Are some dogs untrainable?

(52 Posts)
permaquandry Tue 11-Dec-12 13:44:05

Permapup 4 mths, mini schnauzer girl. Attending puppy training once per week. Is ok at it but very inconsistent, they use a clicker and treats which I don't use too much at home as it would be click & treat for every waking minute,

She is fully housetrained but I think that's more to do with good control than 'training'. She bites every time you're near her, to say hello, to play, but no aggression.

She will respond to sit, if there is a treat in sight but rarely does any other time. Walking is a mare, I try to take her everyday for a short walk but she just tugs and circles me or bite my shoes. I stop and ask for a sit, which she occasionally does and will only move once shes at least stood still but then she's tugging again.

I've changed her food to Symply and her coat is much nicer and she smells less but is still so bitey and hyper. Got the Perfect Puppy book. Going to read again and follow it to the letter. Think puppy classes were wrong for us, she would probably respond much better to one on one.

Has anybody else been through this and ended up with a well behaved dog? Can appreciate this may just be the puppy stage but I'm worried if we don't get it right now, she'll always be like this.

Cuebill Tue 11-Dec-12 13:54:11

No - I have yet to come across any dog that is untrainable. I work in rescue so have dealt with thousands of dogs.

You use clicker training at puppy classes but not at home - THAT is your problem.

Use clicker training consistently and you will have a dog that is very very very trainable.

She is a baby why should she sit if there is no treat? What is the problem in her associating you with nice treats and praise when she does things right. Start off with treats and keep things happy you will have a dog that will do anything for you.

The one item of dog equipment noone should waste money on is a dog bowl grin Use her daily feed allowance to train her. She will be a star in no time at time.
Look at kikopup videos for inspiration and how to train just about anything including loose lead walking, stopping biting and jumping up.

kikopup free videos

CajaDeLaMemoria Tue 11-Dec-12 13:56:12

I don't think any dogs are untrainable, but then I've worked with Guide Dogs, where they have to be trained regardless of personality!

I think choosing one reward method works best. Clicker + treat is good, but only if you do it all the time. Just doing it at puppy training won't be very effective. What treat method do you use at home?

If she responds to the clicker, I'd stick with it. Click and treat all the time at first, then click but only offer a treat 3/4 of the time, and work down. It doesn't take as long as you'd think, and it's a good method for hyperactive puppies! You'll probably find walking her much easier then, too.

The perfect puppy book is very good, and you'll probably find it very reassuring smile

Cuebill Tue 11-Dec-12 14:01:02

Sorry totally disagree with Cajadelamemoria you must treat every time you click.

When the behaviour is learnt you do not need to click every behaviour but if you click you MUST treat.

However with a puppy click and treat until the behaviour is learn very well.

permaquandry Tue 11-Dec-12 14:04:14

The reason I don't want to use the clicker and treat at home is that it's difficult to always have clicker and treat to hand. Running around for sch run, sorting kids out etc. Also, we never used this for our old dog and he was so well behaved and we had him from an 8 week old pup.

I'm going to go back to the clicker and treat and ur so right about the dog bowl, I'll just use her food.

Watch this space, I will keep you posted. Thanks for the replies.

permaquandry Tue 11-Dec-12 14:06:04

Also, what do I do when she doesn't respond, I was standing outside for about 5 minutes, just saying sit over and over again and she just stood there looking at me. Should I show her the treat, or just move on and try again?

PeriPathetic Tue 11-Dec-12 14:07:27

Quite possibly mine bucks this trend hmm

She's totally unfocused on treats. Really couldn't give a flying one. And I've tried every treat known. She will be OK in the house if the mood takes her, and can do a few good moves. But when outside treats will. not. work. At all. Ever. People offer her a treat from their stash and she will either stick her nose in the air or gently take it and drop it on the floor.

She hated the first clicker I got, so I had to get a quieter one <stoopid creature!> Made not a jot of difference, I assume because she is not treat driven.

Any suggestions?!

Cuebill Tue 11-Dec-12 14:11:07

Get a hair tie put in on the clicker and wear around your wrist in the house.

She does not know what sit means (yet) so there is no point at all in repeating it over and over again.

If you have a bit of food lure her into the sit, click and treat. Do this several times a day DO NOT SAY SIT. Then she will sit without being asked. You can then click and treat and start to say sit.

