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Shirley's Clicker Training Lessons
Lesson 1 - Ignoring Is Bliss

Okay, I am going to assume that all the dogs know that click equals treat.

Sit down and open a good book or turn on the TV. Keep an eye on your dog out of the corner of your eye. Sooner or later, your dog will lie down (yes, this is very basic). Click when elbows hit the floor and toss the treat so that the dog has to get up to get the treat.

Now, what is going to happen? Well, a large number of dogs are going to stand there and stare at their handlers with that "feed me again!" look on their faces. Handler does NOT say a word. Handler doesn't even appear to watch the dog! All you do is go on reading your book or watching TV. Dog continues to stare at handler. Handler continues to read or watch TV. Sooner or later, the dog will give up--and lie down. > Click! and toss treat again.

What if the dog never gives up? Then the handler never clicks again (at least, not during that session).

Some dogs will immediately begin to throw behaviors at the handler--this is great! Just keep half an eye on the dog and click whenever elbows hit the floor.

Questions for Lesson 1

  1. Why isn't the handler supposed to say anything?
  2. "I'm not getting the behavior--why can't I help the dog?" Well, you tell me. <Evil Grin!>
  3. Why is the handler reading a book or watching TV when everyone knows you have to watch the dog in order to train them?

See Shirley's discussion of the answers to Lessons 1 and 2 for further information.