What is clicker training and how does it help my dog learn faster?
Our dog training classes use a method of teaching animals called “clicker training.” It’s fast, fun and effective because it’s based in the science of learning theory. For more information about clicker training, visit: clickertraining.com
When you associate a specific, neutral, unique sound (like that of a clicker) with a food reward, your dog will learn that that sound means he’ll get a reward. Once he’s made that connection, you can use that sound to shape your dog’s behavior. While you can use a word marker to “clicker train,” it’s best to start with the clicker. Its unique sound doesn’t compete with all the verbiage we throw at our dogs, so its message is clear and simple. Your dog will learn fast, and you’ll have a blast together.
Who can come to class with me and my dog?
We encourage all family members who will be interacting with the dog to come to class. Children under 10 years old are welcome so long as another adult can come to supervise them during class. Your dog needs your undivided attention to learn best!
How much time should I expect to train my dog between classes?
Keep training sessions short: 1– to 5–minute sessions, 3 to 4 times per day is the best way to practice. (Perfect) Practice makes perfect – and we can help you perfect your skills to get the most out of every training minute!
What if I need to miss a class?
Attendance is important for you and your dog. If you are unable to make a class, please contact us as soon as possible so we can send you a practice sheet via e-mail.
If there is another class running at the same schedule as your class, we are happy to arrange for you to come and observe that class (without your dog) as a makeup.
My puppy is scheduled to be neutered/spayed, how will that affect our class attendance?
Most veterinarians will want your puppy to be quiet and resting for 7–14 days after a neuter or spay surgery. Due to this restriction, we suggest planning ahead so the surgery does not fall during your series. If you are unable to schedule surgery outside of your class series, you can still come to class without your dog so that you can see the material presented and ask questions to better practice in the quiet and comfort of your home while your dog recovers.
May I observe a class before registering?
We welcome you to observe a class before enrolling your dog. To schedule a visit, simply contact the office so we can arrange a good time to come observe the dogs in training.
I don’t think I can use a clicker because I cannot walk around with one of those all the time. What can I do instead?
While studies show that using a neutral marker signal like a clicker to be faster and more effective in than training without one, we do allow students to use a consistent, trained verbal marker in class. We will also demonstrate the process used to fade the clicker and food.
My dog is already 8 years old but he doesn’t listen any more. What kind of training can I do?
We have helped our students train dogs of all ages from 8-week-old puppies to senior dogs. It even works for senior dogs with “selective” hearing. Enroll in a class (or Private Lesson) and we can refresh and improve your bond through enjoyable training.
My dog listens really well in the house but as soon as he gets outside he doesn’t listen to a word I say. What kind of training does he need?
It’s challenging for many dogs to pay attention and remember training in a distracting environment—after all, they’re built to scan the environment (with their eyes, ears, and noses) for “stuff,” like squirrels, garbage, and that cute, little dog next door. This is one reason why group training is so valuable. The class setting provides the immediate distractions of new people and dogs, thereby increasing your opportunities to reinforce your dog for paying attention to you. We also offer a variety of classes that help with distraction training, such as Social Dog and Control Unleashed.
My dog barks all the time at other dogs and people that walk by my house. Is there anything I can do?
Over reactions in dogs is a common problem encompassing a variety of behaviors such as barking, growling and lunging. These behaviors usually are a sign that the situation is stressing the dog. We offer Private Lessons, Behavior Consults and even a specialized class called Ruff Diamonds to help dogs with these issues.
Why do you only do positive training methods? My dog only behaves on a pinch collar or e-collar.
The MSPCA strongly believes in using the best, most humane, and therefore pain-free methods for training animals. Positive reinforcement training has been proven to be effective for training numerous animal species, including marine mammals, zoo animals, cats, birds and other companion animals, and it creates exceptionally strong bonds between trainer and animal. Dogs deserve the same pain-free treatment when learning the behaviors their owners want. Our staff will help you find force-free alternatives to prong collars and electronic collars.
I don’t have time to train my dog. Do you offer packages where you will train my dog for me?
The MSPCA believes that the best training comes from developing communication skills between a dog and its owner. Our trainers focus on teaching owners how to train and problem solve on their own. The measure of training success is that the dog is doing the behaviors at home that the owner wants. Given that dogs are context-specific learners, meaning that they differentiate who and where behavior should happen, it is important for the owner to be present and participate in the training.
You will happily discover the most effective training is that which is enjoyable for you and your dog and incorporated into your daily life with a few minutes here and there throughout your day!