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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I've had my 1 year old rescue for about 3 weeks now and would like to begin some 'proper' training with her. She is my first dog so I don't know much yet about the best way to train them. Until now my general philosophy has been to give her no attention for or redirect unwanted behaviour (like mouthing my hands in play) and to praise with petting or treats for wanted behaviour. Her behaviour is very good (she walks well, is mostly toilet trained, is generally cooperative and gentle), I just haven't been able to teach her any commands yet, besides asking her to lie down. It would be great to hear from experienced owners the best things to start working on with my dog and what methods you use with your pets! I'd be particularly interested to learn more about clicker training as I only recently heard of it! I'm still not quite sure how it works and why people would train that way.

How would others recommend I start working on training with her? What kinds of commands do you find most useful with your dogs and how do you teach them?
 

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Clicker training is where you have the clicker give the good job signal vs treats or praise. I didn't do this but it seems very effective.

IMO, the first command is the COME or recall command. You start off indoors with a short leash, work out to a longer leash and then bring it outside and or places with distractions. Next as important is the LEAVE IT command so that your dog knows not to grab something. After these two commands it all depends on what's important to you.

On you tube there's kikopup, Zac George and tab283 (may be the same person as Zac George ... Not sure) that have some good videos.
 

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Clicker training is where you have the clicker give the good job signal vs treats or praise. I didn't do this but it seems very effective.
That's not entirely true.

The clicker substitutes a verbal marker (yes, good, etc), but you still always follow up with a reward (generally a treat). The clicker doesn't substitute treats.

Essentially it's a "Yes! That's what I wanted, your reward is coming!"

So it would look like;
*dog sits*
*click* <--- or 'yes' or 'good' or whatever word you want to use.
*give treat*

I generally use a clicker because (with practice) it allows me to be more precise with my timing. That said, sometimes it just isn't practical for a given situation so I use a verbal marker "yes!" in a specific tone as well.
 

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I would sign up for a basic obedience class. You can also learn a lot from YouTube channels like KikoPup.

Clicker training is awesome. Just know that it's not about the clicker, it's about the method. You can say "yes!" instead of clicking and I do that often. The basic idea is that you mark the behavior you like by clicking or saying "yes!" when your dog does the behavior. Then you follow up with a treat. This way the dog understands exactly what the reward is for. If you don't mark the behavior and just try to give treats quickly, by the time you get the treat to the dog she may be doing something else entirely. So say she sits, and you get the treat out and she stands up to get it, now you've just given her a treat for standing which isn't what you intended. But if you click right when she sits and then get the treat out, even if she stands up while you're getting the treat she will learn that sitting was what you wanted. It's very effective!

The first things I teach a new dog are:
sit
down
stay (only for a couple seconds at first)
touch (touch their nose to the palm of my hand, or other objects)
offered focus (just get some treats and sit and wait for the dog to make eye contact, then click and reward; build up to longer eye contact; I don't put this on a cue, it's just something I expect my dog's to offer when they aren't sure what we're doing)
It's Yer Choice/Impulse control games (put some food in your hand and make a fist so the dog can't get it; just sit there and wait, she'll paw it and lick it but eventually she will move away from your hand and that's when you mark and reward from the other hand; work up to food on the floor, throwing food, toys, etc)
 

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Sorry about the misinformation! I was under the impression that once you load the clicker with the dog associating the click with the treat you fade the treat and just use the clicker ... good thing I didn't try it, would have been a huge failure. LOL!!
 

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Sorry about the misinformation! I was under the impression that once you load the clicker with the dog associating the click with the treat you fade the treat and just use the clicker ... good thing I didn't try it, would have been a huge failure. LOL!!
In general you want to fade rewards to an intermittent reward schedule but that is after they have learned the command. I will sometimes use a clicker when teaching new things and reward heavy and often in the learning phase. If I'm working on things they already know but either trying to increase duration or proof with higher distractions I don't bother with the clicker. I'll still use a verbal marker like "Yes!" though.
 

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Sorry about the misinformation! I was under the impression that once you load the clicker with the dog associating the click with the treat you fade the treat and just use the clicker ... good thing I didn't try it, would have been a huge failure. LOL!!
You do want to fade rewards once the dog knows the command, but you would fade the click as well. If you click, you must treat. I build up the value of praise so that I can verbally or physically praise my dog once I've reduced food or toy rewards, but I wouldn't click and then verbally praise.

