[wp_ad_camp_2]This is Part One of the clicker trained retrieve. You can do this at home in your kitchen or sitting room. Or outdoors in your garden.
You will need a retrieving dummy. The standard 1lb canvas dummy like the one in this picture, is fine.
Charging the clicker
If you have not done any previous clicker training with this dog, you will need to ‘charge’ your clicker first. Check out this article ‘How to charge a clicker’ Now you are ready to begin.
Touching the dummy
At each training stage you will have an objective. Our objective for this first part is to get the dog to deliberately touch the dummy. It is a small step but an important one.
- Looking at the dummy
- Approaching the dummy
- Touching the dummy
Now if your dog already picks up any dummy he happens to find even indoors, you will be able to move rapidly to the next stage ‘Picking up the dummy’.
However, bear in mind that many dogs who willingly pick up a ‘thrown’ dummy will not necessarily pick one up just because it happens to be there on your kitchen floor.
Many more dogs will show an interest in a dummy on some occasions and not on others. This is where we change that. At the end of this stage your dog will be repeatedly interacting with the dummy throughout your training session.
Define your sessions
Set out a certain number of treats, fifteen to twenty treats is fine for the first session, and stop the session when you have used them all. Put the dummy away discretely whilst the dog is collecting a treat. You can sit down or stand up, but if your dog is not at all interested in dummies I would sit down. You may be there for a little while.
What is C&T
This is just the abbreviation for Click and Treat. You click when you get the behaviour you are looking for and you treat the dog immediately after the click.
Each time you press the clicker you will throw the treat away from the dummy, so that the dog has to actively and deliberately return to the dummy in order to get another treat.
Here are the steps
- Place the dummy (don’t throw it) on the floor
- As soon as the dog ‘looks’ at the dummy C&T
- Repeat until the dog starts to approach, and take more interest in, the dummy
- Create an imaginary circle around the dummy. Make it three or four feet in diameter
- Now only C&T when the dog moves into the circle
- When the dog is moving into the circle repeatedly (at least three times in a row) shrink the circle
- Repeat until the dog touches the dummy
- Now you will only C&T when the dog touches the dummy
- Repeat until the dog touches the dummy five times in a row
- Now you are ready to move on to the next stage ‘Picking up the dummy’
We will look at that next time
What if the dog loses interest?
Dogs only stop playing this game for two reasons
- They are not hungry
- Your treats are mean
If your dog loses interest get some better treats. Think moist and juicy. Little bits of roast chicken, beef or ham are ideal. Ditch the boring dry old biscuits. And train when your dog is hungry. Don’t worry or fret about your dog’s instincts or lack of them. This is not about instinct. It is about creating a reliable trained response.
Keep sessions shortish (ten to fifteen minutes is quite long enough, shorter is ok). Four five minute sessions is better than one twenty minute session.
Check back soon for the next instalment!
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