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Can I ask a few things about clicker training an older dog?

(15 Posts)
HopeForTheBest Sat 27-Apr-13 19:40:43

She is reasonabley well trained anyway, but not always entirely reliable, and as we are considering getting a second dog, i would like to "iron out" the few not-so-great behaviours before i end up with a second one copying them all!

A few questions: she already knows the commands I want her to "learn" but she doesn't always do them, so can I say the command, click when she does it and then reward her?

I would like her to stay on her cushion quietly when someone comes to the door rather than getting all excited, sometimes barking, and trying to push her way out to see who it is. How on earth do I do this?! :D

Pulling on lead I have looked up on YouTube, so if what I've seen is right, I click and treat whenever she is walking slack, and do either the stopping or changing direction when she starts pulling, is that right?

Also - should I do the clicker charging thing ie click and treat, click and treat, for a couple of days before doing any actual training?

TIA smile

Lilcamper Sat 27-Apr-13 19:48:11

Defrost charge your clicker! I prefer to use cues rather than commands. Clicker training is awesome but your timing has to be spot on, as soon as you get the desired behaviour, click, then treat.

Lilcamper Sat 27-Apr-13 19:48:44

Defrost? Deffo blooming auto correct!

MothershipG Sat 27-Apr-13 19:56:56

I think you'll need help with the cushion thing, once she understands what clicker training is all about (and I'd use the box game to get her started) then you'll need to be next to her cushion ready when your beautiful or otherwise assistant rings the door bell as you'll need to be ready to reward her for staying there while someone else is at the door.

I say all this hypothetically as I haven't managed it with mine yet! blush grin

HopeForTheBest Sat 27-Apr-13 20:46:39

Bwhahahaha at "defrost charge your clicker"!!!

I was about to ask WTF is defrost charging grin grin grin

However, i am still going to ask what are cues compared to commands? She understands most of what I want her to do, she's just a bit sloppy about doing it ie I'll have to say sit and then give her a bit of a stern I-mean-it-young-lady look before she does it.

I will practice the cushion thing when DH comes home in the evenings as that is when she usually goes a bit wild. Ds can open the door while I click and treat ddog (assuming i can get her to stay on the cushion for even a moment). Will probably need to look into that one a bit more!

Lilcamper Sat 27-Apr-13 21:43:23

Cues is just another word for commands, I don't order my dog to do stuff, I ask him, we are a partnership not a dictatorship, we are learning together.

idirdog Sat 27-Apr-13 22:03:58

" I want her to "learn" but she doesn't always do them,"
If you are sure she does know the commands say it once if she does it click and treat. If she doesn't just turn away and no interaction for a few minutes.
This will speed up her response.

"cushion quietly when someone comes to the door"
this is a brilliant thing to teach. Get the mat you want the dog to settle on and put it close to you and just stare at in intently. When the dog shows any interaction with the mat eg sniffs it , walks towards it touches it click and treat with a high quality treat but put the treat on the mat. Put the mat away after each session.

Decide what behaviour you want your dog to do on the mat eg down or sit. I prefer down .

So over the next few seasons click interaction with the mat when this is constant hold the click until the dog goes down onto the mat. If the dog leaves the mat clicking and interaction stops. Usually the dog will quickly realise this and return to the mat.

When the dog "understands" the criteria eg mat go into a down you can lengthen the time before you click and treat.

Your dog is basically learning a stay on the mat. Once this is established (and it will not take long) You can add the command which may be "on your mat" or the doorbell ringing. I would teach on your mat as this can then be used in loads of situations. eg visiting the vet take your mat and the dog will be calm, visiting people take the mat and the dog will be calm and settle. etc

Re lead walking.
teach this without the lead in a small space to start with, Just click and treat when your dog comes next to you. No movement at this point just click for being close to you. When the dog gets this take one step the dog will follow and click and treat for staying with you. Gradually increase the number of steps and add a command. Once this is established off lead in quiet areas gradually add in some distractions.

Re charging the clicker if you use it on commands your dog really knows there will be no need to charge the clicker. As the dog will soon realise that the click means yummy treats. To start with always use high quality treats when using the clicker.

