This article is the second part of a publication devoted to the history of positive dog education, which you can read about by following this lien.
Living in symbiosis with your pet requires finding the right balance so that respect for each other is mutual. Too often dogs are abandoned because they have not spent a little time educating the dog to find this balance of life.
Positive education with clicker training is the best and sweetest way to teach your pet to live with you. I will introduce you to this approach that any owner concerned with educating his dog could use easily.
This method is to shape the behavior of an animal, immediately rewarding good behavior with the sound of a clicker.
The sound of the clicker makes it possible to signify to the dog in an immediate way, that the behavior which he has carried out is that sought by his master. The power of the clicker lies in the fact that the force and the stress are not used for training. The natural intelligence of the animal is used to guide him to find the appropriate behavior. This benevolence in learning helps to motivate the animal, stimulate its intellect, and strengthen the bond of trust between the dog and its owner. The learning is therefore faster.
Concretely, here is how a clicker-training session goes.
First, you have to associate the sound of the clicker with a reward. By default, clicker sound means nothing to your dog. The clicker is activated, and at each "click", the animal is immediately given a small food reward. After a dozen repetitions, your dog should immediately understand that after the "click" comes a little greed. If this is not the case, simply repeat the exercise a little later. Once the sound of the clicker is associated with the reward, it is said that the clicker is loaded. It is then useless to repeat the operation. Your dog will have associated the sound of this clicker with life, to a positive element, and will be ready for anything to get a "click".
Once the clicker is loaded, the training phase can begin. The clicker training sessions must remain short (no more than 5-10 minutes), so as not to cause weariness or fatigue, and always allow the dog training to be a success, which will condition the following sessions on a positive note. You can combine several sessions a day, provided you space them well in the day, to avoid mental exhaustion and frustration.
There are 3 ways to train your dog:
- the lure: the dog is gradually directed to take a desired position, and one clicks and gives a reward when the position is reached. For example, hold a small kibble above your nose, your dog should sit down. You "click" immediately when your dog sits, then you give him a reward;
- the "shaping": we reward the successive stages that allow us to approach the final behavior, by increasing its requirement little by little. The dog should then modify his behavior gradually to find the exact behavior desired;
- capturing : it is then a question of clicking when the dog proposes of itself a behavior that one wishes to fix. For example, you watch your dog, and you "click" when he goes to bed. Your dog will know that he has done something that brings a reward, and will propose himself to get a new one.
When the dog has understood the desired behavior and repeats it easily, we associate an order VISUAL and VOCAL when performing the behavior, and click simultaneously when the dog realizes the desired behavior.
In successive trainings, it is important to make the reward less and less frequent, and random. The food reward is useful at first, but then the "click" must be important, which means for your dog that the reward comes after.
Find the right balance and your relationship will be better.
By Benjamin BAYON, Veterinary Doctor
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