Clicker training....Have I created a monster?

Discussion in 'Clicker Training' started by Cooper'sMom, Jan 28, 2016.

  1. Cooper'sMom

    Cooper'sMom Registered Users

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    I started clicker training Cooper because it was suggested to me by a member while Cooper was rehabilitating from his injury.Cooper really enjoys this and does quite well with his training sessions. My question is, is it done in sessions, or is it something that is on going? Cooper thinks it should be ongoing because he always wants the treats. He is always sitting at my feet with one paw on my leg waiting patiently (and impatiently) for that treat- maybe that trick I shouldn't have let him get away with. If I ignore him, he will start barking. If Cooper is biting me, I take a treat out of my pocket and he stops biting immediately anticipating that click and treat. Have I created a click treat monster or does this sound pretty normal for beginning clicker training?
     
  2. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

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    Hi Vicky, glad you found out how to post on the new software :)

    With clicker training, every time you click, you treat. No exceptions. What you can do is increase your requirements for the click. So, let's say you're working on a hand target (nose to hand). At first, you'll click a look in the direction of the hand, then any movement towards it, then eventually the touch with the nose. Obviously when you reach this point, you'll no longer be clicking just the look. Then you can add your cue - "touch", and link that with the behaviour. Once you've done that, you only click when he touches if you've said the cue. If he offers the behaviour without the cue, he doesn't get the click. So, he learns that it's only valuable for him to do it when you ask him to.

    In time, he'll have done the target enough times that he understands it, and no longer needs the click. You should still treat regularly, especially in the early days, to reinforce the behaviour, but the click isn't so necessary. Moving on, you'll probably start linking several behaviours together - at which point, he only gets the reinforcement at the end of the sequence.

    So, yes, clicker training is ongoing, but also can be faded in time. There are some behaviours I will reinforce each and every time - such as stop and recall - because they are super valuable and need to be kept sharp. But I only get the clicker out when I'm either teaching a new behaviour or tidying up an existing one. The existing behaviours I have are now strong enough that it's not necessary to click.

    As far as the behaviour of begging is concerned, when he's doing that, you could train a conflicting behaviour - "go to bed", for example.
    If he barks, ignore him. You may find that the barking increases after a while - this is because he's realised that normal barking isn't working and he's trying more as a last ditch attempt to get your attention. It's very important, at this stage, to completely ignore him. If you have to, get up and walk away without making any eye contact. As soon as he's quiet, treat him. Whenever he's laying down without bothering you, give him a treat quietly. Reinforce the behaviours you like, ignore the ones you don't. I've heard it suggested that the click is a stimulator, so shouldn't be used in situations where you want the dog to stay relaxed.

    I also think it's important to introduce a cue to tell your dog that training is over. Mine is "all done". The dogs know that they can relax after that, and no more treats will be forthcoming.

    With regards tot he biting, it sounds like he's biting and you're then getting a treat out to stop him. Well, it will, but you're reinforcing the behaviour of biting by doing that. You should always click a desired behaviour before reaching for the treat (except in the cases where you're luring a position) - and in the case of him biting you, which isn't a behaviour you want to enforce, I think you are better using negative punishment, such as withdrawing your attention, as the way of training it out. Using treats, I think it would be too easy, unless you're very precise with the clicker, to reinforce the behaviour of biting, or a chain of bite then stop.
     
  3. Cooper'sMom

    Cooper'sMom Registered Users

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    Excellent advice! I had suspected some of this but I wasn't able to find out for sure. You have answered all of my questions. Thank you for all of your help!
     
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  4. Emily

    Emily Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    I say "finished" while presenting my empty hands like a blackjack dealer to prove that there are no more treats!
     
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  5. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

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    It helps to video your training sessions if you can - just watching them back will show you where you can improve. I realised watching my videos back how much I talk. I need to just shut up when I'm training :D :D :D
     
  6. Cooper'sMom

    Cooper'sMom Registered Users

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    Thank you everyone. I have started to show him my empty hands and say all done! Now to start videoing. I'm quite interested in seeing myself. Cooper is doing quite well but there is room for improvement on both of our parts. His favourites are the sit command and playing fetch. Sit until I release and Lie down until I release are ok, and recall is a work in progress. Recall outside in the yard needs work because his nose is so busy.
     
  7. Boogie

    Boogie Moderator

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    The 'look, I'm doing it nooow' is very common - also anticipating your command and doing it before you say it.

    The answer is to ignore all behaviour you didn't ask for without comment. Using a 'finished' action and command is good too.

    We can get very, very predictable to dogs! This is because they watch our every move in great detail - especially when food is involved.

    I write down my training sessions in advance so that Twiglet can't anticipate what is next. If I just do it I very quickly find myself getting into patterns - a very human thing to do :)


    .
     
  8. Cooper'sMom

    Cooper'sMom Registered Users

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    Awesome! That makes sense. He does watch every move I make.
     
  9. Ken McLoud

    Ken McLoud Registered Users

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    we've had great success with using situations like this to train an "on your bed" command where she'll go to her dog bed and lay down.

    it works great to interrupt any unwanted behaviors in the house, jumping on guests, barking at the delivery guy, harassing the cat etc...

    we don't make her stay on the bed for long, but just interrupting the behavior is usually enough
     
  10. DebzC

    DebzC Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    I wanted to ask this too. I've got the clicker and treats but can't just permanently be clicking and treating whenever Libby does the right thing! Do they get confused outside of training times if they don't get clicked or a treat for sitting nicely or whatever?
     
  11. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

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    Put the start and end of your training sessions on cue - mine are "Ready to work?" and "All done". My two tend to take me putting the clicker away as a good cue that training time is over, too :)
     
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  12. snowbunny

    snowbunny Administrator Forum Supporter

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    Oh, but at this stage, you should still be treating every time they do something that you've asked, if the behaviour is on cue. Otherwise, she'll learn that there's no point doing it unless you have a clicker in your hand! You can charge up a verbal event marker (like "good" or "yes") to use when you don't have your clicker to hand. It's not as accurate as the clicker, but it's useful for scenarios where you want to let them know there is a treat coming.
     
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