Clicker training

Clicker training is mostly associated with the clicker, like the one above here. Clicker training, however, generally refers to a special way of training where the sound from the clicker signals the dog that “yes! that’s it!”. It’s called operant conditioning – think of Pavlov’s dogs: the bell signaled to the dogs that the food was coming, making them salivate. In the same way the click tells the dog a reward is coming. It’s usually treats (especially in the beginning), but it can also be a game of tug or something else the dog enjoys. The treats should be tasty, soft (easy to eat), small enough that they don’t have to chew a lot and big enough to be worth working for. The main benefits of clicker training is the precision you get and the ability to shape behaviors. Shaping refers to clicking for random action from the dog – you teach the dog to sit by clicking when the dog happens to sit down. You teach the dog to close the cupboard door by clicking for him looking at it, then touching it with his nose or paw, then by giving it a push and so on. Instead of luring the dog to do what we want, we use what the dog does to shape into something we can use. Or just for fun, like with Gummi and that tire.

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PhotobucketIf you’re curious you can learn more by taking this free e-mail class: Just sign up and every day you’ll get an e-mail with the theory and your/your dog’s homework. It will work great with a cat, too. Virus has done a little clicker training, but I didn’t really continue his training. You can find some more free classes here: but it was nice to get an e-mail reminding us to do the work every day. Gummi attended puppy classes at the dog school the people from Canis is running, and is currently doing basic obedience at the same school.

Interested in a good read? For anyone interested in the principles we warmly recommend the book “Don’t shoot the dog” by Karen Pryor. Here’s a link to it at the author’s site, but it should be available many places. It’s not specifically about dogs, despite what its name might suggest, but about how to make your kids go to bed on time, the angry bus driver to become happier and your cat stop using its claws when playing.. Just generally about how to shape the world around you into a better place. We also recommend the book Reaching the Animal Mind by the same author. It is much more scientific, great for you geeks out there. Mom enjoyed it SO much. And there are goodies on the website, like video clips and images and more articles.