How Long Do You Train For?

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by Byky, Aug 15, 2011.

  1. Byky Member

    Hi! I'm new to clicker training and am expecting my clicker to arrive Wednesday! :) I have a 9 year old son with autism who we've decided needed his own puppy. We already have two dogs, but they are both older and not so interested in romping with an energetic young boy. We ended up with a beautiful Black German Shepherd/Brindle Pitt rescue. She's 9 months old and seems SO eager to please and VERY smart, so I'm really counting down the minutes till the clicker gets here!!! I have watched probably a hundred videos on clicker training dogs as well as training service dogs and already have my list of undesirable traits we need to train her out of (the major one being she is a mouther) and the list of tricks we would like to start her off with (she already has most of the basics which we will go over with the clicker.) and I understand the repetition process... but I haven't come across how LONG each day (or how many TIMES each day) is desirable... I don't want to spend TOO much time at this and I'm awful eager, so I think that could be an issue!!! Any suggestions on what would be ideal? 3x a day 20 minutes each? more? less??? Will it just "work out" as I learn what she can handle??? thanks!! Oh, and I will so continue with updates on her progress!!!
    Jean likes this.

  2. running_dog Honored Member

    Just wanted to say welcome to DTA!
    I'm sure someone will come along and answer your questions, I'm not going to risk giving you misinformation when there are loads of people who know lots more than me :).
  3. Byky Member

    Haha :) well thanks for the welcome :) i do hope I get a reply soon! Only 1 more day till I just dive in anyway! ***edit: err two days, tracking info says Thursday now :(*** I'm sure if I overdo it I'll notice but I was hoping for some examples beforehand.

    I'll be posting my list of desired tricks (so far) in the service dog section if anyone wants to take a look-see :)
  4. Anneke Honored Member

    Hi Byky, welcome to DTA
    The trick is to figure out how long your dog can concentrate, without getting bored... I usually train a trick/behaviour for only a few minutes, like 5 or so. Make sure u stop when it's going great. Of course you can train another trick/behaviour after this, but I wouldn't put to many things in one session of training. Keep it fun, play between tricks, so your dog can unload.
    For real tricks, like take a bow or those kind of things, I only train once or twice a day. But with things they need to know, like the basic obedience you can train a couple of times a day. For instance sit, you can train anytime, when you give food, when you want to put the leash on, etc. Walking on leash without pulling, you can train everytime you go out for walks.
    Like you said, you don't want to over do it. If your dog really refuses to do something you often train, just move on to something else and try again at a later point.
    I'll head on to the service dog section now, cos I'm curious:D:rolleyes:
  5. Byky Member

    I will make sure we end each session while she is successful, we want to keep her encouraged and feeling good. When we are starting with some of the basics I feel confident I will learn her limits before taking on more complicated tasks! I guess I just wanted a general baseline to add to our schedule... Everything in our life seems to have to be planned out lol
  6. Byky Member

    I just got through part of a training video that states "limit training time to a maximum of 45 minutes at a time" lol so I think my 10-20 minute sessions should work out and can be adjusted as needed :) lol

    ***edit: 15-20 minutes would cover 3+ tricks a session easily I should think... Assuming multi-trick training won't be confusing?
  7. Byky Member

    Finally got onto my computer to upload an avatar (can't do it from a phone!) The dog closest to the camera is Lava, behind her laying sideways is Chevrolet Maximus Domesticus (Chevy) and sitting off to the side is Bubba Gump. :) We also have a small farm load of other pets: 12 chickens, 9 rabbits, 3 ducks and a partridge in a pear tree er... well maybe not a partridge, or a pear tree... plum, apple, orange yes... pear, not yet! ;)

    I'm still confused about the length of training sessions. The video I watched wasn't for clicker training, it was for the more traditional reward/correction type training so it's precepts wouldn't apply well. I still haven't found a concrete answer but am willing to dive in head first anyway! :) I'll figure something out that works eventually no matter what so I'm not deterred LOL that's probably my motto!
  8. jackienmutts Honored Member

    I usually do sessions for about 15-20 min or so - and you can do a few sessions a day - maybe morning, noon, and night. A lot depends on the dog. Very young puppies (I know yours isn't) can only do maybe 5 min at a time cuz of their very short attention span - but you can still do several sessions a day. But - a 9 mo old GS/Pit mix should certainly be able to handle 15-20 min sessions, then try to end it with something really simple, then a few minutes of play. Do remember, a clicker dog is going to be a 'thinking dog' - vs the old correction taught dogs basically react - they know what not to do so as to avoid punishment. Your girl is going to be trying to figure so much out, trying to anticipate what you want, and is going to be throwing out behaviors in an attempt to get that click/treat. At the end of a session, she's going to be tired. Funny, but true. It's amazing how much a good 15-20 min training session can wear out a dog (think back, hard test in school - how tired you were when it was finished!) vs an hour of ball! :p

    I LOVE hearing when people are going to give clicker training a try - hooray!! Lots of people on here can help, so ask any questions as they come up. It's so much fun - and once you (the person) become savvy, there's almost nothing you can't teach your dog to do!

