Just like chefs have knives and musicians have instruments, trainers wield a bevy of tools. The tools of the training trade should also be in your arsenal as you and your pet learn to communicate, adapt to your life together and bond.—AC
A clicker is a mechanical device that makes a clicking sound (surprise, surprise). A click alerts your pet that they are doing something good. When combined with positive reinforcement (treats!) and when the animal deliberately duplicates the action to receive the treat, the click-and-reward methodology is called “operant conditioning.” According to clicker innovator Karen Pryor, the more an event and a consequence are paired together, the more the animal or human will associate one with the other. The clicker helps the animal to understand exactly which behavior earned them a reward. It’s psychology, baby!
You may think of a leash as just a safety device that keeps your dog from frolicking into heavy traffic. Or maybe it’s simply an item you use because the law says you must. But leashes are training tools. Leash training with a puppy is especially important. It teaches them early on how to take walks the correct way. Get your pup comfortable with wearing a very light-weight collar when you get them home. Once they’ve mastered that, move on to the leash. At first, just let them wear it around the house. Praise your dog when he is walking next to you with a loose leash. If he pulls, stop and call him back to you. No need to pull on the leash. Call him forward and reward when the puppy comes forward. When your dog is walking nicely next to you with a slacked leash, give him lots of praise. And repeat!
Many dog-lovers rejoice in the miracles of crate training. Creating a den-like space gives your dog a place of his or her own to sleep, hide and find comfort. For you, it’s a tool for house-training and protecting your possessions from the wrath of your labradoodle. It can be the best of both worlds, though you must be careful not to keep your dogs in their crates too long or to make them feel as though it’s a punishment. Find a crate that is big enough for your dog to stand and turn in, but not enough for them to piddle in one corner and live in the other. Crate training is a process, and you may want to begin to feed your dog near the crate to create a positive association. Begin by crating your dog for short periods of time and offer a treat each time they get in. And remember to put the crate in a spot where the family often hangs out.