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Clicker training

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Linda78
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Does anyone use the clicker method for training? Ive been hearing more about it and, am thinking of trying it. would love some advice or comments about it.
 


sands904
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Hey Linda, I do a little clicker training with Lance and Lacey. Logan is actually afraid of the noise it makes so I am working on that as well. The clicker is a great way to work on specific behaviors you want to teach your dog. The clicker is commonly used with a type of training referred to as 'shaping' which is where you acutally wait for the dog to 'offer a behavior' and then you click and treat any small movement towards the behavior you are wanting. With this type of training, timing is extremely important. You need to click at the first sign of what you are looking for and deliver the treat within 1-2 seconds after the click. For example I recently taught Lance to touch his nose to a post (not sure why :)). We started out next to the post as Lance was looking around I clicked/treated when he would look at the post. He eventually started looking at the post more often then I waited until he took a step toward the post and clicked/treated that. Then he reached out his nose toward the post to sniff and I clicked/treated that. Then he actually touched his nose to the post I clicked/treated that with a 'Jackpot' (more treats than usuall). That is the general idea behind shaping and clicker training. Once the dog is consistantly doing the desired behavior you can add the 'cue' or 'command word' you wish to use for it. Start by saying the word while the dog is actually doing the behavior and gradually say the command sooner during their execution of the behavior until you can actually say the command and the dog does the behavior. If you want a really good reference for clicker training check out [url=http://www.clickertraining.com/]Karen Pryor's website[/url]. She is a wonderful dog trainer with lots of great information. Hope that helps!
Linda78
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Thank you for that information! I do have a book by Karen Pryor on reserve at the library. It's funny you mentioned Lance touching the pole. I've seen several references to "nose touching" in sites I've been visiting. My biggest areas I'd like to use the clicker are in barking when someone comes to the door (especially Kipper). I want him to stop as soon as I tell him it's ok. Just don't know when to apply the clicker in this instance. Also, Edward is going through a biting phase where he just keeps going at your feet or hand and, the more we tell him to stop, the more he jumps to do it again. brat! I just called Edward in and, he came right away so I clicked/treated. But it seems that you are saying to wait for him to do the desired deed and then click? Seems a little confusing but, willing to do anything to have well behaved dogs. Thanks again!
sands904
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Yes, Karen Pryor is a very good reference for learning about clicker training. It may be hard to use the clicker with barking as it will be hard for them to hear it over their own barking. Barking at people coming to the door is one of the hardest things to break as barking in itself is reinforcing to the dog. They usually bark at people coming into the house because of excitement or fear. I have been working with all three of mine on this without much luck. I actually tried something last night when company came over that seemed to work quite well and I am hoping I can use that to finally teach them this. My husbands parents came to visit last night. Before they showed up I put Lance in his crate and Lacey & Logan in the room they go in when we leave. His parents came in they barked in the room a few times and whined a little but it was a lot better than having them run around the house barking for a half hour. After about 15 minutes I let them out. They barked once or twice and settled down very quickly as compared to normal. Even his parents commented on how calm they were. It seems like the excitment of people coming in the door just gets them soooooo excited they bark to express their excitment. I don't know if something like that would help in your case but it may be worth a try. Not sure exactly what to do about the biting at the feet but if you are playing with him and he bites at your arms or hand, cross your arms immediately and turn your back on him. Don't give him any attention for about a minute. If done consistantly this will usually cut down on the biting because he learns that biting stops play which he probably wont like. You might be able to use a clicker in these two cases but off the top of my head I am not sure of a good way to approach it. 'Shaping' is what I described, where you wait for them to do the behavior which is a common way to use the clicker. What you just did when you called him may work as well. Check out [url=http://www.clickertraining.com/basics]http://www.clickertraining.com/basics[/url]. It really helped me in understanding the clicker. I had tried to use it when Lacey and Logan were puppies but was confused just like you on how/when to use it. Hope that helps! Go ahead and ask any questions (I just got accepted as a training apprentice by a trainer so I am trying to learn as much as possible :) Best of Luck!
Linda78
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First, congratulations on being accepted as a trainer apprentice!! Good luck to you! I saw a man in the park the other day w/3 Springer Spaniels. I was amazed at how well behaved they were, off leash. He used the whistle and, one by one, they did what he asked and only when told to do it! So, unlike my guys! I came away from there saying, "that's it, I have got to get these dogs to behave like that" Or, at least a little bit! I've tried putting Kipper in a room behind the gate when people come and, he still barks. Edward has THE MOST annoying bark going. He's lucky he's cute!! I wonder, if they bark, and, I click to get their attention, and, then tell them to sit/click/treat if that might work. I'll let you know. In the meantime I'll check out the website you mentioned. THanks again, and best of luck to you. Wish you lived nearby, maybe you could straighten these 2 out for me!
sands904
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Thanks!! I am very excited. I have wanted to get into training for a few years. I just had to get my houligans under control first [:D]. They are getting better everyday. Training takes a lot of patience and hard work. My guess is that guy with the spaniels has put in some long hours over a long period of time to get them like that. Just be patient and consistent, that is the key! When I put all three of them in the other room when the family came to visit it was behind a solid door so they couldn't see anyone at first. No sure if your gate allows them to see the visitors and just not get to them but that may be an issue. They will likely get more frustrated if they can see the visitor and just not get over to them to say 'hi'. You could try using the clicker as a distraction if you feel it helps but typically the clicker should only mean 'Good Job'. If you use it as a distraction and then as a good signal they may get confused and think you are telling them good job for barking which is definitely not what you want. Stoping barking at visitors is right up there with loose leash walking as far as how hard it is to train especially if you have multiple dogs because as soon as one starts barking the others have to join in! If you can it may be helpful to work with them one at a time with people in the household at the door for a while. I try to go over to the door and open it a couple of times a day even when no one is there. All three of them used to bark like crazy when I went close to the door but now I can usually get it open without any barks. It seems to be the door bell that really sets of the bark parade. We are still working on that....[:D]
sophiesmom
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Maybe the clicking is something that might work for Sophie. I've actually been reading a little about it and was interested. She does pretty good listening but sometimes it seems only when it is something she wants to hear. :) Our main issue is still the housebreaking. She is 8 months old and no matter what, she refuses to poo outside. She pees on her puppy pads, that she does real good with, but when it comes to pooing, she will poo anywhere and everywhere. I've placed it on the pads, I've kept her outside forever thinking she would have to go, but no, she waited until we came back in. I have scolded her during the act and placed her on the pad and outside, but nothing works. Our patience is about gone with this. Like Edward Linda, she's lucky she's cute. Anyone have any ideas on this one?
elvisandmojo
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Our trainer that came to our home used the clicker training during one of our sessions. When it came time for me to click, treat and manage the dog I found that I was totally uncoordinated. My frustration led to the end of the clicker. But the trainer was coordinated enough to use it with them and you could see the difference. With the two litter mates it is a little frustrating to try and train them. One always seems to get the other's attention and this occurs even if we are working one with the other crated in the house. The boys do best with treats as rewards for their positive behavior. RE: Sophie's pooping issue Try getting used to her schedule and getting her outside about 10 - 30 minutes after she eats or drinks anything. Reward her for going outside with kibble mixed with cooked hot dog. Sounds like you will be practicing some tough love with this little cutie. It reminds me of potty training my son when he was 3. Poor kid sat on the toilet for close to 4 hours while I sat on the floor reading to him, singing songs with him and trying to coax him into letting that first nugget come out. After that life began getting better which I'm sure will happen with Sophie Darling. Do you have an area that you could chain her up and leave her in privacy to take care of things? I would make sure she has some water available but it won't hurt her to deal with the issue out doors. This would also enable her to learn to go in a specific area that you won't have to go searching for poop around the yard (when she does decide it is time to be a big girl and go where she should). Just my two cents. --Laura
MelissaJax

