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Discussion Starter #1
Hi There,

I have an 11-month mixed breed rescue dog that we've had for 6 months now. She has got some "herding dog" in her. I just started clicker trainer her about 3 weeks ago, and she is doing great: recall, going to target, "touch", jumping over low jumps, pushing an exersize ball around! Until just recently...

Now, in the middle of our fenced backyard sessions, in the middle of a command, she'll race over to the wall, stand on her hind legs, and become fixated on the prairie dogs racing around the "great outdoors". It is almost impossible to regain her attention, especially when they start their yipping. I've tried using higher value food treats (chopped up chicken, hot dog bits, bacon bits, Pupperoni), and favorite toys, but after about 5 minutes, she's obviously done listening to me. She used to be so super-charged about learning once she got the hang of the click/treat concept, and we'd train for about 15 minutes at a time.

She is an "easily distracted" dog, and I thought the clicker training would solve her issues. She's really improved with giving me eye contact for click/treat, and waiting for directions, but now she seems to be regressing. "Fetch the frisbee" was a favorite game, but now she'll only participate for about 3-4 throws before the lure of the prairie dogs becomes overwhelming.

She's not a very food motivated dog - doesn't gulp her dinner at meal times, and I usually pick up the dish with about 1/2 of her kibble uneaten after 10 minutes has elapsed.

Any suggestions? How can I make her training sessions something she looks forward to again?

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Welcome to DF.

A few suggestions:

1) If your dog is not food motivated, find out what motivates her. That may be toys, petting, praise, or even the opportunity to stare at the prarie dogs!
2) 15 minutes is an eternity for a young dog with not a lot of experience with clickers. Go back to square one and keep your sessions short. Like 1 or 2 minutes. Commercial breaks are great for this. The point is so that the dog always wants more when you end the session. It keeps them interested. You can do tons of sessions during the day, but keep each of them really short.
3) Look up the Premack Principle and apply it to the prarie dogs (see item #1).
 

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Yeah Premack it will work wonders :) Also agree with the multiple very short session than lumping into one or two longer sessions.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks! I'll try making the sessions shorter, and then end with a "let's go watch the prairie dogs!" command as her special treat. Guess I need to have patience and take baby steps with the training sessions.
 

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What I would do is get her to just make eye contact with her, even take a chair, sit down, massage her ears and c/r everytime she makes eye contact. After several minutes of that, just calmly tell her to go play. Important: At the same time, give her a reward and tell her to go away/go play. She'll go to the fence, don't follow her or speak to her but wander around, the second she looks at you or even turns an ear in your direction, say Yes, click and she come to you for the reward, give it and say 'go play'. You will be surprised at how fast she choses to stay near you. You have to c/r with a high reinforcement anytime she looks at you and/or chooses to stay with you.
 

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What I would do is get her to just make eye contact with her, even take a chair, sit down, massage her ears and c/r everytime she makes eye contact. After several minutes of that, just calmly tell her to go play. Important: At the same time, give her a reward and tell her to go away/go play. She'll go to the fence, don't follow her or speak to her but wander around, the second she looks at you or even turns an ear in your direction, say Yes, click and she come to you for the reward, give it and say 'go play'. You will be surprised at how fast she choses to stay near you. You have to c/r with a high reinforcement anytime she looks at you and/or chooses to stay with you.
Agree.

My philosophy is .. "you've gotta be a BETTER squirrel" ... err, I mean prairie dog :)
 

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Not really...just need to be smart enough to use the squirrels to your advantage :)
So that's what I've been doing wrong... Time to return this brain to the original sender, I need a new one.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks everyone! This all really helps, plus I just got the book "Clicking with your Dog", which is very specific on keeping the sessions short.
 
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