Training question — Brooklynian

Training question

edited 3:05AM in Brooklyn Pets

So my Brunito is "reasonably" well-trained- he knows a few commands mostly by hand signal (sit, down, shake, otherhand and "dance") and generally if food comes out he sits immediately. This is usually good since the sitting position is the start to many other commands except...

I've been trying target training because I think it might be helpful in stopping some unwanted behaviors, such as jumping on guests. I've tried using what seems to be the simplest method- extending a hand and then treating when the hand it touched with his nose. However, whenever the dog thinks there might be food involved he immediately sits. And then shakes. And then dances. And then does every other trick he can think of except touching my hand. I've tried actually touching him with my hand to try to encourage the behavior, but he doesn't seem to be getting it. He just sits as still as a statue and stares at me.

I was hoping to target train to also perhaps encourage other, more labor-intensive tricks (jumping over things and doing some agility stuff since he's a spaz) since I've always had a hard time because he can't seem to make it past tricks that involve sitting first. I know, #whitepeopleproblems but its irritating since I know I OBVIOUSLY have the smartest dog in the universe... has anyone else had luck "untraining" these kinds of behaviors?


  • Have you tried coupling the hand signal with a word? Perhaps the combination of the two will get him to recognize "Hey, its time to concentrate"

  • Teaching a dog NOT to do something is difficult. It seems like you have the right tactic, providing positive concepts with incentives.

    It is said that dogs understand signs but not symbols, signs being the announcement of something present or imminent, symbols being more abstract. To a dog, the word “squirrel” means that there is a squirrel present. “No squirrel” still means there is a squirrel present. A dog gets all confused by “No.” Because there is no sign there. It must mean something like “I am unhappy and going to tap you on the nose,” or “I am going to ask you to do something different so pay attention,” depending on your past practice and tone of voice.

    Would it work to teach your dog a positive concept of when it is okay to get up on the couch or sit in your lap, paired with a concept for getting down off it? UP and OFF. It seems like the OFF concept would transfer well to keeping legs on the ground, not on people’s legs. Does that make sense?

  • As far as jumping on people, you really need everyone who meets him onboard. Just ask that they ignore him (no petting, yelling, picking up, etc.) until all four are on the floor. Any attention, even yelling "no" or pushing him off is reward enough for most dogs to keep jumping. You can have a specific command that means he is allowed to jump on someone, like they pat there knee but he should be ignored unless he's been told to jump.

    As for training things in the realm of agility, google it. There are tons of great videos on this kind of stuff online that will probably be more helpful than reading about it. Some of the basic ideas are to do it while the dog is wound up and to use a treat (food or toy) to guide him into doing what you want.

  • I taught Dude the command "stop", which now means something similar to "no more".

    Basically, I tell him to sit and stay. Then I put a biscuit on the floor and make hi

    Wait for permission to go get it.

    When I say ok, he gets up and goes for it.

    But I've taught him to stop midway to the biscuit if I say stop.

    It's a lot like playing red light, green light with a kid.

    Dude has figured out that whenever I say stop, he can not do what he wants to do.

  • Whynot, that is interesting. Does “Stop!” work for stuff like eating? drinking? scratching? Is your dog waiting for the next command? Or does he stop that one thing and go on to some other thing altogether different?

    Could be that it’s the difference between someone who is reading an old semiotics text and someone who has a real live dog?

    My friend’s dogs are like lawyers. They know a ton of commands, mostly words and whistles. Tell them “Down!” and they lay down, but just for one second, if they really want to keep going, they pop back up and go again. It is like they follow the letter of the law not its spirit. Deniability is the name of their game!

    BTW Did anyone see that the recent phylogenetic models of language tend to disprove the theories of Chomsky, Greenberg, et al.? This is revolutionary.

  • Perhaps “disprove” is too strong. “Not provide any support for” would be better.

  • I do not bother him when he is eating or drinking.

    We play this game when we are doing stay and come.

    He enjoys the game because he knows that the more commands he is given (and follows) the higher the chance he will get a treat.

    Chomskys dog would be no fun, btw.

  • Chomsky should name his dog Chompsky.

  • Sorry I would never co-habitate with a dog in the city. They are not only "man's best friend," but probably man's only friend. And for that we treat them like shit. We leave for the day. They get depressed and when we get home they're expected to behave just so or they get punished for eating the TV remote while we were gone. Sounds more like an abused wife. Dog owners unless you're listening to your dog, you're not doing these creatures any good. No I'm not a member of PETA. And no I'm not the Son of Sam either. You can't lock a creature up all day and expect it to behave like you want it to. Dogs are emotionally intelligent and attuned to human beings. They're not just moochers and beggars. We domesticated them from the wolf because they were needed in those days when we hunted with a spear. The only place a dog would really be truly happy is running around a farm or a ranch and to have a constant companion and not an absentee parent.

  • Carmen-

    Another trick is to distract brunito.

    If you have a command that means "let's play", it could be used to distract him when he is about to do something you don't like.

    Dudes command is "get your toy". If he is excited and about to annoy some guest (like an older relative who is visiting), we tell him to get his toy and he retrieves whatever bone, sock, stuffed animal is around and then plays tug with us.

    He likes playing tug a lot. You'd have to find something he finds similarly fun to distract your beastie.

  • As far as him being overly excited about the food reward, what about treats that are less tasty? Or none? (Just praise.) It sounds like he is distracted from the task by a dopamine flood triggered by the anticipation of “OHMYGODTREATS!”

  • youbetcha, I beg to differ. Dogs, like people, are all different. My dog enjoys lounging on my bed, playing with kitties, she is very lazy. She's always been lazy, I have to drag her butt out for long walks. All she wants to do is scavenge for food then go home and hump her favorite cat.

This discussion has been closed.