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Question on Timing - Pup Obedience Training

PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2020 7:48 am
by Bgold
Hi all!

Its been about 10 years since I've trained a hunting pup and I'm a bit rusty. I seem to remember that my last lab was eager to train obedience from day 1 (7 weeks old). My new pup just doesn't seem interested yet. Don't get me wrong, he doesn't complain and takes the training, but he just doesn't seem to care much for treats or praise unless we're playing. I'm starting to think my expectations are just too high and I just have "rosy memories" of my last pup that aren't entirely accurate.

One example is this - when working on Here/name recognition, he'll recognize that I have a treat and approach... but about as slow and cautious as possible vs bounding over in anticipation of a tasty snack.

He's 8 weeks old now, I'm thinking that I'm expecting too much too early but wanted to see when you all started your informal puppy obedience training and how your pups responded. Mine just doesn't seem too food driven at the moment...

On the bright side, he slept through the night last night and really doesn't put up a fuss when crated during the day or night and he's doing pretty well on potty training so far, he even let us know "I need to crap NOW!" the other day... so thats a plus..

Thanks for taking the time - TLDR - puppy seems indifferent about treats / training.

Re: Question on Timing - Pup Obedience Training

PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2020 8:17 am
by HNTFSH
IMO you're correct. Anything "formal" (often including expectations) is stressful to a pup, treat or not.

Let the pup be who it is for now, make everything fun with a lesson that isn't a formal lesson. Be smarter than the puppy. :yes:

Personally I am a big fan of CONFIDENCE. You can't really instill enough....it will get tempered in time as the pup ages and learns.

Teach, Train, Test are the order for us. You can teach by instilling good habits.

Have fun - it's just a baby!

Re: Question on Timing - Pup Obedience Training

PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2020 8:30 am
by Bgold
HNTFSH wrote:IMO you're correct. Anything "formal" (often including expectations) is stressful to a pup, treat or not.

Let the pup be who it is for now, make everything fun with a lesson that isn't a formal lesson. Be smarter than the puppy. :yes:

Personally I am a big fan of CONFIDENCE. You can't really instill enough....it will get tempered in time as the pup ages and learns.

Teach, Train, Test are the order for us. You can teach by instilling good habits.

Have fun - it's just a baby!


Thanks for the response, yeah thats what I thought.. and just to clarify so nobody thinks I'm a dog training nazi or something, the training is SUPER informal, just little tests here and there to check response. I was just getting concerned. BUT, I'll let him focus on being a puppy for sure.

Thanks again!

Re: Question on Timing - Pup Obedience Training

PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2020 8:38 am
by 5 stand
I hope this doesn't come across the wrong way. You seem to be asking a lot of a puppy that you've only had 7 days.
What's this pups name. He is just a baby. He just left his mother and his brother and his sisters, his life has been turned upside down. You and this pup just need to have fun just like huntfish mention. Try to get rid of the expectations, this puppy isn't your old dog.

Re: Question on Timing - Pup Obedience Training

PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2020 10:20 am
by Rick Hall
Pinched from a recent primer I wrote for someone with a similar question on how I brought my young pups on (and am too lazy to rewrite):

For me and mine, the first couple months are the most important, as that's when it's easiest to condition a foundation of good habits and avoid the inadvertent conditioning of bad ones that would later need broken. Unlike the pros, who have to deal with whatever issues come through their gate, we get to start with a virtually clean slate and can, for the most part, substitute force of habit for the pro's dependence on physical force.

To create that all important force of habit, think of Pup's response to commands as a balance beam, with correct response on one side and incorrect response on the other. Every time you manage to get a correct response its weight is added to that side of the beam. But by same token, every time Pup manages a incorrect response its weight is added to that side of the beam. And, in very large part, Pup's response to a command will depend on how the weight of past experience has been distributed. With our the goal being to invoke enough proper response to create strong force of habit and so little improper response that Pup never becomes fully aware that not obeying the command is even an option, much less a potentially worthwhile one.

