“If you don't train me,
don't blame me”
At Bellvalley Beagles we consider training a very important part of any dog's life for several reasons. It provides mental stimulation which helps to keep the dogs happy and fulfilled as well as tiring them out both mentally and physically. Training also helps prepare the dogs for any stressful situations they may come across and the type of training we practice encourages the dogs to think for themselves.
The method of training we practice at Bellvalley is called Progressive Reinforcement Training, which basically means we train ethically using positive reinforcement, while avoiding physical or physiological intimidation.
A small part of this training involves the increasingly popular, Clicker Training. This type of training has been scientifically proven to be more reliable and effective than correction based training as well as creating dogs that are keen to work with us and can apply problem solving skills. Not only have we found this method the most effective but the most enjoyable as well!
Clicker Training is an amazing method of training! We have found it greatly improves the concentration and focus of our Beagles as well as creating a hugely rewarding bond between Beagle and trainer. Our Beagles all thoroughly enjoy their training sessions and we have never seen a method of training which produces such quick and reliable results. After all, what would you work better for, a tasty piece of choccy cake or to avoid being shouted at? I know what I would prefer, yum yum!
Clicker Training uses the science behind how animals learn to effectively and enjoyably teach our dogs how we want them to behave. Basically the dog learns that when they hear the ‘CLICK’ they are doing the right thing (it's giving your dog a gold star or a thumbs up, it makes communicating what you want them to do so easy). Your job as the trainer is to mark (with the ‘click’) the behaviours you want and to then reward your dog with whatever he finds reinforcing (this could be food, play or a toy). Because you have clicked at the exact moment your Beagle does what you want, it gives him the tools he needs to work out which behaviour you wanted, so timing is crucial. After a few ‘clicks’ the Beagles work out what you want them to do, and because its reinforced, they will do it again and again.
Basically, Clicker Training boils down to REWARD the behaviours you DO WANT and IGNORE the behaviours you DON’T WANT. The great thing about Clicker Training is that it provides clear communication between you and your Beagle as well as creating keen, enthusiastic and attentive partners.
All of our Bellvalley puppies start their foundation Clicker Training at 4 weeks of age!
We begin by ‘charging the clicker’, where we teach the puppies through Classical Conditioning to associate the ‘CLICK’ sound with positive reinforcement. Once the puppies have learnt this crucial first step the fun really begins.
The first behaviour we teach our puppies is the ‘Default Calm’, which is where the puppies learn to sit or stand quietly to earn their reward. Below right you can see a Bellvalley litter of puppies all practicing their 'Default Calm', anyone who knows how lively Beagle puppies are knows how amazing this really is!
The 'Default Calm' comes into play when the puppies go to their new homes as they will know to wait calmly before they get something they want, for example their dinner, for a fuss or even to go through a door. But of course the new owners must maintain the training to achieve these results.
Each and every Bellvalley puppy learns to sit, stand and lie down with lures, which builds up muscle memory ready for new owners to put these positions on cue. The puppies also learn the basics of the all-important ‘Leave It’ behaviour, this not only prepares the puppy for their new owner to take the next step but also teaches them patience and impulse control. Another essential behaviour we teach our Bellvalley Beagle puppies is to give us eye contact, after all you cannot communicate with your Beagle if he doesn't look at you!
Clicker Training really does have an amazing empowering effect on our Beagles, people often comment on how calm and relaxed they are. Using the power of Clicker Training our Beagles take part in Fun Agility, with Bellvalley Deedee, preparing to compete in her first competition. Below right is Bellvalley Coco, aka Scott, following Wendy’s target over a line of jumps. You can see by the look on his face that he loves every minute of it! Scott has also taken part in a Scent Work course, pictured below left. Bellvalley Deedee has even earned her Novice and Intermediate Trick Dog Titles with ‘Do More With Your Dog’!
As you can see the possiblities are endless when you conbine Clicker Training with a Beagle, from Agility to Scentwork, a Beagle will put their paw to anything!
Below Maddie (Bellvalley Zippin Hot) and Scott (Bellvalley Coco) practice standing on their foot stations, trained using Clicker Training of course. The video below is of one of our puppies at 8 weeks old learning to stand on a platform using clicker training.
For anyone who would like to know more about this inspirational method of training, there are a few helpful links below. Just remember that anything is possible with the power of Positive Reinforcement!