Once you’ve taught basic obedience and a few tricks, you may want
to move on to advanced training behaviors. One example of an advanced
behavior that is easily taught using clicker training is increasing
the threshold of a behavior before reinforcement.
Consider heeling, for example. Your dog may have learned to heel
on command, but you find his attention wanders after about five
seconds and he begins to look away or start to wander. To increase
the time he will stay at your heel, you start delaying the time
at which you click and treat. For example, if he begins looking
away at five seconds, click and treat at four, which will buy you
another five seconds for a total of nine. Then move it up to clicking
and treating at seven seconds, and so forth, until your dog is happily
heeling for however long you want him to.
The main point in increasing thresholds is to take it slow and
make sure to vary the schedule of reinforcement, so your dog doesn’t
learn to anticipate his treat. The way to do that is to occasionally
treat at the very beginning of the behavior, so your dog never knows
when the treat may be forthcoming. This will help keep him focused
on the behavior and prevent his attention from wandering.
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