So whats the deal with clicker training?

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Postby Magnolia618 » October 15th, 2006, 2:37 pm

Can someone give me a brief overview of what it's all about. I totally dont get it.
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Postby mnp13 » October 15th, 2006, 3:09 pm

It's "marker" training, and the click is the marker.

What you are doing is marking the exact moment that the dog does what you want it to. After the mark comes the reward.

You start by sitting in a chair and clicking and then giving the dog a treat. This creates the beginning association that "click" means a reward is coming.

You shape behaviors by clicking when the dog does something on its own that you want it to do. when I wanted to teach Ruby to spin in a circle, I clicked when she looked to the left. Then she started looking left to get me to click. From there, I made her look farther, or even do a quarter or half turn. It wasn't long before she was happily spinning in circles to get hotdogs.

That's how I understand it anyway.
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Postby Magnolia618 » October 15th, 2006, 3:13 pm

I just dont get the point of the "click". Isnt the treat supposed to get them to know that they did what you want? What is the dog supposed to think when it hears the click?
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » October 15th, 2006, 3:15 pm

I believe it's good for those times when you can't immediately treat the dog. The click lets them know they have a treat coming.
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Postby mnp13 » October 15th, 2006, 3:22 pm

On October 15 2006, 15:13, Magnolia618 wrote:I just dont get the point of the "click". Isnt the treat supposed to get them to know that they did what you want? What is the dog supposed to think when it hears the click?


the dog doesn't "think" anything about the click. You have to build the association ahead of time. Spend 10 minutes with the dog; click - treat, click - treat. It teaches them that if they hear the click then a reward is on the way.

You don't need a clicker, you just need a marker. It can be a word, sound, whatever. I tried "clicking" like I would when I was riding a horse, but it's hard to keep doing that over the course of 10 minutes because your mouth dries out really bad.

The easy part of using a clicker is it is a "sharp" sound, and you can be very exact with your timing. Well, you need to work on that, but you get used to it.
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Postby Magnolia618 » October 15th, 2006, 4:14 pm

whether its a click, a word, sound, whatever, I still dont get the point. :| Why not just give them a treat when they do what you want? Whats the point of the marker?
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Postby SisMorphine » October 15th, 2006, 4:39 pm

On October 15 2006, 4:14 PM, Magnolia618 wrote:whether its a click, a word, sound, whatever, I still dont get the point. :| Why not just give them a treat when they do what you want? Whats the point of the marker?

Because for people who are timing impaired *raises hand* it is easier to mark the behavior auditorally before giving the treat.

That being said . . . I'm not a huge fan of it but I'm learning more about it as my stubborn self is opening up to learning about ALL types of training fully before making a judgement :D
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Postby Romanwild » October 15th, 2006, 5:35 pm

The marker tells the dog exactly when it did the behavior, or extrememly close at least.

By using a reward alone the dog can't tell exactly what it is being rewarded for. You would have to throw the treat at the dog at the same moment that they gave the behavior. I beleive that is impossible.

The exactness of clicker training gives the trainer the ability to shape and/or change behaviors rather precisley.

I refer to what Michelle is describing as "charging up" the clicker. That's when you sit down the first session or two of training and just click-treat. click-treat, over and over. It causes a Pavlovian response. I believe they refer to the clicker as a secondary re-inforcer and the reward as the primary. :|
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Postby Magnolia618 » October 15th, 2006, 5:45 pm

Ok, that made sense. lol
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Postby Romanwild » October 15th, 2006, 5:46 pm

Sorry...I forgot you were home schooled. :oops:
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Postby Magnolia618 » October 15th, 2006, 5:54 pm

Image Image

I still dont really get the point. I hold a treat in my hand, my dogs will do what I ask them, then I give the treat. They seem to get it. :|
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Postby Romanwild » October 15th, 2006, 6:37 pm

On October 15 2006, Magnolia618 wrote:Image Image

I still dont really get the point. I hold a treat in my hand, my dogs will do what I ask them, then I give the treat. They seem to get it. :|


What you're describing is getting them to do something they already know. The clicker is to teach new behaviors. Once they know the new behavior you won't need it.
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Postby Magnolia618 » October 15th, 2006, 6:41 pm

Oh, umm.... that makes more sense. lol

How about this. I have the treat, I ask Trey to sit. He sits, I give him the treat. Then he stands up again. Is that ok? I mean, should he stay seated after he got the reward, or would that defeat the purpose of the reward?
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Postby Romanwild » October 15th, 2006, 6:55 pm

I assume Trey already knows sit. There is no need to use a clicker in that case. The reward in your example marks the end of the behavior. If you were teaching sit and using a clicker the click would end the behavior.

