Click and learn

For dog owners who want to “click” with their dogs, taking an obedience class might be necessary. Eight Marshall area people recently enrolled themselves and their dogs in “Clicking with K9s Dog Obedience,” a six-session Marshall Community Services class, which runs through Oct. 1.

The first class was an orientation session at the Adult Community Center without dogs. The next five training sessions take place with dogs at Independence Park. Focus is on basic obedience and manners. Dogs will learn to sit, stay, come when called, settle on mat, targeting and polite leash walking.

Owners learned to use a clicker, which despite its name, isn’t a remote control, said Jess Thovson, who is a professional dog trainer from Tyler.

“Don’t point it at your dog,” she said.

The clicker is a small noisemaker that makes a distinctive “click” sound when the metal tab is pressed. The clicker is intended to tell your dog when he or she does something correctly.

Thovson is an AKC Canine Good Citizen evaluator and is a member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers among many other licenses and affiliations.

“I’ve been doing this for over 15 years,” she said. “I started with the compulsion method. I used a little bit of choke chain, but I don’t do that anymore.”

Thovson said doing something like forcing a dog to sit is bad for the dog’s hips.

She uses positive reinforcement – praise and rewards in the form of “high value” treats such as small pieces of hot dogs, “something they are going to work for” – are given for every behavior that the owner likes to see.

Thovson said owners should bring “at least 300” small, soft, easily chewable treats to the training sessions.

“That sounds like a lot, but it’s basically three cut-up hot dogs,” she said. Other treats include “baked, cubed chicken, Gerber yogurt melts and string cheese.”

The owner should be consistent in their training, Thovson said, and there should only be one trainer.

“They can adapt to different styles, but it’s better to be consistent,” she said.