Getting Started with Clicker Training

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Postby hey21jude » December 3rd, 2009, 8:25 pm

I got my nifty new clicker last week and have done 2 sessions with Dexter so far. He's always been really quick to pick up new things so I figured he'd take to this really easily. Well, I soon found out it's as much about training me as it is him. I forgot about having to get used to the clicker and using it properly.

I ended up cutting both sessions pretty short because I was getting really frustrated with myself and him and if I get too frazzled he just shuts down and wont do anything for me...I don't blame him. So we went outside and played with his flirt pole for a while :D

So to be sure I've got this right: The whole point of the clicker is that at the very second that the dog does what you've asked, you click and treat, so then the dog views the sound as "yes, your doing the right thing, here comes your reward!" right?

So I figured I'd start out just clicking and treating, not asking anything of him. Then I asked him to do easy stuff he knows like sit and down, then click and treat when he did. I added more commands like come, rollover,and stand... all things he knows very well. Is this a good way to start off.

I couldn't really tell if he was getting that the sound means he did the right thing and treat is coming soon. At first, when I would click he would kind of look around like "what the heck was that". He seemed to get used to it but I still feel like he was not associating the click with the treat at all. I think I must have been doing something wrong, just don't know what.
Maybe I was expecting too much from him and I need to do more clicking and treating only with no commands?

I'm aware that 2 sessons is not much at all... and will keep up with it...I just want to know how to do this properly before I go any further. I don't want to screw it all up.

I know there are some clicker pros on here and any advice would be greatly appreciated!! :wave2:
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Postby TheRedQueen » December 3rd, 2009, 8:54 pm

I don't tend to click behaviors that they already know (even if I clicked them in the first place!)

I start out with some simple shaping...which can be hard for cross-over dogs, or dogs just coming to the clicker.

So...I always recommend starting really, really simple. Sit down during a commercial break while watching TV...have a big bowl of treats and your clicker. Watch for movement from him...any movement. Tiny microscopic movement. He might move an ear, he might turn his head slightly, he might shift his eyes. Pick something you like and click/treat it. Wait for it to happen again. C/T again. See if the behavior happens again...c/t. If it doesn't happen again, just sit back and watch the commercials...watch him out of the corner of your eye. If you see it again, c/t. As he starts to pair up the movement/behavior with the c/t, it'll happen more often...you'll get the "lightbulb" moment, when he sees that his behavior is making the c/t occur. :D While you're c/t...try and stay silent...don't talk, don't try and give cues or commands. Just let things happen, don't push for anything. As you're sitting there, try and get behaviors that build on the inital movement.

So for instance, when I taught Score to turn in a circle, I started with a small head movement...he just shifted his chin/muzzle to one side. I built on that and clicked for bigger and bigger movements, and eventually he was turning all of the way around. :D No luring or talking! lol

Some articles that might help:
http://www.clickersolutions.com/article ... haping.htm

http://www.clickersolutions.com/articles/2001/box.htm

http://www.clickersolutions.com/article ... haping.htm
"I don't have any idea if my dogs respect me or not, but they're greedy and I have their stuff." -- Patty Ruzzo

"Dogs don't want to control people. They want to control their own lives." --John Bradshaw
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Postby hey21jude » December 9th, 2009, 10:05 pm

Thank You! We finally had the "lightbulb" moment!!!! After LOTS of patience he got it! It was so fun to actually be able to see the wheels turning in his head when he figured it out! He seemed pretty pleased with himself too!
Every one in a while instead of jumping up on the couch he'll just rest his head on the edge. It's very cute so I decided to start with that behavior because its not something I taught him to do or have asked him to do before. He doesn't do it often so it took 3 days for him to catch on. :)

So now I 'm thinking of randomly throwing a mat on the floor a C/T for him touching it and eventually sitting on it so he'll have a spot to go to when we're piled on the couch. Then who knows what I could have him doing. He really likes the one on one time with me and the clicking noise keeps the baby entertained! win win lol


Thanks for the articles too, they helped a lot!
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Postby Miss_Pits » December 9th, 2009, 10:41 pm

With the clicker timing is SO important! At our first class we hand all of the students a clicker and we stand and bounce a tennis ball and the students must click when the ball hits the ground - the first couple of clicks are always off, but it is a great way to get used to the clicker and perfect your timing!

Clicker training is a lot of fun and it makes teaching new behaviors so simple! Keep us updated on your progress!
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Postby TheRedQueen » December 10th, 2009, 10:27 am

hey21jude wrote:Thank You! We finally had the "lightbulb" moment!!!! After LOTS of patience he got it! It was so fun to actually be able to see the wheels turning in his head when he figured it out! He seemed pretty pleased with himself too!
Every one in a while instead of jumping up on the couch he'll just rest his head on the edge. It's very cute so I decided to start with that behavior because its not something I taught him to do or have asked him to do before. He doesn't do it often so it took 3 days for him to catch on. :)

So now I 'm thinking of randomly throwing a mat on the floor a C/T for him touching it and eventually sitting on it so he'll have a spot to go to when we're piled on the couch. Then who knows what I could have him doing. He really likes the one on one time with me and the clicking noise keeps the baby entertained! win win lol


Thanks for the articles too, they helped a lot!


Yea!!! :cheer:
"I don't have any idea if my dogs respect me or not, but they're greedy and I have their stuff." -- Patty Ruzzo

"Dogs don't want to control people. They want to control their own lives." --John Bradshaw
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