Clicker Training Brag with Zoe

Discussion in 'General Dog Training' started by sara, Oct 31, 2010.

  1. sara Moderator

    I've been spending most of my free time lately learning the ins and outs of clicker training. I've read a couple of books and spent a ton of time on the internet. i started it because of Oliver, my fear aggressive and reactive boy. I've taught Ollie alot of tricks and movements with clicker training, which has gotten progressively more complicated as we get better and gain confidence.

    I recently began asking other people to let me try to train their dogs something, I've worked with a GSD who was having issues learning to "get in" and within 25 mins, he was doing it! I worked with a couple of 6 month old pups who are bored and destructive, and spent about 20 mins with each dog, one learned sit, down and shake, the other learned sit, stand and to put her paws up on a block. I am AMAZED by the ammout of success I've had.

    Today I had a GREAT BIG light bulb moment :dogbiggrin:

    I got smart and decided to try and see what I could do with Zoe, a horribly abused, possibly puppymill breeder dog. She has been the saddest case I have ever seen, shutting down, having panic attacks, the works. She is sooooo fearful of anything new. I have had Zoe for almost 7 years, and she has come soooo far, but she'll never be normal.

    I sat on the floor with Zoe and her dinner, my Mom on the couch with the other 3 dogs, all watching. I started by dropping a peice of food on the floor and clicking every time she picked up the food, after about 20 or so times, I asked her for a sit a few times, clicking when her butt hit the floor, so she learned what the click meant. after I loaded the clicker, I moved on to clicking every time she moved a foot without going anywhere, with the idea of teaching her to pat her feet on command (she does this when excited, so I thought it'd be a great place to start)

    My Mom asked what I was asking her to do, I explained that I was trying to get her to pick up, and put down her feet in the same place, like she's patting the floor. My Mom said, why dont you touch her foot so she knows what you want. I explained that clicker training is about making the dog think about what it takes to get the click, not about physically making the dog do it, she didn't really get it.... until something wonderful happened :dogohmy:

    I caught Zoe picking up and looking at her foot like it was this weird appendage, and what was her foot doing to make her get a treat?:doglaugh::doglaugh::doglaugh:(too cute for words!) So I clicked that behavior, then she did it again, so she got another click. then she picked up her foot, and put her nose right to it, click for that, then after a pause, a foot pat, and a look around (I SWEAR you could see her thinking!!! :msnhugegrin: ) she lifted her paw to her nose again! she began consistently touching her paw to her nose! I never once touched Zoe, or moved myself, except to give her the treat.... She used her little brain, what a good little dog!

    I know it's not what I set out to teach her, but as clicker training often does, it morphed into a better behaviour! I am so impressed with my little paranoid girl, who, for the longest time couldn't even learn to sit through her fears, tho she did learn to sit and shake and wave with conventional treat eventually training.

    I cant believe it took me so long to try clicker training with Zoe! She's a little STAR!!! on to bigger and better things with her now!!! maybe I can teach her to touch scary objects on the floor... hmmmn....:msnohyes:

  2. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Congrats on all the things you've discovered with clicker training. :) And congrats on Zoe figuring it all out. ^^
    It's a great feeling when you get that "lightbulb moment" and realize that the possibilities are endless as to what you can teach a dog. For me it's like a drug...I always want more!!! I want to teach more tricks, come up with more tricks, learn more, read more...everything! I could probably build a whole library by myself of just dog training books. I have sooo many, lol.
    Congrats on your success with Zoe, and all the other dogs. :) This is only the beginning!
  3. jackienmutts Honored Member

    Oh Sara, I was reading your post and I was so excited for you and for Zoe - that's amazing and wonderful!!! Doesn't that just make you feel like you could go conquer the world?? I know the feeling, and it's just the coolest thing! You watch that brain in gear, and their fears (at least for that moment) are gone, and they're just engaged and thinking and trying and figuring things out -and it makes you want to jump up and down! Congrats to you and Zoe, and keep up the good work!!!:dogtongue2:
  4. sara Moderator

