Use the Clicker to Gain Enthusiasm
If you are not familiar with Clickers or Operant Conditioning please check out my article under Featured Content re: Operant Conditioning
In addition to formal conditioning, another positive of clicker training is being able to juice up those training sessions.
Please let me explain.
Let’s say you keep your doggie treats in one specific kitchen cabinet. Now doggie has watched you get those treats from that cabinet, so he knows there’s gold, sitting right behind that door. Well you certainly know how his excitement level jumps off the charts when you reach for that cabinet knob.
He has made that association on his own; whenever she starts toward that cabinet door, I am in for something good. At that moment, you have puppy’s undivided attention.
Dogs who have been exposed to positive motivation training when put in this position, will often offer behaviors on their own, sometimes offering up there whole routine. Just hoping, that something rings a bell, or makes a click, to get that treat (to coin a phrase). Hey…you want me to do something? Just name it. How about this? No? Okay…then, how about this…? Not that either. If you don’t like any of these, I can make stuff up. Whatever you want, sir.
Puppy is chomping at the bit to give you anything you want because you are the keeper of the gold and he knows it.
Knowing that doggie does make associations based on your actions, that same logic applies to the clicker. When you show doggie the clicker it should trigger those same emotions, something good is about to happen. I am so excited, I just can’t wait.
Now puppy is coming into his training activity with a whole new attitude, and has now engaged himself in the whole session. Puppy is ready to be trained, giving you his complete attention just because you have the gold.
Keeping the principal of “you have something I want, what I will have to do to get it,” is not just limited to giving treats. Anything doggie wants will work.
If you say, “doggie sit,” and doggie sits while you clip the leash, and then go for a walk, that walk is the gold. Or saying “doggie down” and doggie drops like a rock, and then you throw the ball, that ball could be the gold. In short, anything doggie really, really wants is the gold.
So use whatever you can to get doggie enthused. Make it so he is coming out of every training session a winner. This way, you will have a willing pupil for the next training session.
P.S. – I am assuming that you have read some of my other articles on “operant conditioning,” and that you are aware that the gold I kept referring to is actually called the “reinforcement.”