Focusing on the Positive
I think that teaching students to focus on the positive is one of the more difficult things that I teach in my obedience classes. Because I am an instructor for a local dog club I cannot teach purely clicker classes. I am hoping that will change within the next year or so once we get Debi Davis here to teach a clicker seminar. I do use clickers for many of my private students.
In order to teach the students to focus on praising and rewarding the dog I have begun offering positive motivational rewards to the students who are rewarding their dogs. The first time I do this I let the students know that I have a prize for the student who does what it is I'm requiring (in this case I want to see someone reward their dog for doing what is right). I do not tell them what it is or what I expect them to do. As soon as someone does what I'm looking for I start hollering and jumping up and down and then give the student an envelope with $2.00 in it. Boy does the money get their attention. I offer smaller rewards, like food, throughout the classes. At one point I bring in two signs that simply have non-intelligable pictures drawn all over them. I tell the class that the student who can figure out what is being said will receive a prize. The first person to do or say what is on the signs is given a $5.00 reward for one sign....the second sign says in hieroglyphics of course, "How can I do what you want if you don't speak the language I understand." The person who gets this one right..or demonstrates it with their dog, by taking the time to teach and not to train, gets $10.00 (Jackpot).
Since I have started this I really have students who pay attention to me and what is going on with their dog. It cost my maybe 15-$20 per class but in my mind it is well worth the cost. I also have many more students who come to me after class and ask about clicker/motivational training.
Ciao for now...
"Not all who wander are lost" JRR Tolkien
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