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  1. #1
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    Nov. 13, 2007
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    In my car, between work, home, and the barn!
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    Default Is there any reason why I should not think clicker training is an awesome thing?

    I've got an anxious, worried 20 month old BC mix. She landed with us from family who, while well-intentioned, were in completely over their heads when they got her as a puppy. They crated her much of the time and used a shock collar. She also didn't leave the house/yard - when they brought her to us last summer that was the first time she'd ever been anywhere but home.

    She's a sweet, bright little thing and we love her. She goes for daily runs with me, we get out to lots of places, and we've done a couple of obedience classes. We've recently started an intro to agility class and were introduced to clicker training - and I can't believe the difference it's making for this dog. She used to get anxious with even the most positive training and was very worried about going places - it took several classes for her to stop cowering and shaking when we went; she was just so overwhelmed by the situation.

    After a couple of weeks of working with the clicker, she's a different dog. She *towed* me into the room where class is held last night and was bright, focused, and happy the entire time we were there. When we have a mini-training session at home she doesn't want to stop and keeps engaging me to do more. I love how confident she's gotten over the past two weeks!

    So is there any reason I'm missing why this is not a Very Good Thing? Our goal is to have fun, make her a happy family dog, and maybe dabble in UKC obedience or agility someday if she's having fun. She was getting pretty focused on the treats with the clicker and I've been phasing them out more and more, which has helped. If anything, she's too enthusiastic to go to work - she was all over the place last night at first because she just couldn't wait to *do stuff.* I love the change in my dog, I just want to make sure I'm not missing out on some huge downside to this!


    1 members found this post helpful.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan. 4, 2007
    Location
    TX
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    43,114

    Default

    Have seen that time and again, all kinds of dogs and owners learning a different way to communicate thru operant conditioning.

    Our dog club has specific "clicker" classes and they are a hoot to watch.

    I have not seen any situation where clicker training was detrimental, although you have to learn to use that technique right, where you can phase down rewards and end up with a good working animal, that loves the work and is interested in working with you as the primary motivation.
    Treats are still used, but for many dogs, they lose their importance quickly, when done right, as working itself is what they crave.

    We used that with our herding dogs, but of course then didn't use that while herding, that is a different kind of work, where you work with the dog's instincts primarily.

    Above all, just remember to have fun and what you do will be fun for your dog.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar. 3, 2007
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    North-Central IL
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    Default

    I'm a big fan
    Quarry Rat



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar. 27, 2008
    Location
    Maryland
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    Default

    I turned an uncatchable horse into a catchable one with a clicker. I don't use it all the time, mostly for things that are harder to get my point across:
    If you come to me, good things happen. Yes?
    If you let me Dremel your toe nails, good things happen. Yes?
    (There are a lot of steps in between the end result.)

    They always say, "Yes!"
    You are what you dare.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar. 26, 2011
    Location
    Pennsylvania
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    5,204

    Default

    It is an awesome thing. The learning curve can be a challenge for the handler, but once you understand it the world opens to you. It works great for animals who don't want to be handled, for sharp animals, for shy animals, for really really smart animals. I used CT to get Fella to blanket (he had never had one), to train him to come to me from the field and put his head over the gate to be haltered, etc. My first dog was conventionally trained but thereafter all my animals are operant. Heck I'm half-assed potty training my parrot so my shoulder stays clean (basically picking her up after she poops will essentially turn pottying into offering behavior to be carried around).

    Paula
    He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr. 1, 2008
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    4,558

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by JustJumpIt! View Post
    We've recently started an intro to agility class and were introduced to clicker training - and I can't believe the difference it's making for this dog.

    After a couple of weeks of working with the clicker, she's a different dog. She *towed* me into the room where class is held last night and was bright, focused, and happy the entire time we were there. When we have a mini-training session at home she doesn't want to stop and keeps engaging me to do more. I love how confident she's gotten over the past two weeks!

    So is there any reason I'm missing why this is not a Very Good Thing? Our goal is to have fun, make her a happy family dog, and maybe dabble in UKC obedience or agility someday if she's having fun. She was getting pretty focused on the treats with the clicker and I've been phasing them out more and more, which has helped. If anything, she's too enthusiastic to go to work - she was all over the place last night at first because she just couldn't wait to *do stuff.* I love the change in my dog, I just want to make sure I'm not missing out on some huge downside to this!
    You are not missing anything. C/t is usually far more easy for animals to understand as it adds a consistency to how they learn. It so clearly tells them what the correct answer is that a bright dog turns into a confident, working machine.

    Good for you for 1. taking on this dog and 2. finding a way to communicate effectively with her.

    if there is a downside, it will be for you. You will likely never go back to traditional training and you will at some point wonder what you could have done for this dog or that dog, if you'd found clicker training earlier.

