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anngreenthumb

clicker failure

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To me it is a saftey issue. I dont expect my dog to dress up in a tu-tu and dance a jig, but if it takes a clicker for her to stop and sit, then so be it. It is just important to me when Maggie escapes from the fence, if she knows what i want her to do, she is much safer. I can tell her to stay, come, sit, any of that, especially if she is in danger. If she is crossing the road and a car is coming, I can hold up my hand in a halt formation and she knows to stop. That is much more important to me than having my dog, literally, jumpt through hoops for me.

 

You dont keep the clicker once they have learned, the ones of you who disagree with the clicker, need to read up on it. You just do it to help yourself give appropriate timing to a behavior. Its to help you, not the dog. I want to make sure i reward for the appropriate behavior. I really dont see the problem with rewarding good behavior.

 

I have a mastiff that could care less about treats, he responds best to a pat on the head with a "good boy Brutus".

 

A reward is a reward is a reward, whether it be a good boy, a treat, or a ball to play with. The clicker just bridges the timing between the behavior and the reward.

 

If my kids make all A's in school, are they going to be happy if i just look at them and say, "that is what i expected"? or are they going to be happier if i take them to chuck E Cheese? Doesnt take a genius to figure that one out.

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A reward is a reward is a reward, whether it be a good boy, a treat, or a ball to play with.

 

Here is where we disagree. "Good boy" equals dog connecting with me. Treat or ball equals dog connecting with ball or treat. The first is a direct relationship, the second is not.

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Seems to me that second sentence contradicts the first. The significant difference, to my mind anyway, was that there was no reward apart from conveying to the dog that she was right, that running through the tunnel was what I wanted. We had no bargain that click = reward.

 

No, you didn't, because she wasn't clicker-savvy. But you did mark the behavior that you liked, and you did reward it, with praise. Praise can be and often is used as a motivator/reward, it's just that it's a relatively weak motivator for many dogs. Stronger motivators get better responses. For example, dogs who are trained to lie down in a context that involves sheep tend to have faster, better downs than dogs who learn to lie down merely in the context of praise. I believe the reason trained sheepdogs are so fantastically obedient in all contexts (and I don't mean in a slavish, AKC obedience kind of way) is that they are trained with the best motivators of all.

 

If you mostly or always train your dogs in the context of working stock and require or desire few trained behaviors outside of the ones learned in this context, you are likely not to see the value in other methods of training. And that is fine, it satisfies you and satisfies your dog.

 

(And it seems to me that the very fact you take clicker in hand would make the treat a bribe even under Melanie's definition, since the dog thereby knows that there's a treat to be had if he does right, just as much as if you showed him the food first.)

 

This could happen, if you're clumsy about it. But dogs are excellent at reading context in all sorts of different situations. At any rate, if this is a problem one could always use a marker word instead of a clicker and the point is moot.

 

Well, I'd feel exactly the same if it was a toy rather than food, and the only way I can try to explain why I feel that way is to say it's because what I value is the relationship and the communication rather than achieving a perfect end result.

 

I am a bit offended by this remark. It implies that I don't value the relationship I have with my dogs and that for me the ends are more important than the means. And this is emphatically not true. You know me better than that -- I hope.

 

There are a lot of things my dogs and I like to do together. A lot of it doesn't involve any training of any kind. We like to just be together. But we also like to play games together, and games often have rules, and clicker training is an extremely clear and potent way to teach those rules. Fly is learning to play flyball, because I thought it looked fun, it's cheap and easy to get into, so why not? She didn't immediately get the idea of it, but now that she's learned how to play the game she loves it, can't wait to get into the training building when we pull up in front of it, and it's a blast for both of us. Solo is a natural agility dog and has always adored it, and he would still adore it if we never did anything but noodle around informally in the back yard (assuming I had a back yard, which I don't). But, becoming more serious and precise about it has allowed us to get cleaner, faster, more exciting, all that kind of stuff -- and that makes it all more fun for both of us. I think dogs can enjoy learning new skills, mastering them, and showing them off as much as people can. So what's wrong with training a dog beyond basic competence in an activity? I don't really understand the aversion.

