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The Thinking Dog: Crossover to Clicker Training

by Gail Tamases Fisher

It is such a joy to work with a dog who proactively engages in behaviors while you build a relationship that will surprise you in its depth and versatility. Clicker training has proven to be the most effective means of developing a “Thinking Dog,” one who offers behaviors in anticipation of a reward rather than a dog who has been trained only to wait for his owner’s commands. One of the biggest obstacles the new clicker trainer faces, however, is his or her own history of training and habits of working with a dog. But you can make the transition once you understand how dogs learn and the mechanisms of operant conditioning. Learn from author Gail Fisher’s crossover experiences as well as those of the hundreds of students she has helped make the change over the past thirteen years.

You will learn:

  • How dog training has evolved over the past 100 years, the strengths and weaknesses of various training styles, and to what extent you can integrate your previous methods with clicker training
  • The particular challenges you will face as you cross over from whatever style of training you have used in the past (compulsion, luring, etc.) to clicker training
  • The detailed nuts and bolts of clicker training—from getting a behavior started, to methods of rewarding, to reducing the need to click and treat over time while still getting the results you want
  • How to work with dogs trained with force or harsh methods and change them into behavior-offering dynamos



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