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New 4 Year old, questions!

September 19th, 2011, 02:25 PM
Hey everyone.

I just adopted a 4 year old purebred yellow lab. Hes really friends and well trained. I do have some training and obedience questions. His previous owners trained him to do things like sit, lay down and shake a paw for treats, so obviously he wont do them unless he gets a treat. I don't think that way, i've been working with him to try to sit and lay down without getting anything and hes starting to get it. He always comes when I call him when Im walking him on my own. Ive had him off leash a few times and hes great when its just me but when i have a friend with me he won't listen to me. What can I do to get him to come everytime not just with me. Also he gets really really excited when he meets people and when a 120lb dog is running at someone usually they are scared. How do I train him to calm down around people and not jump or charge at them.



October 5th, 2011, 12:10 AM
I'm curious as to why you don't want to use food rewards with training? Done right, you don't need them indefinitely and they can be used to condition other things like toy rewards which will have even greater influences on skills like recall by tapping into prey response.

All dogs (really, all beings) work on the basis of what is most rewarding (or unrewarding) to them in a given situation. This is how learning works and behavior is modified. In order to give your dog a solid recall, you need to build yourself up to be more rewarding than his environment. You, or listening to you, need to be more valuable than: chasing squirrels, meeting people/dogs, playing with other dogs, exploring his environment, marking. That's a pretty tall order. You can do this by calling him in for super-fun play or food rewards. Food is easier in this situation because it is a primary reward: something that an animal needs no conditioning to find rewarding e.g. food, water, shelter, sex, chasing prey. Praise and petting is a secondary reward: something that an animal needs to be taught is worth their time, and is almost never strong enough to compete with a stimulating environment. Toys are actually best for most dogs but they need to be properly conditioned. My guess is that your training is working well at home because there a fewer distractions. In the park it's a different story. You need to ask yourself what's in it for him, from his perspective. Why should he want to listen to you vs. continue doing what he finds rewarding? What reason are you giving him to comply?

You can also condition him by practicing drills like a spring-loaded recall (having someone hold him, then running away as fast as you can and calling him from a distance). Again though, this is much easier with the addition of a primary reward.

Until he has solid recall, I wouldn't let him run totally un-impeded. I'm a big fan of long lines. The dog can still have their fun, and you can always step on the line if it looks like they are about to take off. :thumbs up