We just adopted Gypsy, a 3.5 year old girl, from a local rescue. She's perfectly sweet -- wonderful with our 2 year old, confident & solid with other dogs/strangers/bicycles/etc, easy-going in the house, but ready to go when we're outside to play, run, walk, whatever! Her basic manners are a little rusty, though. Her recall only happens on her terms, & she doesn't loose-leash walk very well. Walking her, while managing a stroller, is a bit difficult!
I thought the first step to working on those issues would be to start some clicker training with her (my first time with this sort of dog training), but we're still just trying to conquer "priming" the clicker. She seems to shut down when I begin trying to engage her, & especially once I introduce the "click". I'm trying to encourage her with my voice, posture, & am working on finding her favorite treats. She's a very soft dog; crumples at the first hint of sternness, so we keep all our interactions with her very light & encouraging.
Do you think she just needs time to bond with us, & grow more confident with our family? We've only had her since Saturday. She just seemed to fit in so naturally with us, that I assumed she'd be ready for some engaging training. Any thoughts or advice?
Honestly, I have never used a clicker but I know they have worked wonders for people, but I always opt to not use them, even in my OB classes we went to.
If I were you and she shut down when you started using the clicker, it would just make sense to not use it anymore. The clicker is simply a marker for wanted behavior, so for us.. we used a marker word. "Good Boy" worked for us. So every time I say that to Titan he understand that's the behavior I am desiring. Same concept, but in your case, it might be a better tool since she's so sensitive to the click, and not to your voice, you may give it a shot. If the "good" word is spoiled already (meaning you use it frequently elsewhere) just choose a different word, we had someone train her dog with the colors of the rainbow once.. each color meant something else. It was rather interesting
Anyways, that would be my suggestion in regards to her clicker sensitivity. For the treats to are searching for.... I would get Natural Balance Food Rolls... Dog Food Roll Formulas - Natural Balance Pet Foods
Titan was super picky with treats, didn't have very many high value ones which made training slightly more difficult.. these however... we call doggie crack
our trainer suggested it and it was the first time I have been able to bribe Titan with a treat. We get the Lamb, and the new Duck formula, we get the large one, cut them up into bite size pieces and seperate into bags and freeze them. Titan will eat them frozen or thawed. It's the only thing we use for traning now.
For recall, once you get your training technique down including treats you decide to use.. You basically want her on a lead to begin with. Call her with your recall command and if she doesn't come.. don't give her the option, pull her to you and treat treat treat! Once she solid on short distance.. get a longer lead.. and so on. The idea to is to make you more desirable than anything else so she wants to come back. So while frustrating.. you want to not scold her or be upset when she does come.. even if she wouldn't for the last 20 minutes! Lol.. easier said than done.. but it will go a long way.
For walking, I personally suggest a head collar. They aren't for eveery dog but they worked wonders for us. I would also suggest that when you work with her on loose leash walking, I would do it as a seperate training session. We ended up just walking to the end of our street a few times during training. Walk until she pulls.. even if that's the first step.. stops and turn the other way. This will force her to follow you. Once you have a loose leash turn back and continue your walk and repeat. It will get frustrating.. but she will start to learn that whe she pulls you turn around. You can also, just plain stop and stand there until she comes back to you and at that point I'd make her sit next to you before treating. She will, one, get the idea that if she tugs, you just stop and wont go until she is next to you, and two, it makes it convenient for time where you stop for whatever reason, and she will sit next to you.
Also, have your family participate in training sessions. It will help them bond with her and get her to listen to them too not just you.
Good luck with her!!! She gorgeous and lucky to have you guys.