I went to the human-only orientation of Lily’s reward-based dog training class on Monday, and they heavily stressed how good clicker training was. Our “homework” was to have the dog have a positive association with the clicker. About half an hour ago I was practicing clicker training, which I had done a few other times this week. Before she had mostly seemed fine with the clicker, sometimes she would get a little startled if I did it too close to her, but nothing too bad. But this time, I accidentally did the clicker a half second late, and it was pretty close to her. She backed up, scared, and then ran over to the couch and jumped on it. I called her to come back, but she didn’t. Then I went over and realized she was shaking pretty hard, and she seemed really, really scared. I petted her for a minute and then went to get her blanket, and then petted her some more. She recovered after a few minutes, and started taking treats from me, and then started taking kibble. She still seems a bit shaken up now.
At the class they suggested muffling the sound of the clicker if the dog was scared, which I didn’t initially do because Lily has never really struck me as a sensitive dog before. She sometimes barks if she hears sound outside, but she only usually gets as scared as she did tonight at the vets office. I am reluctant to try the clicker again, if the only thing it’s going to do is make her scared of the clicker, training, and me. I had previously been using the word “yes”, but it was harder to be consistent with that. Does any have any suggestions on how to re-introduce her to the clicker? Thanks!
- This topic was modified 4 years, 8 months ago by Dog_Obsessed.
When we introduced the clicker, we got 2 – one we muffled with silly putty and we used it inside only. The other one was not muffled and we used it outside, where there’s more noises and distractions.
I guess give her her the weekend as a break (if you can, unless you and her have classes on the weekend). Then reintroduce the clicker muffled some, and re-load it – click,
treat, click, treat, click, treat for about 20 times, once or twice/day, for 2 days or so. Then you can try to begin training again, and just make sure to not click it too close to her, muffled or not.
I have a PDF of this company’s clicker training tips, I think you can use them with any clicker, let me try to find a link…
Thanks! Silly putty is actually a staple for me, I always have to be doing something with my hands and so I have a lot of it. Her next class is Monday, so I will probably start with the clicker again with it really muffled tomorrow night.
Here click on Pro-Training Clicker Guide and download the pdf, it has tons of useful tips! 🙂
Hope Lily gets over her clicker-scare!
Awh! I love silly putty too!
And I forgot to say, the clicker worked really well for Bruno, so I hope it does for you too! 🙂
Thanks, I am looking at the PDF now. I have a Starmark clicker somewhere, and I was starting some training with it a few weeks ago, but then it mysteriously disappeared(aka I lost it. 🙂 ). I’m now using a normal one, where you press on one side of the metal. I will look for the Starmark one again, because I think it is softer.
We use a generic PetSmart one with the metal thing. It muffles really well with silly putty. But if you find your other one and it is softer, go for it! 🙂
Was this a zoom room?
When I’ve done clicker training I always give a tiny treat at the same exact time. Takes a bit of practice but then it’s easy to do. They then associate the clicker as a good yummy thing. Eventually you click and give a treat every other time, then every couple of times, then every three or four times. Eventually you can then stop the treats and they still like the clicker. They’ll always do it because they’re never sure when a treat might show up. They eventually do it for the praise you give them. Also when clicking and treating you also calming say….good boy. Then continue on your walk or your exercise or training mission. Remember to only do the traning for no more than 10 or 15 minutes at a time. Then break up the time with play time or a nap. You can do this a few times a day, just not long sessions at a time.
Border Collies are known for being very sensitive to even quiet sudden noises so they suggest using the click from a ballpoint pen for them.
Thanks for the responses everyone!
@Dori I always try to click right before or during the treat, but this time I clicked a tiny bit after by accident. The trainer at the class said you should always give the treat with the click, but I have had a lot of success with the “random rewards” method of training once the dog has learned the command.
@aquaraingt No, this was not at Zoom Room.
@BCnut That’s a really good idea, if she is still scared of the muffled clicker I will try it.
The other weird thing is that last night, when I was giving Lily her joint supplement, I asked her to sit as I always do. This time though, she seemed to be kind of scared and ran off again. She didn’t shake or seem scared afterward, but she didn’t want to come back so I didn’t push her and just gave her the joint supplement. I just think something about this whole experience doesn’t quite add up. It’s really unusual for Lily to have that scared a reaction to anything, much less still be scared several hours later. I’m wondering if she’s had some passed bad experience, not with a clicker necessarily but with some loud noise. I know I might be overgeneralizing her fear, but it still seems like a possibility.
She could have pulled a muscle when she startled. There is just no telling with dogs. Do the best you can and let it go, and hope she does to.
