Starting clicker training

Discussion in 'Clicker Training' started by ohthatcat, Apr 11, 2017.

  1. ohthatcat

    ohthatcat Registered Users

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    Hi all,

    Should I start clicker training on my 14 week old pup if what we've been doing is working? I think it could add an element of support when I can't immediately "good girl" her (like if she performs several commands in a row or is far away).

    Thanks!

    Sunny
     
  2. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

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    There is definitely no advantage to using a clicker to mark the end of a string of successfully executed different cues - unless the whole thing has been back chained using a clicker I suppose.

    I'm much less of a clicker fan these days than I once was to be honest. For a while now I've been saving it to mark more precise behaviours where it is powerful, and recently I thought repetitive clicker training with my younger dog dampened her enthusiasm and did more harm than good. I do think the clicker is invaluable for some things, but not all.
     
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  3. snowbunny

    snowbunny Registered Users

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    I agree with Julie. I'm a huge proponent of clicker training for very precise behaviours, but with my new puppy have become far more choosy about what I use it for - and stop using it as soon as I have the behaviour I want because I believe continuing to use it after the dog understands the behaviour can actually add confusion.

    Using a clicker is superior to using a verbal marker when used correctly, but you need to understand what you're clicking and why.
     
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  4. Beanwood

    Beanwood Registered Users

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    In addition to the above advice, you could change you marker to something with more impact, that your pup will relate to immediately as a consistent marker. There is a risk that your verbal marker disappears into the background noise, as "good girl" is a term that possibly is used commonly in your household, and not necessarily to mark a behaviour. You should hear my OH...ohyeswhatagoodgirlyouareandsooclever! A good minute later, and she might eventually get a treat! :D:D
    I hear "Yess!!" used quite a lot, and this seems to work well. With training, keeping things consistent so your pup really understands what she has done well is really key, as well as timing, not just with the verbal marker but a clicker too.
     
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  5. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

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    For many routine things - that the average pet owner will be training - a marker doesn't even add much.

    So, for example, walking by your side. You may as well just pay with treats for walking at your side. You could clicker train one step, two steps and back chain a string of twenty steps and so on, but....not many pet owners do that. They mainly mark and treat a bit randomly and would get the same result for just paying with treats.

    Indeed, I no longer bother to use a marker word for even Charlie's heel, which is a great deal more precise than most people would want. I just vary the duration for which I reward (with a trend of asking for more) and use the way I deliver reinforcement to fine tune his position. Eg not sitting straight when I stop? Then keep delivering the reward to his left to swing his bum in.

    And so on.

    Things like a delivery to hand I thought could only be trained with a clicker (or a marker) because the dog would spit otherwise. But then I found out it was a billion times quicker to just hold out a handful of treats and remove them if the dog spits out the dummy. If the dog doesn't, he gets the treats. Simple.

    Even very recently I thought that I should use a marker (clicker or word) mark something precise like a very hard nose touch when normally I get a bit of a rubbish nose touch. Then someone just showed me a way to build value in the nose touch by dropping the treat into the hand I wanted touched. Touch and the treat magically appears in front of your nose in the same hand. Improved noses touches to be a 100 times stronger in a day compared to hours of clicker training and marking that just got me 'ok' results.

    Things I still use a clicker (or marker) for: LAT, targeting, some shaping for fun (although I lure more often than shape these days), stopping barking, and 'let go'.
     
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  6. ohthatcat

    ohthatcat Registered Users

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    You all provided great advice. Since she's so trainable so far and has picked up everything with relative ease, I'll hold off. It wouldn't make sense based on what you're telling me, and I've been paying with treats of varying "intensities" which has worked.

    Thanks!

    Sunny
     
  7. Jojo83

    Jojo83 Registered Users

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    The latest studies find that there is no significant difference between using a clicker, a marker word or just treating. Although a small study (not unusual in the dog world) it is in line with the training of other species as demonstrated by Karen Pryor and Ken Ramirez to name just two.

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blo...er-training-the-most-effective-way-train-dogs

    All the trainers I know avoid avoid the use of 'good' either with girl or boy added and 'Yes' because of the frequency of use and not just when marking a desired behaviour. I use 'click' nice and simple, not used very often in normal speech and easy to re-iterate in the same tone of voice.


    Luring is absolutely fine to kickstart a new behaviour rather than wait and shape but the lure should be dropped very quickly, otherwise it will most become a bribe. Most trainers I know would recommend dropping the food lure after 3 or 4 goes and then have an empty hand and give minimal hand cues if necessary.
     
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  8. snowbunny

    snowbunny Registered Users

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    Why give minimal hand cues? I like to have a visual cue for many things for my dogs. Sit, stop, down, heel, back and direction all have hand cues as well as verbal ones. The visual cues are always a lot stronger than verbal ones, so it seems odd to suggest they should be kept to a minimum.
     
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  9. Beanwood

    Beanwood Registered Users

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    I guess if the hand signal is a cue in itself? Like directional cues, is that what you mean @snowbunny?. As apposed to a lure combined with a hand signal, bit like when I started luring Bramble into the "heel" position, which for us means "please sit nice and close by my side". The problem I have now is that although Bramble responds to the heel cue, I still have a vague "wavy hand thingy" which also means heel, which in all honesty is far stronger than my verbal heel cue :D
     
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  10. snowbunny

    snowbunny Registered Users

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    I mean, for example, I have different ways of asking for a sit. One is, unsurprisingly, to say "sit", but my strongest cue for a sit is an open hand, palm up, moving upwards.

