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Old 03-02-2011, 08:55 AM
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Rachael313 Rachael313 is offline
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Default What do you do when your dog ignores a command?

Regardless of best training plans, even doing the best you can I'm sure most people eventually give there dog a command that he doesn't listen to, even though he knows the command and will perform it easily on cue in a variety of other circumstances.

So, in those special occurrences where your dog gets distracted or is more stimulated by something else when you give a command, thus ignoring it...what do you do? I'm a believer in the "never give a command/cue that can't be enforced" and setting up your dog for success, but I also believe things happen and people make mistakes.

So how do you deal with it when this happens? Do you let it slide? Lure? Wait it out? Physically manipulate the dog into the position?
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Old 03-02-2011, 09:17 AM
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I never let it go unless it's something he clearly just didn't understand, in that case I would make a note to work on it next training session and not ask for it again until he knows it better.

If it's because he's distracted I will do something to get his attention. If it is inside I will make some sort of noise, he responds very well to that. He's never ignored the come command from me inside (or outside for that matter), that would be more difficult as he's likely not close enough to me, or is just too distracted, for a noise to work. He ignored a leave it inside once when he was in the trash can so I went and body blocked him away so that he still had to comply. Then I put the trash out on the porch. If it's outside I would likely move him away (As he's always on a leash outside) from whatever is distracting him and perhaps try to get him playing with me/running with me so that he is paying attention to ME, and then ask again. After he does it I'd reward and then let him get back to whatever awesome thing had his attention.

My mom gets ignored regularly but continues to ask him to do these things she knows he won't do for her and it really frustrates me ESPECIALLY because after he ignores her several times she gets a treat to wave in front of him so he'll listen. With her he simply has no motivation to respond as she never rewards him for random commands given during real life. She rewards during training sessions but she also lures and bribes during the sessions so he's learned to ignore her without seeing food first. He knows with me though, that I might have treats on me so it's worth it to listen even if there is no guarantee I have anything. He'll go upstairs where he is not supposed to be and mom will stand at the bottom of the steps yelling "Tucker!, Tucker COME, come Tucker, Oh Tucker I have a cookieeee (he doesn't even know that word)" and he will not come or even look. So I walk over and simply say "Tucker come" and he comes bolting down the steps with a smile on his face. Dogs are smart, people not so much.
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Old 03-02-2011, 10:15 AM
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Behavior regressions are absolutely normal and some dogs display sloppiness at times more than others. My Doberman hardly ever needed any big refresher courses on much of anything. His training seemed to "hold" pretty well.

One of my little dogs who just turned 9 years old has "known" what "let's go" or "come" means for just about the whole 9 years. This is one behaivor he tends to regress with pretty easily. So, when he gets more motivated by something in the environment and "ignores" my asking him to come, I don't think of it in terms of ignoring, blowing me off or that he knows, but is just being stubborn. I think of it like this: For too long now, he hasn't been reinforced with enough frequency or with a high enough value of reward for him. That is why his behavior has regressed. Time for me to start beefing that up. Nevermind the present behavior lapse. If he won't come, I'll go get him. I won't fuss over the present instance. But I will then, for the next week or two, start reinforcing him every time he comes with really good rewards, then once he gets pretty regular, I'll switch him over to a variable reinforcement schedule for a while. A keep on going signal is also something that can help with dogs who really aren't coming very well all the way. If the dog comes just a couple of steps toward you, let him know how great that is and just raise the expectations gradually. I don't need to do that with Jose`. He doesn't regress that badly because I usually catch it before he goes that far down hill. LOL.

So, bottom line...when a behavior lapse happens, I don't focus on what just now is happening. I go get the dog, forget it, change the subject...whatever. I do focus on a plan to begin more quality-reinforcing of the behavior that is regressing. If need be, other basic training techniques can be incorporated. For instance, if the dog appears to be too distracted to do the behavior, even if he has been good (or "known") for a long time, I'll go back to a level where it was easier for him....like no distractions. Or I may need to use more prevention....just other basics.
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Old 03-02-2011, 11:11 AM
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With my puppy, I just go get her and move her into a position where she'd succeed. When she finally does, I give her complete access to whatever it is she was so focused on. If she doesn't respond, I just remove her from the situation entirely.

With my adult dog, honestly if she "blows me off" it's probably for a very good reason. She and I work as a team, but I spend a great deal less time barking commands at my adult dog than I do at my puppy.
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Old 03-02-2011, 11:17 AM
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I very, very rarely "let it go". The only time I might do that is if it's a situation where I absolutely CAN NOT wait it out (and try not to give commands in that instance, if I'm in a rush or something, so really it comes down to if we're actually in danger, like in the path of an oncoming car or something).

Like Maxy, I will drop it and work on it more if the dog doesn't actually understand the command. But if he does and he's just distracted or something, I'm going to basically just stand there (I often body block) until the dog figures out we aren't moving until he does what I ask. I do sometimes physically manipulate the dog, but not often.
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Old 03-02-2011, 11:25 AM
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If Saga blows off a command, all it takes for her is a "WHAT did I say?" or a fingersnap to get her to follow through. She is not allowed to get away with not following a command. It ISN'T a request.
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Old 03-02-2011, 11:39 AM
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I don't let it go. If it's just a matter of the environment being distracting or something new is introduced, I'll offer the hand signal in the case that she's just not listening well. Sometimes that's enough. If it's crazy and that doesn't work, I'll lure if I have treats. If nothing else, I don't mind physically guiding her into position.
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Old 03-02-2011, 05:36 PM
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This happens sometimes with the service dogs I train. It's super difficult with them because we work in EVERY environment - some of which are EXTREMELY distracting - and since they're service dogs and it's so important that they follow cues, they MUST do what they need to do in even very distracting environments.

So of course, we take it slow.... start training in non-distracting environments, and slowly and systematically add distractions and make it more difficult.

Of course, sometimes unexpected things happen and there's not much control you have over your environment, so sometimes they don't respond to the cues they're given. In those cases, usually I'll do what the others have mentioned.... ask for an easy cue to get their attention back, and then when they're focused on me recue the previous behavior; or move to a less distracting place (go around the corner, find a visual barrier), get the dog successful there, and then add the distraction back.

Recalls are a different story, though. If the dog is off leash and he decides he doesn't want to come, there's not much you can do about it. So in that case, I agree with Doberluv... get the dog, start over, and figure out how to make it more reinforcing.
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Old 03-02-2011, 05:45 PM
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My dogs are perfect... they don't ignore commands.


BAHAHHAHAHAHA! I tend to reposition myself/us and ask again. I reward for how "good" their follow through is. For instance a fluid and automatic sit at a roadside gets a higher value reward than if I have to ask for it, a completely uninterested sit will get nothing or just a pat and a "good girl" however that does depend on how distracting the environment is.
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Old 03-02-2011, 08:54 PM
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I go get her.

If she blows off a command I DO NOT ask for any more commands until I have control of her (leash, collar, treats) then I ask for her basic "I know these and comply 99% of the time" commands to get her focus, then I ask her to do the origional command now that she is focused. If she ignores her "99% of the time" commands then I know that the enviroment is just too much for her to deal with so I remove her and work on training later.

This works most of the time, and if it doesn't I go get some yummy treats and the 15' leash (we have no fence) and we work on it for a few mins. This has always worked for her.

Granted we mostly do training outside, if she blows me off inside I just go get treats and work on the issue.
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Last edited by DogKisses; 03-02-2011 at 09:10 PM.
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