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Discussion Starter #1
I just started at a no-kill shelter as a volunteer and they use clicker training. I had never used it before and found it to be quite easy & natural. I would like to start this training with Mater. I was reading about it on another forum that I'm a member of and some of the other members mentioned that it would be better to have both hands free... can I ask why that is?

Oh, and which clickers do you find easier to use? The i-clicker? Or just a "cheap" clicker from Petsmart/Petco?
 
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I don't think that you need to have both hands free, personally. If you use a treat bag that hooks to your belt or pants and use a clicker attached to a string around your neck, you potentially have both hands free. This is what I do when clicker training.

To get started you have to "load the clicker" which gives meaning to the click noise for the dog, or else it will just be another noise to him. What you do is repeatedly click-n-treat, click-n-treat, click-n-treat, etc about 100 times in a row. Then you start with simple commands like sit. The key to clicker training is "clicking" at the exact right moment of your dog doing the desired command. For example, when you ask Mater to sit, the moment his tush hits the floor is when you click and then immediately treat him. The click and treat must be so close together in succession that they almost appear to be the same action.

Soon enough he will associate the click with doing the correct thing when you give him a command.

Some people will use a "negative" tone, which is not aggressive or loud, but neutral or monotone. I use a "buzzer" noise type and not a word like "no" etc but choose whatever you feel the most comfortable with. You use this noise when he does something other than what you are asking him to do. For example, when you ask him to sit and he doesn't sit but instead lays down or what have you, you make your "no" tone or word to let him know he didn't do it right.
 

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I was a professional trainer for 15 years and for the last 5 I used clicker training almost exclusively. I found it makes training much easier. The dogs learned much quicker once the trainer got proficient in the use of the clicker. I can use a clicker and still use the hand holding the clicker. I used to use a little springie thing around my wrist to attach the clilcker to. The trainers at Sea World use whistles that they hold in their mouth. They are special training whistles. The advantage of the i-clicker is that it has adjustable volume. Some dogs are afraid of the noise a clicker makes in the beginning. I always used the cheap ones with my name and phone number printed on them. I gave them to my clients.

Anyway, good luck with clicker training and if you have any questions, please ask.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
So if Mater were to do something other than sit I should say something like "eh eh"? I guess I'm just confused about that part.

What if he ignores a command such as "sit"?
 

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I always used a "no" command if my dogs didn't sit, but again, this is a neutral tone with no harshness to it whatsoever. That is what I would recommend. But others would say to ignore it completely and only reward for good behavior.

If he ignores the command altogether that is the same thing as not doing what is desired of him, which calls for the "eheh" noise and then re-set him and repeat the command.

You might also want to assess what treats you are using with him. What I recommend is going to Petco or Petsmart or whatever and spending some time in their treat aisle. What I do is pick out a treat from all the different protein sources: chicken, turkey, beef, duck, fish, etc and get one of each. Then I go home and cut and chop up all those treats into TINY pieces and mix them all together in one big jar. Keep in mind that your dog pays attention to the fact that you gave him a treat and not the size of it. Keeping treats small makes them easier to give, handle, wont make him full, and are cost effective. I just take a handful out every time we do any type of training. I also add in a "fresh" treat every time I do a training session, like cut up hotdog or cheese stick or beef jerky. Just something a little extra to get their attention with.

You want to pick out treats that are of high value or quality TO THE DOG, not necessarily in ingredients. Choose whatever he likes the most and will do anything to get from you. Even if its something like begginstrips, as long as you can get his attention with them, so be it. The fact that you are only giving him very small amounts of it, it shouldn't matter in the grand scheme of things.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I understand now!

I have some of those fish treats that you recommended. I will cut a few bags of them up into smaller pieces. Can you recommend any other brands/flavors?
 

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Not off the top of my head....I would just get a variety of different ones from a pet store. That way he doesn't get bored of any of them. I would get at least 5 different kinds. Liver treats tend to be a favorite between our dogs, I think the brand at Petsmart is called Authority because its cheap and the ingredients aren't completely horrible. I definitely recommend going with only soft type treats and no biscuit style treats.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks so much for the help! I will keep you all updated and ask questions when they come up :)
 

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I have had great success with clicker training Rocky. He was a really shy, rescue puppy when we got him (chow/husky mix) and it did wonders for him. I use a clicker on a springy wrist strap so I don't keep dropping it. The best treats that I have found are dried lamb lung. Various places sell them, from Free Range Baa, to Merrick, to Best Bully Sticks. Merrick calls it BaaBaa Q's. You can break it into the tiniest of pieces for training and every single dog I've ever trained goes crazy for it. The trick is to give them a really tiny piece while training so they don't get full. I give Rocky a piece the size of a pea or lima, and he is 75 pounds. And he still loves it and will work for it.

