Saturday, September 11, 2010

Why I Love Clicker Training

Today while on a walk with Faye I was once again reminded why I love Clicker Training. We were at the Metro Park enjoying the beautful Fall weather. One of Fayes training goals is to walk calmly on leash especially when we encounter other dogs. I use a variety of techniques to acheive this goal.

Clicking and Treating Faye for looking at dogs in a calm manner.
Clicking and Treating Faye for choosing to look away from a dog and look at me.
Clicking and Treating Faye for responding to LEAVE IT.
Playing "Where's The Dog", Clicking and Treating for looking at a dog on cue in a calm and quiet manner.

The end result is that Faye has learned to associate seeing other dogs as a GOOD thing. She has the opportunity to look at other dogs and does so without frustration, barking, lunging or fearfulness. She never receives leash corrections, verbal repremands or physical restraint for being curious or friendly towards strange dogs.

While Faye has learned to enjoy her walks we saw many dogs today who unfortunately don't feel the same way. We were strolling along the trail today when a couple headed towards us with their bouncy lab mix. As they approached us the dog became very excited and started pulling towards Faye. The owner immediately pulled hard on the leash tightening the choke chain collar the dog was wearing. The dog became more aggitated which in turn made the owner pull harded on his choke chain. When this didin't calm his dog he tried verbal repremands, "NO", "STOP". This only made the dog more frantic. When all his attempts to 'calm' his dog failed he abruptly turned and dragged the dog away. I couldn't help but notice how stressed both owner and dog looked.

My husband turned to me and said "wow, Faye just ignored that dog, that Clicker stuff really works". I smiled and said 'yes it sure does' and went on to explain why. When we stop using punishment as a means of controlling our dog and replace it with positive reinforment our dog learns the behaviors we find acceptable. They are rewarded for remaining calm, not barking, paying attention to their handler. Our dogs can learn that seeing other dogs is a good thing, not a predictor of pain and frustraion. Using Clicker Training allows our dog to learn without stress, fear or pain.

So today was another reminder of why I LOVE Clicker Training and I think my dogs feel the same way :)

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