What to know
about timing
and training
What you need to know about timing and training  copyright  2015-2018
Frania Shelley-Grielen all rights reserved

Interested in or trying to train your dog or yes, even your cat? From basic requests, like
“sit,” “off” and “come” your pet needs to understand what you are asking her to do and
know when she has done it and be rewarded for it.  Training or teaching is basically a
Request, Response, Reward sequence.  Behaviors that are rewarded, whatever those
rewards might be, tend to repeat.  Sounds simple so far, right?  It is as long as you have
the all important detail of timing down to the nanosecond.

If you haven’t heard yet that training is a mechanical skill you will now.  That famous
mechanical skill means that your timing in the Request, Response, Reward sequence is
what makes the teaching and learning happen, without it both dog and human are out
of sync and confused.  As much as your dog desires to please you, and they do, they
cannot understand English.  As well programmed as our dogs might be in reading our
body language to determine our mood and doing their best to appease us they do not
understand specific requests unless they have been taught them.  They, unlike us,
have not been to school and learned to understand the many words we used.  They can
learn, ‘though, requests, as long as we break them down very clearly and mark them
and this is where the timing comes in.

Let’s look at “sit”: we can either lure a dog into position by holding a treat directly in
front of the dog’s nose and pulling it slowly back over the head so the haunches lower to
the ground (lifting the treat away from the dog at that point is luring a jump, a
common error to watch for).  We can also ask for the behavior if the dog already knows
the request.  The second the haunches hit the ground is when we need to
mark/identify/label the behavior and reward it by saying “Good Sit!” and giving the
treat.  As humans, we tend to wait and observe the behaviors as they happen.  We
pause to observe and when we pause we lose the timing opportunity for coaching or
teaching what that word/label “sit” means.  The dog is able to learn “sit” means put
haunches on the floor only because you are allowing for the association of the marking
the behavior with the label ‘Good Sit” and the reward, which here is the praise and the
treat at the very moment it happens.

Understanding how to use the skill of timing in training is work.  The trainer has to
learn how to mark the exact moment of a response.  Powers of observation and paying
close attention to intention movements are vital to develop.  Clicker training seeks to
assist in marking behaviors at their exact moment as long as the trainer engages the
clicker in time.  I prefer my voice simply because it is always there and does not
require another device to manipulate or delay response.  The best way to develop the
skill of timing in training is to begin practicing with the practice focusing on your
timing in concert with what the dog is doing in the Request, Response and Reward
sequence.  Think of the work as you improving on your own response and timing to
what you are asking the dog to do and how quickly you can mark it and reinforce it.  
There is a definite learning curve with this and the more you practice, the better you
get. Remember, they can’t learn if we can’t teach.

(c) 2015-2018 Frania Shelley-Grielen all rights reserved
Timing and postive reinforcement are the secrets to training
Emmy Mik
"Clicker training seeks to assist in
marking behaviors at their exact
moment as long as the trainer
engages the clicker in time.  I
prefer my voice simply because it
is always there and does not
require another device to
manipulate or delay response."  
copyright Frania Shelley-Grielen
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Entire website copyright Frania Shelley-Grielen
Learn how to mark the exact moment of a response with a happy Yes or Good!
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