Best Bully Sticks has a really good price on a big bag. The stuff seems expensive but since you break it into little pieces, it lasts forever. I carry it with me in my bait bag on walks along with my clicker and hand it out to dogs we meet along the way to make friends. Also to give to Rocky when he meets new people since he is still shy around strangers.
 

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I'm a trainer at Petsmart, and although I certainly don't claim to know it all I'll give my 2 cents anyway. :wink:

Using the clicker can make a huge difference, but I generally recommend training your dog to a specific word as well. Like the clicker is a sound that you would condition him to understand when he does the right thing he gets a treat...you would do the same thing with this word. I like to do this incase there's a time when I might not have the clicker. Just make sure that the word is short and can be said quickly such as 'yes' or 'good'. Say the word and treat like you would with the clicker and you're good to go. Handy if you're forgetful like me sometimes. :rolleyes:

Also seeing many different dogs and many different treats coming through my hands, I've been able to figure out what's most popular. The real dried meats and animal parts rule: beef strips, turkey strips, dried liver, dried lungs, freeze dried chicken (I don't like the plain dried chicken for training. It's too dry and hard to break.), but by far the rolled dog food reigns supreme. Something about lamb meat, and lamb lungs, and lamb hearts, and lamb kidneys that really gets the dogs going. lol I'll post a link for the brand that we sell at our store, but I'm sure that anything similar would do.

Pet Botanics Rolled Dog Food - Sale - Dog - PetSmart

However, if this just isn't doing it for your dog, there are plenty out there that would give up all the dried meat in the world for a Pupperoni or Beggin' Strip. Like Danemama said, you have to find what works for your dog. They get such a small amount that it shouldn't have a huge impact.

Good luck, and let us know how it goes. :biggrin:
 

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Using the clicker can make a huge difference, but I generally recommend training your dog to a specific word as well. Like the clicker is a sound that you would condition him to understand when he does the right thing he gets a treat...you would do the same thing with this word. I like to do this incase there's a time when I might not have the clicker.
I think there is something you still don't understand about clicker training. You only use the clicker to TEACH a behavior. Once that behavior is learned, the clicker is weened for that particular behavior. What that means is that the clicker is only used for 3 or 4 weeks at the most for a particular behavior.

For example, when you are teaching "sit", you would only use the clicker regularly for about a week at the most because "sit" only takes about 30 seconds to teach. Then you would click/treat 3/4 of the time for several days,maybe a week. Then half the time for several days, then 1/4 the time for several days and then the clicker is gone for that particular behavior. That doesn't mean you don't praise. You will praise for "sit" forever but only click/treat briefly. When you get to the part you are click/treating only half the time, you will click/treat only for the quickest and sharpest sits. That way the dog improves on his responses to you.

The dog doesn't become dependent on the clicker and neither does the trainer. If you continue the clicker too long, the dog tends to know when you have the clicker and when you don't and when you have a treat and when you don't and behaves accordingly. That is when I would get the complaint from clients, "the dog won't do anything unless I have the clicker in my hand." Or, "If I have a treat he is good but if I don't have one, he won't do anything." Both of these can be avoided if the click/treat is weened just after the behavior is learned.
 

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I'm a trainer at Petsmart, and although I certainly don't claim to know it all I'll give my 2 cents anyway. :wink:


Also seeing many different dogs and many different treats coming through my hands, I've been able to figure out what's most popular. The real dried meats and animal parts rule: beef strips, turkey strips, dried liver, dried lungs, freeze dried chicken (I don't like the plain dried chicken for training. It's too dry and hard to break.), but by far the rolled dog food reigns supreme. Something about lamb meat, and lamb lungs, and lamb hearts, and lamb kidneys that really gets the dogs going. lol I'll post a link for the brand that we sell at our store, but I'm sure that anything similar would do.

Pet Botanics Rolled Dog Food - Sale - Dog - PetSmart

:biggrin:
I will agree on that!!! The rolled dog food in a tube is what we call a "HIGH VALUE TREAT". We use it to learn a new trick and the dogs are willing to do almost anything for it. Right now we are using it to learn soldier crawling. We cut the tube of meat into little bite size pieces and put about twenty into indivual baggies. Then we freeze the baggies and just pull out one bag at a time and keep it in the fridge for training (it says to keep the stuff refridgerated once you open it). That way the rest doesnt' go bad. The stuff smells just like Slim Jims and the dogs go crazy for it. I wouldn't feed it as dog food but as a high value training treat, it works great. When Rocky took puppy classes at Petsmart to get him over his social phobias, it had him actually cuddling with his teacher! My dog can be bribed :smile:
 

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I think there is something you still don't understand about clicker training. You only use the clicker to TEACH a behavior. Once that behavior is learned, the clicker is weened for that particular behavior. What that means is that the clicker is only used for 3 or 4 weeks at the most for a particular behavior.

