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Getting frustrated with his training...

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Mmm. Almost is my 6 month BC pup who, up to this point, has trained fairly well. He knows sit, down, he'f fairly good at stay, and thats pretty much all we've worked on. He doesn't seem to want to learn anything else.


(If you have read my other recent board, Almost isn't very playful anyway. Before I can teach him some nice tricks like turning on lights, I have to get him to sit first!!)


This past month he has been doing very poorly with his training. I try to refrain as much as possible from using treats to reward, but I am switching on and off since I am moving to the Clicker method of training. Almost isn't completely used to the clicker as it being the reward, so about every 3 or 4 "good boys" he gets a treat and clicks.


When we first began to train Almost, at about the age of 3 months, he was readily accepting of sit and down. There were a few rough spots, and he is the toughest pup we've ever trained and/or owned. We'd have to move him down into the positions, which wasn't very fun. He got a lot better, to where we weren't repeatedly having to place him into the positions.


Now, 3 months later, its gotten worse. Almost no longer will listen to any command we give him UNLESS we have a treat handy. Even at those times, its very very hard to get him to sit/down/stay/whatever immediatly. A few "NOs" and dirty looks has to happen first!!


I'm becoming very worried about Almost. The nearest 'obedient' center is about an hour away, and its high dollar. Much too expensive for us. I have tried everything I know how to do... anyone else have any ideas at ALL!?



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Maybe he's trying out to see who's the boss ?

And of course he'd like to be the boss ...

I would say if everything is alright healthwise , he's just trying you out , see if you are in charge or he could have a go ...

this might sound simple , but why not let him understand once and for all where his place is , in the order of your family , and drink it in ????

And if he doesn't like or want to play , well , let him be asocial for a while , he might get over it if nobody cares :-(

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Thanks for the thoughts, Mado. Almost is dominant over Just About (his big brother) though I have seen Just About mount Almost in domination (both are neutered). Almost goes after food, and Just About backs off. Almost isn't aggressive, but I think because JA is submissive in some areas to him, that Almost thinks he can rule me, too.


Other than not letting Almost get away with anything, whats my best bet in proving my dominance and Alpha role?

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Hi, Lindzey,


Are you using the sound of the clicker + treats as a reward? If so, you've got it a little cattywampus. The sound of the clicker is used to tell the dog (or cat or ferret or bunny) that the behavior it was doing right at that split second is what you want from it. You'd want to be very consistent in the use of the clicker and following it up with a reward of some kind, food, activity, petting, etc., it doesn't have to be food. Many folks start with food because most dogs see food as a wonderful thing.


So, Almost sits, you click, he gets a reward of some kind that is meaningful to him. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Gradually add criteria - he sits immediately, or he sits in the face of greater distraction, or he stops doing something fun for him and sits - every time he sits, click + reward.


If you're only Click + Reward every so often, he's probably very confused, as his actions are getting him a very inconsistent and unpredictable respoonse from you. At this point, he needs consistency, so he feels that he's reliably understanding what you want and that he's reliably communicating back to you.


And, you might try keeping your clicker on you, putting out some little cups of food around the house where you hang out with the dogs. Every time he sits on his own, click + reward. He'll soon be looking at you and sitting on his own and expecting that click! Then you can put it on cue. Also, try using another word for sit, or working on a different action altogether, starting with a clean slate so to speak. When we first got Shoshone, if I said "Sit" to her, she backed away and froze. Obviously she had very unpleasant associations with that word. I started to use 'Plotz' (German for something like sit) whenever she sat down, and no problems at all. We switched back to 'Sit' in a month or so.


You can fade out the food rewards once he's reliably responding to you. Right now, it sounds like you're mixing things up in the way you're training him, and he's getting confused.


If you go to the ClickerSolutions website, you can join the email list. Tons of information, lots of good folks willing to help you and Almost. There's also a lot of archived articles that I think you can read without joining.


Give it a try, read the archived articles. I've found them to be very helpful.


Ruth n the BC3

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Do you have previous experience clicker training?

The click is not the reward... the click marks a desired behaviour and indicates that a reward will be coming.

This reward can be food, play, ect..

Initially I will condition my clicker with the dogs meals.. this way they are just working for and I am building value to normal kibble.

You want to spend a few days just click and treating... click 1-2 secs. feed. repeat.

Make sure the click comes before the kibble.

When you start to reinforce behaviours you want to be sure that you do not use the kibble to lure a behaviour and then feed it, the behaviour results in the click which then results in the reward. If you are consistent and clear your dog should be offering to repeat these behaviours. Also the placement of your reward is also important. If you mark the sit... make sure you feed in the sit position not once the dog has gotten up or layed down.

It is important that if you click you do FEED!!!

If the behaviour is not quite what you were looking for.. ie. have been working on sits and dog is slow to sit when asked. dont click or you will have to feed it. You can just say good try ect.. Initially when you are teaching behaviours you want a high rate of reinforcement. Once the behaviour is on verbal cue and proofed then you dont need to reward it any more and you can put your clicker away till the next behaviour you wish to teach!

