Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 47

Getting Loaded: How to Power Up the Clicker By Jane Killion We are going to “load” the clicker so that the dog knows what the click means. Do this exercise at first in a relatively boring environment, like your kitchen, so that the exercise is very interesting by comparison. Start with about 100 soft and small treats. The dog must be able to eat the treats quickly so we can do rapid repetitions of this exercise and not have to wait for the dog to chew up a hard treat between each rep. Hot dogs, cheese, ham, baked liver, and cut up chicken or steak are all popular training treats. Dried salmon is great for finicky dogs. Use something your dog goes crazy for—no dry kibble or other boring dog food. If you have a dog that does not relish food treats, he is probably overfed. Try fasting him for a day (check with your veterinarian first) and see if he is more interested in the treats after that. If your dog still does not care about treats, you can use a toy or anything else he goes crazy for. Place a bunch of treats in one hand and the clicker in the other. Click. Shove a treat in your dog’s mouth quickly (within a half second of the click). You want to time the click and the treat very close together so the dog makes an association between the two things. Do that about 20 times. Click/treat, wait a beat. Click/treat, wait a beat, and so forth. We are conditioning the dog to have an almost involuntary response to the clicker, and many repetitions are needed to do this. Click and treat 20 times, twice a day for three days. By the end of the third day, I can guarantee that your dog will get whiplash when he hears the click. That’s when you know the clicker is powered up. Here is an important fact for you to keep in mind: Scientific studies have proved that a reinforcement has to be delivered within a half second of the behavior to have the maximum effectiveness. You will rarely be able to get to your dog to deliver a reinforcer within a half second, so you need something to “bridge” the time between the behavior and the reinforcer in your dog’s mind. That is what the click does. Sure, if you did not use a clicker and rewarded your dog within one or two seconds, the dog still might understand what he is being rewarded for, but it is very likely that he will not. Take the example of jumping through the tire. You may think, if you feed within one second of your dog’s jumping through the tire, you have reinforced it. Yet, in the dog’s mind, he has done at least three things in that intervening second between the tire and the treat. Here is what the list looks like in the dog’s mind: 1) Jump through tire; 2) Look at a twig lying in front of him; 3) Lick chops; and 4) Turn head away to the left. If you have not marked the tire with either a clicker or a verbal bridge (like Yes), and you feed the dog after a second when he has just done #4, the head turn away is what you’ve reinforced. Without a powerful marker that serves as a bridge, you may actually be training something other than the behavior you thought you were. Does this explain why sometimes your dog appears to perversely do something completely different than the behavior you have “trained” him to do? The clicker makes everything much clearer for you and your dog. Piggy Pointer: When you are powering up the clicker, be certain that the click comes before the treat. If your dog has heard the click immediately before the treat many, many, times, what do you think the click predicts for your dog? A treat, of course! If your dog has heard the click after the treat many, many times, then what do you think the click predicts for your dog? Nothing! The click has to come before the treat to have any meaning for the dog. D February 08 | Clean Run 47
http://www.mentalmanagement.com http://www.mentalmanagement.com

Clean Run Magazine - February 2008

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Clean Run Magazine - February 2008

Clean Run Magazine - February 2008
Contents
Editorializing: Barbarians at the Gate?
Tip of the Month
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Agility…
Backyard Dogs
On Course with Annie Lehman
Basic Turns
Trainer’s Forum
Do You Have a Preferred Handling Speed?
Foundation Fundamentals: Dealing with Distractions, Part 2
Case Study: The King of the Off-course
Conquering Ring Nerves: How Do I Stop Shaking When I Step to the Line?
Sports Retraining for Agility Athletes
When Pigs Fly: What Is an Operant Dog? Why Should I Care?
Power Paws Patterns: Number Three
Cece’s Gym Exercise of the Month: Increasing Challenges on the Ball
Spy Kids: Balance in Training
Skill of the Month
When the Click Doesn’t End the Behavior: Conditioning a Release Signal
Shelter Champs: Dunk
Distance Challenge
Letters
Agility Organization Update
Nested Courses for Mardi Gras
Course Diagram Keys
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Clean Run Magazine - February 2008
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 2
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Contents
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 4
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Editorializing: Barbarians at the Gate?
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Tip of the Month
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Agility…
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Backyard Dogs
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 9
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 10
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 11
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 12
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 13
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - On Course with Annie Lehman
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 15
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 16
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Basic Turns
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 18
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 19
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 20
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 21
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Trainer’s Forum
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 23
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 24
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 25
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Do You Have a Preferred Handling Speed?
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 27
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 28
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Foundation Fundamentals: Dealing with Distractions, Part 2
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 30
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 31
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Case Study: The King of the Off-course
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 33
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 34
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 35
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Conquering Ring Nerves: How Do I Stop Shaking When I Step to the Line?
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 37
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 38
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Sports Retraining for Agility Athletes
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 40
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 41
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 42
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - When Pigs Fly: What Is an Operant Dog? Why Should I Care?
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 44
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 45
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 46
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 47
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 48
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Power Paws Patterns: Number Three
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 50
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 51
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Cece’s Gym Exercise of the Month: Increasing Challenges on the Ball
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 53
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 54
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 55
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 56
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Spy Kids: Balance in Training
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 58
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 59
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 60
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 61
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Skill of the Month
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 63
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 64
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - When the Click Doesn’t End the Behavior: Conditioning a Release Signal
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 66
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 67
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 68
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Shelter Champs: Dunk
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 70
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 71
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 72
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Distance Challenge
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 74
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 75
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 76
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Letters
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 78
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Agility Organization Update
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 80
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 81
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Course Diagram Keys
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 83
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 84
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