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Discussion Starter #1
We have been doing this all wrong! Our thoughts were that we were going to combat basic house manners, potty training, and just letting Franks know that he is loved beyond belief before we did any real commands. We have had Frankie for about a month and a half and he has really gotten a "bite" on everything listed above so tonight I pulled the clicker out...mind you it has been collecting dust on the counter. Our sharp boy learned sit in, no exaggeration, two minutes! I came back repeatedly in 30 minute intervals or so alternating hand cues and verbal cues and he didn't miss a beat! We should have started this process a LONG time ago. I didn't give my boy enough credit. Next up is his recall...which IS something we have been working on though not seriously. With this amazing piece of plastic clicker clacker I know I will truly be setting him up for success and my biggest fear of the "what if" scenarios will be that much closer to relieved. Thank you to everyone on this forum for all the insight that I have been soaking up for the last six months. :wub:
 

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The clicker is a great tool :) It lets the dog know the instant it does something right :) Just make sure you are properly loading it before using it! :D
 

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LOL, I thought this was going to be a story about a misplaced clicker...my husband regularly loses ours!

Congrats to you and Frankie for a job well done learning to sit.
 

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Please forgive my ignorance but what does "loading" the clicker mean? I have seen this term used here before but always as an accepted term and I am unfamiliar with it. I don't want to be starting off on the wrong foot!
 

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It's okay no worries! "loading" or "Charging" the clicker is basically building an association with the sound executed by the clicker. Before you start a training session, have about 15 to 20 small, pea sized treats. Everytime you click, give the dog a treat. Click. treat. click. treat. Until you've gone through the treats. This is showing that good things happen, or that it's a good, rewarding thing every time I hear this noise. Then when you click for a wanted behavior, it marks that exact moment the dog did something right, and the dog knows it's right. Plus with clicker training, it makes chaining cues easier too. The dog does one cue, then click, then a different cue, then click, then at the end of the sequence the dog gets the food reward. Does that make sense? :)
 

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It absolutely does. Thank you very much :) I cut up a bunch of BB treats before I started and had them in a snack baggy at the ready so I guess I was already doing it :) I had read that after the click you had to reward within a few short seconds so that your pups had no question associating the clicker with positive rewards. My only problem at this point is juggling hand signals, clicker, and treat bag all at once! Haha Frankie is seriously so sharp that as soon as he hears the click, after only one day, he KNOWS the treat is somewhere...where is it Mommy...I heard the click...I smell it's close...oh fiddling, no fiddling! I smell it!!!!!
 

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Little puppies are sponges for learning. As long as you understand the attention span is going to be short, they can learn the basics of a number of behaviors.
 

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Please forgive my ignorance but what does "loading" the clicker mean? I have seen this term used here before but always as an accepted term and I am unfamiliar with it. I don't want to be starting off on the wrong foot!
Great question! Some great info on:


 

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My only problem at this point is juggling hand signals, clicker, and treat bag all at once!
My solution to this is to use a large mixing bowl for our treats. This allows me to grab a handful quickly and efficiently (which you can't easily do from a treat bag, especially if you are using something wet like cut up hotdogs).
 

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Clickers are great! I always start as soon as puppy comes home - why wait, when as Samba said, they're little sponges at that age.

I never bother to load the clicker before using it. Smart dogs seem to make the association really quickly, and with puppies I do a lot of capturing behaviors, where I click/treat anything they do that I like and want to encourage.

It can be a lot of stuff to juggle, but there are ways around that. I do most of my puppy training off leash, so that's one less thing to hold onto. You can attach a leash and leave it as a drag line if you prefer - that way if he tries to wander off you can step on it. A wrist coil for the clicker helps keep it right there and handy, and if you've got a treat bag with a ring on it you can use a little carabiner to attach the clicker to the bag. You can also use a carabiner to attach it to the belt, if you've got the kind of treat bag that goes around your waist. If not, you can attach it to your own belt. Having it right there near the bag means you can click and reach right into the bag for a treat with the same hand.
 

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As far as juggling goes, You can give the hand signal and hold the clicker in the same hand. Just make sure that you give the hand signal and the cue at the same time. Dogs will read your body language and respond moreso than they will listen to a cue (in other words, you can train a dog some cues without even saying a cue, but just using body language). After you've clicked, you have already marked the good behavior, and the dog knows there's something good coming at some point. So it's not too bad if it takes a second or two to get a treat because the dog already knows he has done good (thanks to loading it). :) The reason why clickers are so effective is because a dog's mind goes so fast, and by the time you get the word "good boy!" out, and treat, the dog is most likely thinking about something else, whereas using a click instantly marks what the dog has done right (it doesn't take as long for a click to mark as it does saying a verbal phrase). Praise without the clicker works of course, but clicker just speeds up the learning process...esp with little pups :) We are all here for your questions about your little guy! :D
 

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Aside... where can I find hand signals? I'm not familiar with them.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks for the suggestions Wildo and Debbie. I have just been using a ziploc baggy but a bowl sounds great until I buy a real treat bag. I think the waist ones would be most effective. Haha bringing back the fanny pack :) I am trying to get Franks into the next puppy class so I need to get it pretty soon. If they ever schedule one! I live in a whisper of town so I most likely will be driving an hour and half to Lubbock or Amarillo to do obedience, CGC, agility...not confident enough to do Schutzhund (me not Frankie). Thanks again guys.
 

