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Discussion Starter #1
Hey everyone! Me and Sage, the border collie, are new to the forum and stuck in our training =[ She is 2 years old and knows how to: sit, lay, speak, paw, play dead, roll over and stay. She learned all of this before I ever heard of clicker training.

Since I've heard of it, I've tried using it to teach her "touch" with a touch stick. She gets the idea of it but always tries to touch it as soon as I move it from my side. I don't click when she does it and she tries a few more times and gives up and lays down. I hold it out and say "touch" and she just stares at me for a few seconds so I look at the stick and she gets up and touches it. I click and treat when she touches with her nose.

When this happens, it makes me think that I'm moving to fast for her so I ask her to sit and put the stick close to her face, when she touches with her nose I c&t. My problem with this is that she sometimes gets too excited for the treat and puts the stick in her mouth and I click thinking that she was just about to touch it with her nose.

What am I doing wrong? What could I be doing better?
Any help or suggestions would be GREATLY appreciated!! =]
 

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She gets the idea of it but always tries to touch it as soon as I move it from my side. I don't click when she does it and she tries a few more times and gives up and lays down.
This is what YOU think you're training: Touch the stick when I say so
What the dog thinks: Do you want me to touch it or not?!

For right now, it's okay that she's touching it as soon as you move it. Later you can work on "don't touch until I tell you to," but that's jumping the gun a little at this point. To buy you time to move it around, toss the treat away from you so she has to go and get it and when she turns around you already have the stick in position.

What could I be doing better?
What you have now is primarily a timing problem. Timing is crucial in all kinds of dog training, but doubly so in clicker training since the tool is so "sharp." That's a feature, not a bug, and the reason the clicker is the preferred marker and so effective. "Good dog," is a very broad marker, so you get more leeway but also larger slices, some of which you might not want. With the clicker, you get way you click. It's a double edged sword!

The mechanics of clicker training are timing, criteria, and rate of reinforcement. Increasing your mechanical skills will make your training more clear to the dog, and thus more efficient.

Timing is WHEN you click, criteria is WHAT you click, and rate of reinforcement is HOW OFTEN you click.

Think of criteria as carving a marble statue. You start with a big block of marble, and slowly you chip away what ISN'T your statue until all you are left with is your statue (behavior). Criteria is also like casting a net. At first you cast a really large net, covering a lot of behavior, but as you raise criteria you tighten the net until it's more of a harpoon.

RoR ties back to criteria. In general, you want to reinforce a lot, especially the newer the behavior is. So if your net is too narrow too fast, the dog won't be meeting criteria often and RoR will dip. But if the net of criteria is too wide, you'll be reinforcing everything and you won't be able to move ahead because the dog doesn't know what you want.

These three things all affect one another. If you want a good solid understanding of the basics of clicker training, look up Bob Bailey. He's one of the people who really matured the technology and has trained a staggering number of animals and species and people. Training is simple, but it isn't easy.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I've read Karen Pryor's "Reaching the Animal Mind" and it was a great insight. I've perused other books on clicking and all have different methods of teaching it. All have different times of when adding the cue "touch". We started off with no verbal communication while learning the trick and she always touched the stick when presented so that's why I thought it was OK to take it a step further. Literally, she would try to touch the stick as soon as she saw it coming out of its drawer haha. How do I know when we are both ready to advance to the next step? What is the next step in this situation?
 

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I think its great that your dog has such enthusiasm for touch training! Use that to your advantage and really move that target around. Also, if you are having trouble with her 'mouthing' you might consider using a different target that is not as enticing to put in her mouth (such as a plastic lid).
 

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I think its great that your dog has such enthusiasm for touch training! Use that to your advantage and really move that target around. Also, if you are having trouble with her 'mouthing' you might consider using a different target that is not as enticing to put in her mouth (such as a plastic lid).
Yes, plastic lids are good, as are unused wall plugs or a small piece of tape on the wall etc. Palms also work well since they give you a very "tactile" element to base upon for maintaining / upping your criteria, plus the added ability to remove it quickly if neccessary.

I also agree with ReaganW that perhaps you're expecting impulse control far too early. Work on that seperately for a while before connecting the two.

If you're getting a "mouthy" thing happening, then 1) make sure your observations are good by getting a proper view of the mouth, which will likely require that 2) you get down to the dog's level to see. 3) An early click, just slightly before she begins to open her mouth, will partly help to solve your dilemma.
 

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Putting her mouth on it is a great start to a retrieve. If I don't want that I click while the dog is moving towards the stick, so probably doesn't have time to mouth it.
 
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