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So I recently purchased a clicker and a training book to train Kaylee my two year old, somewhat recently, adopted australian shepherd/corgi mix (although these are approximated and based solely on appearance). The book promised me amazing and very fast results!

I'm finding that I'm disappointed.

I'm wondering if there's something that I'm doing wrong that hasn't gotten me the results I want. I can't really ask the book. I've been training for a week, and I haven't gotten her to do a single trick without leading her with a treat. All I've been primarily working on is "sit," "stand," and "down." I've also been trying to teach "beg" and "over" (roll onto her back) because she does those two things already on her own and teaching only three tricks for an hour a day gets boring for us both.

The book had me start with just clicking and treating to have her associate the click with treat. I did that for a while, and then I said her name, clicked, and treated. That was the first day. She knew "sit" when I first got her, so I said "Kaylee, sit." and she sits, click, treat. I then spent the following days basically going "Sit," "down," "stand" all in a row by leading her with the treat, then clicking, and treating. She has sit completely, but I have a sinking feeling that she's associating "Kaylee" with sitting, since now she just sits whenever I say her name in anticipation of the "sit" command.

So my way of trying to teach "Down" is to have her sit. I then click. I say "down" and promptly I lead her nose down to the floor and say "down" again as she starts laying down. I've been doing this for a week now for about an hour a day, and not once has she laid down without me leading her with the treat. Every so often I try saying "down" without the treat, and she just stares at me and wags her tail. She also won't follow my hand unless there's a treat in it.

I change up the order sometimes, I have her sit, then have her stand up (by leading the treat from her nose until she stands, similar to the way I've been teaching "down") but I can't get her to go down unless she's sitting first, cause she just walks forward.

I try to be as consistent as possible, but does it sound like I'm doing something that I shouldn't be doing? Should I just be more patient and keep trucking on? I feel since she's a herding breed mix, that she should be quicker to catch on than this.

It's rather frustrating.

Another issue I have is when I take her out on walks, she doesn't listen to a single word I say. I don't know how to train for "focus" in a distracting environment. Everything else in the big wide world is way more interesting than I could ever be, no matter how delicious a treat I have in my hand.

Even in my house, if there's a dog that walks past my back fence, the training session is paused cause she has to bark, whine and pace at the back door. I wait until she finishes, click and treat, cause I don't know what else to do that'll make her pay attention to me. If I say her name when she's barking and whining at the other dog, she completely disregards it.
 

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Two main ideas first:
1. Dogs learn at different rates
2. There are many ways to learn any command, and some dogs do better with particular methods over others

Your post is very detailed, but I'm still wondering about the consistency of your clicker training through parts of it:
"So my way of trying to teach "Down" is to have her sit. I then click. I say "down" and promptly I lead her nose down to the floor and say "down" again as she starts laying down."

So do you click and treat for Sit, then say Down, then lead her nose to the floor, then click again, and then treat? Because if you click without treating, you're essentially ruining your clicker training. You should ONLY click when Kaylee is doing the behavior you want, as in when her entire body is Down on the ground. The second thing is you need to ALWAYS treat whenever you click. Even when you make a mistake and you click, you must follow up with the treat. (The other thing about this example is, even if she did learn Down, you're teaching her that you need to say Down twice before she actually needs to do it, because you repeat it twice before she does it).

For this part:
"nother issue I have is when I take her out on walks, she doesn't listen to a single word I say. I don't know how to train for "focus" in a distracting environment. Everything else in the big wide world is way more interesting than I could ever be, no matter how delicious a treat I have in my hand.

Even in my house, if there's a dog that walks past my back fence, the training session is paused cause she has to bark, whine and pace at the back door. I wait until she finishes, click and treat, cause I don't know what else to do that'll make her pay attention to me. If I say her name when she's barking and whining at the other dog, she completely disregards it."

You need to build up to distractions in increments. If she can't even do a Down on command during training sessions inside the house, there is no way she will be able to do so outside with all those smells, grass, people, and other animals. Even if she has Sit spot on in the house, you need to 'proof' it (build the reliability of the command) by increasing the distraction level just a little bit before asking her to do it. Maybe it means just having the front door open, maybe it means literally practicing outside the doorway first. Or maybe more training needs to be done inside the house.
The other thing that goes along with this is YOU know your dog best, so don't ask her to do anything you know she won't do (like pay attention to any command, at this point, when another dog walks past your fence). Every time you say a command, and she doesn't follow it, she is learning she doesn't have to follow your command. In the same way, because you trained Sit as "Kaylee, Sit," she has learned to Sit when she hears "Kayleesit," or just "Kaylee." If you say Sit and she instead paces at the back door, she is learning she can do that when you say "Sit."