I've been using the clicker with my dogs for several months, and we're making great progress. Using the clicker, I taught Cassie 'Go to Mat' in about 10 minutes. Both of my dogs are very reactive, so we use the clicker to reward passing a person or seeing a dog without a reaction. A really cool way to use the clicker is free shaping. Get a handful of treats and a clicker, and wait for your dog to do something you like, then click and treat. I've used this to improve Winston's 'Bring', and he figured out 'Go to Mat' on his own with free shaping. The really cool thing is once the dog figures out the game, he will start offering new moves to try to earn rewards. Don't try to click and treat at the same time. The Click marks the good behavior, then the treat rewards it, so the Click is a signal that a treat is coming. If your dog is startled by the noise of the clicker, order one of Karen Pryor's clickers, or try clicking a ballpoint pen. Winston jumped when I clicked a box clicker, but he's not bothered by the Karen Pryor clicker. I ordered a dozen and have them stashed all around the house, in the treat bag, and in every car. I usually have treats and a clicker in my jeans pocket so I can catch and reward good behavior. I read a great tip for door barking, and I'm going to try it with my dogs. Have a helper ring the doorbell. As soon as the doorbell rings, tell your dog 'Kennel Up' or whatever your crating command is, lead the dog to the crate, and drop in lots of treats. Keep repeating, and the dog will get the idea that the doorbell means treats raining from heaven. When the dog understands the game, run to the crate when the doorbell rings, and the dog should beat you there. Eventually, the dog should go on his own and you can follow and reward, then start adding a 'Wait' before treating. The goal is for the dog to go to the crate and wait quietly while you deal with the door, then you go reward. I use the day's kibble ration for this kind of training to avoid weight gain and tummy upsets from rich treats. Melissa in MI Winston - Border Collie/corgi Cassie - GSD/JRT
Linda78
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Thanks Melissa, great tips. I would love it if we could cure the barking at the door and, when other dogs come into the house. sometimes he will bark at a passing dog in the park but, that seems to be getting better. So, if we walk by another dog and Edward has no reaction, I should then click and treat? How will he know what he's being rewarded for? Do I do that w/every dog that comes by and there is no reaction from Edward? Appreciate the hints, will start using them. Linda
MelissaJax

