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Clicker Training...

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
Okay so now that we have a puppy, I wanted to clicker train. I had tried clicker training Baylee when she was younger, it worked out okay but then we got lazy. But I'd like to try it with Lola. So are there people out there that have clicker trained their dog and have had good results? And on the same note, are there people out there that have clicker trained and had bad results?

My husband thinks that clicker training isn't worth it because he has a friend who is an animal trainer who said they don't clicker train their animals. I don't figure how it could hurt to at least try... tho if he's not going to do it with me then there will be no consistency in the training.
post #2 of 21
Well, your husband's friend must have a great alternative method! Clicker-training is the most commonly used method with performing animals, but there are many other methods used with domestic animals, with different levels of success, depending on the individual personality of your pet.

I use clicker-training in my work and with my dogs. But not for everything. I use it for finite, definite commands such as sit, drop, down, give and so forth. I use it for other commands such as stay and come, too, but these commands are often very associative with your individual pet, so you may need to modify.

You don't have to use a clicker, you can use a whistle, or another sound that would be alien to what your puppy would naturally hear over the course of it's day. That's the point of a clicker - it's a `bridge' so to speak, it helps the association of deed and reward come faster to animals, so it needs to be a sound that they wouldn't otherwise normally hear (like, for example, your voice).

Operant conditioning is an effective, easy-to-learn and safe way of positively training your dog, cat, bird, horse etc. It's also fun and it helps motivate your puppy. There are some wonderful online resources for clicker-training - Karen Pryor's website, for example.

Just remember that dogs are opportunists. They will learn quickly and with enthusiasm when the rewards are right and it is meaningful to them. They will sit naturally through the course of their lives (of course!) but to get them to sit for you they need a good reason to do it - whether it be a toy, a treat, a cuddle, a game of tug-of-war. Until you get them into the habit of obeying you, there needs to be a reward EVERY time. That is why clicker-training can be so effective. They hear the click, they look for the reward, and it motivates them to continue in the behaviours that induced the click in the first place.

My average for clicker-training the most essential and basic of commands - the sit - is six minutes. It's astonishing how fast this method can work for simple commands.

Not only that, it's a really fun and very frustration-free method of training for owners, too, because it's very results-oriented and is easy to learn. And once you get your dog used to the idea of clicker-training, there really isn't anything you can't accomplish with it. Again, there are a number of different and highly effective positive training methods, but this one is one of the best, in my opinion, because of it's simplicity and mostly because of the ease with which it helps you communicate with your dog (or cat, bird, horse etc!).

I cannot recommend it highly enough. Good luck!
post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 
Sarah, my husband's friend, if I remember correctly, just uses words (I think either yes or good) but my issue with that is we tell Lola that she's a good girl throughout the day, so then those words wouldn't have the impact that a clicker would.

Not sure why I'm convincing you, lol, you're convincing me I need to clicker train. Do you know if it helps in potty training? I thought I read that it did but maybe I got confused... anyway that's our main focus right now, lol!
post #4 of 21
It can help in potty training, but if you are crate training her for that, I would just stick to that.

You could use a clicker when she potties in the `right' spot, and then reward her, but it's a fine distinction for a very young puppy to make that clicking for her potty behaviour is associated with where she does it, not the fact that she's doing it at all! It can be done, and puppies are really clever, but for an inexperienced trainer (and puppy!) I would not recommend it.

And yes, you're right about using words. If you say `yes', or `good' as the bridge, then you need to make sure you never say these words around the animal at other times, unless used in a training context. Can make life a little difficult! It's not quite that black and white, but I would say, why go to the bother of trying to differentiate such an ambiguity when you could just use a clicker and eliminate the confusion in the first step!
post #5 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by pinkdaisy226 View Post
My husband thinks that clicker training isn't worth it because he has a friend who is an animal trainer who said they don't clicker train their animals. I don't figure how it could hurt to at least try... tho if he's not going to do it with me then there will be no consistency in the training.
FWIW I have successfully trained my dogs without a clicker so no, it is not absolutely necessary. It has the function of getting the animal's attention at the moment you need it for the training. If you have the dog's attention anyway or can call her name etc, that will work just as well.

Your husband does not need to use the clicker for the training to be consistent. If your husband is anything like mine, you will be lucky if he uses the same commands! I try to stick to "come" when I want them to come (and not "C'm'ere, Zircieboy, (whistle once, whistle twice) C'mon, whistle again), "Off" if Sophia has jumped up on one of us (and not "down" which is for lying down on the floor). You are supposed to say the command in a deep voice once. Repeating gives the dog the idea that they can obey whenever instead of NOW.

