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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I use mostly positive training, and especially the clicker, with Kane because he's a softer dog now. I used harsh methods when he was a puppy, harsher methods than he needed, and so now he responds fearfully with the more "traditional" training methods (prong/pinch collars, heavier corrections like leash pops, etc). This has forced me to be more creative with how I train and to be more cautious and thoughtful about what I do with him.

Anyways, I use the clicker because I've found it a very effective way to communicate clearly and neutrally with Kane. Two things I've been working on him with recently are 1) giving me eye contact before I give him a treat and 2) a Go to Mat command.

After several sessions on the eye contact = treat, he still doesn't completely understand it. He will usually look at the treat, then at the clicker, and then at me as if to say, "Ok, why are we just sitting here?", although he has gotten a little quicker with the sequence.

And yet, within 5 minutes of our session on Go to Mat training today, he understood that The Mat was the point of the exercise and would immediately return to the mat after I released him from it.

My question is ... why is the eye contact = treat harder for him to understand then the Go to Mat training when I'm shaping both of them? As in, I'm not luring him to look up at me with the treat, I'm waiting for him to volunteer it, and I'm not luring him to the mat by throwing treats on it, I'm waiting for him to think about the mat and go back to it.

Any ideas?
 

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Idont know much about clicker training never used it, but for the look command where you are using the treat and the clicker could this maybe be confusing him? isnt the clicker used for reward when they do it right click and praise , or do you always use the treats and clickers together?
When i teach the Look command I just use the treat and eventually take the treat away and just use my hand and reward with praise and gradually decrease the level my hand sits until it no longer even has to go to my face. Sounds like he doesnt understand where to look , the clicker or the treat? it remove one of them use the clicker if thats what you want then when he does it just slip the treat out from a pocket or something.
If your not luring him to look he isnt gonna think of it on his own if he does he probably wont get the "look , until you release him from it" he will look and look away at his own will. I would lure him and make him look until you give the release word then you are showing him what you expect vs him just figuring it out.

Sorry if i understood the question wrong, and this is just a method that works for my dogs imsure someone more experienced may have another method to try.
 

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This is how I start the "command watch" and the first step, it might help. I know some people wait for them to look then click but I like to help lure then wean off the lure and it had always worked well. Also heavy handed corrections that were not fair and crate those issues and why I do not use a prong unless I really have to. Work him on a flat collar no need for a correction collar when you are learning new behaviors. I only use prongs for walking just not avoid pulling and working dogs in high drive after they understand what I am asking. So just use a flat collar and tons of praise, toys, and treats to gain his confidence back.


“Watch” Exercise

This exercise is to get your dogs attention and will help with other commands in the future.

Work with your dog in an area with minimal distraction. Show your dog that you have a treat and move your index finger slowly in between your dog’s eyes and your eyes. Say “Watch” and as soon as you get eye contact praise your dog and give them the treat. If your dog will not make eye contact try to get down to their level. Again move the treat back and fourth between your gaze.

As you work with your dog start to increase the time you are asking for eye contact. Make sure to start adding distraction slowly. This small exercise will greatly help your heeling and overall focus with your dog. This is a motivational exercise so no correction should be made.

This exercise should be done several times a day for best results.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
You can use a clicker and praise, but for most dogs, the praise isn't going to be reinforcing enough for them, so that's why treats are better with the clicker. At an advanced level (where you want the dog to end up), a click = you did the right thing, do it again/keep going, so then they work to hear the click and to know they're right. At the beginning level, you want the dog to realize that a click = treat. Kane is somewhere between the two.

So, what I'm doing, for the Go to Mat example for instance, is the instant he steps or sits or lays down on the mat, I click and treat. So. He steps on the mat, CLICK, treat. In the beginning, I c/t (click/treat) him for just looking at the mat or sniffing it or something else more minor.

I know what you're talking about though--that's the luring method. You have the treat between your fingers and hold it up to your eyes, so that the dog is looking at the treat/your eyes and then you fade out the treat.

With "shaping" using a clicker, which is what I'm doing above, I'm waiting for him to volunteer the Look at Me. If you start when the dog is a puppy, they're better at it because it teaches them to think independently and volunteer things on their own versus always being shown what to do by luring, so they wait for you to tell them what to do.

I always lured when Kane was younger, so I'm trying to expand his brain and make him think more for himself then waiting for me to tell him what to do. I think it would help with his confidence.
 

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With "shaping" using a clicker, which is what I'm doing above, I'm waiting for him to volunteer the Look at Me. If you start when the dog is a puppy, they're better at it because it teaches them to think independently and volunteer things on their own versus always being shown what to do by luring, so they wait for you to tell them what to do.

