Friday, February 7, 2014

Clicker Training the Dogs

I've been doing some experimental clicker training with the dogs.  I've used clicker training with the horses in the past, but didn't get much further than having them touch their noses to a tennis ball on a stick before I got fed up with being mugged every time I walked into the paddock.  The dogs respond at lightning quick speed to clicker training, but I have to be careful to keep what I intend to teach them and what they are actually learning as one in the same.

I had all of them sitting and coming to me in a matter of minutes.  I trained all three of them together, because I could see that when one of them was confused, he'd look at the others and figure out what they were doing differently from him that was getting rewarded.  Of course, Midge was a straight A student, but with her diabetes I can't give her too many snacks, so I transitioned her to praise and pets pretty quickly.  Scrappy is a tough one, because he's practically deaf, so I have to use sign language with him.

I wondered if I could use the clicker method for the puppy's toilet training.  He was doing so well last week, but now he has developed OCD over rocks, so when I take him outside to do his business, he just picks up rocks in his mouth and then runs around looking for a place to bury them.  I get tired of waiting for him to take care of business, and take him back into the house, and before I can even hang up his leash, he goes to the bathroom on the carpet.

So, I took both him and Scrappy outside together, and each time one of them peed, I clicked and treated.  Within seconds the two boys were having a piss-a-thon, trying to out-piss each other.  I realized that my method was backfiring and I was just training them to mark their territory for treats.  I'm going to have to think this through better, and figure out a way to get Stewie to differentiate between taking care of business outside (good) vs. inside (bad), with the added challenge of getting him to stop searching for rocks to bury and focus on the task at hand.

And I do promise to have more pictures some time soon.  I know I haven't been good about including pictures in my posts lately.  I have it on my To Do List to set up my photography studio and do a photo shoot of all three dogs.  Right now the little guy is just too hyper and quick for me to get a clear shot, and when he sleeps, he sleeps in my lap, so I can't get up to get the camera.  I'll probably be using the clicker to get them to sit still in the studio, and I'll have the speed setting on my camera pegged just in case.


Sam said...

It took us a while to get Harlow house trained. We finally had to put her in a crate for 20 minutes if she didn't do her business outside and then go back out with her. Sometimes we repeated this several times. It's now been a good solid month with no accidents and no more putting her in the crate.

Venom said...

Every dog we've had has been trained to go on command. We also always had an adult dog, which made it even easier for me because seeing the older dog pee always made the puppy want to go.
All I ever say is "Go pee, hurry up, go pee" and my dogs will pee within a minute. This response has come in handy many times, especially when we travel and the dogs are on leashes while I'm standing there holding a plastic baggie....

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Sam - That explains why it was easier to get him to go outside, because his first week here we had to keep him in a crate for his own safety, and he will not soil his crate. So, I'm putting him back in his crate more often now, and it's working. He's learning that going outside may be his only opportunity to take care of business before he is back in the crate.

Venom - Midge goes on command, but Scrappy can't hear us. We are trying to get Stewie to understand the command, but he hasn't made the connection quite yet. It is definitely easier to get him to go if the other dogs are out at the same time modeling the proper behavior.

Cindy D. said...

Yes crate training is vital, it teaches them how to hold it it longer, and then some people use clicker training and others just use a simple, "good boy, go potty" as soon as they start to go. Pick your own command of course. But it doesn't take long for them to figure out that the command means to go and to quit dinking around.