Ginger and I just got back from our first night of clicker training classes. She’s now completely passed out on the living room floor. Man, she says, training is hard work!
The class went well. I liked the instructor and the group isn’t too huge (there are 10 of us). I think it’s going to be a great way for Ginger to start learning how to stay focused while there are distractions, something that she’s really bad at currently. She spent a good portion of the hour long class lunging at the end of the leash, trying to play with the other dogs, the instructor, anyone passing by. She also was really interested in investigating all the new smells instead of paying attention to me.
The first two exercises we worked on involved the dog responding when her name was called and the dog giving you both eyes and her attention. The first exercise helps develop a solid way to get your dog’s attention. We’d walk around and every now and then call the dog’s name. If the dog turned it’s head and responded, the handler would click the clicker and then give the dog a reward. Ginger did fairly miserably at this one, mainly because she was just so distracted. I’d say “Ginger!” in a enthusiastic voice and she’d say “Golly Gee! What’s that new smell over there!” and go trotting off in the other direction, with me in tow at the end of the leash.
The second exercise involved having your dog sit in front of you. As soon as the dog looked at you with both eyes, you clicked the clicker and gave the dog a treat. Gradually, the point of this one is to build the duration so that the dog can sit and give you it’s attention for 20 seconds, then a minute, then even longer if you want. Ginger and I made it to about 3 seconds. Which was pretty good, given how much was going on around us.
The second two behaviors we worked on were stand and down. Ginger aced the down command, but she already knew down really well, so perhaps that shouldn’t count. However, even with all the distractions, she was doing really good downs. The stand command she failed miserably at. However, it was just our first night trying it.
So, we’ve got plenty to practice on this week! We’ll probably start by going over some of these in the house until she’s awesome at them, then move to practicing them in the back yard and then the front yard.