New to clicker training

Discussion in 'Clicker Training' started by Lucy and Mia, Mar 2, 2020.

  1. Lucy and Mia

    Lucy and Mia Registered Users

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    Mia is a 1 year old fox red lab who is an absolute nightmare to train! She is an absolute sweetheart but as soon as you try and get her learning new things she just gets frustrated when she doesn't understand what I want from her and acts up instead. She loves to please me but she also wants to be doing her own thing so this is where the frustration starts to creep in, firstly she is annoyed when she doesn't understand because she thinks she is doing something wrong then instead of hanging around to be in the wrong she wants to be off doing her own thing! I have never told her off for getting something wrong but she I rehomed her at 4 months old from her breeder who had kept her out of the litter to be his next field trial champion and she was quite a disappointment to him when she didn't keep up with the training so I don't know if he had possibly given her a hard time when she wasn't getting it. He seemed a lovely chap and we seen all of his dogs when we collected her and they were all happy and thriving, even Mia, it's just during training she makes me want to start ripping my hair out sometimes and I don't know where the attitude comes from - it's honestly like trying to train a stroppy teenager sometimes! Or maybe it could just be that she's at a difficult age, I just really don't know.
    So enough of my rant, Mia has been in season this past couple of weeks so I have been doing more activities and training with her at home to keep her occupied rather than walking her every day but she doesn't really get it and is a bit slow at training which has become so much more prominent with the extra training we have been doing. I don't ever expect her to compete but I found another thread on here about Rally O and decided to have a go at doing a bit of that to keep her stimulated. Somebody suggested that clicker training would be beneficial to her as a bit more of a training aid. At the moment I use treats as a lure if needed and give lots of fuss and treat when she gets it. Mia isn't massively food orientated so lots of fuss alongside a treat is what I have found works so far. I have never used a clicker before and I would assume Mia has never been trained using one either as the breeder was very old fashioned so I was hoping somebody may be able to give me some tips on the best course of action to start bringing it into our training sessions please. I have read lots online about using clickers but they seem to be mostly focused on starting training using one which obviously I have not done, so I wondered if I just bring it in as our new thing or should I just gradually introduce it practising things she already knows how to do?
     
  2. Joy

    Joy Registered Users

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    A couple of general things first:
    Try to train in an area with low distractions to start with - so this might even be your living room or garden.
    Before you start, make a plan for what you want to train and break it down into small steps that you are sure Mia can achieve. If you are unsure how to do this, post an example of what you want the final behaviour to be and I'd be happy to break it down into steps for you.
    If Mia is not motivated by your treats the chances are that the environment is too distracting or the treats aren't high value enough. Try something like homemade liver cake or Platinum Iberico and Greens kibble (my dog adores this). https://www.platinum.co.uk/dry-dog-food/our-products/adult-iberico-greens.html I only feed this as training treats not for meals.

    Clicker training - I'd start by clicking and treating for a look at you. So at home wait for Mia to glance at you, click and treat. Repeat half a dozen times. Do this several times a day. Gradually extend the length of the look (just be a second or two at first) before you click.

    Nice to hear that you're interested in Rally - I love doing it with Molly and would be happy to help if you need further advice / suggestions.
     
