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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As requested, a brief description of Clicker Training. Clicker training is a science-based system for teaching behavior with positive reinforcement. You use a marker signal (the sound of a toy clicker) to tell the animal when it's doing the action that will pay off. The system was first widely used by dolphin trainers who needed a way to teach behavior without using physical force. A term coined by Karen Pryor , it is a subset of Operant Conditioning (developed by B.F. Skinner) using only positive reinforcement, extinction, and to a lesser extent, negative punishment.


The technology is, at its core, very simple:

1. ***Get the behavior.
2. ***Mark the behavior.
3. ***Reinforce the behavior.

I mention Negative Punishment, which is used somewhat, which is the removal of something the dog wants. An example *would be with a puppy nipping. *You are petting and playing with your puppy. But the moment *he starts to mouth or nip you, you stop the play and turn your back, depriving him of the attention he wants. This would be negative punishment.

Not to be confused with Positive Punishment, which are not used in Clicker training. Examples of which would include physically striking the dog (even muzzle taps), collar pops, yelling, electric shock, alpha rolls, scruff shakes, and many others.

Clicker Training is an excellent way to precisely mark the exact behaviour you want from your dog, and doing it in a positive way.
 

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Thanks Timberwolfe. It's actually the first time I read about it (I think I heard about it some time ago). Do you find it effective? Is this training only for puppies or can you successfully teach (re-train) adult dogs as well?
 

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Can you give us some examples of how such training would proceed?
You mentioned that you're an expert in this field (some other post I read from you) but don't say why?
For the start, why were you attracted to clicker training?
Have you had a hard to train Golden?
Or you just wanted to try something new?
Please let me know.

Leena
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
OK, first Leena, I hope I didn't say I was an expert, because I'm no expert. I hope I didn't give that impression. But I have become interested in it and have read and researched it a lot and asked my trainer a lot of questions.

I was originally drawn to it 3 years ago when I needed to find a trainer for Clancy. I went and talked to several trainers in my area, and the one I chose taught Clicker Training, and I chose her because she didn't promote the use of choke collars. Most others required the use of choke collars.

Clicker Training is easy to do, and I've found the dog enjoys learning and is quick to learn new things. You can start as a young pup, or an older dog. Doesn't matter. Clicker Training is actually becoming quite popular for training seeing eye and assistance dogs, bomb/drug sniffing dogs, even hunting replacing the forced fetch with Positive Only methods.

A basic sample of getting started with a young pup.

You have to first get the behaviour you want. So we will work for a sit. So you have to get the pup into a sit position.

Have the pup standing in front of you, get down to his level and have plenty of small healthy treats. Hold one treat in your fingers and hold in front of the pups nose, let him get a sniff. Slowly bring the treat closer to the pup and over his head. His nose will follow your hand, trust me on that one, and as his nose rises and goes back, his butt will sink down and he will sit. The moment his butt hits the ground, you mark the behaviour with a click (you have a small plastic Clicker which makes the noise) and give him the treat. Do Not use the command SIT yet, just click and treat.

Repeat many times. There are times when training a pup I would feed most of his dinner training. Always mark the moment he completes the task with a click. Once he gets consistant and you know he will go into the SIT position, you can introduce the command. You don't want to give any command that the dog will fail to do. You have to be confidant that he will do it or that you are near by to correct. So you say SIT, you get the pup into the sit position and you click and treat. Repeat several times.

Once you have introduced the command, you can then work on introducing a hand signal to go along with the Verbal command, increase time in the sit posistion, increase the distance between you and the Pup and then work outside and with distractions.

So this is a very basic example of Clicker Training. Hope it answers some questions.
 

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This is the best explanation of Clicker Training and its principals I've read thus far.
Thank you so much, it seems to be very easy to apply and better than other methods I've read about, like twisting and pinching dogs ears, shocking and beating them with sticks or electric collars.
Clicker training appears to be very simple way of handling your golden.
This way the dog will learn because we're teaching, not forcing and threatening and hurting them, as many trainers do.
Thank you once again.
Leena
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks. I'm glad I was able to explain it clearly. Of course there is a lot more to it and that is why a forum like this is useful. I have learned much from forums just like this.

And you are right. Most dogs, and Goldens especially, are smart and enjoy learning. You don't have to force them to learning. And once they know the commands you don't need the treats, they will work for the click only.
 

