Dog Training

My dog Sadie has always been really receptive to training when I’ve had the time to do so. She knows a bunch of tricks and is pretty obedient…when she’s inside. If we’re outside, everything goes out the window. Too much stimulus out there and I have yet to have the time to train her properly in that setting.

The technique I’ve found to work the best is clicker training. With it, you can (rather quickly) shape behavior into what you want. You just have to think in baby steps.

For instance, right now I’m trying to teach Sadie to “say Howdy.” Basically the goal is: I’ll say those words and then she’ll bark. However, she’s a fairly quiet dog that doesn’t bark unless someone knocks at the door or if someone/thing “teases” her from the other side of the fence, two things I want to stay as is. But I was playing fetch with her the other day and she got all riled up and barked once when I kept having her come to me and then I made her backup before I threw the ball. So I grabbed my clicker and kept it on my desk with some treats for the next time it happened.

Sure enough, next time I was able to get her frusterated to the point where she’d bark and then I’d click and treat. It’s been a gradual process from there. She’ll only bark if she’s over excited when playing and she’ll only bark once. It’s like the bark is the climax of her playing.  Today when I was playing with her, I was able to get her to bark 3 separate times, but that was it.  Hopefully next time it’ll be more and then she’ll start to understand exactly why the click is happening when she barks (I actually haven’t charged the clicker in a while [if you know clicker training, you’ll know what that means]).  After that, I can then shape the barking behavior to occur after I say the command “say Howdy!”

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