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Dog School - Week 2
The Dog's Homework Not to be Eaten
Practice with your dog frequently. Short training sessions several times a day are ideal. Try making your morning session a training/retrieving session, and use several different toys as lures, so as to maintain your dog's interest, while burning him out so he is a good and sleepy dog while you go to work.
Also practice with your dog in real life scenarios. Have your dog "sit" to earn his breakfast, "sit/down/sit" to earn snuggles on the bed, "stand/down/stand" to earn a walk and so on.
Concentrate this week (and this lifetime) on noticing and quietly but sincerely praising the dog's good behavior (however brief). This way you will get more good behavior.
Remember, give the cue, or “command” only once. Behavior is controlled by its consequences, not by the cue, or antecedent. The cue warns the dog what set of circumstances to expect, or it should warn, or hint, to the dog what to expect. If you give the cue multiple times without attaching to it any consequences (“sit, sit, sit, …Can you sit down?, sit, sit…”) your cue will not hint of anything interesting or useful to the dog, and he will ignore you. Repeated commands don't teach the dog the behavior, they teach him the irrelevance of the command.
When you introduce a new behavior, initially you will not give the cue at all. You will simply guide the dog into the behavior and reward him for completing it, or (in some cases) reward him for his best attempt at the behavior.
Once you and the dog have worked through the behavior/reward, behavior/reward sequence a number of times, you will notice that the dog is becoming more and more competent. He does the behavior more smoothly, more rapidly, with fewer “off-target” attempts. Once he is fairly reliable at doing the behavior, you can start giving the cue, just once, before you prompt or lure him into the position. Note that at this stage of training the command is not yet acting as a hint. It suggests nothing to him. Only once you have consistently given the same cue, just once before the behavior for which he is rewarded, for perhaps 30 -50 repetitions will the dog start to respond to the cue, and not require other prompting or eliciting.
Using Your Clicker
What is a clicker?
Why use one?
How does Clicker Training work?
Please visit Karen Pryor's Clicker Basics Page for much information, inspiration, and cool (and useful) stuff to buy.
This cues the dog to make eye contact with you. You can probably picture many uses for this. You can:
To teach this:
Make sure your dog has the appropriate equipment (buckle collar, Premier collar, Gentle Leader, Easy Walk, SENSE-ation Harness , etc.). Make sure that the equipment is properly fitted, and that you know how to use it.
"Easy": Walk without tension on the leash, and without crossing in front of trainer.
To teach the "sit" conceal a lure in your hand, place the lure on the dog's nose and move your hand back over the dog's head to just above his shoulders. As the dog's head tips to follow the lure he will go into a "howling at the moon" position, and then tuck his rear into a sit. Don't hold your hand so high that the dog jumps, or so low that the dog stands. Do not force the dog into position. As soon as his rear touches the ground, click, then give him the food reinforcer and praise him. Once he is smoothly following the lure, you can start giving the “Sit” cue, just once, before you lure him into the sit position.
To Lure the Down , have the dog sit by your side, rest your left hand (which is also holding the clicker) gently on the dog's back and put your right hand, with a food lure in it, on the dog's nose. Lower the treat from the nose to the toes and then slightly forward along the ground, as if you were writing the letter "L". Click when the elbows touch the ground, then feed the Lure to the dog. Do this 2-3 times.
Now hold the food lure in your right hand, but be sure to hold the treat so that your thumb is holding it in place against your palm. With your right hand palm down, move the lure from the dog's nose straight down to the ground. (This is just what your Down signal will look like later.) You should no longer need to rest your left hand on the dog's back. As soon as the dog's elbows hit the ground, click, then release the food treat. Repeat 2 or 3 times.
Now, put food in
*both* the clicker and the Signal Hand. Lure the Down, as above, but, after
the click, now feed from the *other* hand (the hand w/ the clicker), and do
*not* give the food from the Signal Hand. The dog learns, "Hey, I'm not
getting it from the Signal hand, but I'm still getting a reward!" Repeat this
If your dog hesitates before lying down at this stage, just wait quietly. Do not repeat the command, do not click, do not reward. Wait. He has practiced, and he is learning that elbows-on-the-ground is one way to motivate humans to feed you. He may experiment with other behaviors, but in a little while, he will Down. When he does, click then treat.
Once the dog is reliably following your signal hand, give the cue “Down" just once, before you signal for the behavior.
OR, To Capture the Down
Take one dog, ideally a little hungry and a little tired, and working in a quiet place initially, quietly wait, thumb on clicker, for the dog to lie down. Don't coach, just wait.
When the dog downs (elbows on floor) click, then toss a treat past the dog so that he has to get up to get it. He will probably start to mug you for treats. Ignore him. Wait quietly 'til he lies down again. Click, then toss a treat. Repeat 5 or 6 times, then change your position and do a few more. Many dogs will now be actively trying to get you to click. They may be staring at you then staring at the floor. They may be shifting their body about, trying to figure out what makes you click. Some dogs will already be throwing themselves into the down! Others won't have it figured out yet. No problem, just work a bit more. If necessary, repeat this procedure at 2 or 3 more sessions.
Once your dog is dropping repeatedly, rapidly, deliberately, you can start to give the verbal cue, Down, just before the dog goes down. At this stage reinforce only when you have said "down", not for downs that are just "volunteered".
Questions? Send Penny an email penny @ whatagoodpuppy.com (remove the spaces)