Rush is beginning to really get the hang of this clicker training thing. Keeping in mind that he’s been with me for only three weeks, and in that time I’ve tried to do a bit of clicker training every day, but also a LOT of socialization, I’m very pleased with his clicker savvy.
We started clicker training with the Bosu ball–balancing on the round side and then balancing on the flat side. That’s our morning warm-up routine now. I put down the Bosu and Rush comes running. I’ve been using it to train a release as well–I say “okay!” and then reward off the ball. If he leaves the ball without the “okay!” then no reward off the ball, and no big deal either, he just gets back on the ball. It’s starting to transfer to his sit, but it’s far from solid.
The next thing I clicker-trained was putting his front paws on the bottom of a bowl and moving his back end in a circle around the bowl. That’s getting really solid as well.
The last week I’ve been working on a foot target. Specifically, a right-front foot target; you have to watch something to decide when to click, and I chose Rush’s right-front paw. I started with a big bath towel, sitting on one corner. Every time Rush stepped on the towel with his right-front foot, I clicked and threw a treat off the towel. Every few clicks I folded the towel smaller. The first time, somewhere around a quarter-towel, Rush was clearly losing focus; I started the next morning with a half-towel and we got to an eighth-towel. At that point, I switched to a hand towel, and in a few more days we had a quarter-hand-towel.
I switched to a washcloth, and Rush lost it all completely. He had no idea what I wanted. He didn’t seem to see or feel the washcloth. I dropped the project for a few days. This morning I started with the washcloth, as soon as we’d finished out warmups on the Bosu ball. Rush was (as Sue Ailsby says) “in the game”. He wanted to earn his breakfast, and he was clearly feeling sharp.
I tossed the washcloth down and clicked when Rush looked at it, then rewarded just a bit off the washcloth; I waited. He stepped on it, possibly by accident. I clicked and rewarded on it, then clicked again and rewarded off it. Three or four more clicks, then I saw him visibly startle when I clicked, with great timing for once, just as his right front foot hit the washcloth. He got his treat, then backed up to put his feet on the cloth again. Several treats, and then it was clear he’d gotten it, because I could move the cloth and he’d run for it, even from several feet away. I’m going to take it to Debbie’s today to see how it goes there.