 

Trust me, just because my dogs have been clicker trained to do some things does not mean they are robots, or that they don't value my company in and of itself, or that they only do things I want them to do if they think they're going to get food. I think you misunderstand clicker training. It's fine if it's not the kind of method you like, but I don't see why you have to imply that those of us who do like it are either incompetent or have dysfunctional relationships with our dogs.

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Ok, C Denise Wall i gotcha. I agree that a "good boy" is a better connection with the dog, which my Brutus (english mastiff) prefers over treats any day of the week. My bc on the other hand just seems to do better with a treat. She's like, "ok mom, i am glad that you liked that but uh, a treat would be even cooler (wink wink)"...a direct quote from Maggie.

 

Now Melanie, thank you for so elequently saying what i wanted to say but couldnt find the right words: "Trust me, just because my dogs have been clicker trained to do some things does not mean they are robots, or that they don't value my company in and of itself, or that they only do things I want them to do if they think they're going to get food. I think you misunderstand clicker training. It's fine if it's not the kind of method you like, but I don't see why you have to imply that those of us who do like it are either incompetent or have dysfunctional relationships with our dogs."

 

My statements exactly, hats off to you. I was going to underline the parts that i REALLY agreed with but i found that i would have underlined the whole thing. ha ha.

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aah, the old clicker debate. :rolleyes:

 

I was training my pup in agility this past weekend, and through clicker training was finally able to get her to add a stride before a jump based on a verbal and visual cue. Would she had "gotten it" w/o a clicker? Probably. Was it quicker and easier to teach with a clicker? YES. Was I connected with the dog and the dog connected with me when running that sequence? Heck yeah! Was she "connecting" with the frisbee she got for her "click"? doubt it, as she was tugging at it with me. Would she have kept playing w/o a reward? Definitely so, but since we'd been working on that for a few sessions, I definitely needed to mark that "AHA!" moment she had and click that extra stride. Did she need the clicker to learn the basics of agility? No, but what I'm teaching her now is much more complex than what most on this list would perceive as agility training, and requires more precision than just getting the dog to perform the obstacle (think about how you would get a Thoroughbred racing full speed on the racetrack to, in less than one stride, switch to be a Stadium Jumper).

 

Clicker training has nothing to do with the depth or meaning of our relationship, and anyone who thinks otherwise is more than welcome to come watch me train my dogs. I doubt anyone who has seen us would question the relationship I have with any of my dogs. My dogs would do anything for me, w/o the presence of food, toys or any other "lure" and using a clicker in their training has no effect on that whatsoever.

 

-Laura

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>

 

Well, gee, I made all A's in school and it never occurred to me to expect a reward from my parents, because they had never developed that vocabulary with me. Can't believe I'm worse off because of it.

 

 

No, you didn't, because she wasn't clicker-savvy. But you did mark the behavior that you liked, and you did reward it, with praise. >>

 

I meant that we had no bargain that the "marker word" that I used meant a reward was coming. There was no reward involved other than the intrinsic reward of her realizing she had understood me, that she had grasped what I was trying to tell her. My "good dog" told her that. There was no separate, extraneous reward. I don't know how else to say it. I want to develop her natural, inbred border collie desire to work for the pleasure of understanding and cooperating with me; I don't want to develop her capacity to work for an extraneous reward. (And yes, yes, I know you phase out the reward. So what?)

 

>

 

I didn't say or imply that your dogs are robots, or that they don't value your company, or that they only do things you want them to do if they think they're going to get food. Although I do suspect they are more likely to do things you want them to do because they think they're going to get food than my dogs are. :rolleyes: I'm also not saying (good grief!) that there's anything wrong with training a dog beyond basic competence in an activity.

