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KAREN PRYORS 15
Sheet Series: Issue 3
The following 15 rules are invaluable for any
clicker trainer. Although the rules refer to dogs, they are as
equally valuable and relevant for horses and any other member of
the animal kingdom. Simply insert relevant horsey
treats and behaviours. I have copied these rules in total, so as
not to loose any of the valuable information they portray:
Don't worry, at first,
about getting rid of behaviour you don't like. Instead, start
with some good things you want the dog to learn to do. Keep
notes. The refrigerator door is a good place. Jot down what the
dog was doing when you started. Once a day or so, jot down what
you have achieved with each behaviour. You will be surprised at
the progress! Reward YOURSELF for the dog's improvements. Here
are some simple tips to get you started.
- Push and release the springy end of
the clicker, making a two-toned click. Then treat. Keep
the treats small. Use a delicious treat at first: little
cubes of roast chicken, say--not a lump of kibble.
- Click DURING the desired behaviour,
not after it is completed. The timing of the click is
crucial. Don't be dismayed if your pet stops the
behaviour when it hears the click. The click ends the
behaviour. Give the treat after that; the timing of the
treat is not important.
- Click when the dog does something you
like. Choose something easy at first, that the dog is
likely to do on its own. (Ideas: sit; come toward you;
touch your hand with its nose; raise a paw; go through a
door; walk next to you.)
- Click once (in-out.) If you want to
express special enthusiasm, increase the number of
treats, not the number of clicks.
- Keep practice sessions short. Much
more is learned in three sessions of five minutes each
than in an hour of boring repetition. You can get
noticeable results, and teach your dog many new things,
by fitting a few clicks a day here and there in your
- Fix bad behaviour by clicking good
behaviour. Click the puppy for relieving itself in the
proper spot. Click for paws on the ground, not on the
visitors. Instead of scolding for barking, click for
silence. Cure leash pulling by clicking and treating
those moments when the leash happens to go slack.
- Click for voluntary (or accidental)
movements toward your goal. You may coax or lure the dog
into a movement or position, but don't push, pull, or
hold it. Work without a leash. If you need a leash for
safety's sake, loop the leash over your arm or through
your belt; don't use it as a tool.
- Don't wait for the "whole
picture" or the perfect behaviour. Click and treat
for small movements in the right direction. You want the
dog to sit, and it starts to crouch in back: click. You
want it to come when called, and it takes a few steps
your way: click.
- Keep raising your goal. As soon as you
have a good responsewhen the dog is voluntarily
lying down, coming toward you, or sitting repeatedlystart
asking for more. Wait a few beats, until the dog stays
down a little longer, comes a little further, and sits a
little faster. Then click. This is called
- When the dog has learned to do
something for clicks, it will begin showing you the
behaviour spontaneously, trying to get you to click. Now
is the time to begin offering a cue, such as a word or a
hand signal. Start clicking for that behaviour if it
happens during or after the cue. Start ignoring that
behaviour when the cue wasn't given.
- Don't order the dog around; clicker
training is not command-based. If your dog does not
respond to a cue, it is not disobeying; it just hasn't
learned the cue completely. Find more ways to cue it and
click it for the desired behaviour, in easier
- Carry a clicker and "catch"
cute behaviours like cocking the head, chasing the tail,
or holding up one paw. You can click for many different
behaviours, whenever you happen to notice them, without
confusing your dog. If you have more than one dog,
separate them for training, and let them take turns.
- If you get mad, put the clicker away.
Don't mix scoldings, leash-jerking, and correction
training with clicker training; you will lose the dog's
confidence in the clicker and perhaps in you.
- If you are not making progress with a
particular behaviour, you are probably clicking too late.
Accurate timing is important. Get someone else to watch
you, and perhaps to click for you, a few times.
- Above all, have fun. Clicker training
is a wonderful way to enrich your relationship with your
printed information contained in this fact sheet was written by
Karen Pryor (http://www.karenpryor.com/)
& downloaded from http://www.clickertraining.com/.
Karen is the author of Dont Shoot The Dog originally
published in 1984. Although it is mostly about teaching people,
it also became the "bible" on positive reinforcement
for dog owners. It is a popular college and high school text, the
basic training guide for all zookeepers and marine mammal
trainers, and a favourite resource for parents. The Australian
Clicker Connection Website can be found at http://www.equilog.com.au/clicker.htm
& Clickers can be purchased in Australia through
Equilog.( ph) 02 43 891336. http://www.equilog.com.au./