    Good luck with your dog, I'm sure she's just lovin' this.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov. 13, 2007
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    In my car, between work, home, and the barn!
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    Default

    [QUOTE=threedogpack;6836298]
    if there is a downside, it will be for you. You will likely never go back to traditional training and you will at some point wonder what you could have done for this dog or that dog, if you'd found clicker training earlier.
    QUOTE]

    Yes to this... last Fall we had to euthanize my beloved rescue dog when we just couldn't work through his intermittent, but dangerous, aggression issues stemming from abuse. I'm starting to wonder what we could have done if I had just been able to make things clearer for him...



  8. #8
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    Apr. 9, 2007
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    Default

    Love clicker training great for agility too!



  9. #9
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    Apr. 1, 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by JustJumpIt! View Post

    Yes to this... last Fall we had to euthanize my beloved rescue dog when we just couldn't work through his intermittent, but dangerous, aggression issues stemming from abuse. I'm starting to wonder what we could have done if I had just been able to make things clearer for him...
    JJI, you would likely have made it a certain plateau and stayed there with constant training. Often, just as with people, there are issues that cannot be completely fixed. I lived with a dog like this for 4 years. He was an older dog but I'd known him when he was just a young dog. The dog I picked up 8 years after the initial meeting, was not the same dog I'd known when he was young. Whatever happened to him, was mostly permanent. He was "ok" in some situations with some people, but there was no eradicating what he learned completely.

    So don't beat yourself up too badly, sometimes the damage is simply to great.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr. 10, 2001
    Location
    Atlanta, GA
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    594

    Default

    If you want to try something really fun( that I just discovered) is Karen Pryor's
    101 Things to do with a Box. Just Google that and you will find instructions. It's all about free shaping and it's really a ton of fun!



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct. 12, 2001
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    The only downside I've ever seen with clicker-training is sometimes people forget to cut back on the animal's food and it gets a bit pudgy from the extra treats.

    Otherwise, once you've experienced it, you'll never go back to any other method of training. It's incredible. And the best part, the more you train your dog, the faster he learns new stuff.



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar. 3, 2007
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    North-Central IL
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    Default

    My first cocker was SO treat-driven he used to run through his entire repertoire of tricks whenever I was standing/sitting still, just hoping he'd hit one that I'd click/treat him for
    Quarry Rat



  13. #13
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    Aug. 13, 2008
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    Wisconsin
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    Default

    So what books do you all recommend for starting out? And is there one that is good for horses as well, or is there a really good book specifically for horses?



  14. #14
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    Mar. 3, 2007
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    Karen Pryor's Don't Shoot The Dog has always been the one I've heard of recommended first.
    Quarry Rat



  15. #15
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    Apr. 1, 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by cloudy18 View Post
    So what books do you all recommend for starting out? And is there one that is good for horses as well, or is there a really good book specifically for horses?
    Recommended:
    http://www.dogwise.com/ItemDetails.cfm?ID=DTB917DMG

    http://www.dogwise.com/itemdetails.cfm?ID=DTB647



  16. #16
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    Apr. 1, 2008
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  17. #17
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    Nov. 13, 2007
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    Default

    Thank you, threedogpack! I'm pretty decent at coming up with "games," but when it comes to getting, um, "normal trained dog" behaviors, I always draw a blank.



  18. #18
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    Aug. 13, 2008
    Location
    Wisconsin
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    Default

    Thanks! There's a lot of info in that link. I know what I will be doing if it's slow at work tomorrow. OP, thanks for your success story. I don't have anxious dogs here, but really want to try a few things with the youngest, and with the horses as well.



  19. #19
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    Apr. 1, 2008
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    JustJumpIt, I would suggest that you get very comfortable with the clicker & the dog before attempting a horse. Horses do not always respond the same way a dog does and it's one thing to be mugged by a dog, a whole different thing to have a pushy horse.

    You can still apply the principles of c/t to horses without using food as well. I'm going to start a marker program with my younger mare, but not introduce food and see how that works for her. It will be pressure/release with a sound marker when she does it correctly so that she knows what got the pressure released. Sort of a modified c/t.

    I'm doing this because so many horsemen have a serious problem with hand feeding and/or treats. Since this mare may not be staying, I want to make communication clear to her, but not set her up to be in trouble with her next owner or trainer.



  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jul. 1, 2011
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    I tried clicker training with my horse. I watched someone who did clicker training a lot with her horse and she had lots of success. I tried it with my LOVES FOOD mare, (lady said I was doing everything right) but after less than 5 mins my mare would completely ignore me. She would stand there, staring straight forward and even if I tried jamming food in her face she wouldn't take it. I could jump around, wave my arms, yell (not at her just trying to get her attention) and she would just stand there, staring ahead.
    She also refused her first fences ever the day we tried clicker training before a lesson.
    Apparently, even though this mare LOVED food and treats, she would NOT work for food.
    However I have done it on and off with my dogs and they enjoy it.



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