Tuesday, July 12, 2011

How should you set realistic goals while clicker training your dog?

In the earlier post we saw the importance of timing in clicker training dogs. Along with the timing parameter, a good clicker trainer will always ensure that the goals that he set are realistic for the dog to achieve. A well experienced Clicker trainer would always carry out the training in different steps or difficulty levels. He would first start off with an easy goal for the dog and gradually steps up the difficulty levels when the training progresses.

This is a relevant video on Loose Leash Training

Correcting the Leash Pulling Behavior
Let’s assume that your dog has the annoying habit of leash pulling while walking and you want to correct this behavior and train your dog to walk on a loose leash. Now, an experienced clicker trainer wouldn’t start the training straight away on a busy street – amidst all the distractions and expect him to walk stop pulling the leash in a day or two. Instead he will set his goals realistic and achievable and start training where there is minimum distraction – say, in a bathroom or a closed room.

Step 1
The dog is initially clicked and treated several times for releasing the tension on the leash. 4 or 5 sessions with 10 or 12 repetitions are done in the room and the trainer expects the dog to get at least 11 or 10 repetitions correct in each session. Once that goal is achieved the trainer moves on to the next step.

Step 2
In the next step the trainer sets a new goal and expects the dog to walk on a loose leash with more distractions – both visual and sound – but this time inside the house, and not in the bathroom. The dog is then clicked and treated for not getting distracted and staying on a loose leash amidst all the temptations while walking. Again, 4 or 5 sessions are done here and the dog is expected to get 80% of the repetitions right in each session. Once this goal is achieved, the trainer introduces the dog to more distractions in the next step.

Step 3

In this step, the trainer sets an even difficult goal and expects the dog to walk on a loose leash in the backyard, with even more distractions. The number of sessions and repetitions remain the same in this step to as in step 1 and 2.

Final Steps

Once this goal is successfully accomplished the trainer trains the dog to walk on a street with fewer distractions - where there is lesser traffic and people and repeats the training sessions and ensures that he is not distracted. In the next step he tries to perfect this behavior on a street with more distractions. And finally he tops off his train on a bustling street or a dog park and fully ensures that the dog is consistent with the behavior.

Clicker training sessions must be carried out in different environments to ensure that the dog behaves consistently in different environments and distraction levels. Refresher training sessions might be required even after the dog is fully trained.

A good clicker trainer will always break the task down into easier steps or goals for the dog - while shaping a behavior or correcting a behavioral problem. This makes the training more efficient and the goals easily achievable – both for the trainer as well as for the dog.

No comments:

Post a Comment