All really good advice here. JoAnne, don't forget one thing ... it's not only you who's trying to figure out this whole clicker thing. Asher is trying to figure it out too. Ok, so what the heck does she want me to do with this thing in my mouth?? If I pick it up, she makes that sound, and gives me a treat - GREAT! Now what do I do to make her give me another one? Think like your dog. Make it PERFECTLY clear to Asher - do whatever it's gonna take to make it clear to him. Give him the rod, the dumbell, whatever you're using - his mouth is ON it, click/treat. Make sure you're clicking when his mouth is ON it - then keep increasing the time his mouth is ON it BEFORE you click/treat again. If he releases his mouth, no click. That's why you only increase in a couple seconds at a time - and repeat so many times. It gives him a chance to say hmmmm, ok, so it has to do with my mouth, it's on that stupid stick, she wants me to hold it - I GET IT NOW!!!!
He'll suddenly have his ah-ha moment, and it'll be smooth sailing. The second you see he's GOT IT!! (and you'll know), really really praise him, don't hesitate to let him know that's what I'm looking for!!!
along with the click/treat - and he'll just sail!! You'll develop a whole new communication between the two of you, once you really get going. You'll start shaping new things, it will go really fast once you both really learn how it's done. Right now tho, be patient.
Be patient with each other. You're both new at this.
I read your scenario of your session again. If you're holding it with both hands - how about holding it with one hand (so you can click with the other), and the second
he puts his mouth on it, click/treat. Don't give him the opportunity to even begin to chew or take it. Don't let him get that involved or think that far. Then again, and again. Then, when he puts his mouth on it, make him wait a second or two longer - cuz this time, when there's no click, he's gonna wonder why not. See if he thinks about it???? Let him wonder what just happened. If he tries to take it - stop. Let him stew on it for a bit. Sometimes it good to let them think
. Then try again later - with the quick sessions of clicking the instant the mouth touches the dowel, then increasing the time again. See what happens, see if you can maybe increase by a second or two before he tries to grab it and chew.
As Ina said above, Asher is only 7 mos old - so if he's like most pups his age, the whole world is kind of like one big ol' chew toy, and heck, you're waving one right in front of his face.
Anyway, it's a thought... Keep up the good work, don't give up, you're both gonna have your AH-HA!! moment, and it's gonna get waaay easier for you (and you're also not gonna feel clumsy forever, I guarantee it!! - we've all been there).