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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Bentley is stubborn! Training him is a HUGE chore and I find myself getting frustrated with him too often, which obviously isn't good "mojo" for him lol.

So I think I'm going to try clicker training and see if it works any better. I've never clicker trained a dog before so I need some insight/direction..

First, I need a clicker. Can I just buy these at normal pet stores? Or online? If online, is there a best/better type/brand?

Second, I need reading/research recommendations. Where on the internet (or even a book) is the best place to learn about clicker training? Some great videos would help a lot too. I could easily google some things, but I know a lot of you have clicker trained, so I figure you can point me towards the best sources :)


ETA: Sorry mods, I meant to post this in the training section. Feel free to move it if need be.
 

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It is a lot of fun! And addicting.

Clickers just depend on the preferences of dog and owner. Some dogs are intitially afraid of the click and you have to put it in a sock or otherwise muffle it the first couple sessions. Or use softer clicker. I like the box clickers, personally. They are also usually the cheapest.

My favorite resources:

Training Levels - A strategic training plan outlined by Sue Ailsby. There are the Old Levels (OL) and New Levels (NL). The NLs are two books you can buy (have them and absolutely love them, just saying). The OLs are free that she has posted on her website. I think they are excellent in having a "goal" and knowing when to move on. Covers everything from basic manners to setting up foundation for dog sports. Click on "Writings" on the left hand side and there is a bunch of fun stuff and at the bottom is "Training Levels originals"

YouTube - I can't possibly mention the hundreds of awesome people who post wonderful training videos. KikoPup presents information very clearly and explains a lot of the theories behind what she does and then also demonstrates with a wide variety of dogs.

I like the articles here too. They are usually fun and informative.
 

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Training him is a HUGE chore
This is part of the problem, and something I will never understand. People tend to view training as something that needs to be done, but that is absolutely no fun for dog or owner. Once the dog has a couple of basic commands, they tell themselves that it's good enough, and move on with life.

When done properly, training should be something that is fun for everyone. IMO, it doesn't stop when the dog reaches some arbitrary age, or when the dog has mastered sit, come, and stay. Humans keep learning throughout life, and so should a dog. Again, this is something to be ENJOYED by dog and owner, not a chore. If you need to teach something silly just to keep things fun, then do that. My dog knows such ridiculous commands as go drink water, cross paws (both ways), shake your head, back up, and stick out your tongue, among others. Be creative, have fun with it! The sky is the limit.

Clickers can be bought for around $1 at a pet store. I've never known a dog who was afraid of the sound, but I'm sure there's a few out there. Get yourself plenty of tiny tasty treats, such as cooked organ meat (chicken/beef heart or liver are great), hot dogs, or string cheese. First you'll need to "charge" the clicker, which means click followed immediately by a treat. At this point you're just teaching the dog that the click is a good thing. Repeat many times. Then you can start asking for behaviors. At first, ask for something simple that he has a good chance of succeeding at (like "sit" maybe). If he does it, then click and treat. I suggest keeping the treats hidden until you get the behavior, whenever possible. Keep in mind that the click is meant to end the behavior (in other words, tell the dog "that's it, good job"), so don't click until the behavior is complete. For this reason, I avoid using a clicker for behaviors that don't have a clear ending (for example, "quiet", holding an object, etc.) As much as possible, try not to lure the dog with food or physically manipulate the dog (such as pushing butt down for sit) - it impedes the learning process. Keep sessions short to keep the dog wanting more - for a 6mo old, I'd say 2 or 3 minutes maximum, several times a day. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
"Chore" is perhaps the wrong way to word it. I enjoy the training. And I make it fun for him. But no matter how fun it is, he is difficult and stubborn. He DOES understand.. I know he does. But he only does it if HE wants to, not WHEN I want him to.

People tend to view training as something that needs to be done, but that is absolutely no fun for dog or owner.
The fun aspect aside, I absolutely believe training IS something that NEEDS to be done. As much as I want him to enjoy the behavior and WANT to do it, I want him to understand that whether he enjoys it or not, if I say it, he DOES it!

