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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
...OK, soon we will have a small dog. I think. I will be keeping her indoors exclusively. But, naturally, we will take her for walks!
She is young from what I can tell & neglected now. HOWEVER she appears to be VERY bright! Sometimes she jumps & I say "we don't jump, remember?" & she stops, like she knows what I'm saying.
(Maybe I am reading into it though...)

What advise would seasoned dog owners give me?
Where do I start?

TIA!
 

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Start with the "look at me" command. This is the most important command you will teach.

Start with a clicker (google it) and click it once and give the dog a treat immmediatly afterwards. Do this lots and lots of times, until you can click the clicker, and the dog will look at you for the treat. (it is different for each dog. A border collie might pick it up in 20 clicks, other dogs might take 50 or more)

OK. Each time I type "click" I'm implying "click and give a treat"

Gradually streach out the time between the click and the treat. Say "look at me" while clicking at first, but eventually just say "look at me" and click when she looks at you.

Once she has this down, it's so much easier to teach the other commands, because "look at me" basically means that the dog is focused completely on you.

After that; sit, down, and stay are pretty easily taught with a clicker. I wouldn't train a dog any other way. This is how I taught my pomeranian and she is a very well behaved, for a dog that started out extremely stubborn.

Oh yeah, when you use treats, use a really smelly stinky treat that you don't use for anything other than training. I use chopped liver pieces. And use pretty small pieces. You don't want the dog to fill up too quickly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Then what happens when you don't want to give treats anymore? When you just want her to listen sans reward?
 

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In classic clicker training, you keep rewarding, but you do it less frequently and on a random schedule--it works on the principle that if every time you pull the lever the slot machine gives you money, you'll pull it when you need money. If it NEVER gives you money, you'll give up and not pull it. But if it gives money occasionally and on a random schedule, you'll repeat the behavior over and over and over again, hoping for the payoff.

You can also use the clicker to shape the behavior, then fade out both the click and the reward, instead relying on vocal cues and praise. You reserve the clicker for brushing up on behaviors and on shaping new ones.

I food train (and here I should mention that I train for house manners and healthy dog interaction only; I am not a serious or competitive trainer with major philosophical commitment), but I don't carry food with me. Right now we're working on an automatic sit with Cricket, my return/rehab puppy. I want her default behavior to be a sit--whenever we stop when walking, when she wants a bit of bagel, when she's nervous, whatever. I want her to have a sit stamped in her brain. So we have several training sessions with food every day, where she gets rewarded for a fast and neat sit. But I'm also asking her for sits and just using verbal praise without food constantly, all through the day, and when I want the sit to be super calm and NOT rewarded (like before we go through doors; I don't do a major verbal reward because I don't want her to get excited and think the behavior is over; she needs to remain calm and be ready to sit again on the other side of the door), I don't reward at all. Just sit and then OK to release her to go through the door.
 

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Sorry, I forgot to mention that. Yeah, you only treat everytime for a week or so, then you phase out the treat so the clicker becomes the reward. Basically, the clicker means "that is exactly what I want you to do" It's more efficiant than saying "yes" or "good boy" because you click the exact instant they are doing what they are supposed to be doing. I only treat a few times in a training session with my pups, now, and I almost never treat with commands that they already know.

I started clicker training with my dogs because my sheltie is so soft. He cringes like he's beat everyday if you raise your voice to him. (and no, he's never been hit) He's much more confident now that he knows that we will tell him what he needs to do. He doesn't worry so much.
 
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