My final point is, if your way of teaching Down isn't working, try another way. Maybe food luring isn't the way Kaylee learns best. You can try clicking and treating when she spontaneously goes down. You can try luring her under your leg (search that method) so that she doesn't move forward. Clicker training is great but it is not for everyone, and certainly different dogs require different approaches to learning anything.

I understand your frustration (my current dog is my first dog ever, and I've been there too), but if you keep working at it and read some of the other training advice posted around this forum, you'll be able to get it in no time! I won't promise fast results like the book, as training can take months in some cases. But if you are patient and consistent, you WILL get results.
 

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Don't lure. Luring sucks as a training tool. I might lure a sit a max of 3 times with a puppy and then remove the food. Clickers are better at capturing behaviour. So yes saying the dogs name and clicking is awesome. Using food to get a down not awesome.

For example you could capture down. Take a bowl/bag full of treats and go sit somewhere boring (bathrooms are good). Take a book. Sit and ignore your dog. Well not really ignore, have the clicker in one hand and just keep one eye on the dog. As soon as your dog starts to get bored and lie down CLICK and reach them a treat. Then ignore again... soon your dog will be offering down. THEN you label it with what ever word you want.

Then you have the issue with generalization. Just because 'down' means to lie down in the bathroom doesnt' mean the dog will automatically realize down means lie down if you are in the kitchen.

My suggestion is to start with a nose to palm targetting behaviour. There are lots of youtube vid out there on that.

Make sure your timing is good. You get what you click, and you want to click a behaviour. So if you are clicking sit, click the the dog in the act of sitting, not after they have sat. If your timing isn't good it will take longer to catch on. But once your dog has figured out how to play the game things happen quickly. I can train Dekka to do pretty much anything in 2 or 3 one minute sessions.

As for outside. Make sure your dog can pass grade one before you expect them to pass grade eleven... In your house scenario I would just walk away and stop the training session. Once your dog has 'got' the concept of clicking I would put her in a sit and click her for watching calmly, then ask her to do things inside with exciting things happening outside. The other thing is don't try to make her do things if you know she isn't going to listen, all that does is teach her its ok to ignore you.
 

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Agreed, Dekka.
Though I must say that I found luring to be very helpful when I started out training my dog; it works well enough for the right dog, the right commands, and with the right trainer. But if done improperly you create a dog you need to bribe, which isn't good.
 

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Agree with what Dekka said. Just would like to add that you will probably need to have patience at first, but it will be worth it later. When you are used to the instant "success" of luring, waiting for your dog to offer the behavior can be difficult at first. In the long term, an experienced "clicker dog" can learn complicated behaviors much faster than most lured dogs. The other nice thing about shaping "down" in the bathroom or kitchen is that the floors tend to be slippery, so the dog is more likely to lay down than to sit (and slide).

If you find you don't have the patience to wait for the whole down, you can break the behavior down. If her head drops toward the floor -- click/treat. If she drops her body at all -- click/treat. Remember that the point of the clicker is to very precisely say "yes! that guess was correct!" It's kind of like playing hot/cold when you're a kid...you know where you pick an item in the room and guide another kid to it by saying "warmer...warmer...colder...warmer...hot!" except that in clicker training each "warmer" is a click/treat, and "colder" if just the absence of a click/treat.

Breaking the behavior down might seem trivial for a down, but if you train more complex behavior later, you'll be glad you did. As the dog starts to understand that she's been rewarded for correct guesses and there is no "wrong" answer during the learning stage, she will gradually offer more guesses for you to reward or ignore. So you can treat really complicated behaviors later on by building one piece at a time in the same way. This is also why you don't "name" the behavior the dog is doing the whole thing...obviously you don't want a head drop to be your "down"...you want her focusing on what she's doing at the moment of the click anyway so just stay quiet and let her concentrate, then after you've reached the stage where she's plopping down confidently, sure that's what you want, add the "down" and only reward for laying down after you say the cue word.