It is true that the click itself tends to become more rewarding than the actual food reward, because the anticipation of getting something awesome is a better feeling than actually getting something awesome. Think about kids on Christmas - the anticipation of getting lots of toys is usually more exciting than the actual toys. But if you stop pairing food with the clicker, that association will be broken and the dog will no longer get excited about the click, because he doesn't know if food is really coming this time.
 

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Yeah rule one of clicker training is that the click is ALWAYS followed by a reward. Never, EVER fade the reward from the click. Use a different reward marker such as "yes!" or "good!" that you can use more freely like that. You fade the reward when given a specific cue, but like elrohwen has said, you also fade the clicker as well.

Anyway, clicker training definitely is a great place to start with a new dog :) Have a look at kikopup's channel on Youtube. She has lots of great videos on the basics of clicker training :)
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I think I'll give clicker training a go then! Found some good resources online. Thanks for the advice guys. However, a problem I've been having so far in training is in general she just doesn't seem bothered by food, and is not very excited by any treats I've tried so far. Maybe I just need to find THE treat to get her excited, but even when she's being fed she is very apathetic.. Other dogs I've met you can see them getting excited when you're preparing their food, but she just stands waiting for me to ask her to sit, and then leisurely strolls over to the bowl when I put it down. I think I may need to go rummage through the supermarket for some hotdogs or something to try and get her more excited to work for! She was a stray and very underweight when I met her, so I suppose she can afford to put on some weight in treats anyway!
 

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I think I'll give clicker training a go then! Found some good resources online. Thanks for the advice guys. However, a problem I've been having so far in training is in general she just doesn't seem bothered by food, and is not very excited by any treats I've tried so far. Maybe I just need to find THE treat to get her excited, but even when she's being fed she is very apathetic.. Other dogs I've met you can see them getting excited when you're preparing their food, but she just stands waiting for me to ask her to sit, and then leisurely strolls over to the bowl when I put it down. I think I may need to go rummage through the supermarket for some hotdogs or something to try and get her more excited to work for! She was a stray and very underweight when I met her, so I suppose she can afford to put on some weight in treats anyway!
What have you tried?

My favorite treats are all people food of some sort. String cheese, meatballs (I buy them frozen and just thaw them out first), hot dogs, deli meat, etc.

I know someone whose go-to treat for dogs who aren't into food is the sausage patty from an Egg McMuffin sandwich. Haha.
 

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I think I'll give clicker training a go then! Found some good resources online. Thanks for the advice guys. However, a problem I've been having so far in training is in general she just doesn't seem bothered by food, and is not very excited by any treats I've tried so far. Maybe I just need to find THE treat to get her excited, but even when she's being fed she is very apathetic.. Other dogs I've met you can see them getting excited when you're preparing their food, but she just stands waiting for me to ask her to sit, and then leisurely strolls over to the bowl when I put it down. I think I may need to go rummage through the supermarket for some hotdogs or something to try and get her more excited to work for! She was a stray and very underweight when I met her, so I suppose she can afford to put on some weight in treats anyway!
Have you tried human food? Real meat that's been cubed into tiny pieces work really well for us here... or cheese :)
 

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For the beginning training sessions I would definitely try to use the best food you can possibly bring. Later on once she's excited about training then you can lower the value a bit. But at first you want whatever she is excited about. Also work when she's hungry vs right after a meal when she's full. Some dogs will be starving acting all the time but others really won't be. She can also work for her meals too.
 

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Try some of the high value treats , as suggested. If your dog is absolutely NOT food motivated, there are other rewards.

When Ian Dunbar visited Cesar Millan, CM's dog Daddy wouldn't reactive quickly to standard obedience cues, Sit, Down, Stand. Dunbar tried a fix using a lure method of training, but Daddy was not food motivated. Later, Dunbar discovered that Daddy was VERY ball motivated, so he lured Daddy with the ball, and then tossed it as a reward. Altho it might be slower, but you can click, and then toss a ball, say good dog, scratch him, etc. Whatever is rewarding...
 

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Ok, now I'm a little confused but I haven't researched clicker training fully. If you need to give your dog treats every time you click then why use the clicker? I understand that you need to load the clicker to get the dog to associate the click with the treat (Pavlov's dogs) but to always treat when you click - just give the dog the treat. I have successfully trained my dog to potty, come, sit, give paw, give other paw, down, touch and beg without the use of a clicker and only using treats. She will do most if not all of those without treats as well. What am I missing?
 

