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Saturday, August 7, 2010

"Stubborn" Dogs?

I get many calls from people telling me their dog is "stubborn" and won't do what he is told or "stupid" and can't learn anything.  Nothing could be further from the truth!!!  This is a relatively simple issue -- the lines of communication are crossed, disconnected or otherwise compromised and the dog has no idea what you are asking him to do!

So how to "fix" this?  Find a positive reinforcement clicker trainer or a good clicker training book, dvd, or video online.  Introduce your dog to the wonderful world of "you do something, I click, you get a yummy treat."  To get you started today, get your clicker, get some fabulous, I-will-do-anything-for-you treats, and your dog (if your dog is confused or has never experienced this, he might try to walk away from you; put a collar/leash on him so he can stay with you and see how wonderful training is!!).  Click, give your dog a treat.  That's all.  Nothing else.  Don't ask him to do anything except eat the treat you are giving him.  Click, treat. Click, treat.  Do this about 10-12 times.  Send your dog off to be a dog!  Do this several times throughout the day.  Click, treat.  Click, treat.  This is "warming up" or "charging" the clicker.  This exercise first teaches our dogs about the clicker and as we continue to do it, reminds our dogs about the clicker.  (I still "warm up" the clicker pretty regularly with my dogs -- they love it!  It's easy, it's fun, and they love the treats.  It's a good reminder to both of you of the power of the clicker.)  

Wow!  You have just become really clear and concise to your dog.  Is he starting to sit, to down, to give you lots of eye contact?  Now you can use this little noisemaker and some treats to communicate with your dog!

The next thing I would click and treat is eye attention or focus.  When your dog looks you in the eye (or for some dogs at/near your face -- some dogs do not like to make direct eye contact, but they are still focused on you -- click and treat that), click and treat.  No words are needed -- the clicker and the treats communicate for you.  If your dog is fixated on the hand with the treats, bring that hand up to your nose, when your dog looks at you, click and treat.  Do this a few times and then wait for your dog to look at you -- be patient, it will happen!  Ta-da!  Your dog has just learned that the treat comes from the hand, but looking at your face causes that hand to open and share the treat!

Happy clicking!!!

In this first video clip, Husker, a clicker-savvy dog, is enjoying a routine clicker charging session.

In this second video clip, Izzy, a dog new to clickers is responding well to the clicker.  Even when she gets stressed and stops to scratch, she returns to giving eye contact for the click and treat.

It's the Saturday Pet Blogger Hop -- enjoy these great pet blogs!


road-dog-tales said...

Hmmmmm, wonder if that clicker thing would work for our Mom & Dad. Sometimes they don't respond to our commands! :)
The Road Dogs

Erin said...

Hi' We found your blog while visiting some of the blogs on the Saturday Pet Blogger Blog Hop. We have a lot of friends that used the Clicker Method & they have a lot of praise for it. We used the "Nothing in life is Free" Method. There is a website that explains how it works and we had a lot of good results with it. But like any training method everybody at home has to be on board so I felt like I was training my kids along with Erin. Great blog, we enjoyed visiting!
Erin & Mom

Pup Fan said...

Really enjoy your blog... gave you an award on my site. I hope you'll check it out:

Puppies in District of Columbia said...

Great video and also the great post. I have used the Clicker Method & have a lot of praise for it. Thaks for providing a great stuff.