Thorn's improvement - and a ?? about "treats" "clicks" & "praise" (added pic!) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 11-06-2008, 11:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My Thorn is SO much better after an incident where he (sort of) bit someone... (a previous thread)

I've been fetching him to exhaustion every day and training every day.

I fully believed my Thorn would respond best to "clicker" training and he currently understands that clicker=treat; that is to say the clicker has been charged.

I love the positive methods of training - though many claim you have to be fairly dominant, rough, or aggressive with ACDs, Thorn is very soft and downright mellow for an ACD - in fact IME he seems more mellow than other young dogs in general with the exception of his response to (a) other dogs, and (b) introductions/appearance of new people on the scene. He isn't aggressive usually, just very excited.

Today I had a training experience, and I'm wondering if the click isn't working as well on him as praise. He faithfully sits, down, stays; pretty good recall and "leave-it", off is a challenge but getting better. I have been working on a couple of simple tricks.

Today I was teaching him to "spin" to his left. I worked for about 5 minutes, capturing/shaping each movement; click, treat. He was "sort of" getting it after 5 minutes - he learns quickly! Then, I ran out of treats, went to get more, got distracted... etc etc. We went to another room and I decided to see if he'd spin, for the heck of it. Well, after a couple of tries he sort of did a spin, and I went nuts with praise, let him jump up on me and cuddled him. Then I said "spin" and did my hand motion; he did the spin right away! I praised him, and he did it again! He responded and learned much more rapidly with praise than he did with treat alone, or with click-and-treat.

So should I just start praising him? He sucks it up! The trainers we have been planning on working with are certified Karen Pryor clickertrainers - I'm worried if I go off course with clicker training that I'll ruin him. I want to take him to group obedience to deal with his socialization issues and I am really impressed with these trainers... so should I be consistent and keep up the clicker, or do praise only (it is so much more convenient, and boy am I lazy!)...

Sorry to be so long about it - honestly things are just "clicking" today for T and myself (no pun intended) and I'm so happy! He's such an amazing pup!

TIA!

Oh - here is a picture of my baby!
Hiredhand Thorn Tree
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#2 of 9 Old 11-06-2008, 11:55 PM
 
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Yay for you guys!! I am a huge proponent of clicker training, but I also use lots of other methods to train my dogs (ie. luring, using targets, praise/play). I like using the clicker when I'm trying to shape something because it gives a very clear signal to the dog that what they did at that moment was correct. It certainly doesn't need to take the place of praise of vice versa. I am usually completely silent when first capturing behaviours as I want the dog to be able to concentrate. As he/she is catching on, I start to get very excited with my voice when they do it right and they get a click. So I'll say "yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay" with the click and then have a huge party (jackpot of cookies, or a tug session, or just a vigorous petting session). If I do that too early on though, IME, the dog gets too distracted. Keep up the good work!
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#3 of 9 Old 11-06-2008, 11:59 PM
 
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The clicker is nothing more than a marker that says "you just did it right!" It doesn't have to be followed by food--it can be followed by crazy praise like Thorn likes, or ball tugging, or anything the dog really wants. Think of it like saying "YES!" only in a much more distinctive and predictable way. In the same place in the behavior that you'd yell "YES!", put the click. And then follow up with something he grooves on.
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#4 of 9 Old 11-07-2008, 12:00 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Make sense! I think he's more praise motivated than treat.

Kristin! Rue is ADORABLE!
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#5 of 9 Old 11-07-2008, 02:08 AM
 
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I have nothing constructive to add, but I had to say Thorn is GORGEOUS!!!! :
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#6 of 9 Old 11-07-2008, 02:35 AM
 
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I wanted to say, as an aside, that it is SO wonderful to see you throwing so much time and energy into him. It is just a miracle how self-reinforcing training is--when the dog starts to get it, it's such a huge rush that you want to do more. And you start feeling happy and proud every time you look at the dog instead of apprehensive and guilty (at least that's the way I feel!). Good on you!
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#7 of 9 Old 11-07-2008, 09:06 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thekimballs View Post
I wanted to say, as an aside, that it is SO wonderful to see you throwing so much time and energy into him. It is just a miracle how self-reinforcing training is--when the dog starts to get it, it's such a huge rush that you want to do more. And you start feeling happy and proud every time you look at the dog instead of apprehensive and guilty (at least that's the way I feel!). Good on you!

:
Thank you!
Well, you do know how guilty - sick really - I felt after "the incident" with Thorn. I figured the best course of action was to teach him basic manners, get him under control... and then if the problems continue, get behaviorist intervention.

If you go to petfinder you'll see that there are SO MANY Australian Cattle Dogs that need homes - well, any breed, this is true, has too many representatives there - but ACDs are so hard to rehome; they have such a strong bite tendency and are so easy to wreck, emotionally. Which is a shame, because those characteristics stem from the same things that make them amazing pets... they bite because that's their job when herding - but you can suppress that and turn their working dog mind toward watching your house, kids; fetching, getting laundry out of the dryer. They are easy to wreck because they are so incredibly devoted to you. Thorn is by my side constantly.

I almost lost him, I'm working harder now than I would have had to if I'd just kept up with my commitment from the start.

ACDs are not for everyone, but I guess any dog has the potential to be an amazing pet or a vicious beast. Its a shame that so many people have good intentions when they buy or rescue a dog but when push comes to shove, they'd rather walk away from a living, feeling creature and throw its fate to the winds than take responsibility. I did that once, when I was an adolescent, and I came really close to creating that situation again with Thorn, and I just can't be that person!!! The funny thing is that so many people actually create that situation in the first place by not training their dog - and they say they "did everything they could" when they wind up with a dog with behavior issues and have to put it down or rehome it. Yeah - you did everything you could! You did everything you could to create a vicious beast!

Okay, done now - I feel like I just went to confession LOL!
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#8 of 9 Old 11-07-2008, 11:16 AM
 
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Originally Posted by daekini View Post

Make sense! I think he's more praise motivated than treat.

Kristin! Rue is ADORABLE!
Thank you

I can't see Thorn's picture....it says I need to sign in
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#9 of 9 Old 11-08-2008, 01:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I can't get the darn thing to work! Well, you can see him in my siggy link.

Thorn and I went to the animal shelter spay/neuter/microchip/rabies clinic today for his vax; there were literally over a hundred dogs in line. He did great! He was pretty excitable at first but chilled within 15 minutes, of course there were bursts of excitement but he was controllable and made no attempt to bite. Thank goodness!

Thorn is cryptorchid so I'm going to have to take him to a reduced cost clinic for neutering. His vet quoted over $500, price checks got me to a vet that would do it for around $300. I found a local clinic that does it for $88 through their reduced price program but they called and said they'd have to reschedule (he was to have it done on Friday); today someone at the shelter said they'd heard it was going out of business. :

When I got him we were in a better place financially than we are now - I'm having to scavenge the charitable organizations for care! I used to be one who donated and volunteered, but I still feel bad.
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