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I think I'm ready to try this. I've never done it before, so Peggy and I are both total novices.

Can anyone recommend a good beginner guide? I like books best, but YouTube channels are okay, too.

And is it okay if I do it for a few weeks before getting my husband involved? This might be a really silly question, but can you work in sessions or do you have to keep the clicker on you at all times for consistency?

I think this will be an excellent bridge across Peggy's and my communication gap.

Thanks!
Robin
 

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I would recommend any of Karen Pryor's book on clicker training. The key things are to remember that the clicker serves as a bridge to the reward for the correct response to an order. The clicker is not the reward but serves to tell the dog a reward is coming. When I tried clicker training with Lily pupchick I found my timing with the clicker was terrible so I didn't stick with it. I instead have found my marker timing is better with words. I use yes like a clicker and always release the dog on a yes and feed to reward. Good means that is nice but let's keep working instead of cookies and no means what it pretty much always means.

I would work in sessions and get to where you see how you like it before including DH. Don't fall into the trap of clicking for no good reason. I have a friend who is an R+ only trainer. Everything she teaches her dogs is through shaping. She makes me crazy with clicking over and over for any tiny approximation of something because several people who come to the novice class she comes to don't use clickers and their dogs find them really distracting.

Have fun testing it out.
 

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I think it's fine to do it yourself for a few weeks before getting your husband involved. I'm not sure if you should do it in sessions or keep the clicker on you.
 

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I bought Dont Shoot the Dog for myself and the much shorter Getting Started Clicker Training for Dogs for my mom. They both are nice to have. The first book is very abstract and help understand WHY the other is great for just getting down to it. I can imagine your husband reading the second book.

Honestly, I found watching videos of good clicker trainers more helpful in figuring out timing and strategy. There are a lot of people who use clickers for complicated tricks and those videos are good to watch especially if they explain their criteria.

Oh- and one thing I learned with my moms dog was to choose a treat not too exciting. Moms dog LOVES the clicker and is actually more creative with trying new behaviours than Annie but she goes bonkers and loses her brains if I use her favourite treats. I had to find an alternative to get her to calm enough to learn.
 

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I would recommend any of Karen Pryor's book on clicker training. The key things are to remember that the clicker serves as a bridge to the reward for the correct response to an order. The clicker is not the reward but serves to tell the dog a reward is coming. When I tried clicker training with Lily pupchick I found my timing with the clicker was terrible so I didn't stick with it. I instead have found my marker timing is better with words. I use yes like a clicker and always release the dog on a yes and feed to reward. Good means that is nice but let's keep working instead of cookies and no means what it pretty much always means.

I would work in sessions and get to where you see how you like it before including DH. Don't fall into the trap of clicking for no good reason. I have a friend who is an R+ only trainer. Everything she teaches her dogs is through shaping. She makes me crazy with clicking over and over for any tiny approximation of something because several people who come to the novice class she comes to don't use clickers and their dogs find them really distracting.

Have fun testing it out.
Thank you! I just ordered Getting Started: Clicker Training for Dogs.

I'm terribly uncoordinated so I'm not sure how easily I'll pick it up. I'll give it some time, though, as I think it'll be worth it. Peggy is the most trainable dog I've ever had, but also the most excitable. I think anything I can do to keep my own excitement out of the process will help us.

Our trainer actually had to gently recommend I stop talking to Peggy so much. I didn't even realize I was doing it! So embarrassing. I noticed an immediate difference when I started using praise more sparingly. I'll have to remind myself to go easy on the clicker.
 

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I bought Dont Shoot the Dog for myself and the much shorter Getting Started Clicker Training for Dogs for my mom. They both are nice to have. The first book is very abstract and help understand WHY the other is great for just getting down to it. I can imagine your husband reading the second book.

Honestly, I found watching videos of good clicker trainers more helpful in figuring out timing and strategy. There are a lot of people who use clickers for complicated tricks and those videos are good to watch especially if they explain their criteria.

Oh- and one thing I learned with my moms dog was to choose a treat not too exciting. Moms dog LOVES the clicker and is actually more creative with trying new behaviours than Annie but she goes bonkers and loses her brains if I use her favourite treats. I had to find an alternative to get her to calm enough to learn.
I love learning the why. I'll order Don't Shoot the Dog, too. I've been meaning to read it. Thanks for the reminder.

If you have a favourite video or two, I'd love the links! Or the name of the trainer(s). I don't want to start off on the wrong foot by picking up bad habits from questionable sources.

Peggy's definitely the "go bonkers/lose brains" type if a treat is too high-value for a particular scenario. She'll either start talking back and air snapping in frustration or race through everything she has ever learned. It's like she's malfunctioning. ? So I'm having to get smart about pairing the right treat with the environment. Better's not always better!
 

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A lot of people who love clickers will tell you that it helps the marker be of consistent value as opposed to using your voice, but because I am also rather a klutz and found holding onto a leash, a clicker and a treat without dropping everything and feeding treats for no good reason I went to marker words only and work hard to be consistent in my tone.
 
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I started out with a trainer who tried to have me use "yes" as the marker. I just couldn't get the timing down when using speech as the marker. Training went better when I switched to another trainer who had me use a clicker.

