In the last few weeks I have been testing Bolt for Search and Rescue work. A big part of the testing is playing the "Hide and Seek" game. This reminded how important this game is to building a strong recall. For beginners you will need someone to help you. Have the other person hold your dog get very excited and let the dog watch you go hide. Once in hiding call the dog. As soon as the dog finds you give it a big reward. If the dog can't find you, call its name every now and then. The goal is to make the game as fun as possible. Once the dog is able to find you while watching have the other person cover the dog's eyes. Run and hide and call the dog. Big reward once the dog finds you. Eventually you can make the searches tougher and tougher. Make sure it's always fun for the dog, and don't over do it. Doing these searches will increase the dog's drive to come to you. To wrap this blog up remember to make the first searches simple, then begin make the searches more difficult.
Last weeks post went over charging the clicker. Now that the clicker is charged, we can begin using it in our training sessions. The first thing I teach with the clicker when I get a new dog in, is teaching an applied leave it. A lot of the time the dogs I work with our strays that had to scavenge for food. So it is necessary to teach the applied leave it, so they can begin living in a house environment. The things you need for the applied leave it is a clicker, kibble, and high value treats. Begin by clicking when ever the dog gives you eye contact and rewarding with the high value treat. Then throw a piece of kibble on the floor, make sure the leash is tight so the dog can't get to it. As soon as the dog looks at you click and reward. Keep throwing one piece of kibble on the floor until the dog stops lunging at the food and remains focused on you. Once this happens throw a handful of food on the floor. If the dog remains focused slowly walk towards the food. The next goal is to have the dog walk over the food with out eating it. So if the dog goes after the food as you begin walking towards the food make a loud sound to distract the dog. As soon as the dog gives you eye contact click and reward. As soon as you can walk over the food pile with out the dog lunging at the food you can begin slowly work on basic commands while near the food pile. The hardest command is down so you may want to do this command with only one kibble on the floor or do it farther away from the food. In summary when you teaching the leave it, do not use any words you want an implied leave it. Work slowly from one kibble to an entire pile of food. The below video shows how to introduce leave it. The dog in the video is Gandolph he was rescued from a high kill shelter and now in training to be a service dog.
Happy New Years! This week's blog post will be on how to "charge" the clicker. You may be asking what is a clicker. A clicker is a dog training tool that lets out a clicking sound when you push it. Why would you want to use a clicker? Clicker's are consistent they always let out the same sound and they are fast to use, which are two very important parts of dog training timing and consistency. The clicker is used to mark positive behaviors, or behaviors that you want to train. The first step to properly use the clicker is to "charge" it. What is "charging." This is what you do to make the clicker an effective tool for training. The first step in "charging" the clicker is to click and follow it with a treat. You are going to do the entire first session of this. The first half of the second session you want to continue with the click and treat. Half way through the session begin to ask the dog a basic command that the dog knows well. As soon as the dog does the command click and treat. Do this for the rest of the session. The third session go ahead and start with click and treat, then add in the basic command click and treat. Half way through the session add in the final step of "charging" the clicker, which is teaching the dog a simple new behavior. For this stage I like to teach the dog to back off a treat that is in your hand. To teach this you hold a treat tightly in your hand, the dog will probably go after, do not allow the dog to get the treat. As soon as the dog backs away from the treat click and treat the dog. Now the clicker is "charged." To recap this weeks blog a clicker is a training tool that is used to enhance timing and consistency. The clicker must be "charged" properly in three sessions to be used effectively.