Ok, you know how to click THEN treat, and you know how to plan your sessions down to the letter. What more is there to do? The final piece in keeping your training clean and crisp is being sure that your learner is fully attended to. This means being sure of a few things:
- Nothing reinforceable within your current plan goes unreinforced (I call these “clickable moments”–don’t miss them!)
- Unwanted behaviors are not being reinforced
- You are never taking advantage of your learner’s patience
- Desirable behaviors are not being punished
All of these things can be achieved by both planning your sessions (discussed in the second blog in this series) and by utilizing stationing.
This is a concept that shows up often in smart animal training. Teach the animal to return to a station that is easily accessible in the training environment when cued to do so. Think of it as a “holding place” for the dog you are working with. Any time you need to pause to reset your environment, think about your plan, get more treats, add a new prop, get rid of an existing prop, etc. you should send the dog to the station. This will prevent clickable moments from passing you by, and will make great strides toward reducing frustration in your learner!
In this video I work Idgie on two different projects that both utilize the same prop, as well as variations in my position that act as prompts (basically, Idgie can tell which behavior I am after based on where I am standing). I need the station to be sure that both projects remain separate events, and to be sure that I am not moving myself around while she either offers clickable behaviors I will miss, disengages from the training scenario, or practices nuisance behaviors.
Of course, before you can use stationing to your advantage you must teach your dog to go to a station on cue, and for that you can use these CTPs I have outlined here to train a simple mat or crate cue.