    I became a clicker training ADDICT after realizing i was doing "clicker training" with my deaf dog, without realizing it! LOL Then i needed to know more. I got REALLY into it after I adopted Oliver and saw how reactive he was, then Click to Calm was mentioned by one of you guys a couple of years ago, and I became hooked. I now use clicker training with every dog I work with. But I really cant believe I never tried it with Zoe... I guess I just left her alone because she's happy, mostly, and has a nice regimented life, she doesn't seem to want to be trained... I even told people that Zoe was sent to me to show me that not all dogs can be "trained" Some dogs just need to be... Well I proved myself wrong on that one! I probably wont do alot with her, tho I'll try to use it to help boost her confidence... I'm glad I waited until I knew as much as I did tho, I did some things wrong in the beginning with Oliver and Scout, that I'm now having to re train, If I'd made those mistakes with Zoe, I could quite possible have ruined Zoe for it. So after almost 7 years, with an 8.5 year old dog, we now have sucess!!!
    I had a devil of a time not grabbing Zoe, hugging the stuffin' outta her and doing a happy dance! it would have scared her witless! My Mom was so shocked, the look on her face was priceless when i trained Zoe to do a fairly complicated trick with out talking to her, or touching her... I think it's safe to say she was blown away! LOL She thinks I just created a miracle! LOL I am also really glad she got to see it, as I dont think she'd'a believed it if I told her:msngiggle: Even after seeing what Oliver, Scout and Mouse can do, she's never seen me train them. I mean Zoe was a dog that took 2 YEARS to be able to take a treat out of my hand! and now she's doing tricks for them!:dogbiggrin::dogbiggrin::dogbiggrin:
  5. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Oh definitely, every dog can be trained. Not every behavior problem can be completely cured, but every dog can be trained, whether it's to sit or to lead the blind or to just respond to their name, every dog can be trained. Many people don't even realize that they've trained a conditioned response to their dog. How many people can say, "Wanna go outside?" and their dog goes nuts and runs to the door. Or "Hungry?" and they start drooling or run to their dish. Simple, everyday things that your dog responds to...although small, this is training!
    Every dog that comes to my house(to stay) is going to get at least a small degree of training. Heck, I've even trained strays that come around. They enjoy it(some of them only enjoy it after they get the hang of it), I really enjoy it, and it makes them use their mind instead of just playing or sleeping or whatever. Can you imagine what Einstein would have been like if he had been stuck in a dark room with nothing but food and water once in a while? He'd go absolutely insane; all those brains and no way to use them!! :dogsmile:
    A trainer friend of mine used to have a deaf pitty(who unfortunately started having seizures at 9 months old and had to be put down at only a year old). She learned over 100 hand signs in her short lifetime and was a great advocate for not only a misunderstood breed, but also for deaf dogs. :)

    And as for Zoe...
    Just goes to show you can teach an old dog new tricks. :)
    Keep up the good work!!!
  6. sara Moderator

    Karen Pryor recommends working with another species other than a dog, Have you tried that yet? I want to try it with my friend's Cat... I wonder how sucessful I'll be, but If I can teach the cat something, than I KNOW I am on the right track :) The thing about clicker training I've noticed, is that you can make sooo many mistakes as a novice, and it's vital that someone interested in becoming good at it does more research. I'm so GLAD I read the books I have, I understand the theories behind it so much more. I particularly found Karen Pryor's book "Reaching the Animal Mind" immensely helpful as she goes into the science behind the theory and backs up her findings. After reading that, i cant believe ANYONE would EVER follow Cesar Milan.

    I've spent the better part of 2 years learning clicker training, BUT I was able to put it to use with just a few helpful hints from places like this, as a Novice, i did ok, but now that I understand it so much better, I can train anything! My sucesses always make me feel great, but I was on top of the world after working with Zoe last weekend! I will no longer be content with her to just be happy, she will now get as much training as the rest of my furry friends!!!

    TXCG, you know I have a thing for deaf dogs, and I WOULD LOVE a deaf Pit Bull!!! but deaf dog #3 will be arriving in my home at the end of the month!!! He's not a Pitty. But he's ADORABLE!!!

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