Clicker Fever

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By Emily Dennison

Hello! I’m a Marketing Product Manager at Premier® Pet Products. I’m not a professional trainer. Ok, I’m not even a dog owner. I’ve attempted clicker training once – at Terry Ryan’s Chicken Camp. It was a blast! Our chicken, Goldie Hen, although lazy, made abrupt movements which I found difficult to keep up with. After completing the course, I had picked up a lot of tips about clicker training, and felt unusually comfortable around chickens. But I was still unsure of whether my clicker skills would pass any test.

When putting my clicker skills to use with a more domestic animal, I chose the Clik Stik® as my tool of choice, and attempted to do some target training with our neighbor’s dog, Deacon. Deacon is a 6 year old German Shepherd/Lab mix that was rescued from the Richmond SPCA when he was 3 years old. As far as she knew, my neighbor believed that Deacon was also a novice at clicker training.

Before making an effort to train, I solicited some advice from our Training and Behavior department. Focused and ready to take on this challenge, I arrived at my neighbors’ house. My neighbors told me a few of Deacon’s tricks, and I gave them a brief overview on clicker training. 

During our session together, I learned that Deacon would work for Liver Biscotti® training treats! I clicked/treated each time he sat. Then, I presented the target of the Clik Stik. Surprisingly, he touched his nose to it – twice! And then he completely lost interest. After a few minutes, my neighbors gave it a try with the same results – Deacon touched his nose to the stick twice and then lost interest. Can you say short attention span?

I sought out more advice from our Training and Behavior department before giving it another go. Using my hand instead of the targeting stick, Deacon gave the same response – touch twice, and then ignore. I tossed the clicker to my neighbor and she clicked. Deacon didn’t even flinch. Evidently, we hadn’t “loaded the clicker” enough – he wasn’t making an association with the click and treat. He simply wanted treats!

So we started fresh. My neighbor began loading the clicker, and after about 20 clicks/treats, Deacon started to pay attention. That clicking noise means something!

Upon ending our last session together, my neighbor said “I’ll work with him on it.” So if nothing else, clicker fever is catching!

In conclusion, clicker training isn’t as easy as some of us (ahem) make it look. However rewarding, it’s a challenging task! Any tools or resources that can be used to make life easier should be used. Premier makes the trainer’s life easier by offering numerous training tools:

  • Clik-RTM – Hand-held clicker with finger band.
  • Clik Stik® – All-in-one clicker with retractable target stick.
  • Clik-RTM Duo – Train two pets at once! The Clik-R Duo features two electronic sounds – one like a traditional clicker and the other a unique triple-chime sound.
  • Clik ‘n CountTM – Available in fall 2011, the Clik ‘n Count gathers data from your training sessions! In addition to the “click” button, which provides an electronic version of the traditional sound, this device gives you the ability to gather data on cueing, response time and uncued responses. If you prefer, you can use one of the buttons to mark other events during the session. After a simple download to your computer, the software creates a graphic timeline of each session, as well as providing rate of reinforcement and average latency. Just imagine how much more effective you can be with this kind of information!
  • Treat Pouch by Terry Ryan – Our Treat Pouch has a super strong hinge, water resistant lining, a storage pocket, a ring attachment and is roomy enough to fit your entire hand. Available in four colors: red, blue, green and black.
  • Liver Biscotti® – Made from only fresh, whole ingredients, our Liver Biscotti treats are naturally wholesome and preservative-free. Baked fresh in the USA, Liver Biscotti is available as Sprinkles or in Small, Original and Bow Wow Bite sizes. Two recipes available: Original and Wheat & Egg Free.
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