Last weekend was ClickerExpo Live, the annual clicker training conference that was online this year. It was the third online conference (multi-day event) I have attended this year, and the eleventh ClickerExpo. I have found that I can spend less time sitting in front of my computer learning than I can in person. Fortunately, recordings will be available to view for a year (for ClickerExpo Live). I managed to attend several sessions over the three days, and, as always, learned so much.
As so often happens at ClickerExpo, a theme emerges for me. This year, the learner’s readiness to learn, and what to do when an animal is not comfortable with the training process was what stood out to me in several different sessions. So, the wait, back up!: before you jump into training, make sure the learner is comfortable, readily approaching the trainer and taking food or other reinforcement.
Much of what is needed starts with viewing training as a collaborative process between human and animal, not just something that the person does to the animal. Thinking of training as a conversation and giving the animal control over how training happens are applications of this mindset.
Does your dog readily take treats or other reinforcement from you? Other reinforcement might be tugging on a toy or playing retrieve with an object. Do you see eagerness of engagement and joy when you give reinforcement?
Find where that winning feeling occurs for you and your dog, and work from that place.
Chirag Patel (http://www.domesticatedmanners.com) was one of the excellent presenters at Expo. https://youtu.be/9zM8GzJy_kY is a link to a talk he gave several months ago about 10 Things Your Dog Wishes You Knew. It is 54 minutes of his presentation then he works with 2 different dogs and answers questions for another 50 minutes – all great stuff. Again, what stood out for me was the emphasis on the dog’s readiness to learn, giving the dog control over what he wants to do.