View Full Version : CLICKER TRAINING! Question...

08-03-2008, 10:44 PM
What exactly is clicker training? I know about the clicker, but what can you teach with the clicker? Anyone know of a website or book that I can get to learn more about it? Thank you in advance! Kt and pups

08-04-2008, 12:24 AM
Clicker is just a behavior marker. A click means "you did it right; hold on, a treat is coming". That's it. Nothing more. Nothing less. A verbal "yes!" works the same way as a clicker.

The beauty of clicker training, however, is that it is a consistent marker that you can dole out as quickly or as slowly as the dog performs for you. Once the dog understands what the clicker means, the dog begins offering you behaviors. Thus, you can use the clicker to easily shape new behaviors. The clicker compels the dog to really THINK and problem solve. Once you know how and when to use it, you can use it to teach anything from basic obedience to advanced agility skills to curbing aggression.

Books to read: anything by Karen Pryor.

Short videos you can buy:

08-04-2008, 03:55 AM
Thank you Giselle.

Even though Joey knows a few tricks, I want him to learn more and since he is having a very hard problem learning stay:rolleyes: and drop it, I thought maybe a clicker would make him focus more. He is very hyper, and can not concentrate for longer than 1 minute!

Maybe we will try one and see if that helps.;)

08-04-2008, 08:21 AM
Excellent description!

Kate, have you considered an obedience class? I have taken Marlin, Sugar and Lacey, first time in my life I took a dog to classes. I was amazed at how much I learned! Now I'm "sold" on a class. The dog gets socialization time, and the owner learns HOW to interact with the dog, great stuff!

08-04-2008, 08:45 PM
Part of teaching stay is teaching a calmer state of mind.

A dog cannot stay for an extended amount of time if s/he's mentally bouncing off the walls. So to teach an extended stay, you should be doing it frequently and in a very quiet area with low distractions. You really just have to start with baby steps. Every time Joey gets up, just step forward into him and repeat until he starts getting some self-control. You might have to do this 20 times the first day. But the second day, you'll only be doing it 5 times. The third day, you'll only have to do it once, etc. etc.

But, yes, a clicker could definitely help! A clicker is so wonderful because it's crystal clear to both human and dog, and I certainly think it facilitates more efficient human-dog-communication.

08-04-2008, 09:12 PM
Thank you for the advice. I do take him into a spare bedroom, I tell him "school" and then we start training. He gets SO excited about the treats, that he jumps around and does not listen to my words, he just goes from one trick to the next, to get the treat:rolleyes:

Sandie, I did sign him up for training, but then I backed out because they did not do any "small dog only" training, and I know Joey would not do well with huge dogs everywhere. He would not be able to think straight...

But I am going to look into a private trainer, one on one, but they are VERY pricey. So we will see;)

08-04-2008, 09:28 PM
It was explained to me as taking a snapshot of the instant the desired behavior takes place, because think about it -- rewarding with praise or treats happens seconds AFTER the desired behavior took place, which could prolong the training. With the clicker they learn to stop expecting a treat but instead expect the clicker to click, because they know if they can get the clicker to click they'll be rewarded.

You also have to "charge the clicker", otherwise it doesn't work as well. To do this you just walk around and click and give a treat after you click, so the dog starts to associate the clicks with treats, like Pavlov's Dog. :)

08-04-2008, 10:09 PM
I'm hooked on dog classes. Shawnee and Tatum have both gone from beginner to intermediate to advanced at the local PetSmart. Shawnee now has learned a ridiculous amount of tricks (go lay down on your rug, bang!, go around, target, peekaboo, speak, etc.), Tatum has passed the CGC, and more importantly Tatum and Shawnee are now both very responsive and social dogs. They both actually occasionally used to try and fight dogs at their first classes. They never do it anymore. As for the clicker, I've tried using it a few times in the past but I always found it annoying and difficult to hold a leash in one hand, a clicker in the other hand, then switch both to one hand so my other hand is free to give the dog a treat. That sounds confusing, but anyway, I always have marked behaviors with "yes!" which is often followed by "good girl..." which is when the dog gets a treat or affection. I think dog classes are really fun too. I struck up a good friendship with the main trainer at the PetSmart near me, and I also realized I had a passion for dogs I never knew about after taking so many obedience classes and enjoying them so much. Also, you mentioned you thought about taking a private dog training lesson, you're right that they are MUCH MORE expensive. That is actually what I wanted to do with my dogs when I first started obedience classes but just 'cause I'm such a socially anxious person. When I talked to the trainer though she was very nice and talked me into going into a class with a bunch of other dogs because it would be better for my dogs in the long run and it would save me lots of money.