  3. Lucy and Mia

    Lucy and Mia Registered Users

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    Hi Joy,
    That was really helpful, thank you.
    I hadn't taken any notice of it but we have sometimes have a few birds flying in out and out of the trees in my garden - Mia hates birds! I will try and note which training sessions she is worse and see if that correlates to the birds. It's difficult to train inside as we have another dog and trying to manage Mia on her own is bad enough without adding another into the mix.
    Mia has a lot of stomach sensitivities so lots of foods and treats upset her stomach, I have found a couple of brands of treats that don't upset her but she's not overly fussed about them and I feel that using her kibble isn't much of a treat as she'll get it anyway with her breakfast or tea. I used to bake lots of different treats for my old lab who we sadly lost as she loved EVERYTHING!!! but I have been nervous about baking treats again in case they upset Mia's stomach, maybe I will have a look at a few of my recipes and see if I can find some that might work for Mia. Although, the food in the link you shared looks good enough that even I might like it as a treat!
    The clickers should have come in the post today so I'll try them out this evening and see how we go with just a look at me.
    I had never heard of Rally before but I came across someone mentioning it in a thread on here somewhere, it may have even been yourself, and I thought it sounded quite interesting. I don't expect we'll ever compete but I figured I could use it as a bit of a training guide to give us a lesson plan of sorts as I was a bit stuck on really what we are trying to achieve. Mia can do the basics, sit, stay, lie down and come so I thought it would give us something more to work on. Mia is super intelligent (though she'd have you believe otherwise - my mum quite often calls her dopey because she's always doing silly things) with the attention span of a small child and very little patience for anything that she doesn't get immediately, so trying to keep her attention on something she doesn't want to do is a nightmare.
    I'd love to hear any tips or tricks you use for training if you have any general ones that may help us out, we're just trying to have a bit of fun - or at least I am, Mia could be trying to do anything!
     
  4. SianMJ

    SianMJ Registered Users

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    I can thoroughly recommend Pippa’s online training course with dogsnet. I started the foundation course when my lab was 10 months. We had done a lot of clicker training but I benefited so much from learning how to build success and how to deal with failures in training, I learned how to build and structure training, building up slowly and adding the smallest of distractions as we go, such as me sitting or just turning to the side. Lures and their place in training are explained. Gwenni my dog just loved it, all at our own pace in our own home too.
     
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  5. Joy

    Joy Registered Users

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    It makes it trickier if your dog has food sensitivities. One thing is to try to find a high quality food that you know won't upset your dog and use that - for example many dogs that can't tolerate chicken or beef are ok with fish and dried fish skins are quite convenient and some dogs love them.
    However I have worked with someone whose dog has had so many stomach problems (she is having on-going vet treatment) that she is quite reluctant to take food, perhaps because she sees it as predicting stomach pain. But she really, really loves her ball and we were able to use that as a reward. So using toys might be another route to go down.

    In fact even if you are able to find a suitable high-value food reward I would still suggest that getting Mia keen on playing tug with you is really worthwhile. Keep the tug game very short (seconds to start with), get a release (if necessary by swapping for food or another toy) and then immediately start the game again. This builds the value for Mia in being close to you.

    As regards Rally - Level 1 consists of all the sort of things you have already taught. You can see the level descriptions here:
    https://www.rallynews.co.uk/index_htm_files/level-one.pdf

    I would suggest the next thing to teach is a pivot as this is the basis of good turns. You do this by training your dog to put their front feet on a board, book or upturned bowl and clicking for movement of their back legs.

    Kikopup videos on Youtube are a great resource and this is one that demonstrates training a pivot


    And this is me working with Molly in the early stages:


    And then without the board
     
  6. Lucy and Mia

    Lucy and Mia Registered Users

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    Hi Sian, Thanks for the recommendation, I will look it up. Mia is a bit slow so everything needs to be done at her pace so that sounds great!
    My dads lab does enjoy her food but her most prize possession is her ball so we used that a lot while training her. I have tried that with Mia but she's not massively interested, her absolute most favourite thing is riding in the car (she doesn't even need to get out at the other end she loves the car that much) which obviously we aren't going to be able to incorporate into a training session so I will try and get her into playing tug as you suggested.
    The clickers arrived yesterday so we spent the evening clicking and treating when Mia looked over at me, in the end she could barely take her eyes off me as I moved around the kitchen so I left it at that for the day.
    Thank you for the videos, I will watch them properly when I get home from work later and hopefully pick up some tips. Molly is a beautiful girl and she clearly really enjoys her training, I'm hoping Mia will eventually as well!
    Thank you so much for all your advice, it's really kind of you!
     
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