It is hard to describe but the concept is simple.

I'll further confuse you by telling you that when teaching a new behavior you never add your cue until the dog is consistantly giving you the behavior. lol
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Postby Magnolia618 » October 15th, 2006, 7:31 pm

Sorry... maybe I should have started a new thread. That question didnt have anything to do with clicking, just commands in general lol
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Postby pitgrrl » October 16th, 2006, 7:39 pm

Okay, I have a clicker question.....
When one uses a clicker, do you always treat after the click, or not? Can the click function on its own in the way that a word like "good" might indicate a desired behavior ?
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Postby mnp13 » October 16th, 2006, 8:31 pm

On October 16 2006, 19:39, pitgrrl wrote:Okay, I have a clicker question.....
When one uses a clicker, do you always treat after the click, or not? Can the click function on its own in the way that a word like "good" might indicate a desired behavior ?


<<<Yes>>> Incorrect / unclear answer

What I SHOULD have said...

You do not always click after the treat, but that is a different aspect of the training. That said, the click is meant as a marker for a behavior, not as the reward for it. The "reward" may be you saying "good", but the click is not the same thing.
Last edited by mnp13 on October 17th, 2006, 9:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Romanwild » October 17th, 2006, 8:50 am

Actually there is reasons for not treating after the click. Remember Michelle? It's a way of causing variablity in the behaviors. Wiggle.
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Postby mnp13 » October 17th, 2006, 9:30 am

On October 17 2006, 08:50, Romanwild wrote:Actually there is reasons for not treating after the click. Remember Michelle? It's a way of causing variablity in the behaviors. Wiggle.


Yes, you're right, but that is not really in the realm of what we are talking about right now. (I will edit my post so it is more accurate)

The question related to whether the "click" could be a reward in and of itself.

Creating variablity in behaviors is a different topic.
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Postby Pitcrew » October 24th, 2006, 11:32 pm

Okay... lets say that you are using the words "good boy" to mark the exactly correct moment of a new behavior you are teaching, and then give him a treat.
You are using the "good boy" to mark the behavior... and the treat is the reward (reinforcer).
Generally people create this association almost by accident. Its the dogs association... praise, then reward comes.
The Primary Reinforcer is the reward... you are teaching the dog to respond to a secondary stimulus that 'means' reward to the dog, so that the timing of a reward itself, is less important to shaping the behavior. This means the click (or 'yes') is a Secondary Reinforcer.
Since most dogs can sit, jump, and turn around twice in the time it takes to say "good boy", it is easier to give more precise information to the dog if you choose a shorter word (I use "yes") or a click, to identify with more precision to the dog. Timing is important.
This method of communication can make it easy (with an experienced dog) to teach them a new behavior, or behavior chain, at a distance, without touching them. When the timing of the treat itself would make it very difficult to give the dog specific meaningfull information.
It also makes it easier for the dog who is so glued to the fact that you have the treat... they cant think. The dog is working for the click. Its the only way to get the treat.
I like that it teaches my dogs to work FOR something (food, me) rather than to avoid something (correction, me). They try harder.
To me... corrections are for creating inhibition, or avoidance, of a behavior. Like jumping, pulling on leash, etc. When I teach obedience behaviors I want to teach the dog to think about what I want him to DO...
not what to aviod. A leash has no use for me to teach a precision heel... it is something I add later as a distraction.
If I tell you to walk next to me... and you had to figure out where or how, wouldnt you be able to do exactly what I wanted easier and faster if I told you exactly how and where... or if I only told you what NOT to do when you made a mistake? Which would make you better at your job? Or make you give up?
Its also a fun way to train. I love making up new, creative things to teach them, just to see if I can.
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