Teach her the behaviour first then add the word.

So for her next meal time, have a handful of food and lure her into a sit click and treat. Throw the treat on the floor so she has to get up from the sit. Next time lure her into a sit click and treat and again throw the treat away from her, she will probably very soon start to offer the sit without your luring her into position.

Let us know how you get on

Cuebill Tue 11-Dec-12 14:12:00

Please can I come around and show you - I love it when owners get to see the wonders of clicker training pleeeeeeeeese i'll bring biscuits smile

Lougle Tue 11-Dec-12 14:15:38

Cuebill, where do you live? Anywhere near Hants? I've got the hang of clicker, but I'd love a bit of face to face instruction on reducing fear with it.

permaquandry Tue 11-Dec-12 14:16:47

Cuebill, are you darn sarf? Will the be choc hobnobs?grin

Cuebill Tue 11-Dec-12 14:24:20

Yep darn sarf near Hampshire obviously chocolate hobnobs - is there any other kind of biscuit?

permaquandry Tue 11-Dec-12 14:26:48

U really want to come and do training??????

Cuebill Tue 11-Dec-12 14:27:13

Peripathetic if your dog really does hate treats there are other things to try. However try cheese hotdogs, liver cake etc and cut down or miss out a meal before you start training.

What type of dog do you have?

Tbh toy orientated dogs are really really easy to train as there reward last longer than a quick bit of cheese and so they tend to work harder to get the reward.

Cuebill Tue 11-Dec-12 14:28:02

Just a thought it may also be a fear issue if she will eat indoors but not outside. Outside can be very very scary for some dogs

Lougle Tue 11-Dec-12 14:28:13

Cuebill...do you charge, and if so, how much? Sorry for the hijack permaquandry grin

D0oinMeCleanin Tue 11-Dec-12 14:30:54

My dog wasn't un trainable but he used to be un trainable around other dogs.

Getting him to do things at home was easy. Outside - do-able but not easy. Outside in view of other dogs - never going to happen. He'll just spend the entire time straining on the lead to go and play and nothing I do will ever be more interesting than other dogs.

I dabbled in clicker training for ages but got very into it a few months ago, when I was preparing my most ill behaved, ill mannered dog to go to college with me, where he would be working in close proximity to other 14 other dogs shock

He wasn't perfect but he did learn. He learnt look over there, stand in(side a hula hoop), beg, loose lead walking around other dogs and targeting which is going to make luring some behaviours much easier.

On the way home (one bus, two trains accompanied with very interesting train stations and lots of new people) two separate people commented on how "well behaved" and "chilled" he was [smug]- this is dog who used to have people stop and comment "He's a feisty one isn't he?" or "What a big personality he has"

Do you want to know what is more interesting than other dogs? The clicker itself - once it is used properly and consistently. If my dog even so much as catches a glimpse of the clicker his attention is 100% on me. If I don't give a command after a minute or so he starts throwing different behaviours at me trying to "win" his click.

Cuebill's advise is great. Do that. I also carry a pocket full of dry treats with me everywhere (cheesy bites is what mine like best) and have millions of clickers. I have clickers in almost every pocket I own (they cope surprisingly well with a fast spin cycle grin)

I don't always use food treats, that would be boring. Sometimes I use a ball or a tug rope and a game of rough and tumble - even live rabbits in some instances (not pets I might add and he never catches them)

Peri try different foods (cheese or liver cake is usually a winner) or play also train when your dog is hungry. Do what Cuebill said and use his meal for training (don't use Nature Diet Fish and Potato for this - the smell will stay on your hands for days)

Karen Pryor's Beginners Guide To Clicker Training is a good book to start with and The Complete Idiots Guide to Positive Dog Training.

I luffs clicker trainer grin

permaquandry Tue 11-Dec-12 14:31:11

Hijack away Lougle, I'm angling at 2 for 1 here grin although I'm not hants.

Cuebill Tue 11-Dec-12 14:36:52

No I wouldn't charge it Christmas!

Dooin how was BB?

wishingchair Tue 11-Dec-12 14:38:05

Do you have a place you can move her too when you're rushing around and you don't want her under your feet. Agree you can't be clicking and treating when you're trying to get kids out of the door!! What about putting her in another room with a kong filled with either that goop or treats to keep her occupied?

