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Steven_L
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PostSubject: Appropriate Rewards   Fri Apr 02, 2010 6:22 pm

Just finished my lastest blog: http://dog-notes.blogspot.com/2010/04/identifying-effective-rewards.html

This one was about identifying effective rewards. Most people will think that food+verbal praise consitute the great reward for dogs, and while this is true in some cases it's not 100% reliable. I wrote a bit about how if a dog's attention and motivation is leaning towards something other than food and verbal praise, then the latter aren't considered "high value".

There's an example of a Golden Retriever and fearful dog and how in their minds something completely different would make for a more effective reinforcer.

Hope you guys like it, let me know what you think!

P.S. let me know if anything sounds strange...like I've said before I have the problem of knowing what I mean but not necessarily putting it in an intelligible way.lol.

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PostSubject: Re: Appropriate Rewards   Fri Apr 02, 2010 9:02 pm

Well I found that tiny pieces of hot dog and verbal priase work well or beggin bites from walmart pizza flavored work good too my dog loves it Cool
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PostSubject: Re: Appropriate Rewards   Fri Apr 02, 2010 9:47 pm

Baloo is all about meeting new dogs right now. When he sees one, I have him run through a quick series of commands, because the ultimate reward at that moment is to meet the new dog. You're exactly right, the rewards we give them aren't always what they want the most. They tolerate our ignorance. Razz
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PostSubject: Re: Appropriate Rewards   Sat Apr 03, 2010 5:24 pm

very well written Steven. and thought provoking. i quite agree that when a dog is playing fetch, or being taught to fetch, the highest reward he could want at that time is for you to throw the ball or whatever again. on the other hand, fetch is often half of an action. you would normally couple the fetch with a give wouldnt you? how you gonna get the ball off him without a higher reward than the ball once he realises that your arent going to throw it again?
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PostSubject: Re: Appropriate Rewards   Sun Apr 04, 2010 9:40 am

First, Well written Steven!!! Its amazing how many training subjects are related to "bonding" with your dog. Wink I agree with your article 100% and it has made me think of a few things that relate to issues that I have come across. Id like your input too.

My example is as follows.

Friendly dogs (that are often allowed to play with your dog) are running and playing in a neighbor's yard. There is no fence between your dog and the neighbor's yard and your dog is off leash. You are teaching your dog to stay in your yard, and not to leave it for any reason. With no distraction, your dog does well. Today there are 2 distractions.

You command your dog to sit and stay. The dog stays, (for about one second), and is not concentrating on you b.c he clearly wants to go and play with the other dogs. You offer a high value treat, a toy, and everything else you can think of as a reward and also to try to keep the dog in his "sit-stay" but he refuses all of them. As soon as he sees the treat or toy he takes off and goes down to play.

Because he ONLY wants the reward to be "allowing him to go play" but the goal is to keep the dog in your yard at all cost ... how can you:

1). Get thru to the dog that he must ALWAYS stay?
2). Find a higher reward when "Play" is his highest reward?

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lucysnewmum
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PostSubject: Re: Appropriate Rewards   Sun Apr 04, 2010 6:43 pm

i have a similar problem with a pond and Lucy when we are out walking. if she is off leash, which she very often is in the field i am talking about, and she sees the water there is NOTHING on this earth will keep her from going in that pond (apart from a lead!). the reward of cooling off after a nice run in the woods is more than any reward i can give her!
i tried allsorts to keep her out - to no avail. now i just take it that it is part of the daily routine of walking the way we do. if i dont want a wet dog - i go another way or into a different field!
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PostSubject: Re: Appropriate Rewards   Mon Apr 05, 2010 6:23 pm

lucysnewmum wrote:
You would normally couple the fetch with a give wouldnt you? how you gonna get the ball off him without a higher reward than the ball once he realises that your arent going to throw it again?

Alright, I might be understanding this wrong but lets see.... so the question is how do you get a dog to give you the ball when you want to end the game? Technically he isn't going to give it to you because the game itself is the reward. Alright, well in my article I did say that in some cases the dog will find all the "extra" stuff sorta annoying because its delaying the game, but that isn't the case 100% of the time, many dogs would surely welcome a piece of ham every now and then. If you have any suspicion that the dog won't give up the ball because its having too much fun (well first this should tell you that you need to work on better proofing and conditioning the "Drop" command) but you can go through the usual actions of the "Drop" command. Offer a treat, have the ball drop in your hand, and give the treat. However you don't want to take the ball right there and then immediately else the dog will start to notice that the second the treat appears it means its the end of the game. You do this a few times before you want to end the game, and then eventually when you give him the treat stop the game.

Now the end of the game doesn't have to be it. Put the ball away after the game so it doesn't become a distraction. Then switch to a situation in which the treats you have becoming the highest value reward, for instance you can go through a series of obedience commands and give a treat after he's completed them correctly.

If worse comes to worse and the dog just refuses to give you the ball you can use negative punishment by simply leaving him alone. Say "Ok sure you can have the ball, but I'm not playing with you anymore". Its not like he can force you to play, right Cool This may backfire on you if the dog just sits there and chews on the ball which would be rewarding in itself... but I think thats a different subject.lol.

Hope that answered that question though, but maybe you meant something else? If so let me know.