I hope this makes sense -- best of luck :) Shaping really is fun once you get going...promise!
 

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Agreed, Dekka.
Though I must say that I found luring to be very helpful when I started out training my dog; it works well enough for the right dog, the right commands, and with the right trainer. But if done improperly you create a dog you need to bribe, which isn't good.
yes but its only good for the first couple of 'go's after that its counterproductive. It also limits a the dog's ability to learn and figure it out. Its like just folowing someone in a car vs figuring it out youself.

Luring can also cause the issue of the food becoming part of the cue itself. And you can end up, like the OP with a dog who thinks food needs to be present for the cue to have meaning.

Its just easiest to avoid luring in every way possible. IME dogs who were lured a lot in early training have a harder time with shaping later. Learning how to learn is an important skill.

Shai.. that is very true. Shaping is very useful (though capturing a down is easiest). My one concern with the OP is is her timing good enough as a newbie clicker user. I remember how fumbly I felt when I started ;)

To the OP you could try playing clicker games with a willing friend (try to shape your friend to do things like pick up an object, put a few things on table and get them to do things with them) and practise timing. One way to practise timing is to throw a ball and try to click as it hits the wall, or toss it up and try to time the click with the ball at the apex. Not with a dog around though lol.
 

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Not to get too off track.. But if you had a dog that's not too good at 'figuring things out,' what would you do?
For example, I watched a youtube video a long time ago of a person who taught her dog to close drawers purely by shaping. Without a single word. I tried that with my dog and after a few random movements (even when he got things correct), he just lied down and waited for me to direct him in a certain way. All I had to do was point or use the target stick at the drawer and he picked up that trick that very day, but just relying on him to figure it out by himself did not work for us. I did not use food as a lure in this scenario but I did have to offer some sort of initial prompt.
Don't get me wrong; I am a HUGE fan of shaping and clicker training. :D
 

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Canyx, I think it just depends on the dog. Kim has learned to learn by showing/luring so she is a bit slower to offer novel behaviors but as you described will easily understand and remember if I show her what I want. So if it's something complicated and I can't show her, I have to make a concerted effort to really click/treat every little nuance...even if it's just an eye flick in the right direction for starters. If I have to wait for her to offer something significant, my reward rate would drop way down which is not helpful in the early stages of shaping. Kim has very pretty eyes, but I'd rather we not be just sitting there staring at one another :p. She's a dog where I could shape her to close a door but she could just as well get stuck on pushing it but not actually closing it. Or I could show her by closing it the rest of the way for her and she would likely pick it up right away. Generally speaking I don't help because the point is to make her problem-solve, but sometimes I do just because it interests me to see how differently my dogs think.

As soon as Webby even sees the clicker he is offering and searching for more things to offer at turbo speed. He' fantastic for fine-tuning clicker mechanics because he offers about 30 behaviors at once and is constantly in the midst of coming up with more...and he really hones in on the clicker so if you are slightly early or late he will repeat whatever it was he doing at the click...he will usually pick up on a decently sliced bit of behavior quickly and have it down by the 3rd click. And he's a dog where if you hold off on the click his efforts will magnify so it's easy to "goad" him into big leaps in understanding.

Mira's somewhere in between. She offers much more than Kim and has a more open mind, but isn't as imaginative or frantically determined as the Web-man.
 

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I think an hour a day is too much training. Training sessions should be short and sweet, and if she does something really well, end the training session there. If you drone on and on with the same thing over and over for an hour, the dog will end up finding training really boring. You'll get more enthusiasm if you keep sessions short, around 5-10 minutes at a time, up to 3 times a day. You'd also be better off working on one thing at a time, and if you want to work on the 'down', don't command a 'sit' first. Soon enough she will anticipate the down and stop sitting altogether. Do one behaviour per training session, and try to mix things up so the dog never anticipates which command you're about to give.

And btw, you're not "clicker training", you're "luring". Big difference. Starting to clicker train an adult dog that has never been trained with a clicker can be quite frustrating, so I would recommend keeping it short and simple and reward for every tiny step forward, and keep the rate of reinforcement high.
 

