First, I discovered that by using tag points and back-chaining my students quickly learn the mechanical skills of clicker training. In no time my clients are comfortable and confident in their ability to observe, mark, and reinforce their dog’s behavior.
Second, teaching with TAGteach principles enables me to reframe my client’s focus from that of seeing only what their dog is doing wrong to seeing all the things their dog is doing right! When a client experiences TAGteach as a learner, and clicker training as a trainer, it resonates.
The principles that I use most often are:
- Ask for what you want – Simple clear instruction about what I DO want, rather than what I DON’T want.
- Ask for only one thing at a time – have you ever taken lessons for golf or tennis – the instructor says stand with your feet in a wide stance, eyes on the ball, shoulders relaxed, elbow straight, etc. How much of that do you actually remember as you hack at the ball! I ask for just one thing at a time.
- Build on successes – when something is going right, whether for the human or the dog, I grab the opportunity to build on it.
- Break if down – if a student is not successful with a skill, I break it down further.
- Raise criteria appropriately for each student – I try to provide meaningful next steps rather than just expect everyone to proceed at the same rate.
Keeping these TAGteach principles in mind during my pet dog training classes has helped me immensely in retention and graduation rates, which in turn helps to keep dogs in their homes. TAGteach has positively impacted my teaching skills, and I believe it greatly enhances my learner’s experience and success. And as if that weren’t enough, it’s also a lot of fun!