Teach your dog a Christmas party trick
Its sometimes nice to show off your dog’s little extras to the family… Here Angela at Fun4Fido tells us how. Clicker training is something you should use as part of your dog’s training because it really teaches YOU most of all.
Ever wondered how dogs do all those clever tricks in movies like crossing their paws, bowing down, or turning in a circle… clicker training that’s how. Clicker training is fun, it’s easy for humans to learn – even kids, and best of all it’s fun for your dog too.
So what is clicker training? Well simply put, you use the sound of the clicker to mark the precise moment your dog does something you want, with the “click” you’re letting your dog know “yes” that’s right, you did good, your reward is coming. For example if you were teaching your dog to sit, then as soon as your dog’s bottom touches the floor, you “click” and then deliver a treat, your dog’s pay cheque for a job well done!
What do you need to learn for clicker training? Well you need to train yourself to have good observation and timing skills because you need to “click” as the behaviour occurs, not before and not after, then you need to quickly deliver a treat as a reward. So you need to be carefully watching your dog so that you can “click” on time and then reward the behaviour with a treat.
Charging the clicker. Before you start clicker training you must first create a positive association with the sound of the clicker for your dog by pairing the sound with food. To do this “click” and then deliver a treat and repeat 10 times. Do this several times over the course of a couple of hours. Make sure your dog is not misbehaving as you do this, but otherwise it doesn’t matter what your dog is doing, most likely your dog will be paying close attention! You’ll know when your dog has made the association between the “click“ and delivery of a treat, because on hearing the “click” your dog will look in anticipation for a treat.
Okay, so now you’ve charged the clicker let’s teach your dog a simple trick. Christmas is a very busy time of year with guests coming and going, so bring a smile to your visitors faces… have your dog politely sit and give his/her paw to say “hello”.
You will need
- 1 dog
- 1 human
- 1 clicker
- a quiet room
- some yummy treats (soft treats are best)
- Ask your dog to sit. Hold a treat in the palm of your hand with your thumb covering the treat, and offer your palm to your dog. Now, your dog will likely try many things, he/she might try to eat the treat, mouth your hand, lick your hand etc. Ignore any of these behaviours and simply remove your hand and put it behind your back. Keep offering your palm with treat, at some point your dog will paw your palm, as soon as his/her paw touches your palm “click” and then reward with a treat.
- Repeat step 1 and only “click” and treat when your dog touches your palm with his/her paw. When you have been able to consecutively “click” and treat 5 times for the desired behaviour (paw touching your palm), progress to the next step.
- With your dog sitting, offer your palm to your dog, but this time with no treat in your palm, but make sure your hand makes the same gesture as before and is held in a similar way/position. When you have been able to successfully “click” and treat 8 times out of 10 (80% reliability), for the desired behaviour (your dog’s paw in your palm), progress to the next step.
- Now you’re ready to add the verbal cue. With your dog sitting offer your palm, and as your dog begins to offer the desired behaviour but a second before he/she actually touches your palm, say the cue “give paw”, then as your dog’s paw rests in your palm “click” and treat. Pay attention here, make sure you give the verbal cue before you click. When you have been able to consecutively “click” and treat 5 times for the desired behaviour, progress to the final step.
- With your dog sitting give the verbal cue “give paw”, then after you have given the cue offer your palm, as your dog’s paw rests in your palm, “click” and treat. Repeat until you are able to successfully “click” and treat for the desired behaviour 8 times out of 10. To generalise this behaviour (trick), repeat steps 1 to 5 in many different locations and with many different people, while gradually adding distractions.
Of course it goes without saying that you should give your dog additional feedback with verbal praise when he/she gets it right. Have fun!
Yesterday’s winner of the Lincolnshire Greyhound Trust mug and coaster set picked at random from yesterday’s comments was Julia Livesey, Congratulations!
Today Angela has donated a fantastic pair of goodies to get you clicker training – a lovely pot of Fish4Dogs treats and an i-clicker to get you started! What would be your perfect party trick to teach your dog? Just leave your comment here to be in with a chance of winning. Good luck!
P.S. if you are a dog leaving the message, let us know why you would want to learn that particular party trick!
Don’t forget our hamper prize!