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Click Training Frustration


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I started doing clicker training for the first time this Sunday with my greyhound Pixel, and it seems to be going very very slowly. I am not sure she understands anything other than the fact that when mommy gets out the clicker she gets treats. From reading the books it seemed like she should catch on pretty quickly, but I am not sure if she is. I don't know if it is me or if it is her.

 

Does anyone have experience with this? Did it go better for you?

 

Becky

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Why not find a class near you that uses clicker training? Training is a skill like anything else. You need to learn how to do it just as much as she does. In person instruction is always better imo when you're picking up something new. :)

 

ETA: I guess my answer to your question is it will get better if you get better. ;) There is a learning curve with these guys though. They've never been trained in this sort of way so it can take them a little while to catch on to the "game". My best advice: start with something EASY, set your dog up for success, and use incredibly high value treats. If you're doing it right, your dog should be receiving a high rate of reinforcement (lots of treats in a short session). If not, you're not being clear or you're making it too hard and your dog is going to lose interest. By easy, I mean something simple and fun like targeting your hand with her nose, not SIT. :lol

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If you could give a little more detail about your sessions and what you feel isn't working, it would help. Clicker training does work and it helps otherwise "slow" learned learn more quickly. But you do have to develop the skill a bit. I found that I often took too long to click so I'm not the best trainer, but try to be better. Greyhounds are all "fast twitch" muscle mass, which is what allows them to bolt out of the gate at 45mph, and also whizz through guesses about what you're asking for before you can click! :lol

 

Ok, that's an exaggeration. A little. But as mentioned, start very small because first the dog needs to learn how to learn. Once he gets that, he will pick up the behaviors more quickly and beg for more. Another good starting place is what I call the name game. Say the dogs name and when he looks at you, click and treat. If he is super new and doesn't respond to the name, you shape it by clicking when he turns his head, eyes or ears slightly in your direction. You know when he's heard you but just doesn't look? Click and reward that, and then hold the click later and later until you only click when he looks at you.

 

That not only teaches his name but it starts to build a bond, teaches him what the click means, teaches him how to learn, and can be the launch point for more advanced things.

Sharon, Loki, Freyja, Capri (bridge angel and most beloved heart dog), Ajax (bridge angel) and Sweetie Pie (cat)

Visit Hound-Safe.com by Something Special Pet Supplies for muzzles and other dog safety products

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So I started out with her targeting my hand with her nose and then getting a treat, which I thought was working, but now I am wondering if she was just sniffing for treats and not realizing she is doing anything.

 

Then I started "101 things to do with a box". Where I got a box out and anytime she interacted with the box she gets a treat. She seemed to understand, but when I try and hold the click to get her to do more or repeat something, we have a staring contest. :dunno

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It does take a dog that has never learned to offer behaviors a while to get the hang of the idea that they are doing something that gets something good. Especially something like interacting with a box, which has absolutely no inherent draw for them to investigate unless it smells good or usually contains food, or is otherwise interesting. Unfortunately you have to make it interesting, which is hard to do at the beginning.

 

I'd go back some steps, and try training for something she actually does show interest in doing all on her own. It could be a number of things: lying on her bed, moving toward her dish at feeding time, getting up when it is time for a walk, jumping into the car when it's time for a car ride.... You may have to be creative in finding something that she does do already that you can click-reward before you ask her to do something completely foreign to her by interacting with something that is completely uninteresting scenery like a box. The box is kind of an advanced step for a greyhound, who is used to being catered to like royalty and never had to learn to figure out how to get the people in her life to give her treats!

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Good to know. I read Kathryn Pryor's book on clicker training, and that is where the box idea came from. I think part of the problem may be that I am too slow on the clicking too. We'll keep working. If you know of any good resources (books, videos, etc), let me know. I am a researcher.

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As others have said, keep it REALLY SIMPLE and give it a good 3 weeks. Pick maybe 2 things -- say, touching your hand and one of those things she does all on her own -- and work on just those two things. That'll help her get the whole idea of doing stuff for rewards without confusing her about which thing she's supposed to do. Once she has that general idea, teaching other things will get easier.

