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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Clicker Maggie

A couple of years ago, I dropped my clicker. Not literally, but figuratively. I absolutely love the click/treat method of training, but I hate dealing with the clicker itself. I'm not skilled in the multi-tasking department anyways, and trying to click on time, dealing with my bait bag and treats, keeping the leash under control, etc got to be a little much.  So I took the theory and I replaced my clicker with the word 'YES'.

The marker word works well in most situations for us. It keeps confusion to a minimum and the dogs know it. All of them have been introduced to a clicker and all of them except for Maggie have a good foundation in it's meaning.

Maggie has always been noise reactive. If you set your coffee mug down on the table too hard, she runs for cover. She doesn't appreciate cans opening or people suddenly farting near her. I've made attempts with Maggie on the clicker before, but quickly stopped after seeing the world of terror it sent her in to.

My recently renewed interest in trick training had me trying again. I didn't think to get the first couple-minute session recorded and I should have. It would have shown you what I meant. I first tried clicking and then tossing a very high value treat out for her. But she didn't see the treat because she was already hightailing it in another direction. I called her back and gave her a few treats to show her what I had, then began clicking as she was just taking the treat. She spooked a couple of times, but her Corgi stomach won out over the fear and she stayed with me. We called it quits on a good note and Red and I took her for a walk.

After the walk, we came back to it. I did record this one! You can see in the beginning she's kind of hiding behind the chair. She knows I have food and she wants it.
After I watched the playback, I can see I'm not clicking nearly as fast as I should be. About halfway through when I feel good about her association of clicker and food, I start waiting for her to offer something. On one hand it's a little heartbreaking to see her become stressed enough that she thinks about simply running away. But on the other hand, she's so cute and so determined to stay!  I'm incredibly proud of her for being so brave for me. You can see her actively making decisions throughout the process.

I wait for a couple of sits, then I begin waiting for the down. Check it out and critique what you think I should change or tell me what I'm doing right. Cuz I'm not always certain!


  1. Have you tried using the quieter i-clicker? or put a sock over the clicker?

    Also, you're almost pairing the food with the click instead of click with the food :) Click THEN hand goes out (or opens) so it predicts the good stuff. Half the time you're clicking her swallowing the treat. But you're fine when you actually start working on a behavior so it's all good :)

    You know, you could easily work on backing up right now!

  2. ooh, ooh, or drumming!!! I love the corgi stomps!

  3. I'll have to look up i-clicker!

    That's why I wish I would have recorded the first session. She RAN. So in the beginning of the second, I was intentionally clicking at the same time she took the treat. If I clicked first, she would pivot and bolt before she had a chance to grab the treat!
    Once I felt like she was comfortable and ready to work, that's when we moved onto behavior, click THEN treat!

    Okay, so I have a question! I'm not totally sure when I'm supposed to begin putting a command to the behavior? At what point do you do so?

    The stomps sound fun! And CUTE! Oh my gosh this is so much freaking fun! Lol!

  4. I don't add a cue until I pretty much got the final picture. So you can pretty early on with luring tricks, but I wait until later in the game for most other tricks until the dog is offering it.