When we first got Bentley he was 7 months old. I don't think he first saw the clicker until he was over 1. At that time, he was already a slower thinker, and I remember sitting and waiting him out to try to get him to just move his leg one little muscle (we were trying to teach a high five using the clicker). It took so long! He would literally just sit there and not move for minutes on end. Then, once he (sort of) understood offering behaviors, he would offer stays. So he would try a couple things, then lay down and not move a muscle. Hard to mark something when he thinks he's in a stay! At the time I thought "he doesn't get it, this isn't for him", and we sort of gave up. Little did I know that I think it would have really helped him if I had continued to wait it out.
Lexi, on the other hand, used to offer me behaviors constantly. If we were at the agility field waiting our turn and I even so much as made eye contact, she would sit, down, spin, etc...waiting for her cookie. I was scared of asking and rewarding her for offering behaviors since it was already becoming a nuisance.
I do still use the clicker occasionally, but my dogs' thinking isn't the same. Bentley still isn't very creative, and usually tries a couple things before he gets frustrated (looks at me, lays down and whines). And Lexi is so busy throwing herself every which way that it becomes hard for me to mark the "right" thing--and I'm sure just as hard for her to understand which of her offerings was marked.
I just clicker trained them to offer getting into a box. I started with a big shoe box--not too bad. Then I changed it to their smaller toy box--not too bad (though much slower than your typical clicker trained dog). And I just changed it to a tupperware bowl to see if I could get them to even put 2 feet in. It was hard work! I quit our short session this morning with Lexi putting 1 foot in (I was quite busy chasing the bowl around as she kept pawing at it), and Bentley touching it with his foot.
So because of my lack of clicker training, my dogs know very few tricks. I don't feel guilty, per se, but do wish I had done more when they were puppies.
|Clicker training is hard. I give up. Zzzzz...|