Treat training

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DeLo727
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Treat training

Post by DeLo727 » Mon Jul 11, 2016 4:04 pm

I have been having a great conversation through PM with one of the members about some obedience training and using treats. If you e read my last couple posts you know I have been having trouble with my heel training and I have gotten some great feedback that I'm sure will help. But I'm curious about training with treats. As a young man I had incredible success with some show dogs I trained, that was strictly all obedience work and I used treats with them pretty much exclusively.
Since I've gotten into gun dogs I've been discouraged from using treats without a fantastic explanation why. Two of the people who expressed a negative opinion about treats are people I highly respect who have produced great dogs. I don't see the problem with using treats in my obedience work the further I get into it. I'm curious what opinion some of you have about this? As of right now I don't use them at all except in my water work to coax him into the water because he was apprehensive. My kids have him do tricks in the house and they occasionally give him treats and it's remarkable how quickly he learns. Not that I'm surprised. I can't wait to hear your thoughts.

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Re: Treat training

Post by mnaj_springer » Mon Jul 11, 2016 4:19 pm

I don't carry treats when I hunt. And my dogs definitely know hunting versus everything else, probably because I don't have a gun when training. If all I had to go on were treats then they'd learn pretty quick not to care about obedience while hunting. But because I have the training tools I normally rely on (praise, an e-collar, and well timed corrections) when I hunting, I'm golden.

I'm not the final word on the topic but that's one consideration.
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Re: Treat training

Post by Sharon » Mon Jul 11, 2016 4:52 pm

I use treats/clicker with puppies , but not for long.
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Re: Treat training

Post by gonehuntin' » Mon Jul 11, 2016 7:31 pm

Sharon wrote:I use treats/clicker with puppies , but not for long.
+1
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Re: Treat training

Post by polmaise » Mon Jul 11, 2016 8:05 pm

Sharon wrote:I use treats/clicker with puppies , but not for long.
+1/-1,always,

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DeLo727
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Re: Treat training

Post by DeLo727 » Mon Jul 11, 2016 9:28 pm

My curiosity rises from the fact that very few stellar dogs who were treat trained are maintained on treats. They are almost always weened off them. Which is even easier since dog people started using clickers. You have to be cautious about it, you can't just quit cold turkey and you have to replace the treats with praise. Why are hunting dogs treated differently? I just don't understand it and am hoping someone could clarify it for me. Ive heard that it's because we aren't conditioning our dogs to do something but rather we are encouraging a natural behavior....but no obedience training is natural for a dog. Am I wrong?

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Re: Treat training

Post by Sharon » Mon Jul 11, 2016 9:39 pm

Because we aren't talking about obedience where the dog is near you. At around 5? months a gundog is long gone becoming independent and hunting. Treats/clickers are too far from the dog to be useful. By then he'd better be at least responding to the come command or the e collar. When he's out there 100 yards ignoring you , the treat or clicker isn't any use. You also don't want the dog coming back for a treat; you want him/her g o n e hunting.

If I had a house dog who never left the house except for a walk around the block , no reason I couldn't use a treat reward for ever. :)
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Re: Treat training

Post by Trekmoor » Tue Jul 12, 2016 5:50 am

For me treats are just another tool from the box that I might want to use with a particular dog for a particular purpose.

It is usually young puppies I give treats to because pups are usually close enough to me for treats to be used for things like sits to whistle or maybe.....and with considerable caution ......with retrieves.
At distance, for example, 30 yards , the rewards/treats for dogs should come from what they are being allowed/encouraged to do .....that is hunting or retrieving.

I can't see any harm in using treats for heelwork however if that is what you are wanting to do.

