I need clicker advice! - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-23-2009, 03:39 PM Thread Starter
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I need clicker advice!

I am pretty good at using the clicker to teach a new behavior but I am not so good at breaking down the behavior into small clickable increments..... make sense? Usually if I read how to break a behavior down or chain a behavior I'm ok and I can do it. So , is there a clicker savvy person that can help? Radar has super high ball drive and is a great retriever as long as we are playing two ball. With one ball he likes to dance around and try to make me get the ball- I always ignore this! I would like to teach him to put the ball in my hand when I ask him to but I am not sure where to start. Would I still use two balls or just one ball and click when he brings the ball near my hand? Should I shape or let him see the treat and trade him the ball for the treat? He is already quickly getting the ball and bringing it near me so I'm not sure if any back chaining is needed. I could leave him on a long line and use it to pull him closer but then that is not really the way I want him to learn it. I guess I know just enough about it to be dangerous! Radar is almost a year old and is still very much a puppy. His enthusiasm can sometimes lead to accidential hand injuries so one of the goals of this would also be to teach him to not tear my hand off when I am holding the ball! Like I said he is very high ball drive!
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-23-2009, 03:52 PM
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Re: I need clicker advice!

oh I hope you get someone smart to answer this question.

I am in the same exact place with nt 15 month old. I cannot let the kids play with him because he is so rough getting the ball or frizbee. Luckily he is the worst with me. I play no game without two.

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-23-2009, 04:05 PM
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Re: I need clicker advice!

Really interested in the advice on this one. Sounds like Lancer is in the same place. I'm thinking of doing the following.

Since bringing the ball near me (or dropping it while playing two-ball) is already the habit, start with a different object. I'm thinking about working with the dumbbell since eventually we're going to need to do that in a ring anyway. And start with the releasing of the dumbbell in my hand. Backchain the exercise:

1. Releasing the dumbbell (This is actually the first step to click-you put the object in his mouth without fuss.)
2. Taking the dumbbell and release in my hand.
3. Extending the distance that he goes to take the dumbbell-always bringing it back to release in my hand.

Incorporate other objects (like his Orbee ball) into this routine.

Steps 1-3 is what I did to train Kayla with the dumbbell retrieve so this time I hope to incorporate it with additional options with Lancer. Each step above incorporates a "clicker moment" at the tail end.

I think if I were to try to complete the circle with the ball and teach him to bring it all the way in and release to my hand, it seems that in trying to change what I've been allowing for months -bring it close and let it drop would now be more of a challenge. Maybe work at home andnot in a field on just the release to my hand. Seems there's one click moment in doing that.


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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-23-2009, 04:18 PM
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Re: I need clicker advice!

Renji has this problem with the ball. We're working this out WITHOUT the clicker just because it's easier for me. When he comes running back with the ball, I start running backwards to encourage him to come really close, then I stop and hold out my hand. If he remains still long enough, I get the ball out of his mouth and praise profusely, then toss it again. If he drops the ball, I say "uh oh! Get your ball, get your ball!" and I point at it and act like there's a big ol' frantic situation because he dropped his ball. When he grabs it, I praise praise praise and encourage him to get it in my hand. The instant he does, I throw his ball. If he doesn't, it's "uh oh! You dropped it! Oh no!"

In the house, we do play with his toys and with me, his toy must be placed in my hand or I won't touch it! He has learned fairly quickly that toy in hand means playtime and toy and floor means "What? I have a dog? I didn't know that."

This may also help. This is my procedure for using the clicker to teach Renji to pick up a metal object and place it in my hand. Maybe this is more what you're looking for?

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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-23-2009, 04:29 PM
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Re: I need clicker advice!

There are probably lots of different answers to this, so hopefully you'll be able to pick one that suits you. This is my take on it:

Two ball is a great way to drain energy and teach the out, also to play fun games to build quick responses to commands like sit and platz. If he has that much drive for the ball, I'm not sure you even need the clicker to fix this...

If two ball is normally the only fetch/play game you play with him, he has never learned that he has to come to you to continue the game, he has just had to come somewhat close and drop the toy he has. I would use a ball on a string or a tug (only one for now) so that you have something to hold onto when pulling him into you. Also, when you can reach out and grab the string then you can play some tug in between throws, reinforcing that YOU are the center of the game. It's okay to use a long line at first to guide him in, I think he'll catch on pretty quickly and you won't need it very long.