Enjoy yourself everything is possible when using a clicker smile

Scuttlebutter Sat 27-Apr-13 23:01:14

I recently took our 9 year old greyhound bitch to classes - with a specific focus on clicker work. I found that working in a class was very helpful as a third party is there to help you really nail the timing element and to help your technique. You also have a nice confined environment to practice recall and some lovely other dogs to practice exercises with. YY to doing the "charging" first - we did a lot of that at first and it was very helpful to me too, to simply get me used to handling clicker, treats, leads, looking at dog etc. - We practised a lot, and really enjoyed it at home, but going to the classes really helped lay the foundations. Now I'm a lot more confident with my timings and observations but would really recommend a class to just help you get going.

My top tip - I got one of those lanyards that people wear for conferences/name badges and hang my clicker off that round my neck so it's always near by and to hand, and I wasn't putting it down or losing it (v easy when middleaged and wearing glasses).

As idir says, clicker is quicker and I can't praise it enough as it strengthened the bond between me and the dog so much - our relationship has taken a quantum leap forward - it's been amazing. And so much FUN too grin - not to be underestimated.

HopeForTheBest Sun 28-Apr-13 10:26:19

Thank you for the tips and advice.

Now that I am trying to take an objective look at ddog and me/us, I have to admit that we have let quite a lot of things slide, we've just sort of adapted to what she does, rather than attempting to correct the behaviour blush

My only slight worry is that my dog is not particularly interested in food (treats).
We tried a brief thing with the clicker yesterday, I gave her a command, she did it, I clicked and gave her a treat. She sniffed the treat, thought about whether she fancied it, then carefully took it from me grin
I did however notice that within only a few clicks, she was getting the click=treat thing. I just have to make sure I'm offering very interesting treats!

Lilcamper about the cues/commands thing - are you saying or doing something different to eg "Sit!" to cue your dog to sit, or is it more that you yourself don't see it as a command as such?
I would hate to think of us as a dictatorship too, but admit that if I say "sit" then that is what I expect her to do - there could be lots of reasons for giving a command, but it's won't usually be just because I feel like it, it'll be for a very good reason that she has to do it.

Lilcamper Sun 28-Apr-13 10:49:44

It's just the word I prefer to use rather than command, cue sounds softer. I am not ordering a sit, but asking for one iyswim.

If she isn't interested in her treats, I have a fab recipe for sardine cake which most dogs can't resist!

HopeForTheBest Mon 29-Apr-13 11:34:57

Sardine cake sounds like something I would like grin

She is taking the treats, but if you have a moment to post that recipe, I'd appreciate it!

Another question: do I have to concentrate on only one thing and wait until she gets that, or can i eg. practice good lead-walking with clicker/treats outside, and then do the cushion/door thing later that day too?

Lilcamper Mon 29-Apr-13 12:21:59

I would have thought if she 'gets' one thing with the clicker, it would be ok to move on.

Sardine cake

In a microwave proof dish lightly beat 3 eggs,
Mash in a tin of sardines in oil.
Add enough plain flour to make a cake batter like paste.
Microwave on full for about 3 min until firm.
Once cool, cut into fingernail sized pieces.
Can be frozen or stored in the fridge for up to a week.
For extra stinkiness add 1/4 tsp garlic granules

To defumigate your microwave grin
Pierce a lemon in several places
Pop in a bowl of water
Zap on high for 10 min.

ihatethecold Mon 29-Apr-13 20:20:53

Can I ask, what is charging the clicker?

I'm using the click and treat system to train my puppy but I'm niot sure what you mean by charging.

Lilcamper Mon 29-Apr-13 20:36:08

Click for attention and treat til they associate the clicker with a treat.

HopeForTheBest Tue 30-Apr-13 09:52:24

Once they get the clicker = treat thing, I assume I can give the treat with a slight delay? Because at the moment, she does something right, I click and immediately give a treat because I've got them ready in my hand. But at some point I'd like to not walk with a handful of treats (plus she can smell them so she's sort of on "treat-alert").

We could move on to her doing something right, I click, then go into pocket to get treat out for her, right?

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