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Tried clicker training & treats - total failure!!

1591 Views 12 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  Leika 11

Just yesterday, I tried for the first time clicker training as well as
treats with our 8-w-o GSD puppy Gina.

Not only did the puppy NOT react to the clicker but TO MY SURPRISE ALSO TOTALLY IGNORED the treats.

Can you give me some advice, please?
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Re: Tried clicker training & treats - total failur

I have never had that problem. My biggest problem with treat training was my lab was too obsessed with the treats. He constantly watched you hands to see if he was going to get one even when not training.

I am sure others will have good suggestions but was just thinking of what you are using for treats. Maybe try some different things to find out what he really wants and use that.
I have also seen people use a toy the dog really likes. I can get Chatham to focus on his frisbee and give it as a reward and a little play.
Re: Tried clicker training & treats - total failur

What are you using for treats? Did you do this before feeding time when your pup is likely very hungry or after feeding time? Use high-value treats like hot dogs, cheese, sausage, etc. Associate food with the sound of the clicker when your dog is hungry, not tired, and basically looking to get into trouble.
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Re: Tried clicker training & treats - total failur

I would make sure to start with a "wet" sort of treat - like Diana said, piece of cheese, hot dog, sausage, bits of cooked meat. "Dry" treats like dog kibble or pieces of milk bone often won't work, plus they are not as healthy and are generally too large. One thing my dogs can't resist is a cooked chicken breast or thigh cut into tiny pieces with a TINY bit of garlic powder mixed in.

Also, make sure you are sufficiently "charging" the clicker before you try any real training. The dog needs to understand that the click is an affirmative and means a treat is coming before clicker training will be of any use.
Re: Tried clicker training & treats - total failur

Try starting with a very hungry pup, do your training before he has fed and then use something amazingly tasty....cheese, chicken, leftover steak.....etc...Ava loves liverworst and hotdogs too. Make the pieces very very small since you will be needing so many of them.

start by

click then treat about 20 times...this needs to be very quick, give the treat as soon as you click. After about 20 times your pup should turn to look at you when he hears the click sound expecting a treat.....that is when he is properly conditioned. Do not move onto shaping other behavior until the conditioning is down. Get a good clicker book or even some videos so you can see the timing which is very important.
Re: Tried clicker training & treats - total failur

Also, the dog may not visibly react to the clicker. The clicker isn't a command, it's a marker. I see a lot of people mix this up - they click to get the dog to come or sit or whatever, which is the opposite of what should be happening.

As Liesje says, at this point you just need to worry about "charging" the clicker which doesn't work unless you're using treats she wants. You can use teeny tiny pieces, it just needs to be something good - cheese, meat, etc.
Re: Tried clicker training & treats - total failur

Once the pup looks for the treat after a click, you can move on....lure the dog into a sit, then click when the dogs but hits the ground.... the behavior you want is what earns the click and the treat.

repition is the key.....pretty soon your pup will be offering behavior to get a treat.
Re: Tried clicker training & treats - total failur

Gosh, for a long time I would have sworn my eldest wasn't food motivated. Then my trainer gave me the assignment of finding what motivated my dog before our next session. I knew I couldn't bring a horse, cow or sheep to training so I had some work to do.

So here are my clues:
1. it helps if there is competition. (my other dog is a chow hound)
2. it helps if the treat is very very small and very very tasty (small bits of steak (1/4 inch square or less!) either raw or cooked - or chicken of the same size.) something stinky and soft and tiny.
3. it is very important that the dog "ask" for the prize. Eye contact = reward. If nothing else, eat it yourself with much fan fare!

And build on this. No treats ever without either compliance with a command or eye contact. Know what you are rewarding when you do offer the reward.

A variation of clicker training is to wait until the behavior is offered, name the behavior, praise and reward.

Another hint - make yourself scarce so that you and what you have to offer are a big deal. (The principle behind NILIF) You may just be a little too much in the pup's life right now for him to value you.
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Re: Tried clicker training & treats - total failur

Not all dogs are food motivated. My own dog, Abby, could care less about me holding a hand full of treats. She's only interested in treats if she is hungry and if the treats are something really special - like string cheese pieces or bits of DH's lunch meat (particularly, black forest ham).

So there are two directions you can go into: find something other than food that motivates your puppy, or find a food that is very interesting for her and train on an empty stomach (hers, not yours).

When you do use food, it needs to be teeny, tiny little pieces. It should just be big enough for her to grab and swallow, just enough to get a little bit of a taste and keep wanting more. If she has to chew it, it's too big.

If you want to try something other than food, you have to find out what motivates your puppy. Is it praise? Petting? How about a favorite toy? Tug ropes or a ball on a rope make a great reward when you're training if that is what your dog has an interest in. You can also use "life" rewards in certain situations - for example, when you make a dog sit before letting them out the door to play in the yard, opening the door *is* the reward for the behavior.

I'm not really surprised that your puppy did not respond to the clicker if this was the first time you've used it. In order for the clicker to work, it has to be "charged" first. This is done by getting a handful of really good reward treats and a hungry puppy together in one place. Get her attention, click, give her a treat. Click, give her a treat. Click, give her a treat. She needs to learn that click means there's a treat to follow.
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Re: Tried clicker training & treats - total failur

I have to add it is a bit premature to expect an 8 week old puppy given one days exposure to respond perfectly to clicker, or any, training.

This is a time to form a bond with your baby pup ... not to be withholding food to make the pup hungry for training. There is no need to train, train, train a pup of this age - this time goes so fast so enjoy. I'd rather encourage socialisation and bonding and letting your pup see you as fair and fun.

All the best.
Most training with an 8 week old is a bit of a hit miss. And all you want to do with any age dog and initial clicker training is to get them to correlate the sound of the clicker to the fact they will then get a treat. It's called 'loading or charging' the clicker and you must do that initial step before even thinking about any 'training'. this may look more familiar with the puppy just getting a clicker

There are big problems we humans have with clicker training
Patience is a key thing. We need to give the pups time to learn and figure it out. Environment is key when we start. Has to be quiet and away from the loudness of the other parts of the house. HUNGRY puppy and REAL treats.

So I'm talking treats the size of a pea. Soft (no hard treats that need to be chewed, you want them yummy and swallowed so you can be quick). Cheese, meats, liver, chicken, leftovers (tortellini's, pizza?) if it's in my fridge and cant be cut up, it's working for me. You can even make homemade treats.

And sessions for a puppy need to be SHORT. So 5 one-minute sessions in a day are better than 1 five-minute session (though as your pup ages you can extend). If your pup loses interest you trained for too long.
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Hi to you all,

Thanks for your replies to my post.

It's very interesting what you wrote me and as a newbie to this kind of hobby I can learn a lot from your remarks.

As Qyn from Australia already suggested, at this young age I should concentrate on forming a bond with my puppy and not always think
about training, training and training.

Once again, thank you so much for your advice!!

Good luck to you and take care of your four-legged friends.

By the way, I'm very sorry for not answering you earlier.
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