This past week the puppies got their first introduction to the clicker.
I’ve already introduced them to the cheese to make sure they will readily take a treat from my hand. I want to make sure they are willing and eager for a treat before I introduce the clicker. So usually after I deworm them, they get a “cheese chaser” to make the medicine go down.
The first deworming is usually done at three weeks, a second at four weeks and the third at five weeks. (this is a basic dewormer that all the pups start out with). So those first two dosed are great times to introduce the cheese.
When they’re really young I will use a soft cheese like this whipped cream cheese or the cheese in a can as it’s easily licked off my finger.
When they get older (or when you get your pup home) you can use small pieces of a harder cheese or cooked chicken. When we’re using treats for training it’s better if the rewards are small and easily eaten so we can move on to the next step in whatever we’re working at. But I regress…
When I first introduce the clicker, it will be just a minute or two session of “training”. All I do is “click” the clicker, then give the pup a treat. I don’t show the treat first. The noise of the clicker is first, then follow up with the treat. I’ll repeat this about ten times in a row. We’ll usually have a couple session of this click-treat (times ten).
What this process is doing is training the brain to know that after the pup hears the click that something yummy will follow.
Do you remember Pavlov’s dog? Ring the bell, get a treat? The dog’s would actually start to salivate in anticipation of the treat. This is basically what we’re doing with the clicker intro. It’s called classical conditioning.
This is the start of positive reinforcement dog training. It’s a positive, fun way to train your pup. I’m no expert as I have always trained my dogs with the more traditional methods (luring, etc) and am still learning this myself.
If you want to learn more about it here is a page from the website with some books that will walk you through the process and show you how to do this with your puppy (or adult dog).
Cheese monster in the making!