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Clicker training: initial thoughts

is here, and we spent Friday night and Saturday at a positive training workshop for our guide dogs. We use the clicker, and it's definitely a different way of working. I mean, I still tell Julio "forward" "left" and "right", but there are more options to train him with. It is very cool to stuff, and a lot to absorb into my brain. I'll put it like this. Traditionally, I've had to try to use punishers (not necessarily painfully or anything, but not something the puppy likes) to tell him to stop doing something bad, but other than telling him "good boy", it was hard to mark a behavior as "good!". With the clicker, I can totally do that, and it's definitely cool..

I'm finding that Julio's enjoying this way of working. The clicker, and training treats helps him. I'm harnessing (punn not intended) the power of food to help him understand what's good. And so far, it's helping.

These are just my initial impressions. It will be interesting to see how things change.



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Mar. 12th, 2007 03:07 am (UTC)
Clicker Training?
What is clicker training, exactly? Can you explain how it works and what it is used for?
Mar. 12th, 2007 08:39 pm (UTC)
Re: Clicker Training?
You can learn all about it on www.clickertraining.com (http://www.clickertraining.com/). Here's part of their "What is clicker training? (http://www.clickertraining.com/what_is_clicker_training)" page:

“Clicker training” is the popular term for the training or teaching method based on what we know about how living organisms learn.

Research has shown that any creature—whether a dog, cat, dolphin, parrot, fish, horse, llama, or person—is more likely to learn and repeat actions that result in consequences it desires and enjoys. So clicker trainers provide consequences desired by their animal in exchange for actions or behaviors desired by their trainers.

We call these consequences “rewards” and the process is called “reinforcement.” Clicker training, therefore, is a positive-reinforcement-based system of training.

Why is the clicker used?

The essential difference between clicker training and other reward-based training is that the animal is told exactly which behavior earned it a reward. This information is communicated with a distinct and unique sound, a click, which occurs at the same time as the desired behavior. The reward follows.

Without hearing a click during an action, an animal may not connect the reward with that action. Or, the animal may associate the reward with another, unwanted action. With the click, a trainer can precisely “mark” behavior so that the animal knows exactly what it was doing. That’s why clicker trainers call the click an “event marker.” The click also bridges or connects the behavior and its reward, and so is also called a “bridging signal.”

Why is clicker training effective?

When an animal intentionally performs a behavior in order to bring about a desired consequence, as clicker trained animals do, they are learning in a way that researchers call “operant conditioning.”

Animals (and people) may also associate an action, event, place, person, or object with a consequence, whether pleasant or unpleasant. The more a certain event or environment is paired with a particular consequence, the stronger the association. This type of learning is called “classical conditioning” and represents reflexive or automatic behavior, rather than intentional behavior.

While clicker training initially employs classical conditioning, it quickly becomes operant conditioning as soon as the animal intentionally repeats an action in order to earn a reward. Training through operant conditioning results in purposeful behavior, while training through classical conditioning results in habitual behavior.

The difference between an animal that behaves with purpose, rather than by habit, is vast. Clicker trained or operantly conditioned animals try to learn new behaviors. They remember behaviors even years later because they were aware of them as they learned them, rather than acquiring them without awareness. They develop confidence because they have control over the consequences of their actions. They are enthusiastic because they expect those consequences to be pleasurable.
Mar. 12th, 2007 11:20 pm (UTC)
I do like your new layout. And I'm eager to hear more about the "clicker." This is something I have never heard of.

Jan from Poodles and dogs
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