For example, when you are teaching "sit", you would only use the clicker regularly for about a week at the most because "sit" only takes about 30 seconds to teach. Then you would click/treat 3/4 of the time for several days,maybe a week. Then half the time for several days, then 1/4 the time for several days and then the clicker is gone for that particular behavior. That doesn't mean you don't praise. You will praise for "sit" forever but only click/treat briefly. When you get to the part you are click/treating only half the time, you will click/treat only for the quickest and sharpest sits. That way the dog improves on his responses to you.

The dog doesn't become dependent on the clicker and neither does the trainer. If you continue the clicker too long, the dog tends to know when you have the clicker and when you don't and when you have a treat and when you don't and behaves accordingly. That is when I would get the complaint from clients, "the dog won't do anything unless I have the clicker in my hand." Or, "If I have a treat he is good but if I don't have one, he won't do anything." Both of these can be avoided if the click/treat is weened just after the behavior is learned.
Oh no, I know. But there very well may be a time when the dog is first learning something and you don't have the clicker. However, you always have your voice. IMO, it would be wise to condition to both. :biggrin:

I will agree on that!!! The rolled dog food in a tube is what we call a "HIGH VALUE TREAT". We use it to learn a new trick and the dogs are willing to do almost anything for it. Right now we are using it to learn soldier crawling. We cut the tube of meat into little bite size pieces and put about twenty into indivual baggies. Then we freeze the baggies and just pull out one bag at a time and keep it in the fridge for training (it says to keep the stuff refridgerated once you open it). That way the rest doesnt' go bad. The stuff smells just like Slim Jims and the dogs go crazy for it. I wouldn't feed it as dog food but as a high value training treat, it works great. When Rocky took puppy classes at Petsmart to get him over his social phobias, it had him actually cuddling with his teacher! My dog can be bribed :smile:
Shhhhh!!! Don't tell everyone our secrets!!!! :wink:
 

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Oh no, I know. But there very well may be a time when the dog is first learning something and you don't have the clicker.
You teach new behaviors in a training session. I don't know how you could have a clicker training session and not have a clicker with you. Even early in the learning process, if you give a dog a cue just randomly outside a training session, it's no big deal not to click or even treat. A "good boy" and a face rub does wonders. :smile: Early in the learning process, if the dog doesn't perform the correct behavior on cue, you just act as if you had not given the cue. No praise, no face rub, but also no fussing or any indication that the dog did wrong.

ETA: I think what I'm trying to say is that when you are teaching a dog a behavior, one sound (the click) should be the "well done" sound. The main value of the click is that its consistant and gives the same sound every time. When you add "mouth sounds", you are diminishing the value of the click.
 

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You teach new behaviors in a training session. I don't know how you could have a clicker training session and not have a clicker with you. Even early in the learning process, if you give a dog a cue just randomly outside a training session, it's no big deal not to click or even treat. A "good boy" and a face rub does wonders. :smile: Early in the learning process, if the dog doesn't perform the correct behavior on cue, you just act as if you had not given the cue. No praise, no face rub, but also no fussing or any indication that the dog did wrong.

ETA: I think what I'm trying to say is that when you are teaching a dog a behavior, one sound (the click) should be the "well done" sound. The main value of the click is that its consistant and gives the same sound every time. When you add "mouth sounds", you are diminishing the value of the click.
Agreed...this is what the clicker is for...uniform sound. However, I'm not a huge fan of clicker only training. I like both verbal and clicker.

Therefore, I'll agree to disagree. :wink:
 

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Early in the learning process, if the dog doesn't perform the correct behavior on cue, you just act as if you had not given the cue. No praise, no face rub, but also no fussing or any indication that the dog did wrong.
I dunno, I'm a big fan of teaching a dog to pay attention to you and listen when you give commands. If you let them get away with it, they learn to ignore you. I'm not saying to punish the dog, by any means, I'm just saying, they'll never learn what you're asking of them if you don't enforce what you want them to do. For example, if I ask my dog to sit and she ignores me, without repeating the command, I will get her into the sit position then praise her, "Good sit, Penny! What a great sit that is!" Once she learns she'll get praise for doing what I ask of her, she is much more attentive when I ask her to do something.

In your case, the clicking would be the praise, I guess. I like to reinforce the command without giving it a million times. I see so many people tell their dog to stay, then while they walk away repeat it over and over, "Stay. Stay. Stay. Stay" the whole friggin time, and it really bugs me. So in my case, I'll put Penny in a stay then say, "Good stay Penny. What a great stay that is, good girl!" so she is getting positively reinforced for the behavior rather than being commanded the entire time. *shrug* works well for me.