 

There are people who say my dogs would learn better if I kept them in a kennel all the time except when I was working them, because work would then be the highlight and focus of their day. They may be right, but I don't care if they would learn better in that case, because I don't want to do that. I wouldn't enjoy that training method. I want my dogs around me. I take pleasure in their company. What I'm saying here is basically the same thing. I don't care if my dogs would learn something quicker and easier if I clicked and rewarded, because I don't want to click and reward. If my dog was "like, 'ok mom, i am glad that you liked that but uh, a treat would be even cooler (wink wink)'," I would not enjoy working with her. It's as simple as that. I won't continue to struggle to explain why, because I guess you would take it as a disparaging comment on your relationship with your dogs, and I have no desire to disparage your relationship with your dogs.

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While i do agree with you that keeping the dogs in a kennel all day except to train is a bit, my own phrasing, cruel and undersirble training.

 

I just think the clicker can give the ah-ha moment and leads to less frustration for the dog. I dont think it is fair to expect her to be a mind reader and my "good boy" timing cant always be perfect. Like Laura was saying, it's kind of hard to get a "good boy" in there when your dog is in the middle of a jump. WIth something that precise, why not have a presice marker?

 

Also, i dont know if you know anything about the physical brain of a dog, but there is a mechanism in the brain that is part of the "memory/recall" element of learning, right next to that area, when a clicker is clicked, that area of the brain "lights up". This has been documented and proven. It is just a helpful association, the two work well in conjuntion.

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Mark wrote:

"Some of us are very good at properly communicating with dogs and can easily teach dogs what is expected of them while others are not as good and benefit from training tools."

 

I completely agree with this, but would like to add it doesn't matter how you train, if your communication (and timing thereof) is bad w/o a clicker, then it'll be bad with a clicker too. Clicker is not a magic tool that turns everyone into an instant dog trainer.

 

I believe some of you see the clicker as a "crutch" because it is not needed in the training of your dogs and actually a hindrance when referring to any facet of herding training. The clicker is more like an artificial aid (like a crook, perhaps?), that while not necessary, can actually enhance the message you're trying to get across to the dog. Also, most clicker trainers I know don't use the clicker for everything, rather just for the technical/mechanical aspects of a more complex action (e.g. shifting back of weight for speedy weave entry, proper mechanics of turn on flyball box, jumping from hindquarters instead of front end, complicated canine acting behaviors, etc...).

 

-Laura

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Ann,

You could try a couple of things. One would be to muffle the clicker so it is quieter by putting it inside an old sock or something. There are also quieter clickers available, such as the "I-Click", which I personally like because it's a softer sound and easier to grab and click quickly if I want to capture a behavior in a hurry.

 

Another idea would be to forego the clicker and use a tongue click or kissing sound, or a particular word in place of the clicker. A lot of people use the word "YES!", or "Good!", or "Right!"; you could use the word "Banana" for all it matters, just as long as you can get it out at the precise moment that you need to mark the behavior.

 

It's possible that your dog may get used to the sound over time. For example, my Lucy was afraid of squeaky toys when I first adopted her, but she's fine with them now. I just didn't make a big deal out of it and played with the squeakies with my other dogs while she watched, and when she saw the other dogs enjoying the squeak toys, she must have figured they were not going to kill her after all. I don't think she had ever had one in her previous home, and she can be nervous about new things.

 

Then again, your dog may not get used to it, and it could be a source of great anxiety and stress to her. Sometimes dogs become even further sensitized to scary things with continued exposure.

 

It's really a judgement call based on reading your own dog's reaction. If there is a way you can get her to overcome her fear without putting undue stress on her, that would be an option. If, however, her fear is so great that she's becoming more and more afraid the more she hears the thing, then it might be kinder to consider an alternative.

