Based on Sandy's response in another thread (thanks, Sandy!), I have been doing some web research on clicker training. Assuming it works half as well as the testimonials (always a risky assumption, I know), why wouldn't everyone use it? It's simple, positive, maybe even fun, and I don't see any downside. I'm on my way to Barnes & Noble now to check out some training books and plan to try it, but before I do, is there anything I should know? Is this going to be yet another way for me to screw up poor Ozzie?
Thanks,
Scooter
1 2 3 4 5 6
Based on Sandy's response in another thread (thanks, Sandy!), I have been doing some web research on clicker training. Assuming it works half as well as the testimonials (always a risky assumption, I know), why wouldn't everyone use it?

There's no harm in it at all, but it's not necessarily everyone's preferred method for a number of reasons. Testimonials, to ANYTHING, tend to be a little over the top gushy IMO. Doesn't matter what the product it!
It's simple, positive, maybe even fun, and I don't see any downside.

I'm not convinced about that simple part. I've encountered a number of people doing weird things in the name of clicker training, and even clicker trainers don't always agree on the fine points! I know some pretty skilled trainers who don't like clicker training because they find it cumbersome. Obviously, a lot of others like it. It's a personal choice. Not right or wrong, just a choice.
I'm on my way to Barnes & Noble now to check out some training books and plan to try it, but before I do, is there anything I should know? Is this going to be yet another way for me to screw up poor Ozzie?

Poor timing, in any method, can screw up the dog. In person training is really a good idea, regardless of method chosen. Doing the work is an important factor as well, and an instructor generally has a well thought out lesson plan, that teaches things at a certain pace and in a certain order, which has proven successful.
Good luck with whatever you choose, and your dog will be better off for it!

Janet Boss
www.bestfriendsdogobedience.com
Based on Sandy's response in another thread (thanks, Sandy!), I have been doing some web research on clicker training. Assuming ... assumption, I know), why wouldn't everyone use it? It's simple, positive, maybe even fun, and I don't see any downside.

I think it's a lot of fun, and I use it for some stuff. It requires really good timing and I think it's a good idea to learn it in a class context from an instructor who really knows what he or she is doing. You don't want to get off on the wrong foot and end up being one of those people who uses the clicker to recall the dog.
I've found that not all dogs take to it with equal enthusiasm and I've had better luck getting younger dogs onto the clicker than older dogs. In particular, younger dogs will have fewer inhibitions about offering new behaviors and I think that dogs that started on a clicker as puppies are a riot to work with. I don't work with the clicker when the dogs are a distance from me. I know people who do it; it's a skill I haven't mastered myself. I will say that I think that if you've got a dog that really understands the clicker it's the single best way to get a sleddog (i.e. a manic, congenital puller) to heel.

On the other hand I'm not crazy about it for fixing some problem behaviors. In the pulling case there's a clear alternative (heel) but I think that if you're trying to teach a dog not to eat your curtains, using the clicker will take too long and runs the risk of allowing the behavior to become ingrained and self-reinforcing.
It's best to have a big training toolkit and know what to use when.

Melinda Shore - Software longa, hardware brevis - (Email Removed)

Prouder than ever to be a member of the reality-based community
Assuming it works half as well as the testimonials (always a risky assumption, I know), why wouldn't everyone use it?

Dogs, being individuals, don't exactly all respond equally well to all types of training. I have tried clicker training, and found it to be frustrating. More importantly, my dog was confused by it.
My timing is pretty good, so I didn't find it particularly useful to use the clicker as a reward marker. Khan is very much a 'Just tell me what you want me to do' kind of dog, and neither of us has the kind of patience it required to shape behaviors, which is where the power of clicker comes in. I have used it with Pan, and it can be fun and interesting. Standard lure training works just fine for both dogs, so that's what I've stuck with.

A friend of mine has a dog who really took to the clicker. Once he got the concept that he might get rewarded for throwing behaviors, he became obsessed by it, and was constantly trying something to get a reward (with or without a clicker around). She had to stop working with him and using a clicker entirely for a while to get him back on an even keel. That was probably the most bizarre reaction I've seen to clicker training.

Suja
Assuming it works half as well as the testimonials (always a risky assumption, I know), why wouldn't everyone use it?

Dogs, being individuals, don't exactly all respond equally well to all types of training. I have tried clicker training, and found it to be frustrating. More importantly, my dog was confused by it.