But I really don't like to let them get away with not performing the command on the fist time I ask it. I want to give the command once, not tell the dog to do something several times until they finally get bored of me blathering on at them and do it on accident.

/rant
 

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I dunno, I'm a big fan of teaching a dog to pay attention to you and listen when you give commands. If you let them get away with it, they learn to ignore you. I'm not saying to punish the dog, by any means, I'm just saying, they'll never learn what you're asking of them if you don't enforce what you want them to do. For example, if I ask my dog to sit and she ignores me, without repeating the command, I will get her into the sit position then praise her, "Good sit, Penny! What a great sit that is!" Once she learns she'll get praise for doing what I ask of her, she is much more attentive when I ask her to do something.
Thats one of the main problems with discussing things in a forum like this. People mistake your meaning if you don't go into great detail explaining things. If you were in one of my training classes you could see what I mean in about 3 minutes.

I don't let the dog ignore me. I just don't make a big deal out of them not doing what I ask. (BTW: I don't give commands, rather cues.) I regain the dogs attention and begin again. I NEVER fuss at a dog for not doing what I ask. The greatest majority of the time, they don't do it because I mistakenly gave a cue when they weren't paying attention. Getting attention should be the first thing a trainer learns how to do when he becomes a trainer and giving attention should be the first thing a dog is taught even before "sit".

In your case, the clicking would be the praise, I guess.
No, the treat is praise. The click merely says, "what you are doing this very instant in time has just earned you a treat. You performed the correct behavior in a manner that makes me happy." This is what makes the clicker so valuable. Its much easier for the dog to understand what he is supposed to do if he hears a consistant sound the very instant he is performing correctly.

I like to reinforce the command without giving it a million times.
My biggest pet peve in dog training and its one of the most difficult things to teach a client. I only give a CUE one time. Early in learning a behavior, I may lure more times but the voice cue is only given one time. Later after the dog has more or less learned the behavior if its not performed with the first cue, I hesidate 5 or 6 seconds to give him a chance to think, then turn my back and walk away. That has great meaning to a dog. Much more than jerking on a leash.

Most of the time, if a positively trained dog doesn't understand what his is supposed to do, will try something even if it's wrong because he knows there are no consequences to doing wrong. He will do something that got him a click/treat before.

I see so many people tell their dog to stay, then while they walk away repeat it over and over, "Stay. Stay. Stay. Stay" the whole friggin time, and it really bugs me. So in my case, I'll put Penny in a stay then say, "Good stay Penny. What a great stay that is, good girl!" so she is getting positively reinforced for the behavior rather than being commanded the entire time. *shrug* works well for me.
I have no problem with that. I prefer not to put my hands on a dog to put him in a sit or any other position.

But I really don't like to let them get away with not performing the command on the fist time I ask it. I want to give the command once, not tell the dog to do something several times until they finally get bored of me blathering on at them and do it on accident.
I think maybe you don't understand what turning around and walking away from a dog does to him when you have been giving him all kinds of attention and all of a sudden you take that away. You only walk 3 or 4 steps away, pause a few seconds, then return and begin again. It works wonders (to coin a phrase).

We are not really that far apart.
 

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I think there are certain dogs that the clicker is superior to vocal praise as a reiforcement. With my labrador, and a labrador that was in my puppy class, the minute you uttered the words 'good girl' the dog literally went bonkers with excitement and it took ten minutes to calm them down again. They were just such HAPPY dogs and so excited to be loved by people that any praise set them right off. A click as a confirmation of the right behavior was just enough stimulus without making them nuts. You had to save the vocal praise for the end of the short session.

You have to modify things to each individual dog, especially when you are dealing with DADD (doggie attention deficit disorder.......otherwise know as Labrador syndrome in this house!)........okay....let me hear it from all the Lab owners out there :)
 

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I agree and disagree with you. :smile: The impersonal consistent click or whistle has been proven over and over to be the superior marker for training any animal. It has nothing to do with excitement or attention. It has to do with how quickly the animal learns the behavior and is able to distinguish between right behavior and wrong behavior.

With that being said, I have run across shy animals that are frightened by the sound of the clicker. Adjustments have to be made but not to the extent of eliminating the impersonal or consistent marker. I have used methods such as muffling the sound from the clicker by holding it in my pocket or in other cases I have used a ball point pin to create the click. But I have never run across an animal that didn't learn very quickly by use of the clicker.

Don't misunderstand me. I haven't said you can't talk to the dog, rub his face or head or pat his butt during the training sessions. You just don't use these things with every rep. I normally use 10 reps in about 10 seconds. Not a lot of time for chatter but done quickly enough to keep the dog's attention and interest. I like to do 10 reps very quickly the pause 30 seconds or so and put more treats in my hand and talk to and encourage the animal.
 
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