About the biting ... all puppies do this but you need to train them out of it. Our puppy trainer told us to do a high pitch short yelp every time we felt teeth on skin and then ignore them for a bit (like a minute). That's what they would do if one of their siblings got a bit too rough.

Also, if they don't respond, just say "too bad" and carry on. Otherwise they're gettign a shed load of attention for not doing what you want.

When you walk her is she off lead? Sounds like she's not. I'd let her off so she can run around and tire herself out! Take your clicker, a whistle and super treats like cheese/ham/bits of hot dog. Make sure she knows you have the treats before you let her off. Blow your whistle (I find 3 short loud pips gets their attention), and as soon as she comes back click and treat.

Puppy stage is hard work. FWIW, ours is a male lab and is now 2 yo and super super chilled out. See if you can find a puppy trainer that will come to your house. Ours did.

Lougle Tue 11-Dec-12 14:38:23

See, Patch is extremely food orientated, and he can go from full on tigger bouncing to sitting at my feet at the sight of a clicker. BUT he is petrified of all things outdoors. People, dogs (+++), post-men, leaves, etc.

I have had a session with a behaviourist, but what I really need to do is to take him on a walk with someone experienced so they can see his reactions and reassure me that I can deal with it.

There is a history of dog-aggression towards my Westie (who now stays with Mum and Dad because everytime Patch sees him he goes for him sad) but his general reaction to dogs is fear.

D0oinMeCleanin Tue 11-Dec-12 14:43:20

Lougle you need the book I have just bought for fear aggression Cuebill mentioned it on someone's else's OP ages ago

I am expecting miracles by the way everyone talks about it.

It was great Cuebill. I loved every second. So did Devil Dog. He came home made sure his bed and dishes were still there and then just went splat on puppy's bed and stay there for 14 hours grin

permaquandry Tue 11-Dec-12 14:44:12

Cuebill. I'll pm you.

Lougle Tue 11-Dec-12 14:45:56

Ooooooooh Dooin! Guess who has some amazon vouchers? Moi! wink

permaquandry Tue 11-Dec-12 14:47:53

No, we don't get far enough to anywhere to go off lead, it's so atrocious just getting 15 mins away.

Haven't got another room to out her safely (she's just chewed the fibre optic Xmas tree cable, it wasn't on thk goodness), I crate her when she needs to be out of way.

Got friends for tea, so she'll have to be crated, I'm wondering gif that part of the problem? Going stir crazy? But she can't be out when I'm out and when were in we keep her out of crate. There's a lot of coming and going tho and more crating than norm. This might not be Helping?

permaquandry Tue 11-Dec-12 14:49:42

Lougle, is patch a jack Russell?

PeriPathetic Tue 11-Dec-12 14:51:58

Cuebill - the only thing she will go for is butter... which is so not practical in a coat pocket grin Not toy driven either.

She's a primitive breed, a Shiba Inu and well documented to be a pita who will only obey when it suits

Lougle Tue 11-Dec-12 14:52:54

Hmmm...good question, permaquandry. If you asked the breeder I bought him from prior to the wisdom of the doghouse, he'd say 'pure-bred Staffordshire bull terrier.'

If you ask dog-house experts here, you'd get either 'Parsons Jack-russell cross Staffy' or 'Staffordshire bull terrier x Whippet', or 'whiffy', as scuttlebutter coined it grin.

He's too tall, long and lean to be pure Staff, although his smile is to die for.

PartridgeInASpicyPearTree Tue 11-Dec-12 14:54:07

I have a puppy the same age and he is totally hit and miss at puppy training because there is so much going on. I use the clicker and treats all week and just see the classes as practice with additional distractions, rather than aiming to get any significant training done during the class iyswim. We don't need to lure now as he knows the words but he still needs to see a treat in my hand to do it. It's a long process withdrawing the food and you may need to occasionally reinforce the behaviour for the rest of the dogs life. Some dogs are definitely more compliant than others naturally though. <Looks envy at the other puppy parents whose dogs come back straight away despite having done no recall training>

D0oin <boak> at the idea of using NatureDiet fish for training. I ordered a case of 18 and by the last one I was gagging when I dished it up. We are strictly lamb and chicken now!