 

While you're working on those 2 things, keep the happy in your voice and a smile on your face and try to maneuver so that she will succeed and get a quick reward every time. Training is supposed to be fun above all, and since she doesn't know how yet, you have to help her :) .

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You know the dog "gets" it when you click and the dog immediately looks to you for their reward. In the beginning the dog will continue doing whatever it was s/he was doing without completely realizing that they are about to get the reward. Once they understand that the click means their reward is coming they will instantly stop offering behaviours and look for their treat. This really shows when you accidentally click at the wrong time (we've all done it... clicked too early, thought the dog was about to do the behaviour and clicked but got psyched out by the dog and she didn't ACTUALLY do the behaviour) and she looks for her reward.

 

I haven't gotten my clicker out in ages. I tend to just voice "click" now with a "yes!". It means juggling less objects. But I typically start with a clicker because it is more consistent than voice. I have TONS of clicker videos on my blog from when I first started training Summit and Kili. There are specifically "touch" and "focus" training sessions with Kili as a young pup (if you click on the tag "Kili puppy" and go back to when she was probably 10-14 weeks there are some in there) which might give you an idea for timing and criteria.

 

But ultimately going to a training class that utilizes clicker training might be most helpful. With a clicker it all comes down to timing. Timing is the critical component in dog training, and it seems difficult for A LOT of people to get a handle on it. Some more so than others. Most of us are a little slow, but I saw lots of folks in my classes that were WAY behind and I could see that it was the main reason their dog wasn't "getting it". The trainer was able to help those folks get their timing down pat to really improve their dog's understanding. For other people a big issue is criteria... or strictness of criteria. Your criteria can't be too strict or too loose (especially at the very beginning). The dog needs to be rewarded frequently enough to be kept engaged and trying (i.e. criteria can't be too strict/difficult to start) but the dog also needs to be able to understand what is getting it the treat (i.e. criteria can't be too loose... you can't be rewarding a huge variety of offered behaviours). For example... if you want to teach a dog to target your hand with its nose then being too strict means requiring the dog to have a hard nose touch to the centre of your hand to get a reward. That is where you eventually want to get to but you can't use that as your criteria when you start or your dog's rewards will be few and far between and she will shut down. Too loose would be rewarding for nose touches to your hand, arm, leg, face, or with a paw instead of a nose. The dog is never going to hone in on the idea to nose touch the hand exclusively.

Kristie and the Apex Agility Greyhounds: Kili (ATChC AgMCh Lakilanni Where Eagles Fly RN IP MSCDC MTRDC ExS Bronze ExJ Bronze ) and Kenna (Lakilanni Kiss The Sky RN MADC MJDC AGDC AGEx AGExJ). Waiting at the Bridge: Retired racer Summit (Bbf Dropout) May 5, 2005-Jan 30, 2019

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Training overwhelms me at times. For example, if you are teaching your dog to lie down, you have to be very careful to treat when they are down, not when they are just about to release or then the associate the treat with the release. Perhaps you need to take a video and then get more help when others can see it objectively.

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From reading this and watching some videos I think I might be moving too fast. I am going to go back to "loading" the clicker and then try and get her to touch the back of my hand. Once we can get that down and I've added a cue for "touch" I'll move on. I really want to teach her to lay down reliably. Heck just do something on command other than get on the couch or in the car. Those I've sort of taught with more traditional training and she is very unreliable.


I think what makes this extra hard is we have our other dog very well trained, but we have had her for 12 years. We taught her as a puppy when they are much more easy to manipulate. Also she is a pitbull mix and just wants to do what I ask. Pixel seems more concerned with what she wants.

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Pixel seems more concerned with what she wants.

Welcome to the world of Greyhounds :lol

 

They have been around as a breed for at least a couple of thousand years and they have long since worked "with" man but not "for" man and boy does it show. They are even different as puppies, I raised two litter brothers from six weeks.