08-05-2008, 01:30 AM
Is Joey fearful of large dogs?

My theory is that all dogs should be socialized with all dogs, in all shapes and sizes. If the dog is fearful or extremely prey driven, training should be done to bring the drives down to a fairly normal and manageable level. Of course, there are some instances in which the prey drive, fear, or aggression is very ingrained and can only be shaved back to a certain point. However, those cases are very few and far in between.

Try enrolling Joey into a puppy class. Most of the dogs in that class will not be more than 20-30 pounds. If he is fearful of large dogs, he's got to learn how to cope with his fear at one point. The more you seclude him from his triggers, the more severe the behavior will become =)

It's good that Joey's excited for training, but don't feed into it. Only treat him when he's calm. With "stay", you're promoting a calmer state of mind. If you give him a treat when his body is wriggling and barely staying in one spot, you're rewarding for his hyperactivity. Put him in a Down and do NOT treat until his body is still. You can even manually hold his collar in one spot. Remember: you get what you reward.

08-05-2008, 04:08 AM
Giselle, yes he is extremely fearful of large dogs that he does not know. He shakes, tounge sticks out, he growls and sometimes "nips". It scares me for him. And when he does that, the other dog could turn and kill him.

He is only 2 pounds, and I dont think he will get any bigger. I always am very careful of him, with bigger dogs. I suffered a trauma years ago with a kitten of mine.... It got mauled by a larger dog that it grew up with. After that, and seeing how fast it happened, I am a very overprotective momma. It is wrong, and I know that, but those images are burnt into my brain, and all I can think of is that happening to Joey. I would lose my mind.

I did inquire about puppy classes, but since he is WAY past the age limit, the trainer would not let me join. But I guess I could look for others that are licensed in training... I know there are more than just one in my area.

UGH- Never knew a well behaved puppy was this stressful, wish they just came that way:p;)

08-05-2008, 11:22 PM
Was Joey socialized with larger dogs when he was a puppy?

Considering what happened with your cat, I can certainly understand why you yourself are so fearful, but do not convey these emotions to Joey and I would highly discourage seclusion. Secluding him from large dogs will not help him nor you. The only way to curb his fear is to confront it (positively, of course).

Don't feel bad! I've worked with several people with fear aggressive small dogs. For some reason, fear aggression seems more pervasive in the world of small dogs. However, there is plenty of help available. Knowing this about Joey, I would also recommend finding a behaviorist to help you with both basic obedience and his fear.

(P.S. Clickers are WONDERFUL with fearful dogs. I used 100% positive reinforcement w/ clickers on the aforementioned dogs, and the results were always very solid.)

08-06-2008, 02:41 AM
Thank you Giselle. I will look into a behaviorist locally.

I know it is wrong, I just freak out.

He was socialized, but not as much as I probably should have. From the moment I got him, I took him EVERYWHERE. And he met dogs, in petsmart and all of my neighbors have large dogs (goldens, rotties, and labs) but he has always been nippy with them, and as a baby (8-10 weeks maybe) he would get so scared he would hit the ground and urinate on himself. So of course, As bad as this is, I picked him up... It was so sad to see him so scared, and I reinforced him to act that way...

I will buy a clicker this weekend. I know I have seen them at PetSmart before. Thank you again! Kt and pups:D

08-07-2008, 01:32 AM
The best part about mistakes is that we learn and grow from them :) At least you recognize at what point and what you did that helped reinforce Joey's fear. That is a critical first step that most people forget or skip over.

You and Joey sound an awful lot like this lady's Maltese mix I helped. He was fearful as a puppy and his mom picked him up and soothed him whenever he showed fear or aggression. As a result, he was extremely stressed in new situations and had a 15 foot threshold. As soon as I came close than 15 feet, he would react. In a 1.5 hour session, though, that dog was within inches of both Giselle, Ivy, and me. And he didn't say a peep. So it CAN be done, and it can be done positively! Just gotta find a good trainer ;)

FYI: SF SPCA graduates are usually some of the best in their trade, and there are a few in NC

08-10-2008, 12:39 PM
I'm reading a book on clicker training right now as part of my homework in Boomer's class....I just started it, but it compares the clicker to the whistle that dolphin trainers use....you can use the clicker and it is an instant snapshot showing the dog the exact desired behavior.....Just learning myself, but it really makes sense now that I have a trainer that really explained it well...we used it in puppy kindergarten but I found it a hassle, but now I know more and have learned a few hints for handling it better.