I enjoy solving puzzles and earning rewards, so combining the two where I earn a reward for solving a puzzle is a big motivator for me. From a dog’s perspective, learning to sit on cue is the same as me solving a puzzle and getting a reward.
At times our praise while training, our “Good Boys,” lack enthusiasm and sincerity and come out sounding more like repetitive burping than genuine praise for a task completed well. The training clicker takes these same repetitive and monotonous qualities and uses them to full advantage.The sound of the click means a treat is on its way and Fluffy learns this association very quickly. If you’re tired and grumpy, the clicker isn’t. The click always sounds the same and always signifies a treat. The worse that can happen is that your timing might be off and you might teach Fluffy to squat instead of sit by clicking too soon.
Regularly I see dogs’ faces light up at the sound of the training clicker and it’s not just because of the treats it signifies, but because it also means spending quality one on one time, not simply training but playing to what amounts to a game. It’s puzzle solving time, rewarded with treats.
A leash aggressive dog can be rehabilitated so that walks are manageable and enjoyable. In my previous post, How Dogs Learn to be Leash Aggressive, I described the dynamics between Dean and his dog, Rover, as Rover learns to be leash aggressive. To rehabilitate Rover, the associations he has with the sight of other dogs needs to change. Right now other dogs mean pain because Rover starts barking at the other dogs to get them to stay away so that Dean won’t jerk him around on his pinch collar. But it’s Catch-22 for Rover because that barking is what gets Dean started with the jerking. Continue reading Leash Aggression – Part Two – Rehabilitating the Leash Aggressive Dog
Many people teach their dogs to act aggressively toward other dogs while on leash without even knowing it. They start with an energetic dog eager to greet other dogs while out walking the neighborhood and over time end up with a dog that barks and growls at approaching dogs a block or more away. The end results are a dog that gets shorter walks and fewer of them, acts progressively more unmanageable, and an owner who is not only frustrated but riddled with guilt over the state of their relationship with their dog. Continue reading How Dogs Learn to be Leash Aggressive
Teaching Rover to open the fridge is like giving him the key to Pandora’s Box, it can’t be untaught and you don’t want Rover opening the fridge willy-nilly whenever he feels like a snack. The solution is to show Rover how to open the fridge by pulling on a rope attached to the fridge door. This way if there’s no rope, there’s no snacking on last night’s meatloaf or licking clean the ketchup bottle in the door.
We’re going to use fetching the rope to teach Rover to open the cabinet door by tying the rope to the handle. In the process of fetching the rope, he’ll inadvertently open the cabinet and we’ll reward him for that. Continue reading “Hey, Rover, fetch me a beer.” – Part Three
I walk a German Shepherd client named Angel. It used to be that when she saw other dogs while on her walk, she’d have a barking fit bouncing around at the end of the leash. She was so stressed she wasn’t enjoying her walks, nor was anyone who was walking her. My goal was to help change that.
I first tried offering her Redbarn every time we encountered another dog, but just like with a person, her stress left her with no interest in food, plus, she was on the heavy side so food in general wasn’t a high value item. Continue reading Toys as Rewards
Part Two of Teaching Rover to Fetch You a Beer from the Fridge
If you hold something out to a dog, they naturally come closer and sniff it. You’ll use this behavior to teach Rover to close the fridge door.
Take the lid to a tub of cottage cheese and with the flat surface facing Rover, offer it to him.
Have your clicker ready.
When Rover leans in and sniffs it, click and give him his treat.
Do this about 10 times. Do less if you sense Rover losing interest. You want to stop on a high note. Continue reading “Hey, Rover, Fetch me a beer.” – Part Two