If he's very high octane and crazy, jumping at you and whatnot, then I would first incorporated some obedience into the two ball before you try to go to one. After he drops one toy, tease him with the one you are about to throw and then ask for a sit or down. As soon as his butt/elbows hit the ground, throw. Same process applies once you move to one toy.

If he continues the keep-away game, don't just ignore him, leave him! Go inside without him, game over. He'll soon decide that playing by your rules is more appealing than being by himself.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-23-2009, 05:19 PM
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Re: I need clicker advice!

First, I would NOT teach him this while PLAYING ball - too much drive involved. I would teach him this behavior away from the playing area.

And I wouldn't use a ball to start with. I would teach the behavior with something less exciting.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-23-2009, 05:26 PM Thread Starter
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Re: I need clicker advice!

Wow, so many great answers so quickly! Thanks. It's nice to know that there are others in the same situation like mjb03 and dianam- I will go back and check out the other thread!

Everette 54 - thought about starting on dumbell work too!

Emily- I have actually used two ball to increase his speed of platz and sit- I throw the second ball as soon as his butt or elbows hit! I think you are right that his ball drive is strong enough that it shouldn't take him long to figure it out if I am able to communicate to him what I want. This is the same dog that got up on our fridge the other night to get his cuz down! I also use a ball on a string or a tug. He gets so crazy he has has problems targeting the ball and in the past and has at times gotten our hands... this is getting better as he matures and has more control. He would like to take the ball on the string away from us and go chew up the ball. killing the ball seems to be the center of his world right now, not tugging with us! We are trying to work on this by keeping him on a long line and not letting him run away with the ball and ony letting him have it during training.

Here is an old video from last summer of my 11 year old and him. He was about 8 months old in the video. You can tell at the end that he got her hand! He is the real deal with serious drive!
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-23-2009, 05:39 PM Thread Starter
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Re: I need clicker advice!

Originally Posted By: Lauri & The GangFirst, I would NOT teach him this while PLAYING ball - too much drive involved. I would teach him this behavior away from the playing area.

And I wouldn't use a ball to start with. I would teach the behavior with something less exciting.
I have never done dumbell training before.... I don't want to screw it up... should I start with a wooden dowel or would any toy do? I know I have a site bookmarked on how to do a clicked retreive. Maybe I should start with that. Thanks!
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-24-2009, 04:41 AM
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Re: I need clicker advice!

You can use any object you want to teach the shaped retrieve, as long as it's not an object that is also used as a play toy. Ideally you use something different completely (so if your dog likes stuffed toys, you don't use a stuffed toy even if it's one he doesn't get to play with). A piece of dowel is fine, or a dumbbell if you can find one. Even a piece of wood like a 1"x2" would work.

Teaching him what "hold" means will help considerably when it comes to holding the ball calmly. Right now he's so excited about the play (and I can relate to having a dog like that - Tazer is 19 months and STILL crazed at times .. *L*) that it's hard for him to focus on learning. So if you teach the commands in a calmer atmosphere and then once he learns them transfer them over to when he's more excited, you'll be more likely to have success.

I start with teaching "take it" (my command for fetch, although I start with my dog just taking it from my hand) and then "hold" (which later will be an unnecessary command, when your dog figures out that he should hold it until you ask him to let go), and then "give". My last three dogs were trained without using the forced retrieve, so don't let anyone tell you it can't be done (I've heard that from a lot of experienced trainers - that you can't get a reliable fetch/hold/give without an ear or toe pinch "forced" retrieve). It sounds like you've got the clicker concept down well so with patience and time I have no doubt you'll do well with this too!

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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-24-2009, 07:50 AM
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Re: I need clicker advice!

Good thread. This is an area that Kuno and I need to work on also. He loves to go fetch his toys, but doesn't like to bring them back - he wants me to chase him. Of course, this is partly my fault because I do like to indulge him with a rollicking game of "I'm gonna get you" (dogs LOVE to be chased).

At the moment, I have a torn knee and am having surgery on it next week - so I can't chase him around at all. I've noticed that because I just stand there now, he is getting better at bringing the toy to me to throw again or have a tug. What I have learned from this is the simple fact that the best way to start shaping this behavior is to stop rewarding what we don't want... they quickly learn that if playtime is to continue, they have to return the toy to us.

BTW, I'm positive that it was playing with him and chasing him around the yard that injured the knee.... might as well learn from it all!
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