    My visual cue for a down is the opposite - a hand, palm down and moving in a downwards direction.

    My visual cue for heel (or right heel) is a straight arm down my body on the side I want them to be, with my finger pointing down.

    Stop and sit at a distance is an open palm, facing towards the dog, with my arm straight in the air.

    Etc etc.

    All of these visual cues are adaptations of what I originally used when I was luring, but the lure was faded after a couple of goes, and we're over two years down the line with the older ones, so I'm pretty sure they realise there's no treat in that hand by now ;)
    They're not accidental waving (although I'm guilty of that myself on occasion), but specifically considered cues. Very useful if you're talking to someone and don't want to break conversation to have your dog do something - or if you're using verbal cues with one dog and want to control another.
     
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  11. Beanwood

    Beanwood Registered Users

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    Ahh, got it @snowbunny :) Good point about when training other dogs too. I also have a visual sit cue which is an arm raised, as well as a verbal "sit" cue. Actually, the more I think on it, I have a fair few verbal and hand signals as cues.
     
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  12. Jojo83

    Jojo83 Registered Users

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    What I intended to say was that with the lure you want to drop the luring hand waving around as quickly as possible and introduce a verbal cue. You then have time to decide what you hand signal/body signal should look like and start introducing when you have a good response to the verbal cue. The hand in a lure position looks very different to that for say a sit, down, stop etc.

    Luckily for us our dogs our expert readers of body language and even of small changes in our facial expression so generally work out what we want regardless of our attempts to confuse them :)
     
  13. edzbird

    edzbird Registered Users

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    I find clicker training brilliant for training new behaviours when you need your mark to be exact. My dog learns really quickly. Perhaps I struggle using vocal markers precisely and consistently - isn't this why clicker training was invented?
     
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  14. snowbunny

    snowbunny Registered Users

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    I'm not sure I agree. If I know I want to have a visual cue, then why not work on that first before adding the verbal? It seems like the natural progression to me. My luring is intentionally very similar to my finished cue - when luring into a sit, I have an open hand facing upwards with a treat between finger and thumb and moving in an upwards direction. For a down, it's palm down with the treat between my fingers. For stop, I have the treat or ball in my hand, raised straight over my head. It's a very simple matter to remove the lure and then really very quickly approximate towards the finished cue, normally in the space of a single session. I'd say the only exception with this is the down, because it took a while with both my adults to move from me sitting/crouching to standing to deliver the cue. I work on getting their response to the visual cue as good as possible before adding the verbal cue.

    I'm not saying your way is wrong, obviously, but if you want a visual cue, as I do, then it's certainly not wrong to work on that first, either. As you say, they're expert readers of our bodies - far more so than of our language - so why not work to their strengths? :)
     
  15. ohthatcat

    ohthatcat Registered Users

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    This is interesting. Can I use it to train heel, and once she gets it, wean it out?

    Thanks!

    Sunny
     
  16. ohthatcat

    ohthatcat Registered Users

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    I love hand cues! I think she understands them more than verbal sometimes. They really work. Either way, it's good to have both, right?

    Sunny
     
  17. edzbird

    edzbird Registered Users

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    I didn't use it for heel - but I'm not after an exact heel position - I'm really only after loose lead walking, but yes - you could.

    I think I'm about to embark on getting Coco to sit closely at heel to a yet to be decided cue - I will use the clicker for this.
     
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  18. Beanwood

    Beanwood Registered Users

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    Having a good sit to heel cue was a great starting point with Bramble. I started by using a placeboard by my side to get the exact position, using a treat on her nose as a lure. I guess you could use a mat for this as well. Then moved to using a low dwarf wall. I would click when she got to the right position. Then added the cue "heel" but didn't fade out the hand signal that evolved. I think though a quiet hand signal on a shoot isn't such a bad idea :)
     
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  19. JulieT

    JulieT Registered Users

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    HeeHee - I think that's very old fashioned! I have changed my approach to luring since I had the benefit of attending ClickerExpo and saw Emily Lartham lure her dog through an entire trick routine approaching 3 minutes!

    Sure, tell pet owners to drop the lure quickly, that's the safe thing to do, but the pros lure for much, much longer because they know it's a lure and how to use it properly.
     
  20. Oberon

    Oberon Supporting Member Forum Supporter

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    At the dog club I train people to train their dogs and one of the biggest problems I see would be people continuing to rely on the lure for far too long. Pretty quickly you get a dog who won't perform the behaviour unless they see that you've already gone into your treat pouch and extracted a treat that's waiting in your hand.

    Even experienced handlers make this error - hands in the treat pouch before the behaviour or before the marker (both of which will render your marker useless as 'hand in the treat pouch' becomes the new marker).

    Nothing wrong with luring a more lengthy behaviour then normal I guess once your dog is a savvy learner (though I stick to the 'shape in small increments' mantra) but it's still important to move away from using a lure asap.
     
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