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Re: Treat training

Post by ezzy333 » Tue Jul 12, 2016 5:51 am

DeLo727 wrote:My curiosity rises from the fact that very few stellar dogs who were treat trained are maintained on treats. They are almost always weened off them. Which is even easier since dog people started using clickers. You have to be cautious about it, you can't just quit cold turkey and you have to replace the treats with praise. Why are hunting dogs treated differently? I just don't understand it and am hoping someone could clarify it for me. Ive heard that it's because we aren't conditioning our dogs to do something but rather we are encouraging a natural behavior....but no obedience training is natural for a dog. Am I wrong?
We are different because our dogs are not on a leash but are often at great distances when we give commands.
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Re: Treat training

Post by cjhills » Tue Jul 12, 2016 6:33 am

I use treat training on young puppies for recall and kennel. My issue with treat training is that the dog does not really learn to obey the command. I have seen very well treat train dogs go through every response they know if you stand in front of them with a treat in your hand. Makes you wonder who is training who.............Cj

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Re: Treat training

Post by welsh » Tue Jul 12, 2016 7:07 am

You will not find a coherent explanation for the gundog trainer's disdain for treat training for one simple reason: there is no coherent explanation. I have just been reading (by coincidence) P.R.A. Moxon's 1952 classic, Gundogs: Training and Field Trials, and he gives the usual rationale: in paraphrase, treats are bad for training the retrieve, and he is sure they are bad otherwise, for reasons he can't (and doesn't) explain.

I'm going to quote a wise man here.
Trekmoor wrote:It is usually young puppies I give treats to because pups are usually close enough to me for treats to be used for things like sits to whistle or maybe.....and with considerable caution ......with retrieves.
At distance, for example, 30 yards , the rewards/treats for dogs should come from what they are being allowed/encouraged to do .....that is hunting or retrieving.
Reward-based training works better than anything, although rewards don't have to be food treats. Birds and retrieves (for natural retrievers) are powerful rewards also. Gundog-specific training tasks can't be reinforced with food treats for various reasons, so our training methods use other rewards. But there is absolutely no reason they can't be used for general obedience, and there is absolutely no reason not to use them, because they work.

People who oppose using treats often claim that the dog is not really learning the behaviour or that the dog only performs the behaviour for a bribe. When you stop giving treats, the dog soon stops doing as it's told. But this only happens if the trainer doesn't know what he's doing.

If you switch from continuous reinforcement (giving a treat each and every time) to no reinforcement, the behaviour you trained will soon extinguish -- and this happens regardless of whether your reinforcement is praise, food treats, or whatever. If you want a behaviour to persist, you ought to quickly move from continuous reinforcement to an intermittent reinforcement schedule: that is, you reinforce only occasionally. Your dog becomes a gambling addict, continually playing your game in hopes of getting a payoff.

People training puppies make this mistake continually. Treat, treat, treat, every time; then they decide, "the dog knows this," and stop rewarding the behaviour, or reward it only with verbal praise (which, to a dog, is the least desirable reward). So the learned behaviour is extinguished, and the trainer declares either, "treats don't work because the dog is only working for the treat," or "the dog is a teenager now and he's testing me." But the trainer himself is at fault here.

This is all established psychology. We'd do well to remember that people have been studying how animals learn for many years, and these are settled questions. There's a good explanation of intermittent reinforcement here:
http://www.indiana.edu/~p1013447/dictionary/sked.htm

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Re: Treat training

Post by DeLo727 » Tue Jul 12, 2016 9:01 am

welsh wrote:You will not find a coherent explanation for the gundog trainer's disdain for treat training for one simple reason: there is no coherent explanation. I have just been reading (by coincidence) P.R.A. Moxon's 1952 classic, Gundogs: Training and Field Trials, and he gives the usual rationale: in paraphrase, treats are bad for training the retrieve, and he is sure they are bad otherwise, for reasons he can't (and doesn't) explain.

