Solo training vs. dog training classes

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by jltracy, Oct 6, 2008.

  1. jltracy

    jltracy New Member

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    Hello all!

    I'm having a dillemma. I want Rocky to start being trained, but I'm getting mixed reviews on the best way to do this. Where I live, it's $109 for 8 weeks of training, and that is only the beginner's classes. I'm not sure we can afford this, although we'd like to. However, I keep hearing this kind of training called "clicker training" and am not sure if that works just as well. What do you guys think? Have you tried one or the other or both and which worked better and why? He's doing good with "sit" but I think he's got some kind of doggie ADD because he'll lose interest quickly or get distracted easily even if I have treats.
     
  2. Dekka

    Dekka Just try me..

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    What type of class is the beginner class you are looking at? Positive reinforcement or correction based?

    I've clicker trained with both my dogs, done countless group classes for rally, agility and now competitive obedience. All have been positive reinforcement, often using clickers at least some. None have ever been opposed to me using a clicker in class.

    I also have worked agility at home between classes or when we've taken class breaks.. Self taught advanced rally and tricks. Sometimes I use a clicker, some times I don't. It's simply a teaching tool.
     
  3. jltracy

    jltracy New Member

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    How does a clicker work?
     
  4. DanL

    DanL Active Member

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    I think doing group classes is great- it gets your dog out around other dogs and other people, but it's important to train at home as well. Most of the time group lessons are more for the handler than for the dog- it teaches you the tricks and tools you need to handle your dog. If you really want to have success you need to put those tools to work at home. When I was helping teach group classes a while back you could tell the people who worked with the dogs at home vs those who didn't do anything until the next class. Those who spent time at home were way ahead of the other people by the end of the sessions.
     
  5. Dekka

    Dekka Just try me..

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  6. DaVinci

    DaVinci New Member

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    I like going to class with my dog. i have always had well behave dogs but not very social around other dogs as I never took out to thing where other dogs were. I have used the clicker but I'm not fond of it as I sometimes forget to click and other times I'm to late in clicking. I use postive reinforcement using mostly praise.

    Check and see if the 4-h groups in your area offer anything. Also community ed in my area offers classes.
     
  7. Gena

    Gena New Member

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    My first suggestion is to do some reading on various forms of training. Think about what you are hoping to gain from the training, what you will be able to follow through on and what types of corrections/reinforcements you are comfortable with.

    There are several dog trainers listed on www.apdt.com for your area. I'm sure even Petsmart has a class. Look at the websites, make some calls, ask to sit in on a class or two w/out your dog. If you are just wanting a dog that doesn't destroy your house and make you crazy, most places will fit the bill. If you are wanting more from your dog, take the time to find a school or trainer that you feel really good about and can see yourself trusting/falling back on easily.

    With puppies, the most important part of classes is getting out, seeing the world along with all the people and dogs in it. You can start that even now. Eating from different bowls, walking on weird stuff like newspaper or gravel, books being (gently) dropped...all of that is part of socializing your dog. Of course, having him around as many different people and stable, healthy, vaccinated dogs and puppies is important too. Don't forget all those shape changing things like hats, canes and umbrellas. I can really tell the difference in my old gal vs my min pin. He went everywhere I could take him, met all kinds of weird people, played with dogs 50 times his size and he loves everyone and everything now. My old gal is aloof and almost timid in new situations. She never had that "go everywhere" experience when she was younger.
     
  8. Jynx

    Jynx New Member

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    I am all for group classes but I highly recommend you go check out the class your interested in FIRST..you might want to read my latest experience with a group class which wasn't so "positive"
    http://www.chazhound.com/forums/showthread.php?t=85353

    However, I've continued the class with my aussie who really loves clicker/positive training and the "rude" behaviors of other dogs in this class, are ignored by her. It was NOT a positive experience for my gsd puppy. It was NOT the method of training, but the lack of class control . So my advice is, check out one of the classes going on and see if it's something your dog would be ok with..

    Diane
     
  9. Kayla

    Kayla New Member

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    Having switched from a "balanced" training type class where treats and corrections were used to clicker training I would STRONGLY recomend clicker training.

    It's very easy for you and your dog and in my personal experince creates a very focused highly motivated dog. The biggest difference in my opinion and personal experince having trained both ways in the fundamental way the "training game" is played between you and your dog. With corrections as a trainer you have to be constantly on the look out for a mistake and to correct it; even in balanced training, your still correcting followed by a treat. For many dogs this seems to be as clear as mud and learning takes a LOOOONG time.

    On the other hand, in clicker training a failed attempt means a missed attempt for your dog to get reinforced. This translates into a dog who wants to keep training because he wants to get the reinforcer, whatever it may be for your dog. This takes away the struggle between dog and handler for attention or as you put it " having to deal with Doggie ADD". This alone would be enough for me to switch from any training method, but it gets better.

    Training with a clicker is simple. Alone its a meaningless sound; Paired with something your dog wants to work for however, it becomes a powerful predictor of good things and acts as brdige between the time the animal performs the behaviour correctly until the treat is delivered. When training with a clicker imagine taking a picture; you want to click just as you would snap the behaviour in progress.

    To make this pair simply click and then deliver your reinforcer ( Try 6 different treats and 6 different toys and games to see what your dog finds reinforcing) and repeat daily performing 10-20 clicks and rewards in one session or less if your dog is unintrested.

    The only rule of clicker training are IF you click you MUST give a reward. A few clicks at the wrong moment wont ruin the behaviour your training, however, not closely pairing the click and reward will. After all it's not magic, the sound isnt taping in to some primal brain function, it's just the science of closely pairing a novel stimulus with something highly rewarding- classical conditioning my friend.

    Then to train behaviours remember this order

    Observe the behaviour
    Mark the behaviour
    Reward the behaviour

    Also remember that in Clicker training we add the cue after the dog can perform the behaviour, not before as the word will usually be remembered better this way and before hand it means little/ nothing to the dog.

    One more pointer- keep food out of sight until AFTER you click, presenting food before may take your dogs interest off the click noise.

    Group classes are great, but make sure you sit in on one first, if you can find a clicker class awsome, even better some places have a one day seminar on how to use the clicker to get you started and then you can do the rest by yourself.

    The best part about clicker training is it empowers your dog to actively take part in the training session, its not you jerking around your dog or luring him, it's him using his mind to get the reward- trust me its a BIG difference, and the end results really prove it.

    Good luck
    Kayla
     
  10. Kayla

    Kayla New Member

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  11. adojrts

    adojrts New Member

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    Kayla excellent posts ^^^^^^!!
    Agree, don't shoot the method or be afraid of it because you don't at first understand it (to the OP). And like any method if not done done correctly it wont work or work as well.

    Btw, when training with positive reinforcements and/or clicker training, we don't have the treats/rewards in our hands. Studies have proven that the treats become part of the cue and that the dog can't learn the behaviour as well or fast when the dog is distracted by the treat when it is visable in our hands.
     

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