Check out www.clickertraining.com for more helpful clicker and training tips.

I think that is sounds like there is just some inconsistency in your training... while you may THINK the dog knows what you want it may be that because it is not consistent he is confused.

Always helpful to have a trainer exerienced with this type of training watch every once and awhile as it can just be a timing thing!!

Happy training!!!




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Great ideas Ruth and Cindy -

Lindzey, since you can't get to a class, here's a handout that we give our beginner clicker trainers where I teach...feel free to ask more questions - this board is a a wealth of information.


Introduction to Clicker Training


- A Clicker is a tool used for communication with another species (in our classes, a dog). It emits a unique sound at a faster rate than the spoken word.


- When your dog is conditioned to the clicker, he/she will understand that it means two things (1) whatever he/she is doing at the time the click is heard is a desirable (and therefore rewardable) behavior, and (2) a reward is coming.


- The reward is the primary reinforcer. The reward can be anything the dog finds desirable. We use a combination of food and toys in agility training--food for stationary exercises and toys for moving exercises. The clicker is the secondary (or conditioned) reinforcer.


- Until your dog becomes ?clicker-wise?, begin each training session by ?loading? the clicker. Click 5-10 times and follow each click with a desirable treat. The food should never be in sight or in the handler?s hand since we do not want the dog to be focused on the food. This applies to toys as well.


- Click only once. If your dog does something exceptionally well, or has a significant breakthrough during in a training session, use multiple rewards (called a ?jackpot?), not multiple clicks.


- If you click, then you must reward the dog. If you do not reward after each click, then the power of the clicker is diluted. Remember to click first and reward after. Make sure you are not "tipping your hand" by putting your hand in your pocket, treat pouch, etc. as you are clicking. This could significantly muddy the waters for the dog!


- The ?click? ends the behavior. What your dog does after the click and while waiting for the reward does not matter.


- Do not add extra body language before or as you click. Your dog should be listening for the click, not watching for a signal from you. This is especially important in agility where the dog needs to focus ahead on the obstacles.


Shaping Behaviors


- The process used to teach an animal new behaviors using a clicker is called ?shaping?.


- In clicker training, the dog must take responsibility for learning. We do not physically manipulate the dog to teach the desired behaviors. Instead, we wait for the dog to offer increments of the behavior, and use the clicker to communicate to the dog that such behavior is the desired response.


- If the dog is not offering the behavior, or is confused, we may help them out in the beginning by ?luring? using a piece of food. This assistance, however, is used typically no more than three times, since we do not want the dog to become dependent on the food lure.


- As the dog progresses, we raise our standards so more is expected from the dog in order for him/her to get a ?click?. As further progress is seen, we switch from a schedule of continuous reinforcement (clicking every time the correct behavior is offered) to a schedule of variable reinforcement (clicking randomly, after 1, 2, 3, or more offerings of the correct behavior).


- A schedule of variable reinforcement actually strengthens a behavior. When an animal does not know when he/she is going to earn the ?click?, he/she will actually put forth more effort. The ultimate schedule of variable reinforcement in agility is the dog?s ability to complete a 20 (or more) obstacle course at a constant speed and level of enthusiasm?they know they will be reinforced, but they don?t know when so they continue to work for it. This is something that is built up over time from single obstacle work to sequence work to full course run-throughs.

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I might have made this sound a bit like a power game , which I don't think animals do (well not like people) ,what I mean is they also have their own moods and characters and ways , why not take them as they come ?

I've had a really not funny dog at all , from the beginning and that was a long time ago , he was just a dull dog but lovable ...

Now Tamyr has this thing about crawling to people like everybody beats her , with an ingratiating snigger that really makes people wonder , but I know with me she is one mischievous little pup ; all dogs are different , and the more I read this board the more I'm convinced that bc's come in even more shapes and colours than any other breed ;

so what I mean is why not take the dog as it comes ?? Some are gloomy , some are playful , some are naughty , some do their best , they are not just one breed meant to be all the same , they are different and have personalities ...

Which is why I would not want anything different with my dog , as in the question posed by Meg's mum , I'm happy with how I deal with the dog I got , let's not be sorry and regret , they are so nonjudgemental , let's be the same .

Ok I hadn't read the last posts (it takes me so much time to marshall my thoughts) , but I still think go with the flow , I mean be the boss in your home and let the chips fall ... dogs get it faster than kids I can vouch for that :rolleyes:

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I'm terribly sorry for any confusion. What I meant about the click and treat is that I only give a TREAT every good 3-4 times Almost does what I want him to do. I am very consistant with the clicks. As soon as he sits or whatever, I click, and give a treat if it is the appropriate time.


And thank you ALL for the tips. It has helped 100%!! My mom clicker trained my first BC (whom was put down last summer, RIP-Not Yet) and she knows the most as she went through training and was a vet tech for some time.