Cuebill Tue 11-Dec-12 15:01:19

Peri if he likes butter would he like the squeezy cheese in tubes? That is easy to keep in your pocket and let him have a quick lick for a treat.

A breed that will work and are highly intelligent but you need to find the trigger. If you once use aversive training you will have a mountain to climb to get them back on track.

I would be as stubborn as he is. Every meal he has to work for his meal or no meal. No punishment, no cross words etc just ignoring.

digerd Tue 11-Dec-12 15:36:40

Not had a schnauzer, but at 4 months she is teething, and at this time all pups are chewy. At 6 months she will have her adult teeth. She does seem a handful/hyper. She should not be biting you and you must discourage this, A sharp loud OWH!! and glare at her, and stop greeting her might work, as that his how the litter pups let eachother know when play fighting. should pass once her adult teeth are through, but make it clear to her that you are not pleased. I had this when they were up to 6-10 weeks, but not at 14 weeks. They soon learn at that age. They all want to please, and you must make it clear to her. Hold a chewy toy for her to bite instead of you.

RedwingWinter Tue 11-Dec-12 16:33:59

Peri, just be really stubborn. One of my dogs is very independent and would literally spend ten minutes thinking about whether to obey a 'sit' command or not. It was like you could see his mind whirring away - 'I can smell that she's got a treat but I don't like to do what I'm asked ... shall I or shan't I'. Then one day I had to wait 20 minutes and I thought, thank god, an extinction burst. After that it only took two minutes ;)

Mine also would rarely take treats outside at first. I had to laugh at yours taking them gently and putting them on the floor - mine is the same sometimes.

RedwingWinter Tue 11-Dec-12 16:38:49

P.S. Mine is a rescue that was previously hit. It didn't help that he was afraid of doing things wrong in case he got hit.

OwlLady Tue 11-Dec-12 17:30:40

you can train all dogs but I personally don't think if you have a dog with problems initially (ie. not a puppy, an older dog) you sometimes have to accept that with any amount of training they could still have problems. I had a dog with a lot of problems and some things I just had to accept ( she was a chaser for example) and limit the behaviours and make sure she stayed safe iykwim

But your dog is a puppy, just keep training and training and it will all click ebetually, you just need to be consistent

OwlLady Tue 11-Dec-12 17:32:39

lol at the stubborn dog, I know that one well grin

PeriPathetic Tue 11-Dec-12 18:25:57

Hm, squeezy cheese might work - I'll see if I can find some here.

Don't get me wrong, she's very good most of the time and I'm far more stubborn than her wink Redwing how interesting you dog does the same with treats. Mine's so sweet and gentle with the person offering them, then so dismissive!

I'm with her pretty much 24/7 so she's steady with me. Takes very little notice of DH though. And she's got sod all recall, but that was a known trait and therefore catered to. And OMG to her prey drive! Crazy!!

Inthepotty Tue 11-Dec-12 18:42:31

Peri use her prey drive to your advantage! My boy is very 'driven' and works brilliantly for his toy- which is just a bit of fleece tied onto a rope, I drag it along the floor and he chase and catches.

CalamityKate Tue 11-Dec-12 18:53:40

I'm obsessed with clicker training and if I had my way, along with the dogs I'd also have a pony, a rat and a parrot to play with lol!

My dogs love the clicker. In fact my older dog who came to it quite late (she was 7 when I got her) goes positively giddy at the sight of it.

portraitoftheartist Tue 11-Dec-12 19:34:31

I don't understand clicker training. Why is Clicker - Treat any more effective than saying," Good Girl!" then giving a treat?

Cuebill Tue 11-Dec-12 19:56:31

portraitoftheartist you may regret asking I can go on for hours and hours about clicker training smile

The click is instant, quick and accurate so marks the exact behaviour.

If you say good girl that can cover the dog sitting, standing and sitting back down again for example.

Also the clicker holds no emotion to it. Click means correct.

You can say good girl in many different ways which would all have a different meaning to the dog.

There have also been studies that have shown that the clicker sound actually penetrates a learning area of the brain (I will try and locate the paper on this)

The dog does not ever get told that they are wrong, only that they are right eg the click. This means the dog tries harder and harder to get the click and the reward. The dog is quite happy to try anything so may offer incorrect behaviour but is willing to keep trying until they get it right. So dogs that are clicker trained will work much harder than just treat trained dogs who often just get bored with the treat.

