Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Clicker Training

As I mentioned in the post before this one, Ranger is 2 years old. In April, 2013 Ranger and I attended dog training classes. That means we got a late start on training. The training methods taught in this obedience school is Clicker Training. Ranger seemed to really respond to the clicker and treats! The only hiccup we had was loose leash walking. Ranger's idea of walking is dragging me around. The trainer put a Gentle Leader on him and after a few minutes of confusion we had almost no issue walking with his leash loose.

We didn't return to class in June. We should have, but we didn't. It was $50 for 4 weeks of training and money was tight. We should have kept practicing what we learned at home but I got lazy and I didn't have money for dog treats.

Yesterday, Ranger and I went out back with the clicker and some cheese and crackers and I decided to video our spontaneous training session. It was more like a refresher than anything, like tests teachers give at the beginning of a term to see what the students remembered from the previous year and to give the teacher a starting point.

Thankfully I have a smart phone that allows me to upload videos to YouTube with little to no hassle. This is a quick video, but it shows the things Ranger remembered. We didn't do any review before I hit the record button so this is all out of the blue for him.

Before I post this video, let me say that normally I don't have to speak the commands "sit" or "down" but I did here in this video for two reasons: 1) so Ranger knew exactly what I wanted from him, and 2) so anyone watching this video knows exactly what I am asking of him. Also, at first I do repeat myself, but one thing we learned in our one month intro to obedience training was not to repeat a command. Say it once and wait. (That is the hardest part for me, not gonna lie.)

He remembered! I was very proud of him after this quick less-than-a-minute long review. My husband thinks Ranger is a hopeless case but when he does things like this, I know I am totally right for believing in this dog. A few hours later, after watching cute puppies doing awesome tricks on YouTube, I told Ranger to fetch me a drink from the fridge.

He totally impressed me. I haven't taught him to fetch drinks, but he knew I wanted him to do something, so he went through literally everything he knows trying to figure it out. First he brought me an old sock the dogs play with. Then he went and found the cat. Then he found a tennis ball. Then he went over to the other dog and put his paw on her and looked at me like he was asking "is this what you want?" I was really happy to see that he is willing to do things, even if he has no idea what it is he is supposed to do.

Other than tricks like getting drinks, and other than basic commands like sit, down, stay, and loose leash walking there are plenty of other things we are working on.

Among those many things is learning how to behave around New people, and letting them handle him. He has always been great at the vet, other than dragging me inside to see the vet (he knows the vet as "let's go see friends.") The only problem is when the vet looks at his paws, and when I try to clip his nails. If I could have gotten a video of the last time I tried to cut his nails, you would probably laugh and shake your head. I had to lay on top of him to keep him from getting away. How did I fix this problem? I started taking him to a groomer.

Ranger definitely recognizes the groomer after only being brought there 3 times. He doesn't know who the groomer is... no, he knows the building. As soon as he sees it from the road he gets excited. Then we get inside and his whole outlook changes. I can tell he is thinking "I regret this decision."

Today was the 4th time he has had a stranger cut his nails, and we went to a new place since the place we normally go was closed. He did GREAT! It was a new place, new person, and there were new smells, but he stood still and he didn't try to pull his paws away.

He really is a smart dog, and to be honest I think he is a lot smarter than I give him credit for. With the right training I think he will surprise everyone that knows him. For now, Ranger and I will train on our own, but once we move to New Hampshire we are going to enroll in obedience training again.

Since we technically trained today (visiting the groomer) I will wait until tomorrow to see if he remembers Emergency Recall.

Coming Up Next: Emergency Recall ("Post!")

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