What are common mistakes to avoid when using a target stick?
The lack of precise timing is the biggest mistake people make when using target stick training. As soon as your dog successfully completes a command, sound the clicker or other marker immediately—and then follow up with a treat no more than a minute or two after that.
Some dogs are shy and can get a little nervous around the target stick or get startled or frightened by the sound of the clicker; a good way to know this is to watch your dog’s level of enthusiasm for the treat. If she reacts enthusiastically, there’s no problem. If, however, she doesn’t seem all that interested in the treat, it may be because of the sound of the clicker disturbs her, so you can find one with a lower sound level or just use verbal markers.
“Introduce the target stick slowly,” said Certified Dog Trainer Shelby Semel. “Some owners go too fast—and if the dog is shy, it can make it very nervous and possibly less responsive to the target stick.”
You also don’t want to make these mistakes:
• Not enough positive reinforcement: Rewards are very essential things in any dog training, because it encourages them to continue obeying your commands.
• Extremism in training: If you train you train your dog too frequently or repeat every exercise too many times, she’ll get bored and frustrated. It’s better to keep the sessions short; you can always give her some quick spontaneous sessions to reinforce learning. If she’s having trouble with one command, stop and rest for a few minutes. Return later–to another, easier command.
• Neglecting your dog’s emotions: Always consider what your dog might be feeling while training, and give those feelings the appropriate attention and respect they deserve. If you notice that your dog is not very eager to do some exercises or if he yawns too much, let him rest. This might mean that your dog is too tired or too bored to go on.