<< So, if we walk by another dog and Edward has no reaction, I should then click and treat? How will he know what he's being rewarded for? Yes. He will quickly associate seeing a dog with treats. Initially he won't know that it is no reaction that he is being rewarded for. Once he realizes that when he sees a dog and reacts, no treat comes, he will get the idea that he has to see a dog AND be quiet. << Do I do that w/every dog that comes by and there is no reaction from Edward? Yes. Every single time for a whie. He should start turning to you to get his treat. When he's turning every time, start rewarding intermittantly, but continue to click. My dogs are learning Look At That (LAT). When they see a dog or anything else that bothers them, they look at it, then look at me. I click when they look at the problem thing, then treat when they look at me. This is teaching them to look to me for support rather than going off. A great book is Control Unleashed by Leslie McDevitt. http://controlunleashed.net/ Cassie is in a CU class, and Winston is learning many of the same techniques in a private setting. It's meant for reactive dogs, but the techniques work for every dog, and are great for building a strong bond with your dog. Melissa in MI Winston - Border Collie/corgi Cassie - GSD/JRT
sands904
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Linda, I totally agree with Melissa. That is exactly what I am doing with Logan. He is very reactive to other dogs. I tell him 'Look' and point and he looks at 'it' and get a 'Yes' (he is still afraid of the clicker and the verbal marker is working great with him) and a treat if he doesn't react. He pretty much no longer reacts to people. He does react to children. We are working on this every morning as we have a few school buses that stop out our front window so I do the same thing with the children - 'Look', 'Yes', 'Treat'. He is starting to automatically look at me when he hears or sees another dog on walks (AWESOME!!). Control Unleashed is a great book. I am about half way through reading it and have quite a few new things to work on with all three of them. Best of Luck!
Linda78
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Thank you so much for all the helpful hints... So far the 2 of them are doing great with sit/stay/down. I'd really like to get the barking at the door under control so will start working on that. Kipper is no problem in the park. Likes meeting other dogs. Edward seems to be getting a little better too. We are taking him to the pet store again today. We have been doing this with him to hopefully get him more used to being around other dogs. I will bring my clicker w/me. Yesterday, my daughter brought him to PetSmart and, she said he was a perfect gentlemen! [:D] Will let you know how it goes!
emgerber
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I used clicker training in the very beginning with my dog and it worked wonderful. It took a bit for me to get used to using the clicker at the right time. My dog is now almost 2 and I have not used it in awhile. We phased out the click but taught a marked word as she got older. A marked word is one word we used to show she was doing what we wanted just like using the clicker. We taught her over 25 tricks using the clicker. We then went into agility training, and this is when we phased out the clicker. Our dog presently has her Agility Association of Canada Title and is now working on her Agility Gaming Dog of Canada. It is a bit challenging in the beginning but well worth the effort.
BellaBonBon
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This may sound completely stupid to most of you, lol...but I can't use a clicker or a whistle with my pets.
 
Every time I think about it I think of "The Sound of Music" when Captain VonTrapp would use that whistle to call his kids to dinner, or to their line-up, etc, and how Maria was like, "They're children, and you're using a whistle??"  She didn't say precisely that but ..still.
 
We have no children. Our animals are our kids...I couldn't use a clicker.  I'd picture VonTrapp every time, LOL.
emgerber
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I loved the mention of the movie The Sound of Music. I love that movie and watch it on DVD allot. It was a good point you made but that is not how the clicker is used. The clicker is just a marked sound you still give your dog all the hugs and pats and good dog when they do something you want in a very enthusiastic voice. The click is to give an instant response to the dog so they are able to make the connection with the action and your approval. It has to happen immediately to be effective. Every once in awhile I will take out the clicker and try it to see what her response is and when she hears the sounds she gets all excited and bouncy like she is saying 'Mommy noticed, Mommy noticed'. I kind of think of it like when they walk around the house with their favorite squeaky toy and they squeak and squeak,  I can say I really do not like the squeak over and over but  I have learned to accept it because my dog loves the sound so much.

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