 

Keep following the great advice you are being given ( I am following it too as I have a newish Grey boy who has trouble focusing so I'm trying clicker training with him) things will start to fall into place.....and if you can successfully train a Greyhound I reckon you can train anything :lol

<p>"One day I hope to be the person my dog thinks I am"Sadi's Pet Pages Sadi's Greyhound Data PageMulder1/9/95-21/3/04 Scully1/9/95-16/2/05Sadi 7/4/99 - 23/6/13 CroftviewRGT

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Guest Greyt_dog_lover

Hopefully you did some research on the breed before adopting, and hopefully the group explained some things about greyhounds. As stated above, they have been bred as independent hunters, without the need for direct supervision from humans. They were not bred as companions as nearly 99% of all dogs. As such they do not have the drive to please, its just not their thing. When they learn to trust you, they typically will "chose" to please you, which in my opinion is a much better relationship.

How long have you had your hound? If it has been less than a few months, please realize that your greyhound has no idea of what it means to be a pet and a lot of things will take some time for the hound to understand what is expected.

Greyhounds are very smart creatures and it shows in how well they can adjust to pet life as an adult (think about it, all other dogs are taught from day one what it means to be a pet, a greyhound has to pick it up as an adult in a few weeks or months). I have had many fosters as well as my own hounds. They have all learned sit, stay, come, up stairs, down stairs, wait when doors are opened, jump into cars, shake, ect. all with hand signals. They are all trainable, you just have to establish a relationship with them and understand what best motivates each individual hound.

It will get better, just realize the history of your hound and have patience.

 

Chad

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It took Tracker 5 weeks to sometimes respond to the clicker noise in a way that showed he was expecting a treat. I never could get him to be consistent, even though I worked with him every day of those 5 weeks for one or two quick 15-20 treat sessions each. And I'm just talking about making the connection between the noise and the treat! I did try that 101 things to do with a shoe box (even though I knew he didn't know what the clicker meant), and all he ever offered me was pushing the box around with his nose, and when he had done that 5 times in a row (and got a high value treat each time) he got bored and fell asleep. He probably thought this whole thing was utterly stupid and undignified, treats or not. And he's a very food motivated dog!


So I don't have any real advice, other than IF Pixel at least shows an understanding of click means treat you should be able to get somewhere eventually. I've read a million times that once the light bulb goes off and the dog gets that his behavior can open the cookie jar, there's no stopping them.

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it's all timing, something that takes practice. your reflexes are 1/2 of it. i worked my first greyhound in a clicker class just to give her a jump start, and that's exactly what it did. we went straight to traditional training since she then understood what i wanted from her and the treat/food worked really well. i have witnessed trainers work their dogs w/ clickers and get great responses, but when the clicker and food were eliminated the dog didn't respond. they never bridged the gap and went to straight training.

 

some people love it, as you can sense, i'm not a big fan. but it does have it's place and time. reading about it is pretty confusing, much much easier in a class.

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Combining these two thoughts: "teach her to lay down reliably" and "they typically will "choose" to please you"....

 

My Capri knows "down" by both command and hand signal. Down for her means down into a sphynx position, her most natural pose next to flat on her side. She knows it cold. But even so, whenever I ask her to down (once a day minimum because she downs for toothbrushing) she often has to think about it. Do I want to? Hmm.... Well... Okay. And then slowly sets one front foot forward, then the other, stretches her tummy, then folds her backend down.

 

Don't fall into the "trap" of expecting instant obedience with these dogs so that you're going "down.... down.... down!.... DOWN!" Greyhounds do have opinions, so you'll have a better relationship with the dog if you give him a minute to think about what you're asking and comply. Actually, for any dog that's a good idea. I once saw a lady when out walking and she was making her dog sit at all street corners. When we met her, she told him to sit, he sat, and she snapped the leash. It was just bad timing, she wasn't patient enough so just as he sat, she leash-popped him to tell him to "sit NOW". That little dog almost rolled his eyes and sighed, but only I noticed! :lol At least he knew she wasn't punishing him for obeying!

Sharon, Loki, Freyja, Capri (bridge angel and most beloved heart dog), Ajax (bridge angel) and Sweetie Pie (cat)

Visit Hound-Safe.com by Something Special Pet Supplies for muzzles and other dog safety products

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