It’s back to chilly weather in North Carolina after having as high as 75 degrees F earlier in the week, which is hot even for this southern area. Interestingly, it often seems like people in cold places prefer warmth, and people in hot places dream of colder, snowier weather at times like this.
Christmas has come and gone, but our Dog and Puppy Training online course holiday sale extends through January 5th. The class is available for you to complete at your own pace rather than pre-set times.
It’s nice to have the new year to reflect, plan, and choose activities we would like to accomplish. It’s like a reset on the past years. We may not have finished everything we would have liked to, but now we have another opportunity. Or a chance to satisfy new goals.
At Raymer Family Dog Training, we will have plenty of new videos and blogs available on our website, as well as future online classes on the way. I’m super excited for this new start, and hope everyone has a great beginning to their year as well.
Clicker training is a type of reward-marker training. A clicker at first has no inherent meaning to a dog, unless it scares him. It’s usually a neutral or meaningless sound. For this reason, trainers charge the clicker by pairing its “click” sound with treats. The click will result in two outcomes –
The click marks the behavior the dog is doing at that exact moment as correct, and
The click lets the dog know he has earned a reward for the behavior.
So the clicker’s function is to aid in timing. Normally when we reward a dog with a treat, the behavior the dog is doing when he receives the treat is the one that is positively reinforced, and therefore, will increase its probability of being offered in the future (it worked for the dog to get what he wanted, so he’ll do it again).
Some behaviors occur quickly, and it’s difficult to deliver the reward immediately. The clicker solves this problem. We can mark fleeting behavior correct with a clicker (or another type of marker, like a specific word designated for this purpose, such as “yes!”), and then deliver the treat. The dog will learn it is the behavior that earned the click that is the one that will be rewarded. And it allows us more time to deliver the treat for the behavior we desire.
For many of the typical foundation behaviors, we can simply reward the behavior while the dog is performing it – sit, walking by your side while on leash, down, stay, etc. You can still use a marker, but it’s not necessary. The power is the primary reinforcer, the actual inherent reward/treat, as opposed to the thing signaling it is coming (secondary/conditioned reinforcer or clicker).
Some behaviors that tend to happen quickly include targeting behavior (dog touching his nose to your hand), eye contact, picking up an object (like for a retrieve/fetch behavior), etc., so in these cases a clicker can be helpful.
A marker/clicker is also useful for marking behavior from a distance.
I ordered my first Treat&Train (aka Manners Minder) this week. This ingenious device comes from the late veterinarian and dog trainer, Dr. Sophia Yin, and provides us with a way to reward our dogs from a distance.
I determined I needed it to train my dog for very specific reasons. Mocha currently has become upset whenever she hears doors opening/closing or people entering/exiting the house. This is possibly a latent behavior from her barrier frustration she’s had since living at the animal shelter for awhile. It’s not simply watchdog barking to guard the home.
When I’m asleep and she hears someone open a door, she starts to get upset and bark. Rather than get out of bed, go to an area where treats are, open the container, and deliver them, with the Treat&Train I’ll now be capable of simply pressing a button on the controller of the device to deliver the treats, and they will be contained safely from her, so I don’t have to worry about her stealing them because I’m half-awake. I’ll be looking forward to getting better quality sleep after the training repetitions kick-in.
The other time she is upset and I’m currently unable to pair the situation with treats, is when I’m leaving the house. The Treat&Train will solve this as well. I can simply leave, press the controller button, and Mocha will receive treats from the Treat&Train.
In addition, I’ll test it to work on Mocha’s reactivity towards dogs while she is riding in the car. I have done some training for this before by tossing treats in the back seat while I’m driving, but this takes juggling multiple tasks at once, the treats go everywhere, and I haven’t been consistent about it. The difficulty level of training while driving should decrease greatly with the Treat&Train and simple click of a button. I’ll attempt to get some video of this process in the future.