I'm going to quote a wise man here.
Trekmoor wrote:It is usually young puppies I give treats to because pups are usually close enough to me for treats to be used for things like sits to whistle or maybe.....and with considerable caution ......with retrieves.
At distance, for example, 30 yards , the rewards/treats for dogs should come from what they are being allowed/encouraged to do .....that is hunting or retrieving.
Reward-based training works better than anything, although rewards don't have to be food treats. Birds and retrieves (for natural retrievers) are powerful rewards also. Gundog-specific training tasks can't be reinforced with food treats for various reasons, so our training methods use other rewards. But there is absolutely no reason they can't be used for general obedience, and there is absolutely no reason not to use them, because they work.

People who oppose using treats often claim that the dog is not really learning the behaviour or that the dog only performs the behaviour for a bribe. When you stop giving treats, the dog soon stops doing as it's told. But this only happens if the trainer doesn't know what he's doing.

If you switch from continuous reinforcement (giving a treat each and every time) to no reinforcement, the behaviour you trained will soon extinguish -- and this happens regardless of whether your reinforcement is praise, food treats, or whatever. If you want a behaviour to persist, you ought to quickly move from continuous reinforcement to an intermittent reinforcement schedule: that is, you reinforce only occasionally. Your dog becomes a gambling addict, continually playing your game in hopes of getting a payoff.

People training puppies make this mistake continually. Treat, treat, treat, every time; then they decide, "the dog knows this," and stop rewarding the behaviour, or reward it only with verbal praise (which, to a dog, is the least desirable reward). So the learned behaviour is extinguished, and the trainer declares either, "treats don't work because the dog is only working for the treat," or "the dog is a teenager now and he's testing me." But the trainer himself is at fault here.

This is all established psychology. We'd do well to remember that people have been studying how animals learn for many years, and these are settled questions. There's a good explanation of intermittent reinforcement here:
http://www.indiana.edu/~p1013447/dictionary/sked.htm
Ok bud, this is an explanation I understand. It has never made any sense to me why hunting dog guys are opposed to treats, at least the majority. It's clear that you can't treat train for certain tasks. However, it makes zero sense to me why you can't train a dog using treats for basic or even advanced obedience commands.
As mentioned before with my show dogs, I was able to achieve nearly perfect execution of all the obedience commands from my dogs and I used treats, everyone else I worked with did the same. With some exceptions, I have never seen a gundog that performed these tasks with the precision of the dogs from my previous life. It only makes sense to me to train a dog to do something it's not programmed to do by bribing it. Surely I understand that when it comes to natural behaviors such as pointing, ranging, backing and for some dogs retrieving...you shouldn't use treats in any fashion. However, I've seen them used very successfully with some difficult fetch work. Weaning a dog off of treats during training is not remotely difficult for the animal, it's harder for us to do right.
I get a lot of feedback saying that guys don't want to have to work a hunting do with treats, I wouldn't either. But by the time you've broken in the obedience commands and are hunting hard, that dog should be off treats all together if you e done it right. I have not done clicker training, but I imagine that it's even easier now since people started using them.
This is not me being stubborn that I want to use treats, I just don't see it as reasonable that the reason you shouldn't is because you dont want the dog looking for them. I've youve done it right, they never will.

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Re: Treat training

Post by cjhills » Tue Jul 12, 2016 9:42 am

The thing is with show ring training that mostly the treats are used to keep the dog looking alert while doing something that is boring. Basically they need to trot, stack and look alert. I have watched many shows and most pro handlers have a pocket full of boiled liver and are baiting their dogs. At every level the dogs are looking for treats. I too carry some treats when training and give the dogs something occasionally. Usually just because I want to, not to reward anything. All my dogs are trained to kennel with treats.
When the dog learns that he can control you by doing a certain thing(i.e. getting a treat for sitting) he will try to get other rewards. One good example is sitting to avoid pressure during training. Dogs that are trained to sit on command can also be trained not to sit on command.
The other thing is when a dog has a choice between a bird or a treat I want him to choose the bird.
It seems a bit presumptive to say if a trainer does not use treats it is because he does not know how to phase them out. That is really very simple
We all have our methods. If it works for you great. just do what you like and let others do the same........................Cj

