Labradoodle & Goldendoodle Forum

We've had our puppy Stanton for almost 2 weeks now, and we started teaching him sit, down, and shake. He's very good with sit, but I think we might have confused him with down and shake because now when I say down, he does both down and shake. He's probably doing whatever he can to get to the treats faster, but any idea on how I can get him to just un-confuse him?

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Have you tried clicker training? That way, you can immediately "mark" the desired behavior and reward the behavior afterward with a treat. For example, as soon as his elbows touch the floor for "down", you can mark that behavior with a click before he has a chance to shake. You also might want to focus on solidifying either "down" or "shake" before moving on to the other command. "Shake" was one of the last things I taught Barley because he was a little confused. Or, maybe I was the one confused about how to teach it properly. Anyway, he got it eventually!
We also do the clicker training and when I don't have the clicker I mark the behavior with the word "yes".  I think I was also confusing Molly so I am going to work on one behavior at a time until she & I have it down.

At this point I'm assuming Stanton is still getting treats as a reward for his response to your commands/cues.  I would try giving him a command (without the treat readily visible) and if he responds correctly then give him a treat.  Later try a different command and do the same. If he does the WRONG thing then just walk away, no treat and try a few minutes later. 


You also may want to spend a couple minutes at a time working on just ONE thing a few times.  Then a different thing.  Just to separate them in his mind.  When he seems to be getting it again you can try to do a few things in a row again.  Just be sure it's clear to Stanton when he's wrong he doesn't get a treat.  Once he's unconfused again you can gradually wean off of the treats and only reward sometimes with treats, but use praise the rest of the time.

One command and one trick at a time.  Once he really gets it then you can move on to another command.  Keep the command simple and not a lot of words.  "Sit"...yes or good boy (after he has sat) is all you need to say.  They don't hear much after the first word or so...starts to sound like jibberish.
We taught Bruno to shake too and now that is all he does! Every time he sits he is pawing at us. We have a meeting with our trainer tomorrow and will see what she says.

Stuff like this has to do with stimulus control (if you google "stimulus control dog training") you'll find some articles on it.  He has learned that pawing gets him treats (or did at one time) and attention and rewards and he likes that so he tries to create the situation by pawing (both out of habit and probably out of desire for the reward). He has to learn that the reward only comes when he responds to the right stimulus ("Bruno shake a paw" -- or whatever your cue word or phrase is) and there is NO reward if he does it of his own accord. 


You'll have to make a concerted effort to NOT reward him for pawing he does when you don't give him the 'cue' to 'shake'. Actively and obviously ignore him by getting up and leaving him there.  Don't reward with attention, treats, voice, or anything UNLESS you've asked him to shake.  When trying to extinguish a behavior, at first it will get worse.  Until he gives up on the idea that pawing works.  Then if you still want him to do the 'shake a paw' trick you'll have to be very careful to ONLY reward with attention/treats/whatever when you've asked him to do it and try to not have the treat visible so he doesn't try to get it from you by offering his paw.

Very good advice. Walking away has been my only option because nothing else has worked to stop the behavior. I am excited for our first puppy training tomorrow.



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