 

The clicker is just a tool, and isn't appropriate for every dog or for achieving every training goal. Clicker training should be fun, and if your dog is NOT having fun with it, then it's not appropriate for your dog. There are plenty of options for using the same learning theory without using a clicker.

 

Good luck!

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Laura

... but would like to add it doesn't matter how you train, if your communication (and timing thereof) is bad w/o a clicker, then it'll be bad with a clicker too. Clicker is not a magic tool that turns everyone into an instant dog trainer.
I agree and have seen this (poor timing) in action. I guess my point about the clicker was having it in hand seems to remind people to communicate with their dog. I'd just add the clicker to a list of training tools to be used as needed.

 

Right now clicker training is the hot training method and many people are using it with success. One day a new method will come along and replace it as the hot training method with people moving away from clicker training for the new hot training method. Dogs haven't changed how they learn, people are being taught an "easier" way to communicate to their dog that the dog did what we wanted. So what is clicker training, it's a method to train people how to better communicate with their dog.

 

The clicker is just a tool, and isn't appropriate for every dog or for achieving every training goal. Clicker training should be fun, and if your dog is NOT having fun with it, then it's not appropriate for your dog. There are plenty of options for using the same learning theory without using a clicker.
I agree. The best teachers/trainers (IMHO) are the ones that find the training method that works best for each individual (dog or human) and not try to force all to fit their one training method.

 

Mark

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We've never used the clicker-in obedience class one time when Piper was about 8 months they used Piper to demonstrate how clicker training would work, she'd never heard it before but took right to it.

 

I just talk to my dog.
So do we...We've used verbal praise when training as well as her tennis ball, which is her reward for SAR drills/missions.

 

I agree, the clicker is just a tool, one of many that is available. If it works for your dog great, but if it doesn't, I wouldn't push it.

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Lots of food for thought in this thread. Thanks to all of you who have taken the time to post such thoughtful responses. I?m finding it particularly interesting as I?m about two thirds of the way through reading Jean Donaldson?s The Culture Clash . I?m not a ?clicker trainer? as such ? haven?t the patience to free shape behaviors for one thing! I?m a cross-over trainer who finds using the clicker for some things an extra help ? as Mark, Melanie and Laura have pointed out ? to remind you to catch your dog doing what you like, to refine timing, and to refine precision (non-utilitarian) behaviors. On the other hand, for the more ?natural? ? in-built behaviors ? I must admit I don?t see how the clicker helps. Looking at my little bitch?s happy little face looking up at me as we came away from sheep practice in the freezing cold wind yesterday, her whole body language was telling me that she was really pleased with herself, and felt that she?d done a good job ? which she had right at the end, although we?d had rocky patches in between. (I should point out that we?re very much newbies, and she is not working bred ? still working in a yard, although we?ve graduated to the big yard.) Kirra really enjoys our agility and flyball too, and to a large extent they are self-rewarding, and she quite enjoys obedience training ? but there?s something different about her response to sheep training - with no food, no clicker, so I can see where Eileen?s coming from too.

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Laura wrote:

The clicker is more like an artificial aid (like a crook, perhaps?), that while not necessary, can actually enhance the message you're trying to get across to the dog.

 

Interesting analogy. I stopped using a crook or stick of any kind in my training about two years ago.

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I thought about a clicker. Even bought one. But then I realised that my current training methods were working, so why change? I never use treats or food or toys. I simply communicate my pleasure to my dogs when they perform the task I have asked of them. So far it's worked wondefully, and I don't have dogs that become irritated when a treat isn't produced for good behavior.

 

Although, I do reward for two things. Our BC hates his nails being trimmed, so after he lets me do it, I give him a biscuit. Also, when I clean my Golden's ears out (they hate that), I will give them a treat afterwards. More of a "Thanks for being a good sport" gesture.

