Milo's Dog Training

Dog training in Hampshire, Surrey & Berkshire


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How to Use a Clicker to Train Your Dog.

What is a clicker?

Clicker is a small and very useful training tool. Usually, it consists of a plastic box roughly a size of a thumb and a clicking mechanism.  There are two types of clickers: with a button and with a metal tongue. I prefer the button type, because they are quicker and more reliable.

Image from Amazon.co.uk

Image from Amazon.co.uk

Clicker is used to mark the desired behaviour as it occurs. You cannot always give the dog treats (unconditioned reinforcement) exactly at the right moment, but you can use a clicker (conditioned reinforcement) to indicate to the dog that you like this behaviour.

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The Three Bases of Dog Training

I’ll be honest: dog training is not that complicated. There is a limited number of tools that every dog owner can learn. The only difference between an experienced dog trainer and an owner is that the trainer is used to spotting opportunities and creative ways of applying the tools. Alright, we, dog trainers, also have experience and theoretical knowledge that allows us to apply our tools to different cases. However, I am convinced that any person can learn to apply the basic tools to their own dog. That is why I would like to share with you the three most important principles of dog training, on which the major part of dog training is based.

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How To Use “Time-Out” With Dogs

If I could use just one dog training technique apart from clicker training, I would choose “time-out”. It can be used to correct so many behaviours: inappropriate barking, jumping, aggression… Although it clearly shows the dog that his behaviour is not acceptable, it is quite gentle and does not involve physical force. As my readers know, I will never recommend using physical force for correction, because it leads to aggression and damages the relationship between the dog and the owner.

“Time-out” is a very simple technique that even a child can use. It is a type of negative punishment, which means that you punish behaviour by removing something. In this case, you will remove one of the things your dog values most (besides food, of course!): your attention. You will need a light 5 ft. /1.5 m leash and a designated space. The designated space should be isolated from the rest of the house, and you should be able to physically prevent your dog from leaving it. Let’s try.

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Not All Treats Are Created Equal: Low and High Value Training Treats

Treats used in dog training can have different value for dogs. Of course, if your dog is like Milo, he or she will greatly appreciate even the tiniest bit of a rice cracker. Some dogs just love food, whereas some are completely indifferent to it. For instance, my parents’ dog, a border collie named Daisy, can easily pass a bag of groceries. Milo, on the other hand, works as a full-time vacuum cleaner in our house. I am so used to him picking up crumbs that I never bother to pick up when I drop something on the floor.  Anyway, all kinds of dogs, “foodies,” “picky eaters” and every type in between, can distinguish treats of different values.  Understanding value of treats adds one more instrument to your training toolbox.

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