Monday, April 27, 2009

Clicker Training Part 4: Clicker Games for You and Your Dog

These clicker games will teach your dog to think and experiment with different behaviors. The ability to think and experiment is a skill we highly prize when we're training service dogs. When a dog is paired with a partner, he will need to continually learn about his partner's environment and needs. Some of our service dogs even teach themselves new behaviors!

We hope you enjoy playing these clicker games with your dog!

Guess the Object
Get your dog to touch an object using only the clicker to cue him. First, choose an object. It can be anything your dog can touch. Remember to start small, so at first, click your dog for anything he does, other than sitting or laying down. You can click and treat for looking at the object, or even just standing. To keep your dog moving, you can throw the treats on the ground instead of delivering them from your hand. Gradually work up to clicking your dog for touching the object.

Kick the Can
Do you remember playing this game as a child? Now you can play it with your dog! Put a paper or plastic cup on the floor. Using the clicker and treats, get your dog to knock over the cup with his nose and then knock it around the room. You can use some of the same techniques you used in Guess the Object to get your dog started.

Dog in a Box
Get a cardboard box that's about 3 inches high. If you need to, cut the sides of the box until they're about 3 inches. Put the box on the floor. Your goal is to get your dog to put his front paws in the box. Start by clicking him for just looking at the box. Next, click him for going near or walking past it. For this game, you should toss treats on the floor to keep your dog moving.

101 Things
This game is more advanced. You're going to click your dog for interacting in any way with an object. The catch, however, is that you can only click him for new or different behaviors. For example, if your dog gives the object a soft nose touch the first time, click and give him a treat. Don't click him again until he does something different than a soft nose touch in the same spot. (You could click him for a hard nose touch, a soft nose touch in a different spot, etc.) Remember to think small and only click for different behaviors. If your dog gets stuck, try throwing treats so your dog has to approach the object from a different angle.

We would love to hear your stories about clicker training! Do you have any clicker games you like to play with your dog? What clicker training tips do you have to share?

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