Motivating the Pup!
I have been training my Boxer pup since last November of 2009. He is just 2 weeks over a year old. We had a 6 wk break from official training and continued at home. We have been back to official training for 2 weeks and he is not responsive to the treat and clicker anymore, I have changed and tried new treats to get him interested but he has no interest. I have even not given him breakfast the day of class and he still in not interested in treats he spits them out. I am now using the toy of the day or a Frisbee to get him to work, he is in the 2nd level of sport agility. He loves to run and jump over and through the obstacles just has a hard time sitting and concentrating on the stops and sit downs ect. If you have any suggestions please let me know…takes a lot more of my energy to keep him interested.
Just a quick thought, is it possible he’s going through a second ‘teenage’ phase and is reacting differently? I also have a bit over one year old dog, and he’s entering his second puppyhood something awful.
I usually proscribe to ‘if it doesn’t work don’t do it’ method. However, if your dog isn’t responding to the clicker anymore and you are a clicker trainer, that can be a big problem! Work on the clicker outside of class- try ‘reloading’ it at home so he remembers how clicking gets him yummy or fun things.
If your dog is rewarded by playing, then by all means play with him! Think of it this way: If you want a child to do something, and that child loves stickers, not chocolate, then by all means give her stickers, not chocolate. While treats might be okay for a lesser, every day reward, give your dog the reward he wants for ‘big stuff’. I reserve a toy (Mr. Squeaky) just for agility, and Quick responds to it better than to treats. He has to work VERY hard for Mr. Squeaky to come out!!!
Practice, practice, practice the stops and sits. Build insane amounts of value for them. I found that breakfast time is the best time to work on stays, with putting the food down and making them wait for at least thirty seconds before they can have even a bite of breakfast or dinner. Work on concentration with a bustercube or interactive dog puzzle. He’ll learn to think and persevere, which is a lesson most young dogs need. In spades!
Another good idea, especially at this age is to keep sessions short and bite-sized. One to five minute sessions outside of class often are the best thing for your dog. Don’t be too serious about training- it’s supposed to be fun, and it is fun. Many dogs love tunnels and find them very motivating, so it may be worthwhile to get one to work with in your yard.
I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any questions, and please let me know how your training goes! I love to hear about readers’ dogs.