“Doggie Zen” is an exercise I learned from clicker trainer Shirley Chong. This exercise is particularly effective in teaching your dog to focus on you amidst distraction.
Before you begin, remember…
- A click is a promise that a treat is coming. Always offer your dog a reward after you click, even if you have made an error.
- Reinforce (click and treat) any behavior you like. Ignore or manage behavior you don’t like.
- Wait until the dog has offered the behavior several times before putting a name on it. For example, if you are trying to teach your dog to “Sit” using the clicker, don’t use the word “Sit” until you have captured the behavior several times.
- Gather your treats, clicker and dog. Put your dog on a leash to keep her near you, if necessary.
- Hold out a treat in a closed fist for your dog. Your dog will lick your hand to get at the treat.
- As soon as your dog stops licking or sniffing your hand (even for a second), click and open your hand to present the reward.
- Repeat Steps 2 and 3 until your dog is no longer attempting to touch you. When this happens, begin waiting for the dog to look at you before you click and treat.
- Move your fist to a different place; hold it out to one side, then the other. This will help your dog understand that looking at you, not looking for the treat, is what earns a reward.