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Just make sure that you give the hand signal and the cue at the same time.
Actually, it's best NOT to give the hand signal and the verbal cue at the same time. If you do, the dog will pay attention to the hand signal and ignore the word. Unlike humans, their communication is non-verbal, they are astute observers of body language. That's why they tend to pick up hand signals so readily. And since most of the words we utter in their presence have no relevance or consequence to them, they learn to tune out our verbiage. :) A fun way to test this is to use a hand signal that your dog knows and say some other word - I bet no matter what you tell him to do in words, he does what your hand signal tells him to do.

A better way is to use whichever he DOESN'T know first, right before what he DOES know. For example, if he knows the hand signal for sit, but hasn't quite grasped the word yet, say the word, wait a beat or two, and then follow up with the hand signal. The word becomes a predictor for the hand signal, and an association is created between the two. (Dog: She says THIS, and I don't know what that means, but then she she does THAT, which I do understand - they must mean the same thing!) Eventually you would wait longer and longer before using the hand signal, and only as a reminder of what the word means if necessary, and then you can phase it out.

If he knows the word but you haven't taught a hand signal yet, it would be the reverse, you would do the hand signal, wait a moment or two, and then say the word. In Halo's puppy 2 class we did drills of sit/down/sit, stand/down/stand, and on the last day of class we had to demonstrate the series with all verbal commands and then all hand signals, or vice versa.
 

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Aside... where can I find hand signals? I'm not familiar with them.
You can use anything you like, but I like to teach simple behaviors with a food lure. Once the puppy is consistently following the food into position (mark and release treat immediately), you would use the same motion with an empty hand and then mark and treat with the other hand. It's important that if you use a food lure you get the food out of that hand as soon as you can, so the presence of food does not become an additional cue. That lure motion becomes the hand signal.

A lure is usually a fairly large movement at first, but you can gradually fade it to a more subtle motion - for example the "down" lure would be to bring your hand all the way to the floor, and then you mark and treat when the puppy drops into a down. Over time I've faded that cue to where I can simply point to the floor with one finger.

This is the treat bag I have - that little front pocket is great for a couple of poop bags, (there's a velcro closure) and the ring is where I attach my clicker: Gentle Leader Treat Pouch - Dog Supplies

I cut down a quart sized ziplok bag as a liner if I'm using messy treats like hot dogs or cheese.
 

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Actually, it's best NOT to give the hand signal and the verbal cue at the same time. If you do, the dog will pay attention to the hand signal and ignore the word. Unlike humans, their communication is non-verbal, they are astute observers of body language. That's why they tend to pick up hand signals so readily. And since most of the words we utter in their presence have no relevance or consequence to them, they learn to tune out our verbiage. :) A fun way to test this is to use a hand signal that your dog knows and say some other word - I bet no matter what you tell him to do in words, he does what your hand signal tells him to do.

A better way is to use whichever he DOESN'T know first, right before what he DOES know. For example, if he knows the hand signal for sit, but hasn't quite grasped the word yet, say the word, wait a beat or two, and then follow up with the hand signal. The word becomes a predictor for the hand signal, and an association is created between the two. (Dog: She says THIS, and I don't know what that means, but then she she does THAT, which I do understand - they must mean the same thing!) Eventually you would wait longer and longer before using the hand signal, and only as a reminder of what the word means if necessary, and then you can phase it out.

If he knows the word but you haven't taught a hand signal yet, it would be the reverse, you would do the hand signal, wait a moment or two, and then say the word. In Halo's puppy 2 class we did drills of sit/down/sit, stand/down/stand, and on the last day of class we had to demonstrate the series with all verbal commands and then all hand signals, or vice versa.
My apologies, I totally agree lol, I use hand signals when introducing a new cue, then pair it with a verbal cue once the dog understands what the hadn signal means. I use the hand gestures to lure the dog into the position that he doesn't know yet, then once he does know, then pair the two, then take away the hand gestures so he responds to the cue. Sometimes I start babbling on and on and lose track of where my thoughts are. Sorry for the misleading information! :(!!
 
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