(A repost from my old blog, March 10, 2011)
Charging the Clicker–
This gets the dog knowing that when I click the clicker, you get a treat! Best thing ever!!! My trainer tells me you should even do this after they know what the clicker is. It keeps the clicker charged and it’s just good to refresh with your dog sometimes.
After the dog knows what a clicker is, start saying their name, click/treat. This gets attention every time you say the dogs name. I can see a big difference between Delta and Doc with this. Every time I say “Doc”, no matter what he is doing (even when highly aroused around a dog), he flips his head back towards me and looks. That’s because he’s used to hearing Doc, click/treat. I always make sure to reward him somehow when I say his name. I love having this recognition. Delta, although I am now working on it a lot with her, will still wait a few seconds or possibly not even listen depending on how aroused she is.
This is the basis to leave it. Doc has picked up on leave it so much faster than Delta has. You put a piece of food in your hand. Close the fist, put it down so your dog can sniff it. Your dog, depending on how demanding they are, and if they have done this before, will try to mug your hand. You can have a dog that will bump your hands a few times and stop, try to eat your hand, or anywhere in between. As soon as they pause away from your hand or pull back a bit, click/treat. You’re telling your dog that when they aren’t pushy and leave the treat alone, they get the treat.
You can eventually open your hand and if the dog goes to the treat, close it. When they pull away for that split second (when your hand is open), click/treat. You will eventually have a dog not going towards the treat in your open hand. Eventually this leads to putting it at different areas around their head in your hand and they leave it alone. And then eventually putting it on the floor with your foot close to it in case you have to step over it so the dog doesn’t go get it. When they leave the treat alone for a second without you covering it, click/treat.
This is where I see Doc surpass Delta the most. Doc and I work on eye contact ALL the time. In the beginning, I would just sit there with Doc on a leash and wait for him to look up at my face, click/treat. It begins to happen more and more. For dogs that have trouble with eye contact, you can shape it, beginning with a turn of their head towards you. Then move to looking at you anywhere on your body, and slowly pull it up to your head. Eventually, I would expect longer periods of eye contact before click/treating. As I upped the distraction, I lowered the amount of time I expected him to focus on me. With no distractions, I would up the amount of time I expected him to focus on me. Now, while it is quite creepy sometimes, Doc will just stare holes into me in obedience class. He is lucky he has such beautiful eyes. :)