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  • Lisa Mullinax, CDBC


Here's a compilation of some work I did with a dog who wouldn't walk into the hallway that led to the bathroom, let alone the bathroom, itself, if the owner was in the bathroom or even moving toward the bathroom door. This is not a how-to video, just an example of the small steps that I reinforced.

Clicker training isn't about the clicker as much as it is capturing those small steps toward the final behavior we want. In this case, it was literally one step at a time.

When working with fearful behavior, be patient and celebrate every step forward, no matter how small!

Some notes about this video:

1. Yes, she was a little nervous of the grate, but had navigated around it to enter the other two rooms that were off that hall, so her fear was not only of the grate.

2. I did not use any cues to encourage her to move forward. Every step was her choice. I also did not use the treats like breadcrumbs to entice her to move forward. I made every effort to deliver the treat to her current position, but there may be one or two badly aimed tosses in there that appear otherwise.

3. Since I was trying to keep this video short, I do not show the times that I used a high rate of reinforcement (HRR) for when she wasn't moving forward, but chose to stay at the new position. I didn't wait for her to do a behavior, I simply kept clicking and treating for staying in that spot. After a short time, I'd stop and see if she chose to move closer or retreated back to the kitchen.

4. She could walk away from the session at any time, and she did several times during these sessions. Breaks are an important part of the learning process. Each time she gave herself a break, she moved a little closer when she returned.

5. This video does not show her progress into the bath. Her owner picked up the training from this point, and continues to work with her.

6. The video footage encompasses a total of 60 minutes of training, at most, and was recorded over the course of three days. We'd do the training in 5 minute increments, then go do something else for a while. So, while it might seem like it would take forever to reinforce one small step at a time, it really moves quickly.

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