Thanks, that’s going to be what I’ll have to do. Unfortunately the class starts Monday, and I would really like her to be more used to the clicker before doing it in such a stressful environment. I also want to give her a break though. I will probably try again with training later today, and with the clicker tomorrow.
Maybe you could try sitting on the couch or floor with her and while watching t.v. just put the clicker on the couch with her and you and when she’s used to seeing it you can then casually click it without looking at her or saying a word. Just trying to desensitize her to the sound. But don’t say anything or look in her direction, just keep watching the t.v. like nothing’s going on. Maybe??????? Just trying to toss out some suggestions.
Sure, that could maybe work. Thanks for all the ideas!
Ah, it sounded much like one. I would get a “soft” clicker as opposed to one of the metal box ones, they are pretty sharp. (not sure if others have mentioned, don’t have a ton of time so haven’t read through all of it yet) especially if its indoors it is too loud for my liking.
As far as reloading the clicker so its a good experience, get her really close to you, with a treat (a really high value treat, maybe some freeze dried meat or fish) and click and get a treat to her very quickly.
The concept of saying “yes” as a marker is essentially the same idea, but I think the clicker hones it in a bit more, and I find dogs can become pretty motivated by the clicker overall. Especially for early obedience classes I think it’s a great tool, by the time I’m doing CGC or more competitive obedience style classes, I don’t use it a whole ton though
So I thought I’d pop in with an update. Lily is now accepting training without the clicker again, which is good. I emailed the teacher for the class last night and told her what happened, and we agreed that at class tonight we would not use the clicker too much, just “yes!” and treats.
The other big news is that I may have figured out more to why she got so scared. See, Lily has what we suspect to be a mild luxuating patella in her left back leg. Her only symptom was limping a little sometimes during walks, and the vet wasn’t even able to detect a grade I, but that’s what the vet suspected it was. On Saturday, her limp got quite a bit worse, mostly at the beginning of walks, which I thought was just because she hadn’t been walked as much lately due to the rain. And then last night, when I was grooming that same leg, she suddenly growled and snapped, not as if she was actually trying to bite but as a warning, out of pain. Several minutes later she was next to me and begging for a belly rub, so it didn’t seem like she was seriously scared or hurt.
Then, all of the sudden, something clicked in my brain. The clicker incident was Friday night. She started limping more Saturday. And now, this grooming incident..something is going on with that leg! I guess those could have been three unrelated events, but that seems highly unlikely. I’ll try to make a vet appointment for Lily later this week, though I’m not sure when we’ll have time to take her. I just hope it isn’t anything more serious than the luxuating patella. I was a bit concerned about hip dysplasia, even though that is much more common in larger breeds. Any thoughts on this?
Have your vet check for a torn ACL.
Will do, thanks!
Make an appointment with the vet sooner rather than later. Try to find the find to take her. You don’t want things to go from bad to worse and then be upset with yourself for not having her checked out. 🙂
Sorry, I didn’t have more time last night and I’m having computer issues and separate internet issues. My Angel did this mild lameness thing that the vet couldn’t pinpoint and we dealt with it for a year. She would be slow to get up, sometimes, hop for a single step, rarely, turn around suddenly, rarely. Just enough that I knew something was going on, but not what or exactly where. On day, she went to hop up in a chair that she always napped in and screamed. She ran off and I followed her to see if I could tell what happened/if she had hurt herself. Nothing. But she didn’t try to hop up in that chair or any other for 2 days. She would stand and stare at you until you picked her up. No limping, no lameness, no whining, nothing else, except she stared at us. On the second day after the scream, she was going out to go potty and as she stepped out the door, she picked up her right rear leg and carried it for about 5 steps. That’s all, then she started walking normally again. It was Sunday, so I just put her in her crate and only let her out by herself and called the vet in the morning to tell them what I was seeing. They looked for a sticker in her foot(DUH! I would have found that), a sore toe nail bed, a sore toe, and so on all the way up her leg and she just smiled at them. When they got to her knee though, they barely touched it and she screamed like they were cutting her head off. She had a pretty severe ACL tear and was just so stoic that she wasn’t saying anything. She probably had a mild tear before, but the jump tore it worse. She ended up having to have surgery and every once in a great while, she has a single step hitch in her get along, but otherwise she is doing great. She had the surgery when she was 7 and she is 12 1/2 now.
Thanks! I definitely think it’s a good idea to get her checked out, and we’ll hopefully make an appointment for Friday. We do have insurance, (Healthy Paws) but the lux. patella is a pre-existing condition, and anything else would be on the same leg so probably not covered. 🙁 I hope isn’t anything else serious.
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