Dog Tricks Tuesday: Expanding on Target, and Intro to Clicker Training

Created 12/08/2015 at 09:28 PM

Welcome back! I hope all of our visitors had a great holiday!

Two weeks ago I posted a how-to on teaching the Target behavior. Today I’m going to go into a little bit more detail on our experiences expanding on that to teach ADHDog to touch other things – in this case, his feeder button.

I personally found that using a clicker to train this behavior made it much easier than it (probably) would have been otherwise, because clickers have a very distinct sound, which tells the dog, “Good job! A treat is coming!” This strong association gives you, as the trainer, a little bit more time to fumble food into your pup’s mouth, while still keeping the association between the behavior and the reward.

For those of you who are new to clicker training, the first step is to prime the clicker. This is done simply by clicking, and giving the dog a treat, or a toy, or praise – whichever he finds most motivating. The click-treat pattern teaches to dog to expect that that the sound will be followed by a treat. I have found it useful to then associate the click with the dog’s response to a behavior he already has down quite well, like “sit” or “down”, clicking when the dog performs the behavior: the resulting thought process should look something like this:

I was told to sit.
I sat.
I heard a noise that tells me I did the right thing.
I got a treat.
Yay, me!

To clicker train ADHDog to target a button, instead of our hand, we started by placing the lit button on the ground in front of us. The first time, we smeared a little bit of peanut butter on top, to encourage him to sniff it. As soon as it looked like he was going to touch the button, we used our command (“Button!”), clicked the instant his snout made contact, and gave him a treat (and let him lick off the peanut butter, of course). As soon as he had it down that he was supposed to push the button with his nose, we could lay off the peanut butter, since he had realized that we wanted him to push down on the light to turn it off.

That's all for this week's Tricks Tuesday! You can find clickers on Amazon or at your nearest pet store, trainer, or even Walmart.

Make sure and check back again next week as we continue getting your dog ready for the ADHDog automatic feeder and exercise system. We'll be contacting people starting in January to start user testing, so make sure and sign up for the ADHDog dog feeder now!