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Re: Treat training

Post by Trekmoor » Tue Jul 12, 2016 9:50 am

[quote="DeLo727"]
As mentioned before with my show dogs, I was able to achieve nearly perfect execution of all the obedience commands from my dogs and I used treats, everyone else I worked with did the same. With some exceptions, I have never seen a gundog that performed these tasks with the precision of the dogs from my previous life. [quote]

I once did obedience show competition work too and I know most of those dogs do things like straight sits and heelwork with more precision than most gundogs but please remember a gundog has no need to do these things with great exactitude. In Britain, at any rate, no judge gives higher marks for straight sits than he does for squint sits.

If a gundog trainer were to always insist on exactly straight sits in front or at heel he would run the risk of slowing the dog down as it returned with retrieves for example. Some dogs begin to worry about performing the straight sit and therefor become a bit slower during the last few yards of their approach to the handler with a retrieve in their mouths. Even the sit itself can become a slow and hesitant affair if the dog is in the slightest bit anxious about it.

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Re: Treat training

Post by h&t » Tue Jul 12, 2016 10:11 am

I was asking the same questions few years ago...

Sharon, trekmoor and welsh provided good replies, although welsh goes a bit too deep int dog psychology :)
why you can't train a dog using treats for basic or even advanced obedience commands
You can. No problem there, you just have to make sure to transition to field work correctly (distance, duration, distraction), again, something welsh already mentioned.

IMO, one important role of treats with new dog, esp. young puppy is to establish communication, attention, positive attitude and create those 'bridge' secondary reinforcement, where the puppy learns what it means when you (the handler) say "good!" (and give it a treat) and they learn your body language and even facial expressions.

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Re: Treat training

Post by Gordon Guy » Tue Jul 12, 2016 10:25 am

I use treats for yard work and behaviors in the house for these commands "Here", "Kennel and "Leave it". When pup knows the command in the yard I then wean them off treats and replace with a head rub when appropriate for field work. I also don't use a clicker, instead I say "Good Girl" or "Good Boy" and then treat. Mostly because I use to forget where the clicker was and had to improvise. I noticed that with using the words in place of a clicker pup still looked for the treat... so why use a clicker....

I think "tradition" has a lot to do with the resistance to use treats.

Setters can be sensitive dogs and treats help keep the yard training positive and the dog focused, happy and alert.

In the field treats have no power over the drive to find birds. I would have it no other way. :)
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Re: Treat training

Post by oregon woodsmoke » Tue Jul 12, 2016 2:38 pm

I've never owned a dog who wouldn't work for praise and approval. Treats are valuable to lure the pup into the correct behavior so the dog can be praised for it. Luring him with a cookie beats manhandling him into position.

The important thing about it is that I often times don't have a cookie with me, but I am always carrying around a "good job" or a happy "yes!"

If a gun dog is well bred, the actual act of hunting, pointing, retrieving should be the dog's best reward that he will work for. All I have to do is to give approval for the correct response and make hunting a happy experience for the dog. It's what he is bred to do; what is in his genes. If you don't make the experience awful, painful, or frightening, he'll work for the chance to get the bird. The dog just needs to be shaped so that his method of getting that bird is what works for you with your gun. At some point, a well bred dog will twig to the fact that you are in a partnership to get that bird together. He needs you and you need him, and gawd help you if you miss a shot because his scornful look will shrivel your pride.

