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Well, I never thought I'd say this... I have begun clicker training with my dog! I've always been of the mind frame "I'm the boss, you listen to me no matter what." After 8 month of working with trainer here and there and "DIY-ing" it our dog is still aggressive towards men. I'm confident he can get over it as when he is given TIME to settle he is ok. We currently work with a veterinary behaviorist, so we have a list of different "homework" exercises. I asked her about the "Click to Clam" book by Emma Parson and the doctor said it would be a good addition to what we are doing.

One question I have is, do you carry the clicker around 24/7, or only during a "training session"? I just introduced it to him today with simple commands he already knows, like come, sit, place, house, etc.

Any clicker training tips would be WONDERFUL!
 

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I use both a clicker and a marker word. Mainly I use the clicker for formal training sessions, especially when I'm training something new. I like the precision of it for that. All other times I use Yes as a marker word, mainly because I find the clicker hard to use when I'm out walking him or just around the house, by the time I get the clicker in my hand and ready to use the opportunity to reward the behavior is long gone.
 

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I use a clicker and two different marker words depending on the situation. Clicker is excellent for precision work and also for training sessions when shaping a behavior you like. I tend to use it whenever I can because Pip learns faster on it. You don't need to use the clicker once the behavior is learned since you don't need to build the behavior any longer with precise timing.

I also have a marker word "yes" which is used for good behavior and the marker word "good" which is her calm marker.

I bring my clicker when doing training sessions outside, but not on walks as there is a lot to juggle then. "Yes" will suffice there if you've worked on foundation skills in more controlled environments.

I recommend shaping a silly trick to get the dog used to the clicker and understand that the clicker means for them to offer up behaviors.

I use clicker work for my own dog's reactivity and she has come leaps and bounds! My last dog was dog aggressive and the clicker work helped a lot. He is now easy to handle around other dogs and does not react badly around them.

I wish you luck!
 

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I'm in the same boat as rain. The clicker is particularly helpful when introducing a new behavior because it allows precision and clearer communication.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you everyone!

My goal is to Bridget him to a target word, every time I click I do tell him "good!" incase I am stuck without my clicker. This Click to Calm book requires pin pointing lots of suttle or quick behaviors. It could be so much as the turn of the head or a quick glance. The clicker allows me to keep my voice free and is a very distinct sound.

... Not that you guys don't already know that! lol

Has anyone had or heard of people rehabilitating fear aggressive dogs with clicker training?
 

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I don't know much about clickers, or dog aggressiveness. I just wanted to warn you that 'good' is a rather weak target word. The idea of a target word is that you only say it to your dog for performing a specific action. You probably say 'good' for all sorts of mundane things. (At least I do. Sorry if I'm wrong. :) ) I use the word 'yes', and it's hard enough to keep from saying that all the time. Some people I know used 'bingo', because there's no way they could say THAT accidentally. ;)

Good luck with your dog!
 
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I don't use a clicker a lot but things I have taught with the clicker, they seem to learn so much better. One thing I taught Kris with the clicker was the "bow". She always did it first thing in the morning so it was so easy to capture it with the clicker. I did make the mistake of using "bow" which I found she got confused with "down" so had to reteach it using a different word.

One beginner Agility class we used a clicker in and it really helped in targeting and the weaves and some of the other obstacles.
 

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you don't need to carry your clicker with you 24/7, they're simply devices to deliver a "cue" that the dogs interprets however you teach him to, most people use them because they're consistent and not used anywhere else, but you can use your voice or anything the dog reads as "i did it right!".

asking for clicker training tips is like asking for cooking tips there are hundreds and shaped to everyone's preference, see if you can find something useful for your particular problem in the sticky section (Training and Behavior Stickies).

good luck with your training, i'm glad you dropped that mentality it probably caused more harm than good, behavioral training can take some time but be patient, my dog was agressive towards women but now he's just shy (i think he was mistreated by his breeder), we're slowly working towards indifference.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Garmie, interesting you say that! My girlfriend and I were just saying that we have never heard of a dog that is afraid of women before.

I will consider changing the word, just have to think of a short uncommon word.

What are some good treats I could give him. I'm plan on picking up a package of hotdogs, pre cutting and freezing them. Luckily he is extremely food, so much so I can use kibble as a reward.

I know asking about tips is rather vague, but even something as simple as how you manage holding the dog, leash, clicker and treats at the same time is helpful!
 

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I would find something he REALLY likes, and use that just for when you're working on his reactivity.

IME, a lot of clicker training is being able to be efficient about marking with the clicker and delivering treats in a timely manner. Personally, when I'm training I like to have a treat that's small and squishy and that I can give very small pieces of, and easily break into small pieces if it's too large (I have a little 13.5lb dog and most treats are too large for her), and one that is easily given while holding a handful of treats in the same hand. It helps that the treat is squishy because it means its usually easy to distribute without accidentally giving the dog too many, and easy to break up, and it also makes it easier to give treats in quick succession when I jackpot for something. Jackpotting is my other clicker training tip- be unpredictable, and jackpot often in the beginning to raise engagement! 'Jackpot' means surprising the dog with a whole bunch of treats instead of giving just one, with the intention of raising excitement and engagement in training and/or marking when a behavior is executed especially well so that the dog is more likely to do it just like that in the future.