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Yeah that is the other way to teach it and I have done both and luring has worked better for me and got better, quicker results but you have to do what you like when it comes to training methods. The problems you are having is common when you have to shape behaviors and one reason I personally do not like the clicker. Yeah yeah I know it works but I am impatient! lol I would rather show them what I want then understand it vs waiting for them to figure it out, lol. Again it is just different training methods but both can work well just the clicker will take a lot longer so stick with it ;)

let me get this straight, he is not looking at you when you want him to correct? and were are you looing on his face?
We are talking about the dog watching and looking into your eyes. For compettition work like the start of heeling.
Here are some examples and we are talking about correcting like a small pop once they understand and look away. I am working on this part with my 17 month old dogs now. I am demanding they keep eye contact and it is going very good I will have to get video of them.

Here is some video of the moving watch which is the heel.
Crush was 14 months it shows the watch and eye contact.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Do you have any idea why it's harder for him to do the Look at Me through shaping versus the Go to Mat through shaping?? Is it because looking into my eyes isn't as concrete of a thing as going to a mat??

Just curious as to why he's already miles ahead in his Go to Mat training than his Watch Me when I started both at the same time and have given the commands the same amount of training time.
 

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I have a lot of the same problems with Loki from training too harsh as a puppy, especially since we're almost positive he's mixed with whippet now so he has a little less confidence just by personality. I actually justt started free shaping with him today, but without using a clicker. I'm not sure who will have more trouble catching on, him or me hahaha.

I think from working with Lo that you're right on with the concrete thing. I started out bringing a treat up to my eyes and saying "watch me" when Loki was a puppy and I found that using that method it was harder and harder to keep his attention and I would have to lure him every time.
So I started to use shaping like before I feed him, I will put his food down and say wait, and then wait for him to look up at me and as soon as he does I give him the okay to eat. I do the same thing before we go outside, anything like that and its worked really well for us, no treats!
 

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I thought the key to a heel was the feet not looking in the eyes? I thought you were to teach the dog to take the queue from your foot to start moving forward? Is it better to teach a heel based on look or watch than off your feet movements?
 

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the way i was told to do was look at their eyebrows and hold a treat between your eyebrows, and give your command, one time i got diesel to do it for like 2 minutes or so either way like any dog its a working progress.
 

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This is how I start the "command watch" and the first step, it might help. I know some people wait for them to look then click but I like to help lure then wean off the lure and it had always worked well. Also heavy handed corrections that were not fair and crate those issues and why I do not use a prong unless I really have to. Work him on a flat collar no need for a correction collar when you are learning new behaviors. I only use prongs for walking just not avoid pulling and working dogs in high drive after they understand what I am asking. So just use a flat collar and tons of praise, toys, and treats to gain his confidence back.

"Watch" Exercise

This exercise is to get your dogs attention and will help with other commands in the future.

Work with your dog in an area with minimal distraction. Show your dog that you have a treat and move your index finger slowly in between your dog's eyes and your eyes. Say "Watch" and as soon as you get eye contact praise your dog and give them the treat. If your dog will not make eye contact try to get down to their level. Again move the treat back and fourth between your gaze.

As you work with your dog start to increase the time you are asking for eye contact. Make sure to start adding distraction slowly. This small exercise will greatly help your heeling and overall focus with your dog. This is a motivational exercise so no correction should be made.

This exercise should be done several times a day for best results.
:goodpost: Though i personally have not used a clicker for training it can come in handy for certain dogs, perhaps such as Kane.

All dogs are different with training, some will take to specific commands much faster and others not so much. With multiple dogs, ones weakness could be another strong point. For instance when beginning recall with my current hounds, Myles took to it with hardly any effort on my behalf. Virtually instant success but had to work a little bit during recall with distractions to get him to 100%. Kilie, on the other hand in the beginning would always down vs come back. Now on the flip side, she did extremely well with sit, stay with multiple distractions staying focused on me vs Myles getting too distracted in the beginning. Point is all dogs will be different and the key is consistency.

If you are having trouble look for key signs, whats the weakness with his sit and focus? What appears to be his strengths/motivation to go to the mat? See if you can't find his strengths and apply that to the sit, focus. If you are unable to find this try different techniques, also keep in mind to stay clear and positive. Frustration will just cause a relapse in a soft dog and become counterproductive.

How many times do you try these a day? How long is each session? If Kane appears to be stressing over anything in any session just drop it and regroup later.

Also what is the end goal you are looking to do? Are you looking to just simply sit and focus? Sit and stay for any length of time? Just trying to get an idea of what your going for.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
:goodpost: Though i personally have not used a clicker for training it can come in handy for certain dogs, perhaps such as Kane.

All dogs are different with training, some will take to specific commands much faster and others not so much. Point is all dogs will be different and the key is consistency.

If you are having trouble look for key signs, whats the weakness with his sit and focus? What appears to be his strengths/motivation to go to the mat? See if you can't find his strengths and apply that to the sit, focus. If you are unable to find this try different techniques, also keep in mind to stay clear and positive. Frustration will just cause a relapse in a soft dog and become counterproductive.

