Sunday, April 10, 2011

Beginning Clicker Training

" Donnie "
This weekend I started clicker training with Donnie, Blue and Dusty.

Donnie’s Report Card:

Day 1: After a total grooming with Donnie, I started his clicker training.  Since I didn’t have one of those little orange cones, I used a plastic pitcher.  After three tries he touched his nose to the pitcher and got his click and treat.  After that he got it every time no matter where I held the pitcher.  We then had a short but productive longeing session and called it a day.

Day 2:  We had a repeat of Day 1 with the only difference being that Donnie touched the object the first time around and even when I held it behind my back he searched it out.  Donnie is a smart little monkey and was puffed up with pride in doing his exercise correctly.  Of course, he had lots of praise and treats and I feel we are off to a good start.  I gave him the day off today to think things over and because I don’t want to overload his senses with too much at once.
" Blue "
 Blue’s Report Card:

Day 1: Blue got the gist of the clicker training game on the second try.  We also did some grooming and longeing and called it a day.  Blue is another smart guy.
He doesn’t show as much emotion as Donnie, but I’m sure he was proud of himself for figuring out how to get treats for doing practically nothing.

Day 2: Another repeat of Day 1 with the exception of seeking out the object and touching it the first time too.  After we were done with our longeing session, I unclipped the longe line and he beat feet it over to the pitcher lying on the ground by the fence to touch it with his nose, then looked at me like “where’s the treat, lady?”  What could I do but laugh, click and treat.  He may be too smart for me, and I can see he’ll be a good pupil even if in the back of his mind he thinks I’m not too bright.
" Dusty "
Dusty’s Report Card:

Day 1: Dusty also got the whole click treat scenario on the second try.  So this just proves that she is as smart as she thinks she is and has found the easy way to get treats. There’s none of that nasty working for a living involved in simply touching your nose to something and getting a treat.  I’m sure she’s thinking this is the way to go.

Day 2: No training with the clicker today we worked on her mounting block issues which is a post for another day.

I was pleasantly surprised by how well they all took to their first sessions of clicker training.  I’m usually skeptical about things like this, but I’m willing to give new training techniques a try.  My biggest fear with clicker training is that they’ll become even bigger treat-monsters than they already are.

I’ve also got some misgivings about turning them into a bunch of circus acts instead of using traditional training.  If nothing else, though, it will give Donnie a job that he can succeed at and boost his confidence in himself.  I may not continue with Blue and Dusty for very long, since they already have jobs.  But just giving them the basics couldn’t hurt and at least they’ll have that if I decide to continue.  For now I haven’t decided what I’ll do, but I’ll keep my options open and use the clicker as I think I need it.

Until next time

Quote for Today
In training there is always the tendency to proceed too rapidly, go slowly with careful, cautious steps. Make frequent demands; be content with little; be lavish in rewards.
    - General Faverot de Kerbrech

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