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>

 

I've been thinking about this. If your dogs would do anything for you without being treated, and you're only using click-and-treat to mark an instantaneous, precise behavior, why don't you discontinue treating after you've done it long enough to create an association in the dog's mind that the click signals "good"? Why can't you train future behaviors just by clicking to mark what's right, without giving any treat after you've clicked? Unless, of course, the dog wouldn't repeat the behavior just because he's been signaled that it's right. Seems to me that would tell you if he's doing it for the treat or doing it for you.

 

Also, I don't really understand the crook analogy. Some of us may use a crook in part to help a dog see where he should be, but we certainly don't give him a treat for being there.

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Originally posted by Bill Fosher:

Laura wrote:

The clicker is more like an artificial aid (like a crook, perhaps?), that while not necessary, can actually enhance the message you're trying to get across to the dog.

 

Interesting analogy. I stopped using a crook or stick of any kind in my training about two years ago.

Ah, but the crook, at least originally, really does have a use--catching sheep (or maybe even as a leash if your dog at least wears a collar). Perhaps it has evolved into a training tool for some people, but training tool was not its original purpose.

 

I was at a trial a couple of weeks ago where the judge specifically told the novice handlers that they really should go home and work their dogs with their hands in their pockets. Using a crook or stick as a visual training aid for the dog will really only set you up for problems when you need the dog to do something that you normally cue with the stick but the dog isn't in a position to see the stick (i.e., driving away from you). Frankly, I think if the handlers who busily wave their sticks out on the trial field, looking like drum majors or orchestra conductors, knew just how silly they look, maybe they wouldn't do it. Anyway, I use my stick or crook to affect the sheep, not my dog.

 

And speakingof the original subject of this thread, I do know someone who actually uses the clicker as an aversive since the dog doesn't like the sound.

 

J.

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First, about the crook analogy, I'm just a Very Novice handler when it comes to herding, so I was basing that crook analogy on how I've seen others use crooks. Myself, I've only used it to stop the sheep from running me over!

 

Eileen, very good questions. I do phase the clicker out and often don't even reward until much later. My dogs understand what behavior is marked (if I've done it correctly). Once that behavior is learned, I usually don't need to use the clicker anymore for that behavior. I also don't need to stop and reward immediately (I typically use toys, not food) unless I want to. The behavior I was clicking Wick for on Saturday she did perfectly last night, so no clicks for that, as she now seems to understand my cues for "jump short". I probably used the clicker a total of 5-6 times last night for 3 dogs over their 1.5 hour training session. I don't use the clicker to teach everything, just where I feel it's needed (the more highly precise behaviors), or if I'm bored and just want to teach a cutesy trick, but I see nothing wrong if someone wanted to use the clicker to teach every command (aside from herding though!).

 

-Laura

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The crook is meant for the sheep....historically to catch the sheep and also an extension of a persons arm.

 

In my experience there are few Open handlers who attempt to influence the dog with the crook...it is meant for the sheep. Mostly you see Novice handlers flailing the crook as a weapon.

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As I mentioned earlier, It would have been so much easier for us if clicker never existed - only because she was scared of it.

 

However, now she likes it and associate it as "you got it!", I could not thank the clickers enough! I was trying to get her to do one thing (targetting specific location and then comes back to me), tried so many different ways but clicker did the trick in a flash. Before that I used "good girl" when she targetted the spot - but I was pointed out that she was only coming back because I was saying something to her. And that "good girl" was too long. When I do click I don't change my body language, just stay still. When she comes back to me, I praise her. After several sessions of this, I no longer had to click, she would come back automatically to get my happy voice.

 

There probably was a different approach to this but I am glad I used clicker. Other than that, I never use it.

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anngreenthumb, bless your heart, and to think all you wanted to do was find out how to get her to not be scared of the clicker.

 

I cant help but laugh.

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I thought it was an interesting discussion, but then again I always did like to hear myself talk (err, type?). Any discussion that makes you think about your training is a good one.

