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22 Clicker Training




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This article is from the Keeshonden Breed FAQ, by keashoo@ix.netcom.com (Kimberly J. Eashoo).

22 Clicker Training

Clicker training is dog trainer slang for operant conditioning. The
dog is conditioned to the noise of the clicker and associate it with
food and treats. Soon the dog learns that a click marks a behavior and
heightens the chance that they'll repeat it. True clicker training
focuses on rewarding the good, ignoring the bad and letting the dog
think for himself. Instead of manually positioning a dog into a sit
you wait for the dog to sit and then click to reward the dog. The dog
quickly figures out that sitting makes you click, which means he gets
a treat. By moving in small steps the dog learns understands every
step and as HE is controlling the training you never go too fast for
him.

I was a traditional dog trainer for several years. In the last two
years, I kept hearing about clicker training. I laughed and figured
it'd never work. My dogs were too dominant, stubborn, and would never
CHOOSE to train with me. After all, these weren't an easy to train
breed, they were more independent thinkers. Then I took my year old
puppy out to start heeling. I put him on a 20" training lead on a
buckle collar, and took him outside. I bound him to my left side told
him heel and started off praising like mad. He spooked and at the
first opportunity dashed to the house. WHAT? I tried sits, downs etc,
same thing. He hated being positioned and would panic no matter how
much praise I lavished on him. I put the lead away and started
thinking. I finally checked out Lads Before the Wind and it made
sense. If they could get an Orca or Dolphin to jump over a jump
without ANY positioning, help or correction it must certainly be
possible to teach a creature that has been manipulated for centuries
to work for humans without any force. With that I read Don't Shoot the
Dog and bought my first clicker. Within days all 3 of my young pups
could sit and down. They now have a huge repertoire of tricks. Each
exercise is fully understood. I have accomplished things that a year
ago I would have said weren't possible. This includes training
everything hands off, getting a lightening fast recall off lead with
no corrections. Being able to let all 4 dogs loose together in an
unfenced area. Before it took me 6 months to get a dog to willingly
pick up a dumbbell. Using a clicker the dogs got it in 2 lessons. Not
only that but my dogs are incredibly eager to train and love every
second.

Clicker training has made me look at dogs as not just objects or
animals but has made me realize that animals reason, think and feel
just like people. My dogs share in their training and I learn as much
from them as they do from me. We are finally a unit, with both parties
working toward a common goal. Not just master and dog.

More than all of this clicker training has changed my life. I find
that my relationships with people are better, I can focus on the
positives instead of the negatives and reward people for their
successes. It is amazing what a little praise can do and how much
better your relationship is without correcting or negativity entering
the picture.

I feel I am a better person and trainer because of Clicker
training. The biggest doubters are the biggest converts and I truly
know that the click is mightier than the jerk.

Written by Heather Campbell


 

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