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This really does sound awesome! Timberwolfe, do you think it is necessary to seek out a special trainer who teaches both the owners and the puppies how to use clicker training or do you think someone could be successful trying this on his own?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I suppose if someone wanted to teach themselves they could, but I think you would be better off taking classes with the pup.

First, the class will teach you alot if you have a good instructor. Unfortunately, I've heard of many bad instructors out there. I interviewed many instructors before I chose the one I did.

Class is also good because it forces you to do your homework. You don't want your Pup to look bad in class so you do your work. These are Goldens afterall, they should be in the top of their class. :)

Also it helps you work the pup with distractions which is important.

So class I believe will increase your success rate. When I get another pup I will probably train myself, but I may take a class if I decide to go for a Canine Good Citizen or train for therapy dog so I can bring him to Hospitals or retirement homes. Something I really would like to do.
 

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Thanks for your responses guys. They are very helpful to me and I am printing them off and going to use them as a reminder as I am studying each day to be a better trainer.

Timberwolfe, bringing your golden to hospital or retirement home is a great idea, but it needs both breadth and depth of training experience and I wouldn't do this at home. Comes to my mind... are there any private obedience trainers who would train the dog for hospital/retirement home environment?

Regarding dog training classes, I think that even dogs with a lot of potential might not be very successful in these multi-dog classes and may be better if trained at home. I attended two multi-dog classes, and they were somewhat helpful, it's just that some dogs don't get on with each other, so it might be better idea to get a private one-on-one trainer.
Cellia
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Yup. Our trainer will train dogs to become therapy dogs. And you are right, I believe this would be better done with an instructor, although I think it could be done at home, you need to get tested so you better know your stuff.

I still see my trainer weekly since we drop Clancy off at daycare once a week and she runs the daycare. He is getting a bit old for daycare, being 3, but he has been doing it since 6 months and he really enjoys it, so we continue for now.
 

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Thanks timberwolf - I have read about the clicker training but I do not have any experience with it. I also have a hunting buddy who has trained his retrievers in the clicker method. They're amazing! When I watch those two dogs work it seems almost telepathic. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems as though the dog hears the click and automatically knows what that particular click means. A few minutes later, the next click sounds exactly the same (to me) but the dog does something different and it's usually exactly what was needed.

I have watched Larry, my hunting buddy, do one click to let the dogs know that they're going in the correct direction and then a minute or so later he will give two rapid clicks and both dogs will immediately turn left and not miss one step. It is truly a thing of beauty. Larry has spent many hours with Daisy and Duke to reach this level and the dogs seem to absolutely love it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Glad to hear of hunting people using Clicker Training since most believe in harsher methods and Force Fetch and shock collars.

However, it sounds like your buddy has modified the training a bit. The clicker is used to mark good behaviour, not to give commands. But maybe he adapted it to use instead of a whistle or something.

A well trained dog is a beautiful site though.
 

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This method is gaining momentum around the world

Hi Timberwolf

I have heard of this training method and also feel it has great potential. However, as you said, it would require some instruction. If there is a class for it, it would be a good alternative to the correction chain for those who are very much against it.

Regards
Charm
 

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Timberwolf - since we have started discussing the clicker training I have read several things about it and I have some questions for you. I hope you don't mind.

If the clicker and a treat simply lets the dog know that you are pleased with his action, wouldn't verbal praise and a treat do the same thing? When I'm training a dog and he responds correctly to a command I always give a warm verbal approval and a treat. Isn't it the same only the clicker is not as personal?

And if the clicker only tells the dog that you're pleased how is that called training? I guess I'm confused.

My wife and I are starting to look for GR breeders within 150 miles of home to select a male puppy from one and a female puppy from another. If the clicker method has merit I would like to try it when the training begins. But I'm not sure of it's value just yet.

Thanks in advance.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Actually the treats and the praise lets the dog know you are pleased. The click is to mark the behaviour. The moment his butt touches the ground you click if you are after a sit. It's more exact. You could probably use the principal behind the training without using the clicker, but the clicker makes it more precise. Also I think your voice could bring out a different reaction from your dog than the clicker would.
 

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Trainable age?

Hi all, in your opinion how many dogs (maximum) should be in group classes?
Is there a certain age when a dog just cannot be trained or re-trained because of learned bad behaviour? I have a friend who has a nice dog, but he just does not listen. He is 3 years old now.

Thank you for your help.
 

