I often tell my clients, “It is not always about what you DO in dog training, but what you USE.” My job as a dog trainer is to not only make each session easy for the owner to understand, but for the dog as well! This is precisely why I utilize “clicker training” for most of my cases ranging from basic obedience to aggression.
For those who are unfamiliar with this tiny little box of wonderful – a clicker is a handheld tool in which you press to emit a sharp (and unusual) “click” sound. With proper dog training, each “click” communicates to your dog that they have performed the desired task. Of course, like people, dogs expect a pay day for all of the work they have accomplished for you – which is why a treat must follow EVERY “click”! This powerful combination not only keeps your dog engaged, but clearly relays positive encouragement to work through even the most difficult behaviors.
Dontae and I are currently working on his dog reactiveness (based off intense anxiety). We take daily walks together around nearby neighborhoods to increase expose at a safe distance. A dog’s threshold is defined as the point in which your dog may go from relaxed and disinterested to quickly becoming aware and showing signs of interest to a specific stimuli. THIS is the point in which Dontae is teaching himself how to “self sooth” and ignore a dog in the distance. Stepping over your dog’s threshold is easy to target as they will begin to react (ex: barking, lunging, cowering) to the stimuli. Simply move back to where they can calm down again while still noticing the stimuli in the distance.
Each time Dontae looks away on his own (even for the slightest second), he receives a “click” followed by a yummy treat. By practicing this exercise each day, he is beginning to realize how much more rewarding it is to ignore nearby dogs as opposed to impulsively reacting. This is so incredibly critical in dog training because it not only builds self confidence, but encourages the dog to make good decisions on their OWN!
Your dog desires to work for and with you. Take advantage of this positive reinforcement method of dog training to change your dog’s behavior, as well as how they view the world.
Happy ‘Clicker’ Training!