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I decided to start clicker training instead of just using words and food. Today my clicker came in the mail and I "charged" it with my dogs using treats as directed.

Both of them were fine during the charging.

After a few minutes I decided to work on just some basic "Sit" and "Down" commands. Perkins did fine, and was as eager as ever.

Killian however wandered off to a corner and pressed himself up into it as tight as he could and laid down. I don't yell at my dogs during training (or ever), I don't him them or anything so I am very confused.

I tried doing it while he was by himself without Perkins and that didn't work either.

I charged the clicker with him again, and he was fine but then I tried working with him and he acted scared.

Has anyone had an occurrence like this and a way to fix it?

Should I stop using the clicker with him? I was really excited to use it, but I don't want to make him hate training even more.
 

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Killian's behavior reminds me a lot of Wally's early days with me. While I don't have multiple dogs so any social dynamics there are different, I kept with it, kept it simple, and just made it dirt easy for Wally to get successes. The only way Killian will get more experience and confidence in the process is to keep him in it. Keep it light and easy, reinforce frequently, and give it a couple more days/sessions. If it's the sound of the clicker, you could try a quieter one (I know the iClick clickers seem really quiet to me), or you could try a different sound altogther - the click of a pen, snapping your fingers (assuming that doesn't have another meaning), or use a word (like "Good!" or any other word - maybe an easy to say foreign word that you won't be using when speaking English) and charge that like you did the clicker and see if that doesn't help Killian.

Others will disagree with me, but I think the most important thing is using markers themselves, which is what the clicker is once you charge it, a marker that tells the dog to expect a reward to come, and the timing to which the marker is delivered. Whether it's voice or the clicker or another object/sound, to me that's a minor matter and considerations like the behavior Killian is showing take precedence above all else (the dog's reactions to what we do have to change what we do if those reactions are not what we want).

So I would try it a few more sessions with the clicker to make sure it wasn't just an initial "shock" thing or that he doesn't make improvements as he continues to experience the process, but if he's just not showing more confidence and remains that apprehensive, it is best to put the clicker away with him for now, try a different sound marker, and maybe try again later with the clicker as he becomes more confident.
 

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What other ways did you help Wally to build confidence? Also, do you know what made Wally so unconfident? I suspect the fact that Killian was separated from his mom and littermates at 4 weeks made him so unconfident. I have been trying since I got him to help build his confidence but I guess I am not doing what works for him.

Killian's behavior reminds me a lot of Wally's early days with me. While I don't have multiple dogs so any social dynamics there are different, I kept with it, kept it simple, and just made it dirt easy for Wally to get successes. The only way Killian will get more experience and confidence in the process is to keep him in it. Keep it light and easy, reinforce frequently, and give it a couple more days/sessions. If it's the sound of the clicker, you could try a quieter one (I know the iClick clickers seem really quiet to me), or you could try a different sound altogther - the click of a pen, snapping your fingers (assuming that doesn't have another meaning), or use a word (like "Good!" or any other word - maybe an easy to say foreign word that you won't be using when speaking English) and charge that like you did the clicker and see if that doesn't help Killian.

Others will disagree with me, but I think the most important thing is using markers themselves, which is what the clicker is once you charge it, a marker that tells the dog to expect a reward to come, and the timing to which the marker is delivered. Whether it's voice or the clicker or another object/sound, to me that's a minor matter and considerations like the behavior Killian is showing take precedence above all else (the dog's reactions to what we do have to change what we do if those reactions are not what we want).

So I would try it a few more sessions with the clicker to make sure it wasn't just an initial "shock" thing or that he doesn't make improvements as he continues to experience the process, but if he's just not showing more confidence and remains that apprehensive, it is best to put the clicker away with him for now, try a different sound marker, and maybe try again later with the clicker as he becomes more confident.
 

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What other ways did you help Wally to build confidence? Also, do you know what made Wally so unconfident? I suspect the fact that Killian was separated from his mom and littermates at 4 weeks made him so unconfident. I have been trying since I got him to help build his confidence but I guess I am not doing what works for him.
For Wally, it was a lack of socialization combined with probably a naturally "shy" or perhaps more correctly, "cautious" personality and the two combined to make him fearful.

