Tips for Teaching Clicker Classes
Each of my classes has gotten better than the ones that preceded it. Some lessons I've learned:
1. Emphasize attention.
I hear a lot of people discussing ways of managing barking dogs and dogs that are ignoring their owners in class. I don't have that problem anymore. My first class meets without dogs, and I give a worksheet that lists step-by-step how to teach your dog to focus on you. I *beg* the students to practce not only at home but away from home as well. So far, they all have, and by the first class with dogs, they are all able to focus on their owners.
2. Emphasize the practical.
Sit is great, but if they don't use it, it's useless. Don't just tell them how they can use it, build in exercises where they can see it used.
3. Balance the talking and the hands on.
If anything, err on the side of hands on. They really need to practice, not just hear.
4. Call in the middle of the week to check on them.
This is *so* time- consuming, but my students love it. They could ask me questions that they didn't have during class. I only do it the first week because I teach in a different area code, and all my calls are long distance.
5. Don't give them the technical definitions.
Be as practical and common-sense in your explanations as possible. Use a lot of real-life examples. Use metaphors.
6. Don't talk about problems. Discuss solutions.
Have them come up with the solutions. Always have them tell you what they want the dog to do instead. Take the opportunity to teach them about dog behavior. I've found students become a lot more patient when they understand that the "problem" behavior is natural and the "solution" isn't.
7. My handouts have matured into literal step-by-step checksheets for teaching behavior.
I've found that it's the only way to get them to do the reps necessary to teach the behavior. The students love them, because they don't have to figure out what to do next. Also, you don't have to worry about them progressing too fast, because your sheet didn't progress too fast.
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List and Site Owner: Melissa Alexander, mca @ clickersolutions.com