If you reread my second PM, you'll see that we begin with the cornerstones of "come," "sit," and the various iterations of "good" and "bad" about as soon as a pup joins our family. (Having the foundational cornerstone of "come" at least fairly well in place, for instance, may well help Pup get his first retrieves right, by telling him what to do with the bumper, instead of running off or laying down with it.)

But having just reread it, myself, I see that while I spoke to corrections, I left out the far and away more important aspect of conspiring to find as many ways as possible to create enjoyable associations with each command - other than "bad/no/leave it/etc". Ie: "come" and "sit" can be associated with the pleasures of eating, going outside, ear rubs, retrieving and so forth. And we'll begin those positive associations in puppy-sized increments, like when Pup is already so inclined, say by calling a pup that's already coming, and avoiding doing so when he's distracted by something that might be more tempting until we've have the weight of lots and lots of positive responses on our side of the balance beam.

Our job is to find or create as many opportunities as we can for Pup to enjoy getting a command right, while avoiding the likelihood of Pup getting it wrong.

But corrections for getting it wrong are also important and never easier or more effectively made than when Pup is small enough to be readily walked down. If, for instance, a "come" we're sure was heard is blown off, it's my job to utter a harsh word, go pick Pup up and physically carry him to where he should have come. If I'm diligent about that when Pup's too small to outrun me, he'll never learn that he can - and, worst case, stay in place and wait for me to come give him a fussing or that and a finger flick on the bridge of his nose, or some such, when he screws up. After which, I'll give him a chance to redeem himself and be loved up for correct response to the same command.

I'll note that it's important for me to incorporate harsh and/or loud tones along with physical corrections, as well as otherwise avoiding them, so that such tones will, through association, become corrections in their own right. Thus, through association, my "Ut" comes to carry the same weight as a collar trainer's "nick" and my "Hey!" becomes a "burn". But when times come, as they most certainly will, when I'm not in a position to insure compliance or otherwise make successful correction, I must bite my tongue, rather than repeat an ignored command or verbal correction, rather than weakening them through repetition that only reinforces the possibility of non compliance being a viable option. Later, when I'm in a better position to gain compliance, we'll make a point of looking for opportunities to reinforce getting it right.

Again, the thing we're most concerned with during Pup's first two months, and for the rest of his life, is finding enough ways to make getting things right easy and enjoyable enough that doing so becomes force of habit that's stronger than whatever temptations or forces might be working against us.

Re: Question on Timing - Pup Obedience Training

PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2020 4:41 pm
by Bgold
This is awesome. Thanks!! Happy puppy photos enclosed :) Image

Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk

Re: Question on Timing - Pup Obedience Training

PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2020 9:45 pm
by ohio mike
Well written Rick. Much of what you wrote is precisely what I'm doing with my current non force fetch/Amish pooch.We're training with a eye to how,where,and what I hunt. Very unorthodox and would make the test folks cringe. However things are going very,very well and the dog loves it. One funny thing he does is when I send him on a water retrieve from a remote sit he returns to where he entered the water instead of to me then delivers to hand via the bank.If I send from heel it's straight out and back. That's fine with me ,kinda amusing.Land retrieves straight back to me no matter how he's sent.

Re: Question on Timing - Pup Obedience Training

PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2020 4:26 am
by Rick Hall
ohio mike wrote:One funny thing he does is when I send him on a water retrieve from a remote sit he returns to where he entered the water instead of to me then delivers to hand via the bank.


That sort of quirk is called a "brain worm" at my house. Some are meaningful enough to work out, often by just not repeating the circumstance for a week or two so Pup can forget that's how he thinks the thing is done and it can crawl out on it's own. Then we'll reintroduce a problematic issue in a manner that makes it a whole lot easier for Pup to do it the way we wish.

The bug has a similar worm to your pup's, in that he's more inclined to make a direct, but slower and more energy consuming, return through water than a quicker, energy saving detour by land. I don't burden my pups with "swim-by" training or do anything else to encourage direct (straight line) returns and thought Marsh would just naturally get over that quirk in time and made no effort to reroute him to shore, but, at five, he only sometimes takes the more expedient return path. Generally, just when we're really wearing him out on a hot hunt, and even then only when the return course is really "cheaty".