In addition to giving him just easy things to do that can earn clicks and treats, giving Wally exposure to just life really helped him. I walked him often (heck, still do, it became something he really looks forward to), taking him to new places in the neighborhood, having him see and hear people and dogs, etc. Around the house, just showing him things and every day exposure helped. Wally barely saw the outside of his kennel/cage for the first year of his life and wasn't even cared for in his basic needs as he had to be shaved down he was that matted.

So to improve his confidence, two things really give me a way in:

1) Teaching targeting (the dog touches the object, hand, whatever, with his nose)
2) Shaping (breaking down behaviors into multiple SMALL pieces/steps and he's rewarded for accomplishing them)
3) "Free" Shaping (the dog just comes up with stuff to do - he's free to do whatever - you just want to see that initiative and the dog just up and doing SOMETHING and fostering that thought process).

Targeting (re-)engages that natural curiosity dogs have by rewarding interest and interaction with objects. I put it on a cue as well so when Wally saw something new, I could cue "touch!" and he goes to it, sometimes warily, and touches it, which got rewarded. Shaping and Free Shaping both engage a dog to take control of his own environment, so to speak. He doesn't feel "like a victim" but instead feels that he can make good things happen to him by doing things. These two things were HUGE in getting Wally and I going in the right direction.

It will likely take time. Wally and I have worked together for four years and there's still things that make him anxious, but his confidence keeps him from going to pure panic and can still think and follow directions, even though he's skittish.

Here's some sites that might can help with targeting and shaping so maybe you can explore them with Killian and see if they help you two make progress:

http://dogs.thefuntimesguide.com/2010/04/dog_training_technique.php
http://www.clickersolutions.com/articles/2001c/puppyshaping.htm (Killian's not a puppy, but I think the principles apply to all, really)
http://www.clickertraining.com/node/546
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyku_TLgOsc
 

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I'm very happy to hear that targeting helps dogs. We started that game yesterday and after he got over the initial "Why are you putting your hand in my face?" he loved the game. He will touch my hand now, at all positions over his head, and we also started working with a plastic egg (like the Easter kind) so he learns that Touch means more than my hand.

Thank you so much for the links. I really appreciate all your help. Wally seems like an amazing dog and it gives me a lot of hope.

For Wally, it was a lack of socialization combined with probably a naturally "shy" or perhaps more correctly, "cautious" personality and the two combined to make him fearful.

In addition to giving him just easy things to do that can earn clicks and treats, giving Wally exposure to just life really helped him. I walked him often (heck, still do, it became something he really looks forward to), taking him to new places in the neighborhood, having him see and hear people and dogs, etc. Around the house, just showing him things and every day exposure helped. Wally barely saw the outside of his kennel/cage for the first year of his life and wasn't even cared for in his basic needs as he had to be shaved down he was that matted.

So to improve his confidence, two things really give me a way in:

1) Teaching targeting (the dog touches the object, hand, whatever, with his nose)
2) Shaping (breaking down behaviors into multiple SMALL pieces/steps and he's rewarded for accomplishing them)
3) "Free" Shaping (the dog just comes up with stuff to do - he's free to do whatever - you just want to see that initiative and the dog just up and doing SOMETHING and fostering that thought process).

Targeting (re-)engages that natural curiosity dogs have by rewarding interest and interaction with objects. I put it on a cue as well so when Wally saw something new, I could cue "touch!" and he goes to it, sometimes warily, and touches it, which got rewarded. Shaping and Free Shaping both engage a dog to take control of his own environment, so to speak. He doesn't feel "like a victim" but instead feels that he can make good things happen to him by doing things. These two things were HUGE in getting Wally and I going in the right direction.

It will likely take time. Wally and I have worked together for four years and there's still things that make him anxious, but his confidence keeps him from going to pure panic and can still think and follow directions, even though he's skittish.

Here's some sites that might can help with targeting and shaping so maybe you can explore them with Killian and see if they help you two make progress:

http://dogs.thefuntimesguide.com/2010/04/dog_training_technique.php
http://www.clickersolutions.com/articles/2001c/puppyshaping.htm (Killian's not a puppy, but I think the principles apply to all, really)
http://www.clickertraining.com/node/546
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyku_TLgOsc
 
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