnr, and good advice for us all I think.
Yep, and wouldn't ya' know that after posting praises of Gun's behavior, She was a total dirtball in the woods yesterday morning.
We'll give her another go this morning, but alone without Tika. ;)
 
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