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Ok, now I'm a little confused but I haven't researched clicker training fully. If you need to give your dog treats every time you click then why use the clicker? I understand that you need to load the clicker to get the dog to associate the click with the treat (Pavlov's dogs) but to always treat when you click - just give the dog the treat. I have successfully trained my dog to potty, come, sit, give paw, give other paw, down, touch and beg without the use of a clicker and only using treats. She will do most if not all of those without treats as well. What am I missing?
A click/clicker is a marker and nothing more. There is nothing magical about it or different than regular marker training. The click tells the dog 'that was good, you are getting rewarded!' It's just like saying 'Yayyyy! good dog!' then handing the dog a treat.

The thing with markers is a nice, short, clear marker is easier for the dog to understand and it's easier for the handler to use precisely. This becomes important when you are training more complex behaviors. You want a way to mark quickly the exact moment the dog is doing what you want. You can interchange the clicker with a short word like 'Yes!' and most people do that at least some. I find personally most dogs are more excited by the clicker than a 'yes' and they will work harder and be more focused. I think it is because we talk to them all the time and while a 'yes!' is distinct, a clicker is more distinct. Dogs who understand the clicker game are really easy to train new behaviors to because they understand they control the click. They're usually really good about trying many behaviors.

I use the clicker when I want more motivation and more focus. I use it when my dog is LEARNING a new behavior and when I want to brush up or refine something.

Every time I click I want to reward because I want the clicker to be powerful.

Eventually you fade out the click and then eventually start varying the reward.

It is really useful for shaping behaviors too. If I want my dog to put all 4 feet in a box, I will start by clicking and treating interest in the box, then one foot in the box, then two feet in a box, etc.

No one NEEDS a clicker to train a dog, particularly if you're only interested in the basics. However, it can be a very powerful tool and very useful to those interested in exploring dog training much further.
 

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Ok, now I'm a little confused but I haven't researched clicker training fully. If you need to give your dog treats every time you click then why use the clicker? I understand that you need to load the clicker to get the dog to associate the click with the treat (Pavlov's dogs) but to always treat when you click - just give the dog the treat. I have successfully trained my dog to potty, come, sit, give paw, give other paw, down, touch and beg without the use of a clicker and only using treats. She will do most if not all of those without treats as well. What am I missing?
You're missing the exacting precision that is possible with a clicker. Using a clicker, you can mark the *nanosecond* the dog does a behavior that you would like to see repeated. For simple, one step behaviors (such as sit) it's helpful, but (as you've discovered) not completely necessary. However, once your goals are more complex behaviors that might need to be incrementally shaped, using the clicker to mark each little step is going to speed training significantly. Actually, it speeds the learning of simple behaviors as well, for all the same reasons.

All I can say is this - once you've used a clicker & seen for yourself how effective & fast it is for training new behaviors, you'll never doubt the method again.
 

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I wanted to teach Sassy how to do leg weaving. She followed the lure fine but never got it, I couldn't fade the lure. I finally got a clicker and one day decided to try leg weaves. She looked through my legs, c/t tossing treat between my legs. In one session she got it, was moving through not following a lure. Late in her agility career she decided it was easier to jump the up contacts. I clicked hitting lower on the contact and she never jumped another contact took just one session for her to get it. People work really hard to get down contacts but up ones are usually easier to deal with. USDAA was the only organization that cares about the up contact but I mainly did USDAA! Another was loose leash walking. I had tugged and jerked and turned in circles and changed direction and been a tree and penalty yarded for years but once I c/t her when she was at my side she got it. All that punishing for being out of position was worthless, she needed to know exactly when she was right.

Handling the dog takes away some of the thinking dogs can do in a training session. Luring even counts as handling according to my dogs, probably on me of course. Bucky just got a solid down cue in 2 clicking sessions and was laying down on the 3rd day on cue. He figured that out on his own. My dogs come to me wary of handling and manipulating them into position fails, luring is even too much for them but they will play the clicker game with me right away.

Go to the source for clicker info, I know I am a poor writer and definitely not an accomplished clicker trainer and wouldn't want to mislead anybody on how to start working with a clicker. Google Karen Pryor to start out.
 

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I guess since I've never trained with a clicker and I am not looking for complex actions I don't fully understand it; thanks for explaining it to me.
 

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I'm not getting complex stuff either, hands off just works better for my adult rescues.

I tried to shape Sassy to roll over, something I could lure her into doing but she never was happy about it. Got as far as a muscle twitch. Pretty silly but interesting that stuff that little can be trained.
 

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Yea, I use the clicker for specific training sessions and in classes (where applicable). I don't use it just in the regular run of a day when asking for behaviours.

My timing is much better when using the click vs a verbal marker.
 
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