However, I think there is real benefit to using a marker you can't accidentally leave at home. (Aside from needing three hands to manage the leash, clicker, and treats.) I met someone who clicker trained a pony using a tcha sound she made by clicking her tongue against the roof of her mouth. (It was a different sound than the clucking noise horse people use when asking a horse to speed up.) I'm thinking of trying that tcha noise with my next puppy.
 

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I am a klutz too. I use a clicker with a bungie thingie around my wrist because otherwise balancing leash/treats/clicker means I drop the clicker on the dog's head. I make a tongue-click on walks, as its consistent, quick, and doesn't sound like words. I do have problems remembering not to use the sound to get her attention.

For talking - I find different training styles very interesting. I use praise and words very sparingly, perhaps too sparingly. . A short quiet 'good" mostly. I was walking Annie with a friend, and she was compelled to elaborate every time I praised/rewarded her. "Sit" = sometimes nothing, sometimes "good" or slight pat, occasionally a tiny treat. My friend watches, and then starts saying "good dog, what a good dog you are, good girl!" (etc). I could tell she thought I was being mean by not adequately praising her, but honestly - she understands "good", the rest are just fillers, and I don't use happy-voiced praise as a reward much. And sitting/watch me/walking by my side aren't anything I want her getting excited about.

For clicking - lots of clicking is fine so long as the clicks are in the direction of the goal, and you only work on one goal at a time. My biggest issue is patience. I want to click so badly that sometimes I don't let Annie spend enough time trying to figure it out (Annie's default is "I will assume she meant "stay" and sit here and wait for instructions" ) before I try to cue what I want/lure what I want.

I've learned a lot from this woman, her videos aren't polished, but I love how she explains what she is doing and why before she trains it.
 

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I've learned a lot from this woman :
How funny! Limp is what I want to teach next! I'm committed to eventually training her to skip. I think it's so cute. Thank you for the link. :)

I agree re: low key praise. Even though I find myself excessively verbal while in training mode with Peggy, in everyday life, I tend to reward more with my energy. It's one of those things you can't really articulate, but is definitely part of the special relationship between dogs and humans.

With my last dog I didn't even use treats for training. Now I'm just trying to find a happy medium.
 

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https://www.amazon.com/Dog-Training-Clicker-Wrist-Strap/dp/B07NKJHD9X/ref=asc_df_B07NKJHD9X/?tag=&linkCode=df0&hvadid=343238636807&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=7804663926443332509&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9005927&hvtargid=pla-782558842263&ref=&adgrpid=68618425906&th=1 These are the clickers I prefer. They have a wrist strap so it's always close at hand and I can swing it into my hand to use quickly and easily without worrying about dropping it. I bought 4 because I was constantly losing them. I used clickers to train Babykins for several of her tricks which helped us earn all the AKC trick dog titles.

But I rarely use clickers in training. Karen Pryor was looking for a way to train dolphins and other water based animals. Clickers were a way to make a marking sound that they could hear. She also used them to train her horses, dogs, fish and other animals.

Like many people, including Catherine, I use the same technique, but use the word YES to mark the correct behavior - then I treat. My release word is Free so my dog knows we finished training. My voice is always with me and I never have to worry that my clicking is off, maybe it slipped in my hand, or I"m holding too many things or left it at home.

I will be honest, I hate when someone is clicker training in class - so annoying. These are usually people who are constantly clicking, maybe clicking too much and incorrectly. However I keep my mouth shut and don't show my emotion - after all it's an effective way to train. In my experience people who bring clickers to class usually stop after one or two classes. Maybe because they see no one else in the class is clicking.

As for talking too much - it's like nagging and your dog learns to tune you out. Better to give a well deserved praise - Good Girl - when you see her performing correctly. You also want your dog to think - if you are constantly nattering, you dog may not be able to think. It's a careful balance that we all strive for - enough praise for the dog and not too much. I think most of us go through this - most of the trainers I had in my earlier classes always commented on me and others helping us find the balance.
 
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Thank you for your perspective, Skylar! This is all extremely helpful to me.

So it sounds like I can use the clicker in areas that might need a little extra finesse, but it's okay to alternate with other methods. That's good to know. My husband and I chatted about it tonight and he wasn't sure about having a clicker on hand at all times. He was open to trying, but he's already so far out of his comfort zone. I'd prefer he just keep doing all the great work he's doing.

I think I might just try using a clicker for my individual training sessions with Peggy. I do a bunch of short ones scattered throughout the day, usually just focused on the basics, but I'd like to build up a good arsenal of tricks. She's such a natural.

I'd also like to use it to work on her front door manners and to capture quiet when she's likely to bark excessively.

And no, definitely won't use it in class. I can see how that would be annoying, and probably very distracting.

Thanks again!
 

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My clickers arrived and I've started on some basics. Wow! Peggy—my impulsive, easily bored girl—is going through her paces like a champ!

She's notoriously huffy about laying down, and will generally do so only with a lure and will often spring right back up.

Not today! She didn't even launch into position with typical theatrics. Just a nice controlled down and no budging until I said so.

Too soon to say for sure, of course, but I think clicking is a language Peggy really understands. And she's always happiest when she understands us.

I'll share my thoughts on the books I ordered once they arrive. These are the clickers I got:


They've got a big, bright yellow button that's easy to use and produces a crisp, loud click. The wrist strap is also essential. (Thank you, Skylar. Your recommendation wasn't available on Chewy, but I used it to guide me.)
 
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