Dog Training At Home
My mom loves clicker training because Buddha, my clicker trained dog, has never jumped up on her. He is a perfectly mannered little dog.
But my mom has a friend that owns a German Shepard.
Every time my mom goes to that friend’s house, the dog jumps on her.
The dog is a big German Shepard, and my mom is small, so it’s a bit intimidating to her and often pushes her a bit when he jumps.
My mom’s friend – the one that owns this giant German Shepard – usually reprimands the dog by saying something like, “Oh Bugsey, get down from there! Bugsey! Bugsey! Hey, I’m talking to you! Why do you always have to jump? Huh? Why do you jump? Bugsey! No. You get off of my friend! I’m going to put you in the back yard…” Blah, Blah, Blah
And so on…
This woman is really nice, but she has no idea how to train her dog.
The wonderful thing about clicker training can be done in the home.
It can be done fast a few times a day for about 5-10 minutes (longer if you feel like it).
It also does not require that you have a lot of space or a large backyard, unless you are doing agility training or something like that.
All you need is enough space for you and your dog to move around a little bit.
I clicker trained my dog in a tiny studio apartment filled with furniture!
But going back to the example with the German Shepard… the dog has no idea what the woman is saying. She had never positively or negatively enforced the words and she used too many of them.
She even would say, “Don’t Jump” and unless the dog knows the word “Don’t” it is hearing “Jump!”
It is a statement without meaning for the dog. Completely ineffective.
Dogs and Memory
It’s important to remember that dogs generally have a short term memory of about 5 seconds. Some have longer short term memories, but for clicker training purposes, that is a key thing to remember.
The reinforcement (the click) must be immediately after the behavior. Otherwise, the dog does not get the connection of the click to the behavior.
And if you try to train your dog with a long sentence, as in the example above, you’re going to have a lot of trouble with that unless your dog is a member of MENSA.
Communicate with your Dog
The other thing to remember about clicker training is that the main point is communication. By positively reinforcing ONE word with the clicker, you associate that word to a behavior in your dog’s mind.
When the formative steps or parts of the behavior is performed in response to that one word, it is associated with a click, until your dog just knows it is good behavior.
If my mom’s friend had this dog clicker trained, he most likely would never jump (unless commanded to do so, and my dog has learned). And if he did jump, he would know to immediately stop jumping upon hearing the word “down” or “stay” or whatever word was used for that command during clicker training.
This would make my mom a lot more comfortable when visiting this woman’s house.
My dog, Buddha, has never jumped on her or anyone else.
(He does jump up on me when I command him to. And then we give each other a hug and he puts his paws down.)