I'm curious. Did you try it on your own? Or with the help of someone who was an experienced clicker trainer?
My timing is pretty good, so I didn't find it particularly useful to use the clicker as a reward marker.

The clicker isn't really a reward marker. It's an EVENT marker. It does not take the place of praise, nor is it a reward in itself. It simply marks a moment you want to capture, and means "you did right, reward is coming." It's sort of a fine difference, but to me it's an important one.
Khan is very much a 'Just tell me what you want
me to do' kind of dog, and neither of us has the kind of patience it required to shape behaviors, which is where the power of clicker comes in.

Acutally I rarely use it to shape behaviors, but rather to mark the moment when the dog is doing what I want. It doesn't have to be used ONLY to shape behaviors, and can be a very powerful tool even without shaping.
A friend of mine has a dog who really took to the clicker. Once he got the concept that he ... to get him back on an even keel. That was probably the most bizarre reaction I've seen to clicker training.

It sounds to me like your friend did something a bit wrong. Dogs continually throwing behaviors in the hope of getting a click really aren't being successfully clicker trained. A successful clicker trainer, even when shaping, helps the dog move toward and end behavior rather than just continuing to throw random stuff at the handler. If the clicker is being used properly, that sort of behavior isn't rewarded so it tends to not last long.
People tend to harp that clicking requires good timing. Well all dog training requires good timing. Clicker requires the ability to read and understand your dog and that can take some practice.

Me, I tend to use click/treat for more stationary behaviors and obedience type finesse moves such as fronts, straight finishes, backwards heeling, etc. I use toys and tug for in motion behaviors like jumping and weaving. I find it a fun and powerful tool, but it's not the only one in my toolbox.
Robin Nuttall (Email Removed) said in
The clicker isn't really a reward marker. It's an EVENT marker. It does not take the place of praise, nor ... means "you did right, reward is coming." It's sort of a fine difference, but to me it's an important one.

I use a vocal event marker (a quick "yes") in agility - training and in trials.

Matt. Rocky's a Dog.
I'm curious. Did you try it on your own? Or with the help of someone who was an experienced clicker trainer?[/nq]No, it was in our intermediate obedience class. Khan understood the whole click/treat thing, and we worked him on stuff he knew first. The problem with him was that he is very into not rocking the boat, and it was difficult to get him to progress. If something got him c/t, he'd repeat it endlessly, but wouldn't progress if it was no longer being rewarded. He would default to stuff he knows, and when that doesn't work, would 'woo-woo' and leave.

It is possible that I should've been looking for even smaller signs of progress than I was, but it was just so much easier to continue to do what was working just fine. I remember that it took 3x 5 minute sessions to teach him something just by luring that I couldn't get done in a week with a clicker because he wouldn't go past step 1.
The clicker isn't really a reward marker. It's an EVENT marker.

Poor choice of words on my part.
Acutally I rarely use it to shape behaviors, but rather to mark the moment when the dog is doing what I want.

I find it easier (and handier) to just use praise/treat.
It sounds to me like your friend did something a bit wrong. Dogs continually throwing behaviors in the hope of getting a click really aren't being successfully clicker trained.

I honestly don't know how it all went down. I know that she started off using it to capture behavior, and eventually worked on shaping stuff. From there, it somehow got to the point where he was randomly throwing stuff (with or without clicker) constantly. I know that she responded to his obsession quickly, but it took a loong time before he'd stop. He has some OCD behavior (like shadow chasing), and this somehow seems to have fed into that, I think.
Suja
The clicker isn't really a reward marker. It's an EVENT ... a fine difference, but to me it's an important one.

I use a vocal event marker (a quick "yes") in agility - training and in trials.

I use that too sometimes, but it's important to understand that they are not the same. The "yes" is praise. The clicker is not praise, it's an event marker.
The reason why voice is less effective than a click, light flash, or other totally neutral mark is because our voice inflection always changes. The "yes" we say at the end of a long, frustrating session where we're just trying to salvage something positive is very different than the "yes" we say when the dog nails that weave entry from a difficult angle the very first time at speed.
Also, there's some scientific data (and I can't remember the cite, sorry) that the click is actually faster than voice. It takes less time for the brain to send an impulse to the finger than it does for the brain to process a signal and turn it into words. So clicking actually improves timing.
The "yes" is praise. The clicker is not praise, it's an event marker.

Only if used as such. Words are just words, noises are just noises. How one chooses to use either, defines their meaning.

Janet Boss
www.bestfriendsdogobedience.com
Show more