Thanks, both of you, for the tips and sites :)
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Dogs generally don't do things just because we want them to. The successful trainer will not coerce the dog, rather they will convince the dog that obeying commands is fun.
I understand, and for the most part agree. However, obeying commands isn't always going to be fun. 99% of the time it will be and I will make it so, but that 1% that I absolutely NEED him to obey and listen to me, he needs to know that it's not a choice!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
My big problem is, is that he knows I'm a softy. There, I said it lol. He just gives me the "look" and it's all over. He knows what I want him to do, but knows I would never actually FORCE him to do it. (Anthropomorphizing? Maybe, but I believe he actually is that smart lol)
 

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I understand, and for the most part agree. However, obeying commands isn't always going to be fun. 99% of the time it will be and I will make it so, but that 1% that I absolutely NEED him to obey and listen to me, he needs to know that it's not a choice!
Okay, here's the thing, you're really misunderstanding how dogs think and learn. Dogs aren't like people. It's not a matter of telling them what you want and making it clear that obeying is necessary, it's getting the dog to obey so many times that obeying becomes automatic. You have to get a dog to obey a command hundreds of times before it's really learned. A dog doesn't "know" a command until he's obeyed hundreds of times and obeys each time without problem, despite distractions and situation. This takes a lot of time and a lot of effort and is why most dogs aren't really actually trained.

I do highly recommend a clicker. I get mine at PetSmart for $1.49 in a fishbowl at the register. Watch kikopup on youtube, she is the master of clicking.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Okay, here's the thing, you're really misunderstanding how dogs think and learn. Dogs aren't like people. It's not a matter of telling them what you want and making it clear that obeying is necessary, it's getting the dog to obey so many times that obeying becomes automatic. You have to get a dog to obey a command hundreds of times before it's really learned. A dog doesn't "know" a command until he's obeyed hundreds of times and obeys each time without problem, despite distractions and situation. This takes a lot of time and a lot of effort and is why most dogs aren't really actually trained.
I don't think I'm misunderstanding at all. I'm not naive. I KNOW he's not going to learn something in one training session. I never said that I wanted or even expected him to. I've been working with him on this stuff for almost 5 months now. He SHOULD be getting it by now. And he is for the most part. But, he will happily do something that I ask him a bunch of times, and then all of a sudden "forget" it. Like I said, he knows it, he's just stubborn. And possibly a little spoiled. Which is why I've decided it's time to try a different approach. I'm hoping the clicker will make it easier (make it CLICK) for him to understand, "Oh, I need to do this EVERY TIME she asks me to, not just when I want to. I get it now."
 

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I will third 'kikopup' and add 'tab289,' '3 lost dogs' and 'domesticatedmanners' to the list of awesome YouTube trainers.
Book suggestions: another nod for 'the power of positive dog training' and adding
'when pigs fly: training success with impossible dogs'
'how to behave so your dog behaves' Sophia Yin
'on talking terms with dogs' Turid Rugaas
'don't shoot the dog' Karen Pryor
 

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If your dog is not performing a behavior when you ask it of them, it's for one of three reasons:
Your communication is not clear enough
The behavior hasn't been proofed adaquately (multiple environments, distance, distraction and duration)
The inherent or environmental reward of whatever they are doing or about to do is stronger than you or your reward for the asked behavior

Clicker training will work for all 3 :)
 

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I'm hoping the clicker will make it easier (make it CLICK) for him to understand, "Oh, I need to do this EVERY TIME she asks me to, not just when I want to. I get it now."
The problem is, dogs don't think like that. They don't think I need to do this everytime I'm asked. It's more that they do it so many times it becomes an automatic response that they don't think about at all. Kind of like how dancers practice their routines so much that the movements become automatic, muscle memory reactions. When I took dance, at the end of the performance I barely remembered what happened because my body was just on autopilot. That's the point you want to get to with really crucial commands like recall.
 

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I live close to you. If you are interested in taking training classes that use clickers then I can refer you to a couple of good schools in the area. I think it's against the rules to post them here so I will send them in a private message if you like. Let me know.
 

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I'm curious to know more about your training style. Searched, but couldn't find much. (assuming your already using some form of R+ ???)

For what seems like stubborness I'd be inclined to look more towards technical elements like reinforcement schedules etc, and tweaking them if required, rather than the actual use of the clicker itself. Suitable reinforcement schedules should be applied to all forms of R+. Although, if you do follow through with learning the fundamentals of how to clicker train, you're sure to encounter these things eventually.
 
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