AND I did learn the history of the crook. :rolleyes:

 

Hey I think I'll bring a clicker to the herding clinic this weekend and see if I get thrown out! LOL

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Originally posted by Eileen Stein:

If your dogs would do anything for you without being treated, and you're only using click-and-treat to mark an instantaneous, precise behavior, why don't you discontinue treating after you've done it long enough to create an association in the dog's mind that the click signals "good"?

When fading the click/treat, the click is faded first, using a word or sound to mark the behavior insted of the click (i.e. "Good Dog!!!"), because you no longer need to mark the behavior precisely. The dog has learned what behavior will be reinforced. Reinforcement is still given after the behavior is performed, but reinforcement becomes random. The dog does not earn a treat every single time he sits. He might get a treat once every ten sits, or five sits, or twenty sits, or once in a blue moon.

 

Also, substitue the word "treated" with "reinforced". Reinforcement can be a food treat, praise, petting, the removal of something unpleasant, the absence of punishment, whatever the dog likes. In either case, the dog is still working for a reinforcer.

 

Originally posted by Eileen Stein:

Why can't you train future behaviors just by clicking to mark what's right, without giving any treat after you've clicked?

You can. But you must use a reinforcer. As long as the reinforcer is something that increases the likelihood of the behavior repeating itself, then it can be used instead of food. Some dogs go nuts for praise, some dogs live for physical contact, some dogs will do anything for access to a special toy.

 

Originally posted by Eileen Stein:

Unless, of course, the dog wouldn't repeat the behavior just because he's been signaled that it's right. Seems to me that would tell you if he's doing it for the treat or doing it for you.

"Doing it for you" is misleading because it implies that you are this completely neutral entity that does not react or interact with the dog. When the dog pleases you, you express your pleasure by praising, petting, not punishing, etc. If the dog values praise highly enough, then it can certainly be used as a reinforcer instead of food. Not all dogs value praise enough to work very hard for it. Plus it depends on what you are asking the dog to do. A simple sit is easy enough to do for an "atta girl" or to see your scowl replaced by a smile, or even for you to back off if you're putting physical pressure on the dog, but what about the Search and Rescue dog who works for hours on end in rugged terrain to find the lost person? 99.99% of the time, "atta girl" is not enough to make that dog keep working and find that lost three year old. There has to be a big enough payoff to keep the dog motivated. Contrary to popular opinion, SAR dogs do not work for altruistic purposes, to save human lives. They do it because they get a party out of the deal.

 

Sheep herding is different because the dog is genetically predisposed to find the work rewarding in and of itself, just as the Labrador is genetically predisposed to finding the work of retrieving waterfowl to be rewarding in and of itself. The dog's inherent genetic drives and instincts are telling the dog that this feels good, so you don't have to reinforce it. You just need to shape it and refine it.

 

Agility, flyball, Search and Rescue, tracking, drug/bomb detection, bitework, and all these other activities, can be trained using the dog's natural drives. For instance, my dog hunts for human scent and is rewarded for the alert sequence with a game of chase and tug, which stimulates her prey drive; my Lab's reward was a retrieve session. Of couse I occassionally like to throw some treats into the mix just for fun, and BIG praise is an integral component. But to think the dog is doing these things "for you" is erroneous. The dog is doing them because they are being reinforced.

 

This is where clicker training is no different. The clicker is simply a marker, a conditioned reinforcer that means "you got it right, reinforcement is coming". The food/ball/frisbee/praise/petting/whatever the dog values is simply the reinforcer, since so many of the behaviors that we use clicker training to teach, unlike herding or retrieving, are not inherently self reinforcing. You have to put an artificial reinforcer in there.

 

Of course, on a side note, some people buy into the "pack drive" theory that all dogs will work to please their pack members, but I have not seen that to be true. Some dogs couldn't give a rip about what their pack members think of their behavior. Just as some dogs will do backflips for a piece of hot dog, some dogs will do backflips for a kind word, but there is individual variation from breed to breed and within breeds, from dog to dog.

