Crystal, who has started training me (& also Frankie)

I’ve been talking the talk about dog training for a long time, emphasizing its importance in such posts as What Is Dog Training & Why Do It?

But, aside from an early small dog class that involved a choke collar (more on which later), I haven’t been walking the walk. My plans to start training  last September never materialized.

It was Frankie’s recent inhospitable behavior towards our doggie houseguest, Charles, that finally got me in gear. Last Friday, we started training with Crystal Saling of Delightful Dog LLC.

Crystal is a CPDT-KA (Certified Professional Dog Trainer- Knowledge Assessed), KPA CTP (Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner).

I will go into more detail about what those initials mean and why you should seek out someone with such credentials. And lots of other things having to do with dog training in general, and the process that Frankie and I are experiencing in particular. Every Tuesday.

For now I have two things to say:

  • I am a clicker clutz.
  • The type of training Crystal — and I — advocate takes time and patience. I can see why people turn to dominance techniques. Don’t worry, I’m not going over to the dark side. I’m just saying that it’s easy to jerk your dog into submission. Taking the time to understand body language and subtle signals, and to get the timing of rewards and clicks correct — not so simple. Especially for a clicker clutz.

28 thoughts on “Training Tuesdays”

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Training Tuesdays --
    1. Thanks — will do. Every Tuesday, except the ones where I have others — you? — weigh in on training issues…

  2. Going back to school is a good thing:))

    I was thinking it really wouldn’t hurt to take a class with Tashi to reinforce the basic obedience. We have an almost symbiotic relationship and just read each other and come to an understanding of what’s possible in the moment when we’re outside. The group class might be really interesting and fun for him. Thanks for the nudge:)

    I hope you and Frankie have a wonderful time and that neither you nor future doggy guests need be the object of Frankie’s dominant “affections.”

    1. Thanks, Mary! I’m sure Tashi will be a dog star in his class. Frankie wasn’t so keep on the group experience but he likes Crystal, the keeper of the kibble during his dinner. He is a bit confused by her odd clicking sounds, though…

  3. Do you wear your clicker on your wrist via a little bungee? That helped me stop worrying about dropping it.

    It does take some getting used to … clicker in one hand, food at the ready, ever watchful eye on the dog so that you can click/capture the right moment.

    They say that kids or people who play video games get the clicker timing much faster. That is SO not me, so it took me some time.

    I’m excited you’re taking classes. We still do regular drop-in advanced pet dog training with our longtime dog trainer … and Lilly will be 6 next month.

    1. I do have a little clicker bungee — I wish I had everything on one; I’d never lose my keys or glasses, again! – but it’s still tough to coordinate with the food and the behavior I’m trying to mark. And it’s a little loud! Crystal suggested I put it under my arm to muffle the sound but I would definitely drop it then.

      I’m not doing classes — Frankie’s not ready for that yet — but lessons at home. Classes are another goal!

      1. Remember, the beautiful thing about a clicker is the food doesn’t have to come INSTANTLY. The click told the dog that was the right behavior, if the food is a few seconds in coming that’s fine, they already know what was right from the click. I use a treat pouch, worn on the hip, to hold my treats (and free up one more hand) and after I click I reach in, grab a treat and deliver it. Less to carry, less to drop. The only trick then is not leaving your hand sitting in your treat pouch distracting your dog!

        As for loud, where’d you get your clicker? I’ve found that the Petco ones are REALLY loud, the Petsmart ones are quieter but still quite audible (what I use), and the button ones (like from KPA) are the quietest.

        I’m sorry, I love clicker training, so I’m going a bit nuts commenting. Shall try to reign it in…

        1. You clicker trainers are a rowdy bunch, Eileen! Just kidding — I love the enthusiasm. I know I will eventually get it (Frankie I have no doubt about). I got the clicker from Crystal, who claims I’m not as much as a clicker clutz as I claim.

  4. Yay, congratulations! I did not go to KPA, but through my school I studied with a KPA trainer and now use her methods successfully. I love clicker training! But I still get a lot of doubters in my classes, etc. Remember that clicker training is only slow at first..once you and your dog are good at it you can learn new cues at the speed of light! The other day I pulled out a stool and placed it in front of my dog. Four clicks (and about 30 seconds later) I had him standing on it with both front paws, the behavior I was going for. He knows how to learn, he knows how to think, and I can shape new behaviors so fast now! Plus there’s nothing like watching the lightbulb go on as they figure out what the click is for. Gotta love it!

