We did the click to treat training in puppy class. And at 2, Dublin will still come running to me if I click him at the woods. I don't even need to treat him. It became a great recall tool for us. I probably didn't do it by the book, but I say whatever works for you and your dog is fine by me. My friend uses a whistle to recall her gordon setter and he doesn't always come back quickly but Dublin runs to her when she blows it and we crack up because he was never trained with one.
I have been training Betti using a clicker, and it works great, she knows that the reward follows, but she is also very stubborn!!! I f she is out in the field and it is more fun she is not bothered about the clicker or the treat!!
Not only for puppies. I've got to know clicker when Bajka was appr. 7-8 years old, I started to practise with this tool not believing in any resultats because Bajka is a very strong, selfish and stubborn dog.He would rather teach me to listen her commands (now, when she is 12 we began to play this way, but this is another story;))))
And it's great, it works totally. With good behaviour, patience, playing and dividing each exercise in small steps you can teach dog everything. When I was working with Bajka my two younger dogs asked me to teach them.They were so involved, much more than Bajka. Clicker method is only positive and with a lot of treats so begining of lesson means for dogs huge ammount of yummies;)))
The most important is that skill learnt with clicker is good recorded. I finished practising with clicker long ago and my dogs still remember this things, sometimes I want to do something wrong and they are waiting and than makes this properly.
And one comment:
what does it mean AFTER, in my opinion is rather AT THE SAME TIME, because dog associates his own f.e. step, movement (desirable by us) with CLICK. For me it was unbelievieble how they quickly remember and works.
CLICK means - it will be an award, a treat. And a treat should be given as soon as possible AFTER CLICK. But not always. At the beginning of practising always, later very often, in the end - sometimes.
And yes - setters likes practising!!!
You should definitely click the instant the dog performs the desired behaviour (or, if you're shaping a behaviour, the instant the dog takes a positive step towards performing the reqired behaviour). Otherwise, the dog doesn't know what behaviour is being marked by the click. Food comes later as the reward; the clicker tells the dog when they have done the right thing, not the food.
I started Clicker training when Glen was a puppy aged 10 weeks. He took to it like a fish to water and we've enjoyed 'shaping' movements and behaviour ever since. There are many books on the subject and some excellent videos for people interested in learning about the correct use of the clicker. Just google 'Mary Ray' and you can order DVDs and books on the subject.
The Clicker is used as a 'conditioned reinforcement' (the german word being a 'konditionierter Bestärker') and the conditioning to the clicker is done by series of 'click & treat' giving the treat within 0.5 seconds after the click. Once the dog has learnt that the click is a promise for a treat, there is no longer the need to treat within such a short timespan. The click marks the correct behaviour and the treat can then follow a bit later. For example I use the click to catch a backward glance of the dog when out on a walk. He will then come to me for the treat.
With setters it is often difficult to get them to want food treats when out on a walk. I have found I can use as a treat whatever the dog considers worth having at that precise moment, like being allowed to run, or be allowed to sniff an interesting smell, or an ok to run and play with another dog - that is quite often a much stronger reinforcement than being given a dry dog biscuit;-)) Anything can be used as a reinfocement once the dog (and handler) have got the hang of the use of the clicker. It is improtant to think about what your dog considers a treat, not what you think is a treat... my dog loves chasing butterflies - so I can use this as a very special treat once he has performed a fast drop:-))
I must also say that I have found it impossible to train a dog with clicker and positive reinforcement only. If my dog chases deer the clicker will not be a option to deter him...
I used to be rather sceptical towards the clicker too, thinking it was just another gimmick to make people buy something they don't need but when I joined a new obedience class where they said they worked with the clicker I thought I'll just give it a go. They even told me it works particularly well with setters because they love finding things out for themselves and indeed it worked like magic on Busby.
I've been very impressed with the results and it certainly makes training a lot more fun! Also, recently we've gone up a level and I have started working with the book Clicker Gundog by Helen Phillips. She successfully trains her dogs with the clicker for the field without shouting, shaking or punishing them. It's got some great advice in it, even for general obedience.
I used the clicker first on Scout and was so surpised on how fast he would understand what I was training be it sit, down or look. I have been using the clicker with Hawk and it did not take much for him to get that it means he has done something well and gets a treat. It is so much more fun to use in training then corrections to get what you want. Hawk gets so excited to go out when he sees I have the clicker. He knows it is time to have some fun. You can see his brain working to figure out what he needs to do to get the click and treat.
you should get Helen Phillips Clicker Training books. She works specifically with gundogs. I have always maintained that my "clicker babies" are far better at problem solving than my conventionally trained dogs.
good luck enjoy!
But Helen Phillip's methods are more about training retrievers. They just are not applicable for training working setters . Working setters tend to be so focussed on game that they are not interested in food rewards, or the clicker/reward actually distracts them from the game. And they work too far away from the handler for a clicker to be any use.
And even with retrievers, if the dog is bred to work, it doesnt need clicker/reward methods. The instinct to retrieve is so strong that it only needs to be channelled. Of course if the dog has no inbred retrieving instinct, it could be trained to retrieve using the clicker and reward