Treibball Hide and Seek, a fun training game!

This is a great game to add variety to your training and build drive for the ball!

It is simple: Hide the ball out of sight, send your dog to find it and drive it back to you. (If you are familiar with a “blind retrieve”, this is similar.) To play, you first must teach your dog how the game works:

Step 1) Train the “find” first: Put the ball out of sight but let your dog see where you are putting it. (Behind a bush, or around the corner in a doorway in your house, etc.)
From close range, send your dog to find the ball. As soon as they get to the ball have a big party for finding it, run in and +R at the ball. Then ask for a short drive to you, and +R again.
NOTE: For the entire chain of “go find the ball and push it back to me”, you will probably need a different cue or a combined cue. (Mine is “Go, PUSH!” This is same cue I use for any difficult ball retrieve and push back to me, in sight or not. See the “Runaway Ball” post.)

Step 2) Once your dog understands “go find the ball”, increase the distance. Distance is up to you, but raise criteria appropriately so that your dog can be challenged but still be sucesssful.

Step 3) Once your dog understands “finding the ball from a distance”, start using using different “blinds” to hide it in. Use your imagination! Play at short range with each new blind the first time, then increase the distance. A few times with different blinds and your dog will begin to generalize the “hide and seek” behavior.

This is a great game for in the house too-put the ball in different rooms and send your dog to find it, pushing through halls and doorways! Outside you might use trees, shrubs, or set up your own blinds with trash cans, agility equipment, your car, garden shed, or anything else you might have. The whole idea is that the ball becomes the focus amidst other distractions and the reinforcement should be great for finding and returning it to you! This game helps build drive, as some dogs need more reinforcement for finding the ball than others. Lots of +R for just finding the ball helps to build that drive for all dogs.

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“Clicker”, what it means to me

As I prepare to head to the Clicker Expo in Norfolk VA this weekend for some the best training education on the planet, I think about the term that has always sort of bothered me-“CLICKER TRAINING”. So what does it really mean?

I guess what has always bothered me about the term “clicker training” is the over simplification of it. Appreciating the science behind it and the decades of evolution that have followed, it just hardly seems descriptive or adequate for such an elegant, sophisticated methodology of teaching and communication with another species. And unfortunately there are many traditional trainers out there that still believe “clicker training” is simply using a marker and reward in training. Case in point: Just the other day I had a very experienced competition trainer declare to me that “shaping isn’t clicker training”. Little does she know that shaping is one of the corner stones of clicker training! This trainer sometimes uses a clicker as a marker, and that is what she believes to be “clicker training”.

As the song goes, “Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative”. This is my mantra for training. I try to tell people that “clicker training” is not just a methodology but a philosophy, a mindset, an overall approach and attitude based on prioritizing a cooperative and positive learning experience throughout the entire process. Efforts are marked, rewarded, and appropriately challenged to incrementally improve at a pace that ensures success of the animal. The teacher/trainer is focused on acknowledging only the desired action and rewarding the animal at every opportunity. The animal gains confidence and becomes an active participant in the process by learning to offer desired behaviors for a reward. There is never any discouraging word or action for an error, errors are simply ignored and not rewarded. No fear of making a mistake, no harm in trying, keep going until sooner or later there is a “click” and bingo, you get your reward for getting it right! Confidence and trust is built and a learning partnership is born…

So it does sound relatively simple and it is…to a point. The beauty of it is that simplicity and the fact that mistakes cause no harm. But the art is in the correct application, and that is not always easy. It takes time, patience, consistency and clarity along with education and practice. There are many methods and techniques within the “clicker” process-where you can combine art and science for loads of learning fun! But the true reward is that the learning partnership with another species is nothing short of a magical and miraculous experience. I count myself as one of the many fortunate humans to have had this in my life. Events like the Clicker Expo help educate and raise awareness that truly humane teaching and learning is the most effective across species. Maybe most important of all is that it teaches us that none of this is about an egotistical human display of  control or personal accomplishment, but rather a miraculous demonstration of communication, learning and cooperative relationship between species. It never ceases to amaze me!

Happy training!

Char

The Ben Franklin Effect

Yep- accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, and it’s all good!

The Science Dog

Ben Franklin

Benjamin Franklin was a pretty amazing guy. The quintessential Renaissance Man, he was a scientist, inventor, author, musician, scholar, business man and politician. There are many popular stories and quotes from Franklin’s life, but one in particular demonstrates his astute understanding of human behavior. In fact, this story became so well-known that it eventually led to what  is now a well-known psychological phenomenon, aptly called, The Benjamin Franklin Effect.

The Story:  Franklin first entered politics when he ran for and won election to the position of clerk of the state’s general assembly. During his first term, like all politicians, Franklin made both a lot of friends as well as a few enemies. At the end of his term, one of those adversaries threatened Franklin’s political career when he stood before the state legislature and delivered a long and scathing speech in opposition to Franklin’s reelection. Although Franklin still won the election, he realized that the gentleman in question, as someone of…

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Deconstructing the Click

Clicker science explained- a great read!

The Science Dog

I am a clicker trainer. All of my own dogs are clicker trained and many of the classes that we teach at my training school, AutumnGold are “clicker-centric”. Clicker training is not only a scientifically sound approach to teaching dogs new things, but is also a kind, enjoyable, and bond-strengthening method of training – something that benefits both dogs and their people.

Mary and Simon Sit Stay Fall 20137-MONTH-OLD SIMON LEARNS EYE CONTACT AND SIT/STAY

For the uninitiated, clicker training is a relatively simple technique that involves pairing the click sound made by a small, handheld cricket with the delivery of a food treat. After several repetitions of this pairing (Click-Treat; hereafter CT), in which the click sound reliably predicts the treat, the sound comes to possess the same properties as the presentation of the treat itself – a pleasurable emotional response. Clicker training packs an enormously powerful positive punch for both the dog and the trainer because it allows the trainer to precisely target tiny bits of behavior at the exact moment they are…

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How to Get a Recall

Another gem from Denise Fenzi. Teach your dog, love your dog!

Denise Fenzi

The standard answer is, “Make it worth the dog’s while”.

Odds of this approach to recall training working go up quite a lot under a few circumstances:

1.  Your dog isn’t hugely self confident.  Dogs that are a little nervous on their own have a natural inclination to stay relative close.  That makes recall training a lot easier.

2.  Your dog is under  about four months of age. Puppies usually know that they cannot survive on their own; unfortunately at around four or five months of age they often get stupid and think they can rule the world.  That is when recalls (and training in general) can be challenging for many dog/handler teams.   Don’t give up; your nice dog usually comes back.

3.  Your dog is fully mature.  After your dog has  worked through the stupid age and has seen a few thousand dogs, trees, and leaves, they aren’t…

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That’ll Do, Pig: The Wisdom of Babe

The wisdom of “Babe”, it’s so simple,. “All you had to do was ask.”

AKC Dog Lovers

—Bud Boccone

babe

“All knowledge, the totality of all questions and answers, is contained in the dog,” says the narrator of Franz Kafka’s short story “Investigations of a Dog.” As the narrator himself is a dog, he might be prone to exaggeration in behalf of his species. But many devoted dog people will tell you it’s just a slight stretch.

Entire books have been written about what we can learn from dogs; Marley & Me was the most successful, but far from only, example. In the Family Dog magazine stories I write about our AKC Humane Fund ACE winners, people regularly tell me of how their remarkable dogs teach them about courage, loyalty, and other virtues we admire in our leaders and seek within ourselves.

It’s a sweet irony, then, to consider that one of our most popular canine teachers of life lessons is not a dog at all, but a…

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