(not terribly gun dog related except that the obedience exercises for titles are taken from the hunting field, but I've put a lot of obedience titles on dogs who were never once given a cookie in training and did all of their work just for approval. Some dogs get what you are asking for a lot quicker if a cookie is involved, but some dogs are more interested in learning than in a treat. I've had dogs refuse a treat because it interrupted their work. Each dog is different, though, and you must figure out what works with that dog)

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Re: Treat training

Post by polmaise » Tue Jul 12, 2016 3:07 pm

polmaise wrote:
Sharon wrote:I use treats/clicker with puppies , but not for long.
+1/-1,always,
What one says and what one does are two different things.
If one was to be as consistent as one asks the dog ,the dog would learn. If one was as inconsistent as one does ask the dog then the dog is confused as the handler.
Pretty much makes clicker training an expertise' rather than a tool for the novice in my book. But a very good tool none the less!! ..Much like treats?..
Timing as they say is everything and some don't have the time or the skill to use it ! (That's not a failing as a person!!) ..just fact. Some dogs don't have it either.
Every time I put a bowl of food down for my dogs when they are hungry they eat it. That's pretty good timing :)
..
Shaping a behaviour using 'food reward' can and has been said ''open to interpretation'' ,ie ..does the dog learn the behaviour or has it been lured to do it because of the food?
I'm not blowing any trumpet here , but I reckon I can make a dog do pretty much anything it is physically capable of doing , but 'making a dog do something it want's to do' is training . (imo) How you do that is to be applauded.
...
For the last 38 years however, I have never been able to stop a spaniel while hunting to find game to stop on a flush with a rabbit by conditioning it on food reward,neither have I stopped an HPR from pointing on found game by offering it a food reward. I have however offered a food reward in early training by planting food on the ground and conditioning a hunt command ,so it has it's place , just how one uses it. ..Much like any other tool/process.

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Post by welsh » Tue Jul 12, 2016 3:58 pm

The common theme in the anti-treat rationales is that a dog trained on treats (or that needs treats) is a lesser dog and a trainer who uses treats is a lesser trainer.

This tells us much more about people than about dogs.

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Re:

Post by polmaise » Tue Jul 12, 2016 4:28 pm

welsh wrote:The common theme in the anti-treat rationales is that a dog trained on treats (or that needs treats) is a lesser dog and a trainer who uses treats is a lesser trainer.

This tells us much more about people than about dogs.
For sure ! as yet I have never seen a post on here from a dog :lol: :wink:

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Treat training

Post by welsh » Tue Jul 12, 2016 4:33 pm

polmaise wrote:For sure ! as yet I have never seen a post on here from a dog :lol: :wink:
LOL ... are you sure?

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Re: Treat training

Post by polmaise » Tue Jul 12, 2016 4:54 pm

welsh wrote:
polmaise wrote:For sure ! as yet I have never seen a post on here from a dog :lol: :wink:
LOL ... are you sure?

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Until now of course . :P .lol

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Re:

Post by ezzy333 » Tue Jul 12, 2016 6:01 pm

welsh wrote:The common theme in the anti-treat rationales is that a dog trained on treats (or that needs treats) is a lesser dog and a trainer who uses treats is a lesser trainer.

This tells us much more about people than about dogs.
Been around this game for many years and this is the first I have ever heard that. Truth is we all train with treats but just different ones.
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Re: Treat training

Post by DeLo727 » Wed Jul 13, 2016 1:50 pm

Thanks guys, I appreciate all the feedback. I don't feel like I have heard a compelling argument not to use them yet, but I have heard several as to why you should. I like the comment about never seeing a dog break from hunting to get a treat. Ive never seen a good hunting dog who will stop hunting because it got a sweet tooth, I feel like I am too far into my training regimen to change my program now, but I always feel blessed to get a good education here

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Re: Treat training

Post by Gator_McClusky » Thu Jul 28, 2016 4:37 pm

Gordon Guy wrote:I use treats for yard work and behaviors in the house for these commands "Here", "Kennel and "Leave it".
Trained these commands with treats as well. Any time the puppy brought me anything at home or on a hike, dead thing, garbage, etc. I gave a "leave it" command and rewarded with a treat and praise. See how other dogs perform, I credit that with his now excellent retrieve and release (returns straight to me with no keep away or hard mouthing/chomping).

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