 

One of my favorite applications that I "discovered" for the clicker was when walking Lucy across the scent cone of the subject. The moment I saw her head come up, swivel in the direction of the subject, and her nostrils flare to take in more scent, I clicked to mark that instant in time, then vested her up, got her jacked up, and released her to search. This was a very precise way to communicate to her "YES!!!! You got it right, now you get to go search!". She did not get a food treat after the click; the reinforcement was my praise and releasing her to search.

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I'm coming to this a little late because I was trying to figure out what part of clicker training seems odd to me.

 

Now I'm not saying it's wrong...but I think I've only see the poorly clicker trained dogs work. And is it just me or do these dogs seem robotic in their behaviors? Some people might call it focused, but I've seen the difference between well trained, focused dogs and these other robotic dogs.

 

The won't move a muscle until a command is given - they immediately JUMP to do what was asked. If a click comes they WATCH for that treat hand to get the treat and eagerly meet the treat half way. The handler turns into the machine to deliver the treat. The dog is obviously only working for that reward and NOT the handler at that moment.

 

But then the exercise is over and the dog is released and boy - what a difference! They are relaxed, happy, yet still willing to listen and work. It's almost as if the clicker has trained another form of behavior during which other behaviors are given.

 

Does this make any sense?

 

Of course, I train my dog with markers in the form of words and praise. Sometimes I follow it up with a toy, a pat on the head or just a good dog and away we go. Sometimes I just let the dog continue with a walk or play session. So I do practice this type of training.

 

But I think the extreme side of clicker training is really hard to take. It's artificial in it's own way.

 

Has anyone else seen this sort of behavior? Is it poor training, or is that "focus" (in a negative way) actually trained?

 

Some equate this "focus" with the focus Border Collies have while working sheep. This could be the case...but to me, it doesn't seem to be the same thing. It just seems as if it was taken too far.

 

Just curious...

 

Denise

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Laura and Lucy Goosey, thanks for your responses. As I said before, I know that behaviors which are taught by click-and-treat (or click-and-reinforce, if you wish) do not go on being clicked and treated after they are learned. The clicking and treating is phased out. My question dealt with whether a clicker trainer could subsequently train new behaviors just with the clicker, without the "bargained for" treat. I gather the answer is no.

 

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I am certainly not implying that I am this completely neutral entity that does not react or interact with the dog. Of course I interact with the dog -- that's the whole point -- and in training jargon I suppose you could term my approval a reinforcer. But that doesn't mean the dog would be reinforced by anyone's approval. It's not "praise" that is the reinforcer, it's praise from me (and not "BIG praise," but quite understated praise, actually), because of the relationship my dog has with me. The dog I wrote about taking to the agility class would have totally ignored praise from anyone else. I think, therefore, that it's accurate to say she was "doing it for me," as well as for the intrinsic delight of figuring out what I meant (which should not be underestimated as a "reinforcer" in border collies, who generally take pleasure in learning things).

 

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I think this is somewhat overstated. While dogs do find herding sheep rewarding, they don't usually find herding sheep in the manner the farmer prefers to be as rewarding as doing it in the manner they prefer, and there are many things they're asked to do in the overall enterprise of herding which are utterly contrary to their strongest instincts. Nevertheless, a well-bred border collie can generally be trained to do these things for his trainer, and without the application of clicks and treats. (Or the application of clicks and sheep, since by the nature of things it's virtually impossible to grant or withhold sheep as you would a cookie or a toy, try as you might.) If they didn't have this kind of trainability bred into them, they wouldn't be very useful. It's pretty miraculous, I guess.

 

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It could be that all dogs won't, but in my experience most border collies will, if you wish to term the dog's person a pack member. At least if you develop that capacity and that style of training. If you bypass it and don't develop it, though, I suppose it can wither away.

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