If you’re just joining us, I am in the process of using clicker training to get my dog to happily wear a muzzle instead of forcing it on her. We are going on a trip to Venice next week and dogs are required to wear a muzzle on public transportation. You can catch yourself up by watching step one and step two.
I start today’s session by refreshing yesterday’s session. All I do is ask her to stick her nose into the muzzle. You can see there is a hitch in the start of our session. I “clicked” Mattie for jumping onto the ottoman, but I never put a treat down, so the first 10 seconds is her slightly confused of not having a treat and trying to look for one. Once we got past that, we moved onto her sticking her nose into her muzzle.
So here we are, step 2 in training Mattie to wear a muzzle for our trip to Venice. If you’re joining us for the first time, you can catch up with step one. Short recap as to why I am training my sweet dog to wear a muzzle, is that it is required for her to wear a muzzle while on public transportation in Venice.
We’re going to Venice for a long weekend and our dog, Mattie is coming with us. We leave not this weekend, but the next, so I have just under two weeks to get my dog trained. For what, you ask? In certain parts of Europe, dogs are required to wear muzzles when on public transportation. It doesn’t matter if you have the sweetest dog on the planet, it is still required for your dog to wear a muzzle. Venice just happens to be one of those cities. So my job is to get my dog comfortable wearing a muzzle. Sure, I could just force her to wear one and hope she handles it while we are on public transportation, but why do that? Instead, I’d like my dog to enjoy wearing a muzzle. So I’ll be using positive reinforcement training to get her to accept wearing a muzzle.
It’s time I recommend a site that is filled with great reading and resources. Anyone who has heard of positive reinforcement training, should know who Karen Pryor is. Karen’s career started years ago working at Sea Life Park in Hawaii. She used positive reinforcement techniques with the marine mammals there. She was one of the first people to make the move to expand this concept to other species, including dogs.
One of the first books I was told to buy when I entered the Exotic Animal Training and Management Program was Karen Pryor’s Don’t Shoot The Dog. Seriously, it’s a great read regardless if you work with dogs or other animals and it’s even a great insight for working with people.
Karen has since expanded herself and created a site called ClickerTraining.com. I urge all of you with dogs (or any animal you wish to use positive reinforcement training with) to visit this site and give it a good look.
The blog section is full of useful information when working with your dog. I recommend adding the blog section to your “reader”.
The site also has a store where you could buy many different books that have to do with various stages of training. It also has a lot of training tools for you to buy.
There is even a video page.
There’s also something called the ClickerExpo. This is an expo dedicated to spreading the word of positive reinforcement training. Though these are heavily geared towards dogs, it doesn’t matter much. The concepts hold true for all species of animals. I’ve been to 4 ClickerExpos and I am not a dog trainer. They were still informative and inspiring. I have noticed that the ClickerExpo (based in the US) has crossed the pond and is now in the UK. Sadly, the Expo is fully booked! I’m on the waiting list, in the hopes someone cancels their booking.
I really hope that by sharing this site, I have shared some useful information to other people. Happy reading!
© Semi Charmed Life
I’ve talked far too much about positive reinforcement training, that I felt I didn’t need to make a post dedicated just to that (since all my posts pretty much are). Instead, I’ll talk about a primary reinforcer. The reinforcer is the reward during a training session.
“A primary reinforcement is anything the organism finds inherently rewarding – usually stimuli that satisfy biological drives such as hunger or thirst.”
A primary reinforcer is usually food. Animals inherently respond to food treats. It’s as simple as that. Just find something that the animal really enjoys eating as a treat. Some people who work with certain animals, like birds of prey for example, save their daily diet for training sessions. If your animal really enjoys their everyday meal, you can use that as training treats instead of additional food items. Some dogs really like their daily kibble. So instead of placing a dish down on the ground twice a day, you can use that daily kibble in training sessions. My dog doesn’t love her food that way, so with her, I use dried chicken cubes as treats. My dog LOVES chicken. A training treat should not be too big. It should be something the animal can eat in just a few seconds and be ready to move onto the next training cue. Unless you are “jackpotting” the animal, keep the treats small and quick to eat. You also don’t want them to add too much to your animal’s daily intake and cause them to gain too much weight.
© Semi Charmed Life
This post is part of the A to Z Challenge
Clicker training is essentially a form of positive reinforcement training. This way of training got its roots from marine mammal trainers. They needed to develop a way of communicating with the animals they worked with. It’s not like you can just jump in the water and show a dolphin what to do and it’s not like you can physically force these animals to do anything either. Marine mammal trainers generally use a whistle. If you’ve ever been to an aquarium and watched any type of dolphin show, you’ve most likely heard and saw the use of a whistle. A clicker, works in much the same way.