It has been so very hot this week, and combined with Christmas and New Year busyness this has meant we have done little formal training. We've had swimming lessons, and we've taken targeting 'on the road' practicing with different targets in different locations. Jo Sermon suggested using a range of targets, not just the plexiglass square, so that the target itself does not become too solidly ingrained as part of the cue for the behaviour.
Thinking about what becomes part of the cue, I went back to Sue Ailsby's training plan to fade treats and clicker from the equation. Sue says:
"Go to your most common training location with your clicker and maybe 15 treats. Put 10 treats on a table 5' away from you. Put 10 treats on a table 10' away from you, and put the rest on a table in the next room. Keep your clicker. Work on Sit from scratch until she's offering it to you eagerly and you've used up your initial handful of treats. Without any break, ask her for a Sit. Click, and go fast and happily to the closest table, get a treat and hand it to her. Make a pretty big deal of this. Go back to your training place, ask for another Sit, click and go back to the table to get a treat. Finish up the treats this way.
Now, seamlessly, go back to the training place and ask for another Sit. Click, and go to the 10' table. Continue until you've used those ten treats up, then work with the ones in the next room. Lots of work for you, running back and forth, but worth it to get the dog to trust that there will be a treat, even if she can't see one.
When you've run through that routine several days in a row, do the same thing again, but don't take your clicker into the game. Where you would have clicked, now you're going to use a word instead. I use YES! "
So that was today's game. I know there are trainers who say that the click must always immediately be paired with the re-inforcement or it will lose its 'charge'. But the click means what you teach the dog it means. And as Sue explains it, as the treat becomes more removed from the behaviour/click you replace the click with a word.