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Not to get too off track.. But if you had a dog that's not too good at 'figuring things out,' what would you do?
For example, I watched a youtube video a long time ago of a person who taught her dog to close drawers purely by shaping. Without a single word. I tried that with my dog and after a few random movements (even when he got things correct), he just lied down and waited for me to direct him in a certain way. All I had to do was point or use the target stick at the drawer and he picked up that trick that very day, but just relying on him to figure it out by himself did not work for us. I did not use food as a lure in this scenario but I did have to offer some sort of initial prompt.
Don't get me wrong; I am a HUGE fan of shaping and clicker training. :D
Its hard. Some dogs will seem to go very zen lol. One of my dogs shapes like no other. She seems to REALLY get that clicks can come from doing different things. And that is a hard concept. 101 things to do with a box IS very hard. I only have one dog who plays that game well. Other dogs get shaped to do something and then keep trying to offer that something.

Dekka learnt to shut cupboard doors simply by shaping in about 30 seconds. (yes she is that good at learning new things, great fun but not so great in many ways in a dog sport companion lol. I have always joked that slighly dumb horses are the most successful show mounts). One of the tricks is to click and reward frequently. Even if its just an eye flick to the drawer. If the dog get stuck go back to the last stage you were clicking till you are clicking very often. When I am shaping it seems to be about a click every few seconds.

To the OP yes an hour is WAY to long. Your dog will likely get frustrated and shut down. I mentioned I do one min training sessions. One thing I like to tell clients is to train during commercials when watching TV. That way they can't train to long and they can't have the excuse of I didn't have time. (did you watch tv? then you had time)
 

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Couldn't help but find this debate on luring vs shaping very interesting. I totally agree with all the arguments against luring eg dog does not learn to think on its own, danger of lure becoming a bribe etc. However, my take is that whether to lure or shape, it ultimately depends on your training objective. If the objective is to train a pet dog on only the basic obedience cues and nothing more eg come, stand, sit down, stay and heel, then there can be a strong case for luring especially if you are dealing with a dog that is reluctant to offer behaviors eg crossover dogs harshly train thru compulsion methods.

However, if your objective is to bring out the full potential of your dog through training, then down the road, you will likely want to train different complex behaviors. Thus it is best to steer clear of luring (in favor of capturing or shaping) so that your dog will learn to think and offer behaviors on its own thus speeding up the shaping process in the long run.

Thus I really feel that there is no right or wrong. Instead, its about what our training objectives are and what is the most efficient way to achieve them, both in the short and long run.
 

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Agreed, there is nothing wrong with luring as a training method. Personally I don't really like it or use it much, but I think for the average pet dog owner it will work perfectly fine.

There is also nothing wrong with using both luring and shaping, depending on the behaviour you want and how the dog responds to it and how quickly you want it.
 

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Back to the original question - I think you might want to pay a trainer for a few lessons. Clicker training is a powerful method that's easy to use, but can be very difficult to learn. A trainer will help you understand the importance of timing, as well as the difference between luring, training a behavior, and capturing a behavior.

1. The first step is called Charging the clicker. When you charge the clicker, the dog will look at the clicker initially. However, the dog will quickly learn to look for a treat, ignoring (not looking at) the clicker, once it is charged.
2. The next Step, Look at me, you say the dog's name, then click and treat when he looks. He may learn to look at the treat when you say his name, so you shape the look to be to your eyes, by moving the treat between your eyes, and clicking when appropriate.... This is a mix of luring and clicking... but that's Ok.
3. Your Sit, Down, Stand is a common Lure method, even though you used a clicker. As suggested before, you wait until she lies down, then you click and treat. At this point, don't click other behaviors (There are methods for capturing other desirable behaviors, but at this stage it can be confusing). When the dog is reliable with lying Down, you start using the the voice cue.

4. For walking, look up Silky Leash as well as Loose Leash, and follow those suggestions.
5. Distraction is one of the aspects of training. After you train a behavior, you need to retrain the behavior in the face of small distractions which you very slowly and incrementally increase.

My dog is well-trained and very smart... and I can't say the same for his owner :) I used a mix of methods, including capturing the behavior - requiring lots of patience. However, I did not use a clicker, because I didn't have the timing and got frustrated like you.
 

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I tend to capture "down". Put the dog in a situation where she's likely to be bored, and just wait. As she goes down. click. I don't even bother to name the behavior until I see that the dog understands that is what is making the click happen.
 
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