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New puppy! Need crate & clicker training pointers.

post #1 of 2
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We got a new puppy on Saturday. He is about 10 weeks old & was found locked in a trailer when his other people left him :( We are crate and clicker training him, and so far he is doing pretty well, but I do have a couple of logistical questions for both.


For the crate training, he does pretty well, is happy to go in, and will lie down before we open the door to let him out. The trouble is with walking away. I know the ideal would be to only have him in w/ you walking away as long as he is calm with it, treating & extending the length each time, but with my kiddos, that is just not possible. He will fuss/cry/bark for 5-10 minutes. He does settle down if you ignore him, but I'm wondering if anyone has tips for making it a little easier for him. I know the suggestion to treat him when I catch him being calm in there, but if I come over, give him a treat, and then walk away again, it just riles him back up again. Is that just the way it is and I should do it anyway, or would it be better to just leave him alone when calm? His crate backs up to a counter, would it be worth it to drop treats on him from the counter where he couldn't see me? It seems like the visual of someone coming and going is more disturbing to him than just knowing someone is moving around close by. Oh, and we are using a Kong & a treat ball, but even with those, he will fuss for a while first, then play with them a bit after he settles down. I guess I need to find something he likes better (so far just doing peanut butter & his food).


Second, clicker training. So far I'm mostly clicking & treating for calm behaviors & not getting mouthy while being handled. In one session I got him to where he would follow me, sit when I knelt down, then would follow when I said "okay" (think I'm going to change that to "release" or "free") and moved away. My question is, what's the best way to end a session? I think I may be letting them go too long & then something distracts him & it just kind of peters out. I definitely don't want that to become a habit! But how do I end the session when he's still so interested, without making him think he should just stop doing whatever we've been working on? Also, I'm wondering how many treats I should expect to go through. Right now I'm using Zuke's & cutting them into quarters so they're pretty small, but I've gone through probably a whole bag since Saturday afternoon (started w/ 2 & have about 1/2 left of each). Is that a sign that I'm treating too much, or does that sound about right?


Any thoughts/experience would sure be appreciated!

post #2 of 2

Sounds as if you are doing a good job so far! In addition to what you are already doing, you can try feeding your puppy in his crate. Also avoid closing the crate door when he is in there so he doesn't feel confined. Allow him to come and go as he chooses while you are able to directly supervise him. You can also use your clicker to mark his going in the crate and then treat him in there. Avoid increasing the duration of his stay in the crate in a linear fashion. Rather, make the duration you ask for unpredictable with the click ending the behavior and predicting a food reward.


Re clicker training, I'm a certified professional so I can advise you in this area.


First of all, the best way to end a session is on a positive note with the dog successful and still wanting more. Each training session should last only a couple of minutes and each set of trials for any one behavior 5, no more than 10 click/treats for a puppy. Your treats should be the size of a pea, perhaps smaller for a small puppy, no larger. Zuke's are fine but some dogs, including mine do not like them. I prefer natural food such as chicken and cheese. You can also use hotdogs if you don't use them to excess since they aren't very healthy and can also cause diarrhea when a lot are consumed. Food rolls such as Natural Balance also make good training treats when cut into pea-size pieces. Cheerios can also be used. Avoid wheat and corn as these grains are common allergens. You should maintain a high rate of reinforcement, so don't skip on the treats in the early training stages. If you are worried about overfeeding, adjust your puppy's meal ration accordingly or even use some of his kibble for training if he will work for it.


Cindy Ludwig, M.A., KPA-CTP

Owner, Canine Connection LLC

Dubuque, Iowa


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