Hiding The Reward

When working with marker training, mostly known as clicker training some dogs turn out to be way smarter than we think.  We teach them if there is a click there is a treat.  Some dogs go along fine with that and perform all we ask when we ask in anticipation of the great treat reward.  Then you have the others.  The ones who are to smart for there own good.  They figure out how to manipulate the system.  They know you have the treat in your pocket and that is where it comes from.  The have associated you basically with a pez dispenser.  Sometimes they will even go so far as to waiting you out to click and treat them.  I have seen this on dogs that know perfectly well how to heel, or walk loosely on the leash. They just stop and wait!  When working with them naturally we are clicking as they walk forward.  So they stop, wait, they get up and walk forward and you click and mark.  They figured it out!  They now have learned how to make you give them a treat on their terms not yours.  They bucked the system!  Their minds are unbelievable to me.  For these dogs we must be a step ahead of them.

We must not be the human pez dispenser.  We do need to reward the dog for every click but we need them to see us get the treat from someplace else.  We have to keep them guessing as to where the treat is coming from.  Wherever you are working with your dog, hide some treat.  For example if you are working outside, maybe keep them on the table.  When you mark your dog for doing as you asked, make a big deal and you both run to the table to get a treat.  Mix things up for them, keep treats in all different places.  By doing this they will never know what produces the treat.  They will not fall into the trap thinking it only comes when you put that treat pouch on.  This training technique works well with dogs that have been working for quite some time.  I have a few dogs that I have been working with since they were puppies.  They know the routine. They have learned what it takes to make the clicker go off and where to go for the treat.  For them I need to make it a really big deal in order to keep their attention and keep them challenged. Dogs get bored just like we do, we have to keep them motivated. Luckily most dogs are motivated by food, however when food or even toys are not the motivator it is extremely hard to get and keep their attention.  I have found in training older dogs, especially those that did not have a lot of treats when they were younger are very hard to keep motivated. Owners get frustrated because it is hard to train these types of dogs.  Once you determine what it is that they consider a reward you must keep the element of surprise.  You have to keep them guessing as to where and what will be their reward.

We can help you keep your dog guessing! Call Kim at 704-877-7821 or email kim@trainingcanines.com Visit our website at www.trainingcanines.com and also Carolina’s Premier Dog Training Club www.caninetrainingassocaition.com

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