Monday, June 4, 2012

Click to Calm book review

Here is another great book to look into, especially if your dog has any issues being around other dogs.  If your dog barks, growls, or bear teeth at other dogs or people this book gives step by step easy to follow instructions that help guide you and your dog on to much more acceptable behavior.

I wish I could just quote the whole first chapter!   She sums up in a nutshell the reasons I love using the clicker to help reshape your dog's behavior.  Like this one here: "One of the major benefits of clicker training to treat aggression (or any behavior problem like jumping on people etc.) is that it incorporates both classical and operant conditioning principles simultaneously to help us desensitize and reprogram our dogs.  By clicking and feeding the dog in an aversive environment, you not only change the dog's emotional association with that environment (classical conditioning) but you can also pinpoint every correct decision the dog makes while he "operates" in the environment (operant conditioning)"
She then, in the next section of that chapter, goes on to give the example of how the clicker acts as an information translator.  She gives the example of a newly hired receptionist who in one scenario is simply brought to the office area she is supposed to work in and left there. The other scenario is the receptionist is brought to her desk, introduced to the people she will be working with, showed where the restroom is and the break room, then told when breaks can be taken.  Given those two scenarios which one would you like to be in?  In the first one the poor girl finds an unoccupied desk and must assume that that is hers (although someone could just be on break and come back and tell her off, note the amount of anxiety that must create).  Second she has no idea where to go if she needs a potty break.  Third, she must now be the one to break the ice with her co-workers (something else that also brings on high levels of anxiety in most people).  Now imagine this is your brand new dog you just brought home.  Neither of you speak the same language so the scenario for your dog is going to be much similar to the on of the first receptionist. Hardly very welcoming is it.  That is where the clicker comes in so very handy.  If you can teach your dog that every time it hears that click it means that something good will follow, then you will quickly get repeat behavior.  Happy you and happy much less anxious dog.  Your dog really does want to make you happy, he has been bred that way, in order to work with us we both need to feel good about it and those who don't bring those results don't continue to pass their genes on (in most cases).
I love how she talks about needing to be patient.  It will help reshape your dog's behavior, and most times much faster than other methods, however if you are trying to undo behavior and reteach a new one it will take time.  Some dogs will catch on faster than others, a lot of it depends on their temperament and the bond between you two (which will also strengthen during this process).
The majority of this book is made up of what she calls "training recipes".  In these "recipes" she walks you step by step through each phase of reshaping your dog to respond better in all kinds of different situations.  If you would like to have a better behaved dog this book is great. (if you need help getting started even with the book, let me know and we can set up a time where I can help you as well!)
All in all I would give this book a 5 star rating for it's easy to understand and in depth coverage of the different angles to work on with a reactive dog.

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