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PostSubject: Re: Appropriate Rewards   Mon Apr 05, 2010 6:38 pm

Betterdog4u wrote:
Friendly dogs (that are often allowed to play with your dog) are running and playing in a neighbor's yard. There is no fence between your dog and the neighbor's yard and your dog is off leash. You are teaching your dog to stay in your yard, and not to leave it for any reason. With no distraction, your dog does well. Today there are 2 distractions.

You command your dog to sit and stay. The dog stays, (for about one second), and is not concentrating on you b.c he clearly wants to go and play with the other dogs. You offer a high value treat, a toy, and everything else you can think of as a reward and also to try to keep the dog in his "sit-stay" but he refuses all of them. As soon as he sees the treat or toy he takes off and goes down to play.

Because he ONLY wants the reward to be "allowing him to go play" but the goal is to keep the dog in your yard at all cost ... how can you:

1). Get thru to the dog that he must ALWAYS stay?
2). Find a higher reward when "Play" is his highest reward?

Alright, I think this might delve a little into frustration tolerance and impulse control. Its kind of the same thing as prey drive, where the dog's highest value reward would obviously go after the prey, impulse control can go a long ways in helping a dog with mild prey drive. However I think the example above isn't as severe so lets see if I can answer that question.

Ok first off, just in case there has been any loose ends in the training for the sit stay, I'd say that the dog needs to be trained on the sit stay in an environment where the treat is the highest reward (treat or toy, whichever). That means the elimination of the playful dog in the backyard.lol. Next, you proof the behavior by adding other distractions that aren't as high value as playing with another dog would be.

You eventually try the sit stay with the other dog in the backyard, this has to be done on the leash though, otherwise you have little to no control over the situation.

In this case, you are right, playing with the other dog is the highest reward, there isn't much we can do to change that unless you want to change the environment all together. Assuming that you don't want to do the latter, the only other option is to use that knowledge to your advantage.

Have the dog in a sit-stay. Hold it for 10 seconds and then release. Tell your dog to go play with the other dog. Give it a few minutes, call your dog, place it on a sit-stay, hold it for 30 seconds and then release again. You get the idea right? You slowly increase the time the stay is held. You could incorperate treats if you want or anything else to fill that time up, but make sure to always release the dog so that he knows he's evetually going to get what he wants.

Always remember to "mark" each successful sit-stay with a "Good Boy" to indicate that you are pleased (you need to communicate with your dog, whether the dog views this as a reward or not).

If the dog decides to break the sit-stay before the time you've set, grab hold of the leash and take him inside. Work on the sit-stays inside and later go back outside.

Do you think that would work?

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PostSubject: Re: Appropriate Rewards   Mon Apr 05, 2010 7:11 pm

And no matter how reliable they seem, never assume that a dog is 100% reliable. They rarely, if ever, are. There's always something out there that is to overpowering, perhaps something you never even thought of.
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PostSubject: Re: Appropriate Rewards   Mon Apr 05, 2010 7:15 pm

Ann wrote:
And no matter how reliable they seem, never assume that a dog is 100% reliable. They rarely, if ever, are. There's always something out there that is to overpowering, perhaps something you never even thought of.

Indeed, very true. Dogs arent robots afterall Nervous

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PostSubject: Re: Appropriate Rewards   Mon Apr 05, 2010 8:41 pm

Steven,
The sit-stay still needs work. His dog can only hold it for about a minute or two at most with no distraction. I told him I thought he was pushing it to move outside with other dogs at this point. FYI, when I got Neka, She could only hold for about 20 secs. I worked her alone until she could hold for 4 mins before I introduced any distractions. Now she will hold for 5 mins plus if I ask her to.

I HAVE started working with the dog during play sessions as you mentioned, but it feels like im "getting the cart in front of the horse" if you know what I mean! The dog will sit for me, for about 20-30 seconds, tops. But only after he burns off some energy for about 5 mins. Im not taking it back to the house when it gets up. Ive just been removing it to a location away from the other dogs. He's doing better after only one week, but he has a LONG way to go. I cant help but think, if he would work with the dog "alone" for at least a month he would make much faster progress. But Im fighting the owner on this one!!! The reason I feel this way, is b/c it has worked with Chip and Neka ... and has also been working with Patchs. (Patchs is still a work in progress).

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PostSubject: Re: Appropriate Rewards   Tue Apr 06, 2010 5:46 pm

Betterdog4u wrote:
Steven,
The sit-stay still needs work. His dog can only hold it for about a minute or two at most with no distraction. I told him I thought he was pushing it to move outside with other dogs at this point. FYI, when I got Neka, She could only hold for about 20 secs. I worked her alone until she could hold for 4 mins before I introduced any distractions. Now she will hold for 5 mins plus if I ask her to.

I HAVE started working with the dog during play sessions as you mentioned, but it feels like im "getting the cart in front of the horse" if you know what I mean! The dog will sit for me, for about 20-30 seconds, tops. But only after he burns off some energy for about 5 mins. Im not taking it back to the house when it gets up. Ive just been removing it to a location away from the other dogs. He's doing better after only one week, but he has a LONG way to go. I cant help but think, if he would work with the dog "alone" for at least a month he would make much faster progress. But Im fighting the owner on this one!!! The reason I feel this way, is b/c it has worked with Chip and Neka ... and has also been working with Patchs. (Patchs is still a work in progress).

I totally feel for you Mike, people somtimes think that a trainer's job is training the dog but that is WRONG, training the owner takes longer and is much more frustrating Frustrated

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