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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Obedience Training

Class #1 - Clicker & Treat Training

I have a confession to make....I have always hated clickers..
now hear me out! It's the clicking, it just drives me crazy!
Crazy in the cartoony nails on a chalkboard way kind of crazy.

That's it, that's my problem with them. Shhh....don't tell my trainer!

Why are we taking this class? Click HERE to learn about "My Reactive Dog."

I understand their function however, and their place in the dog training world. 
As my instructor put it..,"How long does it take for you to reach and give treats, or get one from a bag? 15-30 sec? What can happen with your dog in that amount of time? A lot."

The point of clicker training is to immediately, and more quickly than your hands can move - "mark" a good behavior, and then immediately reward that specific behavior with a treat.

Bring on the Clicker!
We are in a small obedience class which makes me very happy - only 5 dogs. In the training room their are colored rectangles for each human/dog team, you stay in your rectangle and the dogs get to see each other but not meet. Class is a working time, not a social time.
The colors just help us silly humans remember where our spot is. If a dog is too excited their are blinds that can go up between rectangles so that they can't see each other, which is a brilliant idea. Only one pup ended up needing the blinds - and it wasn't us!

Exercise #1:
I know how to use a clicker even though I have never personally used one, and Ziva already knows obedience. So class #1 was mostly introducing her to the clicker concept. 
We started off class just associating the *click with a treat. *Click, treat. *Click, treat.
Now walking: *Click, treat. *Click, treat. 

Exercise #2:
Next we worked on "Focus", or as my pups are familiar with it, "Look".

Great Eye Contact!
"Look" When she holds eye contact and doesn't look at the ball it gets thrown!

"Look" is eye contact, and not just a glance and look away again. "Look" is constant eye contact, something that Ziva is naturally extremely good at. At home we have worked on "Look" a lot with our dogs as a way of teaching them to give us back their attention that might have strayed. It's hard with squirrels or cats but we've been working on it.

"Squirrel" I see it face. "Let me chase it mom!" See her tight mouth, wrinkled forehead and forward ears?

Well in class it was the perfect setting to practice because of the distraction of all the other dogs being around.

So in our colored square we began walking, I would stop and wait.
Without giving her a command just wait, when she would "look" on her own: *Click, treat.
Walk and find a new spot in our colored area, "Look", *Click, treat. 
"Look" *Click, treat. 
If she maintained prolonged eye contact it was *Click*Click, treat.
The instructor then upped the challenge and had everyone moving around the room, rotating one colored rectangle at a time, every time she "looked"; *Click, treat. 
"Look" *Click, treat. 
Stronger eye contact and prolonged eye contact resulted in *Click*Click, treat. Or a jackpot!

Jackpot! One great way to keep your dogs engaged is the jackpot concept, every so often giving them more than one treat! But you have to be careful to not make a pattern that they can follow or else they will wait for just the jackpot.

Exercise #3:
Automatic Sit - this one is where you stop walking and wait for the dog to sit.
No verbal commands given. Eventually the dog will sit.
In Ziva's case she knows that when I stop she is to "Look" at me. This is something we do at home, however I don't always ask for a sit.
Well now I'm asking. 
So when I stopped, Ziva "Looked" at me and waited expecting her tasty reward. 
I could just see it in her eyes...,"Come on mom, I'm looking, what more do you want?" Hmmmm....
Not talking to your dog is a great way to make them problem solve and use their brain.
*Sit. *Click, treat.  
"Oh! Now I get it!" ~ Ziva

*Sit. *Click, treat. Walk around...
*Sit. *Click, treat. Walk around...
*Sit. *Click, treat. 
"Look" *Click, treat. 
"Look" *Click, treat..
"Look" *Click *Click, treat.

And thus went our first day of class.

I am also proud to say she did not get snarky with any of the other dogs. Their was one reactive dog in our class and she was in the rectangle next to us, they had to put up the walls so that she could get used to the sounds and smells of everything and slowly throughout class began to open up the blinds. At one point she lunged and barked her head off right at Ziva and me! Thankfully Ziva didn't react at all! I was shocked in a very good way, she didn't like it but usually that kind of aggression results in her getting aggressive and lunging back. But nope! She didn't.

I'm happy to say we were the most advanced team in the class! It helps that she already knows obedience, the safe controlled environment of class however is the perfect way to help us grow!
Very proud of our little girl!

As for Dante, he had a blast with his puppy play date. He wasn't even interested in me when I showed up to take him home!
On a side note, everything Ziva and I are learning in class I am taking home, 
teaching the hubby, and we are working Dante through the exercises as well.

B&B3b_Fotor, Thankful Thursday Weekly Blog Hop, pet centric


  1. That's awesome that Ziva is doing so well in class!!

    If it's only the sound of the clicker that bothers you, they make quieter versions. :)

  2. We started with the clicker but found it too cumbersome. I just hold a few treats in hand at all times and when I get low I reach in my bag to refill so I can say, "Yes!" as our marker and then Barry looks right up and I slip him one of the treats I already have in hand. I've found it takes too long to reach in and get one treat at a time, so that makes sense. I just hated having one more thing to carry out the door. In fact, I'm pretty sure both clickers we had are lost now for good.

    Is Ziva wearing pretty pink nail polish in the "I see it face" picture above? What a cutie she is!

    1. I picked up a short leash, about 2 feet and hold the clicker in my leash hand with the handle around my wrist. I then have the treat bag on the opposite side and carry a handful of treats in my opposite clicker hand. Ziva walks on the left so the treats are on my right.
      I originally trained the dogs with "good" being my word marker, but since the instructor uses the clicker we're trying it out for now. :-) I'm definitely sure i'll lose it though, so the hubby picked up a carabiner to clip it to the treat bag when we're done training.

      Yuppers! Ziva is wearing polish! It has been helping us get her used to having her feet handled in a positive way. I'll post more soon! :-)

  3. OOOH, I will definitely be following your training. We're trying too, but I'm an awkward clicker. It's a bit easier at home when I'm not holding a leash, a clicker and a bunch of treats.

    1. Get a short leash, its A LOT easier. :-) On whatever side you walk your dog - loop the leash around your wrist, now same hand hold the clicker.
      Other hand hold a small handful of treats with one kept in between your thumb and forefinger at all times. Treat bag on the same side. Refill as needed! For jackpot treats instead of giving the single I offer the cupped portion of my hand instead.

      I'll take some pics and post them. :-)

  4. Sounds like a very productive class. I really like the idea of the rectangles. Some people just don't get leaving space between dogs.

    You might find this funny. I had to unlearn Freighter on the sit when I stopped walking. I tried very had not to cue him to do that since he will be in the show ring. If I wanted a sit, I gave him the command and then when he complied I said "good" and treat. Stinker started sitting in anticipation of

    Thanks so much for joining the hop!

    1. I had never thought of having to potentially unlearn something. :-) I'll keep that in mind as we progress through the class.

  5. I've tried the clicker with Ruckus but no go. Maybe I gave up too early! Happy Thoughtless Thursday!

    1. So far the clicker (even though I started out very biased against them) is working out great for our dogs! But I do plan on eventually weaning them off it, and we don't use a clicker for all our home training time.

  6. PepiSmartDog: I think you nailed focus - if theres a Squirrel or a tennis ball - you will win the focus test! BOL!
    You look very handsome in your bottom photo.
    Thank you for joining our Thankful Thursday Weekly Blog Hop again. Always enjoy reading your post each week and getting to know you a bit more through each one.
    Hope to see you again next week. *waves paw* :=o)


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