Again a study shows that dogs will try hard to get the click and sometimes by withdrawing the click the dogs will actually speed up their response to the command to ensure they really do make that clicker click.

Many other reasons ...........but will stop before I bore you smile

D0oinMeCleanin Tue 11-Dec-12 20:01:26

Portrait the click is generally more accurate. The dog knows exactly what she was doing when she "won" with "good girl" she'd need to work out whether it was she was doing at the start of you talking, the middle part or the end. They will eventually learn that way but the clicker helps the dog out a bit and makes learning quicker.

Dachshunds are untrainable. Fact

Cuebill Tue 11-Dec-12 20:24:02
Rhinestone Tue 11-Dec-12 21:11:59

ALL dogs are completely trainable. 'Tis a well known fact. Every single dog on the planet responds to some kind of training stimulus, if your dog is 'untrainable' you're doing something wrong.

hmm <glares at completely untrainable husky sprawled on expensive sheepskin rug>

That's not a trick, it's just jumping excitedly at the prospect of food. Then it's ryes are just following food. As well as being untrainable they are also terribly greedy. Dachshund fact 2 grin=

RedwingWinter Tue 11-Dec-12 23:30:38

'the clicker sound actually penetrates a learning area of the brain'

Obviously not literally, or brain surgery would be required wink. I am not convinced of this at all (or indeed of how anyone would know, since so far there is only the one published paper on canine neuroscience).

I think some people find the clicker a better marker because it's easy to get the timing right with it. However 'yesss' or 'good' are both short sounds too, so they are also good markers.

I only know one study which compares dog training with and without a clicker. It was done with basenjis who had not seen a clicker before. There was no benefit to using the clicker in teaching the dogs to touch a traffic cone with their nose. The only advantage was when they had an 'extinction' trial in which they stopped pairing the touch with a food reward, but for the clicker dogs they still used the clicker. With the clicker, the dogs kept going for longer even though they were no longer being rewarded. So perhaps it is useful for maintaining behaviours once they are taught, although note that this broke the cardinal rule of always pairing click with treat.

RedwingWinter Tue 11-Dec-12 23:32:49

Macaroni - eyes following food = important principle of dog training smile.

PeriPathetic Tue 11-Dec-12 23:35:37

Surely the clicker is just another demonstration of the Pavlovian response?

Beamur Tue 11-Dec-12 23:43:33

I sometimes think my dog is. The reality is that we've never spent enough time or effort on training her.
This was brought home to me recently. DP usually walks our dog. I hate walking her as she pulls and is a bit unpredictable. However, due to DP's absence I had to walk her, twice a day for nearly 2 weeks.
After 2 weeks of consistent expectations (mine) she was very different. Less pulling, less giddiness.
It's not the dog that is the problem.
My dog is hard to motivate - does not respond to food or praise out of the house! But she does have the capacity to learn.

Cuebill Wed 12-Dec-12 17:17:41

redwingwinter when I am at home I will have a search for the study. Dogs had electrodes on the brain which measured the brains response to the click and the part of the brain that was activated. So there was some evidence not just a general comment. smile. They were then tested to see if the human voice eg yes or good boy had the same response which it didn't.

I am not surprised that dogs first introduced to a clicker were not trained any quicker to start with. However once the dog is charged to the clicker they will learn quicker.

Also the accuracy of the clicker allows dogs to learn more intricate commands quicker.

It is no surprise that since clicker training is used more and more, the standard of all dogs sports, agility, obedience, HTM and assistance dogs has gone so very much higher.

From your other post it would take forever to train a dog to drive a car if you were not using a clicker

RedwingWinter Wed 12-Dec-12 17:27:32

Thanks Cuebill, I will be really interested to read it! It sounds fascinating.

The clicker dogs in the study were charged to the clicker first. But it's true that over time it might build up, and they didn't go on to teach any further behaviours.

I can well believe that people who do clicker-training are better at getting their timing right, and the timing is crucial. And also they are more likely to be knowledgeable about learning theory etc. which is a good thing.

lougle Wed 12-Dec-12 20:47:33

'Clicker' training is also used in sports, SEN, etc. Tagteach

For example learning high jump

Obviously, with people, there's a lot more verbal input, but the principle is the same - if you hear the click, you got it right.

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