Saturday, October 9

Click, Click, Click Away!

With the addition of Dax, I recently began clicker training most of my dogs. Previously, I had scoffed at this training method - I mean, come on, you can use the word "good" or "yes" as a trigger even more easily, without having to know where your clicker is constantly. However, it does work extremely well. I believe it's likely because you use your voice to talk to, and talk around, your dog every day, so you saying "good" is nice, but the clicker is ONLY ever used when the dog is about to get a treat. That makes the clicker a higher value, regardless of the treat used with it. No wonder you can find greater success with a clicker than without.

I've also become a huge fan of kikopup on YouTube. Her videos are awesome - she shows you exactly how to teach tricks and behaviors, from the beginning to proofing the behavior, all with the clicker.

The only dog that's not very "clicker friendly" in my house is Merlin, because he doesn't like being clicked at, no matter how many treats he gets for it. Previously, he was terrified of even being in its presence, so this is a huge step up for him. Today while I was training the other dogs, I was click/treating him with the clicker behind my back, and he was fine. So we may be down to being afraid of the visual of the clicker. I do mute my clicker with copious amounts of masking tape, because clickers are naturally obnoxious and I just don't think that's necessary. :)

Some things my dogs worked on today with the clicker -

Popper - Heel, stay, go touch a target, leave it

Roofus - Heel, sit from a down, leave it, distance downs

Dax - Heel, stay, touch with paw, four on the floor (he jumps and bites when he gets excited), nose targets (for agility), roll over

The girls, of course, do not do training, and couldn't hear a clicker anyway. :)

Clicker training has been especially beneficial with Dax, because he's hyper. Sometimes he'll only perform a behavior for a second, and I can click it before he stops doing it. He's improved DRAMATICALLY in heeling and four on the floor, because I can capture the behavior so quickly.

I don't know if clicker training has helped Roofus at all, he is extremely stubborn and can be difficult to train - indeed, it usually takes him a lot longer to learn things than the other dogs. I try not to use the clicker while we are doing Rally Obedience, because I cannot have a clicker on me during trials, but I can use my voice.

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