    1. That actually looks like the clicker I have, except mine is on a bungee, not a ring. Thanks for your encouragement!

  5. Woot! I can’t wait to read about your adventures with Frankie and clicker training.

    Klutz! I was a total and complete klutz trying to juggle a clicker, leash and treats. Our trainer made it look so easy.

    You’ll become comfortable before you know it and you and Frankie will have a blast.

    I’ll be thinking about you on Tuesdays. That’s Sadie’s and my training day as well.

    1. Thanks, Deborah! So far a leash is not involved, but the timing of observing behavior, clicking, and rewarding eludes me. I’m also trying to learn Zumba at my health club so maybe coordination will be a general theme.

      Crystal will be coming on Thursday or Friday but I figure I’ll need a few days to process and write — thus training Tuesdays.

  6. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Breath in, breath out, relax and have faith in the dog.

    As long as you give the treat within a reasonable amount of time, it will work. From what I understand and have experienced is that the dog needs to know good things come from you when the right choice is made.( I could be wrong, I am not a trainer) But that is my experience.

    I have one dog that refused to even acknowledge that I was with her on walks. Never looked at me, never listened..etc.
    Now when I stop she stops, when I say “lets go” she follows me. When I say her name she comes.

    I can assure you that during that time I missed the timing of treats more often than I got it right. It also took way very many walks and treats to get to the point of my dog having an awareness of me on walks.

    I guess for me it was like this: Learn from the trainer,do the steps, give myself room to not be perfect and understand that the dog has some responsibility to learn also.

    1. Your encouragement and suggestions are much appreciated, Don. It sounds like you had a lot of success in achieving your goals — that’s excellent!

  7. I did clicker training with Lily greyhound when I first moved to Tucson. I mostly did it for socialization, hers and mine. We went to Handi-Dogs and the marvelous Phyllis Adams was our teacher (no longer associated with HD). Lily already sat which is odd for a greyhound but she would sit for 15 minutes in the kitchen hoping something would fall on the floor. She can no longer sit because of her spinal stenosis. Lily was food motivated so it worked well. I was the one who didn’t keep it up.

    I would practice with her in the backyard and then would practice with Painter too separately.

    Kudos to you for trying. I think clicker training is the way to go and I’m thrilled you are working with a trainer.

    My friend Diana’s greyhound Buddy became a service dog through clicker training.

    1. Thanks, Karyn.

      Buddy is one good-looking greyhound service dog! That reminds me…whatever happened to the first greyhound service dog belonging to she who shall remain nameless (not that she’s likely to read my blog)? You can backchannel me with that!

  8. And speaking of Painter, I forgot to post my absolute ardor for that picture of him in party hat, licking his pointy little nose. One of the best dog portraits I’ve seen!

  9. Awesome, so glad you and Frankie are on the road to clicker training. I have noticed it is an ongoing learning experience, so don’t be afraid.

    When I started Annie (my fearful girl) on clicker, well she ran into the other room and it took me 30 minutes to get her back out, with Jakes help. Later I got a quieter clicker: which she responds to much better.

    I am looking forward to your posts on yours and Frankies progress. Keep it fun.

    1. Thanks for that encouragement, Bo. I’ve been afraid that I’m creating an eating disorder in Frankie, what with feeding him his dinner in smaller portions as treats and clicking at him. I don’t try to do it in the a.m. because he’s pickier about eating to begin with — a problem with his insulin — and I’m (even) less coordinated than I am in the evening.

      1. I found a hint for this via twitter: Practice with a friend. Example: make a friend sit in a chair. Helps learn to use the clicker.

        1. Do you mean click at your friend? Frankie would love watching that! Yesterday my trainer clicked with me and also used something (for a little while) that made an approving noise when I got the click right. We need positive reinforcement too.

          1. Yes I meant click a friend. Example: have them sit in a chair and as soon as their bum hits the seat, click. This helps with your timing.

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