My Lore Trained Dog Needs Help Thinking for Himself (or You Could Say “Using His Brain”)

Raiden was not trained until he was four years old.  I was a good show dog owner and never taught him how to sit or anything else for that matter other than how to demand food, attention and rides in the car.  Once Raiden did get into his first basic obedience class we went where we were told we could find positive training.  It wasn’t until two years later that someone finally told me that I had lore trained my dog, so he appeared to learn, but he never learned to engage his brain.  It wasn’t until two years after Raiden’s first basic obedience class that I learned what shape training was and how it teaches the dog to think.  Now I have two other dogs that have previously never been taught to do much of anything that are learning much faster than Raiden, my previously obedience trained dog, who has a CGC.

Raiden can learn and he will do whatever you ask him to do if: 1. he’s been lored into that position before and given a command to go with it enough times to remember it and 2. you have a treat in front of his face.  Missing either of those two elements means Raiden requires a lot of time and patience and waiting around for him to figure out what you want and he usually gives up or I give up and tell him what I want.  Since I’ve now moved into shape training, I don’t always want to have to tell Raiden what I want.  He is supposed to figure it out, but he just stands there completely perplexed as to why we aren’t opening the gate for him or reminding him that he needs to sit and stay before being let out even though we’ve been doing the same exercise everyday for weeks.

Doing crate games in class, he looks like a pro as long as you have treats, but at home behind a door without a treat being offered he looks at me like, “you want me to do what?  sit?  I don’t get it.”  The first time in class doing crate games even with treats, the instructor finally gave up and instructed us to give him the sit command because he was never going to get it any other way.  The first time he did It’s Yet Choice (a game that’s very easy for puppies), he almost gave up completely and walked away.

So with Raiden, we are forced to do a combination of lore and shape training because he hasn’t really learned how to think for himself yet.  Raiden is very trainable and he loves to work for food, so I have no doubt that I can train him, but he does have some bad habits we need to work on.  He still wants to sit in front of me and pull on the leash.  He believes he should be in front leading the pack, so I continue to use the heeling game to try to convince him that beside me is the best place to be.

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