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Need To Know

Hi Kiagi

It is actually better to have a large class. It is vital that your dog can focus on your commands and do what he is told ALWAYS. Not just when it's you and him in a quiet room with no distractions.

Therefore, a large class with many dogs is perfect. It teaches your dog discipline and to focus on you. This is SO important, because one day, your dog might chase after a ball that's about to go in front of traffic.

It's no good using the 'come' command if the only time he obeys is when there are no distractions. It's amazing how their level of obedience decreases when there are more people, noises, smells, dogs, etc around.

Just make sure that you choose a class that has a very good instructer. If its seems like the instructer cannot handle a large class, find someone else.

The instructer should give specific instructions to beginners, but not spend too much time with one person/dog. That way, a challanging pace is maintained for the more experienced dogs who arn't quite ready for advanced but arn't beginners either.

The instructer should come help you occassionaly through the class if they notice your not doing something correctly. When you find an instructer who can easily satisfy the needs of everyone in a large group, you know you've found the right class. :p

As for age in a dog, and i say this with great resolve, there is no age limit. A dog's willingness to please and keen mind means it has a huge capcity to learn obedience at any age. Whether it be behavioural problems, aggression, submissive behaviour due to maltreatment or even sit, stay, etc.

The only difference is, when they are young, their bad habits have not been formed yet, therefore they do not need to be broken. Re-training a dog that is set in its ways takes longer and more repetition, praise , etc. That's all. Also, younger dogs have more active minds and bodies, therefore absorb the training a little easier.

But I have seen 8yr old hopeles dogs turn into obedience champs. It is all in the handling. YOU are the only person who is responsible for your dogs behaviour. WE are the ones that create problems in dogs. Every single behaviour problem our dogs have can be traced back to something we did or didn't do. You name it and I will have a reason why it was the OWNER who caused it.

Of course all animals have certain pre dispositions to intellegence, aggressivness, stubborness ,etc but these should only be seen as 'streaks' in the dogs personality. If it has become a 'behavioural problem' this is the owner's doing.

So if your friends dog isn't listening, it could be because your friend doesn't spend enough time practicing training routines (practice makes perfect, your dog learns through repetition). Or maybe because he doesn't clearly give commands. I hear so many people use the same tone of voice for praise as they do to scold their dog. That's just ridiculous, how is your dog ever going to differentiate what is good or bad?

So, my final word of advise is, get your friend to accept the responsibilty for his dogs actions, get him serious about finding the right class and get him practising everyday. If the dog isn't responding, he's doing something wrong.

By the way, I didn't mean to write such a long reply, i can touch type and don't even realise how much I dribble on sometimes! hahahha But it is so important to drum this into his head and anyone else who is reading. Because I get so mad when people critisise their dogs for bad behaviour. The poor dogs only know what they know. It's up to us to teach them properly. Thank you. :eek: Charm.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
We had 8 dogs in our class which I found about right for 1 instuctor. Dogs can leqarn at any age, but habits that have been around for a while are hard to break. Patience and consistancy, lots of patience. I think a lot of people get frustrated and that is when they make mistakes when teaching dogs.
 

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I have something to say about this! :)

I have a shetland sheepdog and I was getting into agility and stuff and read about clicker training so I used it on my dog to teach him to catch a frisbee. My dog is a FANTASTIC jumper. He is the most agile dog I have ever seen. Okay maybe he isn't agile, but he's flexible and energetic lol.

He had NO CLUE what to do with a frisbee. I bought one of those soft bite ones from pet co.

So I first taught him about the clicker. Click, and treat. Click and treat. Then ask for a familar and successful command (like sit) click RIGHT when the butt touches the grond and treat!

So once he knew what click MENT I came up with my own way to teach him to catch a frisbee.

I would hold it up above his nose but touching it, and drop it. If he tried to catch it I clicked, if he caught it I clicked. He caught on in about 2 minutes. I then raised it higher and dropped it and if he caught it I clicked.

This is called shape training I think. There is a whole thing about, start with the LAST thing you want the dog to do. Well with the frisbee the last thing you want him to do is catch it (after he runs and gets it). So i started with him understanding he would be rewarded for having it in his mouth.

THen i tried tossing it, CLICK, he got it in about 20 seconds, then I went farther and farther back.

HE LOVES catching the frisbee!!

It is the only thing I have taught him with the clicker, here is a GREAT website you can buy the begginer books with. I think I used "Click for Joy". It is the source for clicker training on the web!

http://www.clickertraining.com/home/
 
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