How many times do you try these a day? How long is each session? If Kane appears to be stressing over anything in any session just drop it and regroup later.

Also what is the end goal you are looking to do? Are you looking to just simply sit and focus? Sit and stay for any length of time? Just trying to get an idea of what your going for.
Thanks for your input, KM. I wish I'd had you to talk to when I was just beginning on this training after stopping the too-harsh methods, otherwise I wouldn't have had to stumble on the frustration-issue (bolded in your response) and figure that out for myself.

There's nothing wrong with Kane's sit. I heavily reinforced it when I was doing NILIF with him, as that was what I always asked from him, so he now does it automatically when he wants something. He sees I have a treat/ball/whatever he wants in my hand, he sits. He wants to go outside, he sits in front of the back door as I approach it. He waits for/wants me to throw the ball in fetch, he sits.

It's not even his "focus", per se, that I'm working on, as he's very much a dog that understands when I want him to work, and then works. :)

What I'm going for is eye contact. I understand eye contact is a very challenging and confrontational gesture in dog body language, and I'm thinking that's why he's hesitant to do it. He's a submissive dog and does a lot of calming gestures, lip licking, turning his head, etc, when he's the least bit uncomfortable with anything I'm doing. I was just wondering if anyone else had any ideas as to why he seems to be struggling with the Eye Contact versus the Go to Mat.

Our training sessions are short, usually about 5-10 minutes long, 3 times a day, but the length of each session varies depending on how he's doing that day. As you said, he will shut down if I push him too hard. If he's struggling with any command I'm trying to teach him, I'll drop it for that session, end on an easy command he knows (like shake or sit) to bump his confidence back up, and then give him some down time before trying it again at his next session an hour and a half to two hours later.

Do you see anything I'm missing that I could work on?
 

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Thanks for your input, KM. I wish I'd had you to talk to when I was just beginning on this training after stopping the too-harsh methods, otherwise I wouldn't have had to stumble on the frustration-issue (bolded in your response) and figure that out for myself.

There's nothing wrong with Kane's sit. I heavily reinforced it when I was doing NILIF with him, as that was what I always asked from him, so he now does it automatically when he wants something. He sees I have a treat/ball/whatever he wants in my hand, he sits. He wants to go outside, he sits in front of the back door as I approach it. He waits for/wants me to throw the ball in fetch, he sits.

It's not even his "focus", per se, that I'm working on, as he's very much a dog that understands when I want him to work, and then works. :)

What I'm going for is eye contact. I understand eye contact is a very challenging and confrontational gesture in dog body language, and I'm thinking that's why he's hesitant to do it. He's a submissive dog and does a lot of calming gestures, lip licking, turning his head, etc, when he's the least bit uncomfortable with anything I'm doing. I was just wondering if anyone else had any ideas as to why he seems to be struggling with the Eye Contact versus the Go to Mat.

Our training sessions are short, usually about 5-10 minutes long, 3 times a day, but the length of each session varies depending on how he's doing that day. As you said, he will shut down if I push him too hard. If he's struggling with any command I'm trying to teach him, I'll drop it for that session, end on an easy command he knows (like shake or sit) to bump his confidence back up, and then give him some down time before trying it again at his next session an hour and a half to two hours later.

Do you see anything I'm missing that I could work on?
I don't have a whole lot of time right now but to me it sounds like you are doing what you can given the situation... Other than what has already been mentioned by PK i can't think of anything off the top of my head but if i do i'll be sure to let you know.

Softer dogs and very submissive dogs can struggle with the eye contact (especially if coming directly off harder training methods that failed..though its been a while in your case) but this is mostly due to how its presented. For instance if you are attempting to have him sit then make eye contact, your demeanor and overall attitude needs to be of such where he doesn't feel this as a challenge or domination, rather neutral respect. It can be difficult in doing so and its kind of hard for me to pin point exactly what i may change since i'm not there to see first hand what your doing and his reaction.

I don't know if you do this but just because he sits or does what you want i wouldn't automatically give him something that he is looking for.. For instance if you have a ball in your hand and he automatically sits, he is sitting because he knows you will give him what he wants vs. sitting because you command him to sit. You need to instill he gets a reward if he does what want him to do not prematurely. He may be acting like a good boy at the time but its because it benefits him vs you as the handler... If that makes any sense to you.

I've done my fair share of training but im far from the same level as someone such as PK but if you ever have any questions or feel i can help let me know.

But it does sound like you are doing a fine job, at least from what i gather. Just have to have patience sometimes but it will pay off in the long run. Sometimes contrary to what many might say taking a break and working on something else and coming back to a specific task can also do wonders. Some say its not something you "should" do but i have done it frequently on commands and tasks that a pup or dog may not get and pick up after a break... It really is for you more than anything, helps relieve the built up tension when you know he should get it but doesn't, especially something simple. Just food for thought. ;)
 
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