Also note that dogs aren't a great judge of size when eating treats, and so after a certain size they stop being more motivating- for example, my dog (who is 13.5lbs) doesn't get a whole lot more excited for chicken that's pinkie nail sized vs thumbnail size- the size preference is variable based on the size of the dog, usually also, IME. My parent's 40lb dog is less motivated by a pinkie nail sized piece of food than a thumb nail sized piece, but isn't more motivated by a 2Xthumb nail sized piece vs a thumb nail sized piece. Generally, even if the dog is very large, a treat in training shouldn't be more than dime sized, and for small dogs, less-than-penny sized is preferable. So, when you jack pot, you want to give a bunch of small treats one after the other vs a larger chunk of treat that the dog just eats all at once- you have to let them process that they're getting separate treats, so that you don't have to give them a fist full of food for them to realize they got a larger reward that time.

In terms of commercial dog treats I really like for this, I would recommend Primal Nibs, which come in which come in Pork, Beef, and Turkey, I think. I'd also highly recommend Stella and Chewey brand Freeze Dried Treats, which come in I think Duck, Turkey, Chicken, and Beef; my dogs LOVE Stella's. The Stella's has to be crushed up but they're easily squished and very squeezable. I also sometimes use Primal Lung Snaps, which I think come in Venison and Buffalo, as well as Wellness brand treats, but don't like these latter two because both need to be broken up into small pieces in training, which is tedious and takes a long time. The Wellness treats are easily tear-able, but the Lung Snaps need to be crushed a lot of the time and can have sharp edges. I tried Merrick's and Blue Buffalo treats and my dog didn't like them, although my parent's dog did. IME every dog has different tastes in treats and you just have to shop around to find some they like.

In terms of people food- which I find motivates almost all dogs- I really like to use shredded/cut up chicken, cheese (I usually use either cheese string or little Baby Bell cheeses cut up), and hot dogs cut into little pieces. Deli meat is also good to use, as it's very easy to tear into pieces, as is any other kind of cooked meat (turkey breast, steak, etc). Cheerios make good treats for a slightly larger dog- mine is small enough I would feel I had to break them up to use them, personally, but they're the perfect size for my parent's Lab mix. I'm planning to try Cream Cheese soon on a spoon or in a squeezy packet.

Other tips for clicker training- practice, practice, practice. I would suggest using the clicker outside of just working with him on reactivity, because it will help improve your timing faster. It takes time to develop efficiency using a clicker, and as you can see everyone has their own little intricacies. I would also suggest having a primed marker word you use, the same way you're hopefully priming the clicker. The whole point of clicker training is that the click is a secondary reinforcer- you prime the sound of the click (ie, make it more exciting) by, several times over the day, for about a week or so, having a session where you just click-treat, click-treat, click-treat, for about 10 repetitions. You should be clicking almost as soon as the first treat is in the dogs mouth, and their should be as little time as possible between the click and the treat. You'll know when the clicker is sufficiently 'primed' when you can click and the dog swivels to look at you, expecting a treat. Unfortunately I think this is something a lot of people don't do when clicker training, and it makes the clicker less useful. Like I said, I like to do this with a handful of different markers words as well, personally I use "yes!', "good!', "good job!", and "good girl/dog", although I only ever really primed "yes!", and that is the one I use most. Even if you don't prime a marker, the dog will eventually make the connection that the word means they're about the get a treat, but it will usually take longer and IMO the marker is more reinforcing/exciting a word for them if its been primed. This way, you're not in a "I wish I had a clicker" moment if you forget the clicker, because you'll have a marker word just as exciting as a click.

Something that might be fun to use as timing practice and is a really great brain game/ bonding experience for you and your dog is shaping games, which can then be turned into tricks. For example, I'm working on teaching my dog to do barrel racing patterns as practice to agility and as a trick, and so I've been shaping her to walk around a pole/shoe/cone on command. I sit on the floor, put the object a few feet in front of me, and wait for her to start offering different behaviors. First I reward for anything that brings her close to it- sniffing it, looking towards it, walking towards it. Then I reward for walking a step away from me/around it, then for two steps, then three, then for something that looks at all like turning around it, then raise criteria to she has to walk halfway around, then all the way around, then I put it on verbal/hand cue, then work on directing which way to run around it, all in the most minuscule little steps. Another fun game is "the Box Game", where you put a box on the ground and wait to see what the dog does with it- then, when they do something with it that you like, you click and reward, and work on fine-tuning that behavior. For example, if they pick the box up in their mouth you might work towards being able to either have them do that on cue or carry the box around; if they put a foot in it, you might either put that behavior on cue or work towards getting them to climb fully into the box or put their two front feet in the box, etc.

Also, I haven't read "Click to Calm", so I don't know what it recommends beyond what I've seen in brief synopses (it's on my to-read list and I have looked into it a little bit), but the "Look at That" game is a good one to play and a good way to work on click timing. I think you usually start by training a dog to look at things around the house on cue (usually starting with toys), and then eventually you switch over to their triggers, after you've already paired a strong tendency to follow looking at something on cue with looking back at you for their treat. The idea if that if the dog is looking at the thing they're reactive towards/their trigger and then at the you for a treat, they'll start to associate the trigger with a treat and their emotional reaction towards the trigger will lessen. Articles on how to do it:
https://clickerleash.wordpress.com/2009/08/23/look-at-that-a-counterintuitive-approach-to-dealing-with-reactive-dogs/
Akin Family Dog Training Affiliations

Overall, I think a clicker can be a great addition to a behavioral modification plan, especially when the root of the reactivity lies in fear or over-excitement, because I find marker training of any kind (ie, with a clicker or a word), especially when done in a force/correction free way does wonders to improve confidence, engagement and focus.
 
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