I obviously still have a lot more to learn. I'll call around to some training centers in my area and ask them some questions, see if they can send me some flyers. Laurie etc., that helped tremendously! Kinda puts the whole point in persepective of what I should be doing and should NOT be doing.


I'll keep everyone up to date on our situation. I gotta go train a bit more before dinner, as I was out for our afternoon Saturday training. More help is appreciated, as always, and I look forward to learning a LOT more!





{PS-Does anyone have any suggestions on how to start with agility? Simple things like jumping and weaving that I could slowly begin to incorporate in our routine as Almost gets a lot better with his commands. Thanks!}

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Thanks for the clarification. Still, at this point, I think need to reward every time you click. Read thru Laurie's post - every click means Almost has earned a reward. It doesn't have to be food, but it does have to be something that HE thinks is a reward. If right now food is the only thing he works for, then that's fine. Getting his consistency and fluency very reliable come first, then you start to give other rewards intermittently, like this.


First Cue - Click/Food Treat

2nd Cue - Click/Food Treat

3rd Cue - Click/Butt Scratch (which Samantha would walk across hot coals for, you'll have to discover something that motivates Almost)

4th Cue - C/Food

5th Cue - C/Other reward


It helps when you do this if you move really quickly, so that he doesn't stop and think 'Hey, that wasn't food!' You Cue, he Responds/you C/Reward rapidly and keep going to the next sequence.


You vary the food and other rewards randomly, gradually incorporating more non food rewards.


You can also teach him that you getting some treats out does NOT mean he gets them. And, you can teach him the you have magic powers - you make treats appear out of thing air!


I remember that you mentioned that you tell him Good Boy. I actually had to stop talking, except for cueing, during Clicker Training sessions. I was being way too chatty and confusing the heck out of my poor beasts, and slowing my own reaction time. Time to learn a lesson for myself . . .


Good luck!


Ruth n the BC3

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I think you got some great advise but, I wanted to add that some dogs can be stubborn.


Pam Dennison wanted to show me how easy it would be to get Dally to sit and even she couldn't make him.lol


Today we went to a pet expo and he behaved well but, he pulled my arm off. not typical of him. I dont think you can compare them to other dogs or even expect them to remember their training. I think Dal thought everyone was there to see him.lol

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Thanks for the tips again, Urge To Herd.


Just got back from our training session, and I used every trick that I have read so far on this board. And ya know what?! IT WORKED!!


I think what was making Almost confused in the past was that I wasn't clicking exactly on time. I delayed and clicked/rewarded at the same time, instead of showing that the click meant he got a reward. What I was trying to do is convert treats (which was what Almost got before clicking) into a friendly clicker manner... it made sense, but obviously it hadn't worked. I'm so happy now!


Almost was also a LOT happier. He was actually wagging his tail during this training session, which is actually something I rarely see him do, even when he is romping with Just About. It made me feel SO wonderful! Almost got into a really nice sit, and stayed there for a little while we would walk around, then just randomly ask him to sit. *click/reward*! He hesitated at some points, and I've learned that a very quiet and almost fake happy tone is what gets him to follow directions. Its almost as if he is deaf to the bold voice I use with my older BC.


After the sits, we worked on down. That was B-E-A-UTIFUL! And, quite amazingly, he incorperated a stay with the down! I went nuts (of course, only click/reward once) but just romped and ruffled his fur. He was mucho happy-o! :rolleyes:


I shouldn't have gone any further, since we were on SUCH a happy note, but I thought what the heck? I put Almost in a down, click/reward, and rolled him over "Roll over! Good boy! Roll over!" Click/treat! He didn't do it on his own, but Almost definatly enjoyed that!


I owe everything to everyone here, especially Urge to Herd and Laurie etc.! -lovelovelovelovelove-


I'd absolutely love to write more, but not sure if I can hold in all the excitement. I'm afraid this entire post will be giant!


Thank you, 100%!! <3 Almost definatly appreciates it!



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I'm so excited for you and Almost! It's a total turn on for me to really communicate with a dog in such a clear way. I first started clicking when I only had 1 BC, Samantha. She'd worn a bark collar before I got her, and I wanted to teach her to speak on command. She's a pretty soft girl, but when I started c/t when she would 'Speak' on cue, she got it and loved it too! I was hooked.


Way to Go, Lindzey and Almost! And, yep, every dog is different. That's been the beauty of 3 dogs for me at the same time, they all need slightly different, (in Buzz's case - very different) training approaches.


Keep us updated - can't wait for the next installment.


Ruth n the BC3

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Lindzey you can Jackpot the REALLY good behaviours or tries ...

Still just one click but feeding multiple kibbles for the one click. If I was shaping a behaviour. ie. dog getting on a target board I would JACKPOT the desired end behaviour. ie. 4 feet on the box. OR ie. if your dog is offering sits but slow and suddenly offers a very fast one Click and JACKPOT!!!!!

Sounds like you are back on the right track!

Happy training.



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