What the Hell is Dog Obedience Training
Dog obedience training allows pet owners to set specific standards of behavior for their dogs. Dog obedience schools and programs are available in every state in United States. Most of these dog schools make use of classical conditioning.
A newer, and more innovative, method of training is also available today – clicker training. Clicker training is a form of operant conditioning where the dog is trained through a series of phases, until it is able to associate the target behavior with a reward. The trainer makes use of a clicker, a plastic device that produces a clear, metallic sound whenever it pressed.
The clear, metallic sound is a constant variable that allows the dog to focus on what it has just done, and also helps the dog create the association between the action and the reward. The clicker is an essential tool to all clicker trainers, but it is not the only tool that clicker trainers use. Clicker trainers often use a method called targeting, which helps the dog focus on more complex actions, such as running to different targets.
A target stick is used to ‘lure’ or lead the dog so that it eventually performs the target behavior. You have two choices when it comes to clicker training your pet: you can either look for a dog school that makes use of operant conditioning, or you can just train your pet at home with a clicker.
You don’t have to be an expert to be able to train your dog with a clicker. You just need some basic tools: a bag of treats, a target stick, and a clicker. If you want to teach your dog something that doesn’t require distance (i.e. sitting/standing), you can start the training sessions even without a target stick.
Target sticks are just brightly painted wooden or metal sticks that are used as markers for “go outs,” and “come-backs” or recalls. Show dogs need to be trained with multiple target sticks, because the trainers often have to teach long sequences of actions to the dogs. Clicker training is an ideal option for dogs that are home trained, because even an 8-year-old child can effectively train a dog with a clicker.
As long as the proper sequence is performed during the training session, the dog will learn whatever target behavior the trainer has in mind.
Rewards, signals, and target actions
Clicker training is effective because it uses rewards frequently and it utilizes a step-by-step approach to teaching movements. The dog won’t be forced to perform the entire action at once; if the dog has trouble understanding what the trainer wants it to do, the trainer will still reward even the smallest of steps toward the target action.
Corrective actions are performed during clicker training, but trainers don’t resort to painful punishments at all. “Punishments,” in the context of clicker training, can be a signal word such as “wrong.” This corrective action is given to tell the dog that the action it has just performed was not the desired goal, and it should try again.
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