    Do remember, the first thing you want to do when you get that clicker, is "charge it" with your dog. Just get a load of treats handy, take that clicker, and start .... click, treat. Click, treat. Click, treat. Over, and over and over and over and over. For nothing. But - what you're doing, is letting your dog know that every single time she hears that click, it's a wonderful thing, and a fabulous treat is coming. Once that's programmed in, she'll work really hard to get that click, cuz she knows what's coming. See, the first lesson was really simple and fun, huh? Can't wait to hear how it goes!!! Have fun!! :LOL:
  9. Byky Member

    I'm very excited about the whole thing! I grew up with a my older sister's dog but it wasn't until I got my own at 12 that I first trained one myself... Without understanding the concept I trained that dog with a positive reinforcement method vs. A corrective (I was 12... I looooooved that dog lol) she learned to climb a ladder, pick out certain toys, put those toys away, shake as if she was wet when you'd hold your hand out and say shake (I thought it was funny) plus a ton of other fun tricks no one elses dogs seemed to know. So I'm very excited to have come across the clicker method because it just makes so much sense!!!

    I'm glad you mentioned 'loading the clicker' :) I did know that, but realized when I read your post this morning that I didn't look into that aspect as closely as the rest of the process and didn't know how long it takes or when you know for sure it's loaded!!!! I found a great article about it though through google and now feel confident of our first few lessons! The article summed up: JUST charge the clicker the first few sessions, until you KNOW it's loaded. You'll know it's loaded when you bust out with the clicker and the dogs eyes light up and her attention is focused on you waiting for that first yummy click lol it also suggests loading the clicker from different places so the clicker itself is the focus not the specific time or place! So yay!

    Our second lesson will be the default leave it, so she's not digging/pawing/trying to eat my treat hand :) assuming the clicker arrives today rather than tomorrow, I hope to start the touch this weekend!!! As I mentioned lava seems really bright and eager to please. She didn't have any formal training till now so we don't have any pre-conditioning to over come. I think she will grasp this much faster than out other two who I will be re-training with the clicker. I figure they will both have some adjustments to make and hope I can find a good treat for chevy who we haven't found a good treat for yet (his digestive system is insanely sensitive and prone to extremely bad doggie gas and diarrhea) I did see someone use a toy for a "treat" who would do small tosses for clicks so that may be our ticket with him.

    I plan on recording our sessions so that my son has a distraction free visual of what I'm doing. Most videos have heavy narration which is too much to process at once. :) He needs to learn the process as much as lava does IMO although he won't get his own clicker to help with chevy until I'm sure he won't send mixed signals. Of our 2 older dogs chevy is more understanding of his thought processes and behaviors than I could ever have expected... He grasps that 2 sets of commands exist in our household, the not-so-verbal less purposeful signaling kind and the clearly signed & spoken kind, yet he responds to both. So I think he would make an excellent tester of clicker skills :D

    **p.s. Thanks for the long welcome & suggestions, I know I've mentioned it a number of times lol but I am very, very excited about starting this process! I already know time and patience get great results and I've seen the clicker minimalizes the time factor so it's...well... Exciting!!! Hahaha
    Anneke and running_dog like this.
  10. Byky Member

    Well the clickers came! Early enough too so I was able to fit in 3 sessions today! The big boys are still fairly clueless as to the whole click-treat phenomenon lol although Bubba shows signs of getting it and I think both will have a grasp on it by tomorrow! They've had a lifetime to get set in their ways, but treats are a very strong motivator (because of Chevy's delicate tummy they don't get them often.) Oh speaking of which, tomorrow we'll have to try chicken... bits of hotdogs are definitely not a match for Chevy's tummy! Pee-Yew Poor Puppy!

    Lava on the other hand T-O-T-A-L-L-Y got it by that 3rd session! By the end of it, she was galloping for the tossed treat (she doesn't take them nice...YET!) and would run back to nose the hand holding the clicker! She is SOOOO ready to tackle the next lesson tomorrow!!!

    Anneke likes this.
  11. jackienmutts Honored Member

    Isn't it fabulous to see the dogs pick things up so fast, and so excited to learn? I LOVE it!! Watch out, it's addicting! :p
  12. Byky Member

    It is! And I think I'm already slightly obsessed haha! I do need to find tiny treats though, cutting up larger treats into 30+ pea sized ones PER dog PER session and then not having any on hand for random day clicks will drive me nuts in no time! I've already got am extremely full schedule and my hand is already a bit sore from cutting up... Uhm somewhere around 300 treat piece today!
    southerngirl, Anneke and running_dog like this.
  13. fickla Experienced Member

    Why don't you just use your dog's meals? No cutting up treats neccessary, just dish up the daily rations and dole out as needed through out the day :)
  14. Byky Member

    That's actually a great idea Ty! The treats we have we will use up first... I have a french fry cutter thing that is working great so far! Everyone is showing signs of understanding and lava already knows "touch", I have her standing, jumping and following my fingers around :) she also sits and with the help of touch is getting "down" :) chevy on the other hand wasn't getting it at all till I busted out his ball lol so he doesn't even need treats!!!

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