Friday, April 20, 2012

More Adventures from Puppyland...Clicker Training

Michelle has recently added a second dog to their house.  And adorable puppy named Katsu.  She'll be sharing some of her adventures in puppy-land with us from time to time...

So, let me confess something to you, I do not like puppies. I am strange, I know that, but I prefer older dogs that can think and can work with me. I like dogs that if I tell them to do something, or minimally show them how to do it, they do it. Now, yes, Shibas tend to do it a bit different than other breeds, and you can’t say they do anything 100% of the time when asked, but they at least know I asked. Puppies do not work that way. You try to teach a puppy something in the 5 minute window you have before their attention wanders to the piece of lint on the floor, and you may get lucky and see that behavior again in a few months. Maybe…
Puppies and new fosters are relatively similar except with older fosters, you have a dog that has the ability to concentrate for at least 10 minutes and if you have a nice food treat, maybe even longer than that. True, fosters typically have no training when you get them . Yet, you are not at square one with housebreaking and they are capable of paying attention to you. I absolutely love when my foster dogs figure out how the clicker works. They love throwing out behaviors to see what I will click and treat.
Yesterday I took out a clicker for Katsu (11 week old Shiba puppy). My intention was to just “prime the clicker” which is basically click it and give her a treat so she associated the click with food. Simple enough so I thought. First, she wanted to eat the clicker. That was new to me. So, I put the clicker in my hand with treats so I could keep her a tiny bit away with my other hand. Nope, that did not work. She just bulldozed herself into my lap and found she could get the treats faster now because I could not keep my hand completely closed around the food. I’ll give her points for creativity. Now I remember why I use a marker word and not a clicker with my older dogs. You cannot hold a clicker, treats, a leash, and a puppy all at the same time. To complicate matters further Taiko heard the clicker and was all excited and thought it was time to train him with it. Then he got grumbly because Katsu was getting treats and he was not. So, I had to start handing out the treats to Taiko occasionally or put him in the back room. Decided to let him outside in the backyard and went back to puppy that now had pottied on the living room rug while I was dealing with Taiko. Eventually, I used up all my treats with her in a very loose definition of clicker work. Even before my treats were eaten up, I could already tell I had lost her interest completely in this “game.”
So, what I thought was going to be a simple 5 minute exercise training Katsu, ended up being about fifteen minutes teaching me a humbling lesson of needing to be better prepared when I start training and understand I was dealing with a very young puppy that really cannot handle a regimented training plan for even a small stretch of time. I always knew when working with Shibas you need to be flexible and roll with it. Puppy brains though, it has been a while since I have dealt with that level of immaturity. Thankfully, puppies grow up and become dogs. I love my adult dogs. 

Michelle H. (Minnesota)

No comments:

Post a Comment