Ant any rate, have fun with it, dogs are so much easier than cats!
post #6 of 21
This is so true - clicker-training is a wonderful tool, and a wonderful training method, but the key to any method is consistency. Over and over, the same every time. Dogs (like most animals) thrive on routine, and to be consistent with positive training methods is the best approach.

I mean the key to any positive method - IMO anything else has no place in the training of any animal.
post #7 of 21
I agree..Clicker training is an effective method of training and is especially desirable in "shaping" behaviours...Ie) building responses on top of one another so that you can truly refine a behaviour and reward the "perfect" one (if that makes sense).

Also, I encourage using hand signals as well as voice commands or a clicker.
This is extremely beneficial when dogs age and lose their hearing.

Good luck.
post #8 of 21
I was hesitant to use clicker training at first wtih Beavis, because I mistakingly believed the dog would only listen when I had and used the clicker. That's not the case at all. The clicker helped him associate behaviors with good things, but now that he knows those behaviors, he'll do them without a clicker or without a treat. I can get him to run through his all the commands and tricks he knows just by hand signals, without having to say a word, click or treat. I do treat him at the end, but sometimes the "treat" is just praise and scritchies.

I'd highly recommend taking an obedience class. Not only to have a trainer there to show you the right way to do things, but for socialization.
post #9 of 21
We use hand signals with the dogs, too. They are masters at body language and respond extremely well to that kind of training. After all, body language is a great deal of how dogs communicate with one another.

It's highly effective and if done properly, is never ambiguous, as voice commands sometimes can be. We use both, because they are still puppies, but in time the hand signals should be sufficient.

Though it's a bit hard to hand signal a `come' when your dog is 100 metres away at the local park!
post #10 of 21
We've also trained our dogs without clickers. Our dogs don't show, so our commands are pretty basic. Clickers confused me because they don't convey "tone" of voice nor state the message. It's easier for me to give the sharp intake of breath when they are bad or a good boy praise and scritches when they are good.

But our dogs will potty on command "go potty", follow me "this way", wait for dirty paw wipes "towel", etc. They also know "back up" when they are too close to the door and "off" when they are on something they shouldn't be. I don't get how clickers help all of these commands.
post #11 of 21
My dogs are clicker trained. I love it! Its much easier for them to learn what exactly they are being praised for doing. Because you can click faster then you can speak. I hardly use the clicker any more unless Im teaching them something new. But they are very well behaved. I also use hand signals. Its really easy to teach them. I rarely use verbal commands. They know back up, sit, down, stay, wait, down stay, sit stay, stand, stand stay, take it, drop it, park it, watch me, off, speak, shake, high fives and leave it.
post #12 of 21
Hi Ari! Good to see you!

Congratulations on your new addition!

Have you posted any pictures of Lola? I'd love to see your sweet pup!
post #13 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2dogmom View Post
FWIW I have successfully trained my dogs without a clicker so no, it is not absolutely necessary. It has the function of getting the animal's attention at the moment you need it for the training. If you have the dog's attention anyway or can call her name etc, that will work just as well.
The clicker is not (properly) used to get the dog's attention or in place of the dog's name... The clicker is used to mark a behavior-- in other words it tells the dog that whatever it was doing at the second you click is correct/good and that a reward is coming. You do not click to get attention, you click when the dog is doing something good or what you want it to do.

Clicker training is useful because it is a very precise and easy way to tell the dog when they are doing something correct/good. The reason it is better than just saying "good" is because the clicker is very quick and precise and much faster than trying to say a word. In fact some studies have indicated that the sound of a clicker reaches a different part of the brain than the human voice does.

Clicker training combined with operant conditioning allows to train a dog quickly without using any devices which cause pain or discomfort, and in a way that is easy and is also fun for the dog rather than uncomfortable. It is training without fear or compulsion.
post #14 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nekochan View Post
The clicker is not (properly) used to get the dog's attention or in place of the dog's name... The clicker is used to mark a behavior-- in other words it tells the dog that whatever it was doing at the second you click is correct/good and that a reward is coming. You do not click to get attention, you click when the dog is doing something good or what you want it to do.
I guess I did not express myself precisely enough.

"It has the function of getting the animal's attention at the moment you need it for the training. If you have the dog's attention anyway or can call her name etc, that will work just as well."

The point is to make sure that the dog makes the correct assocation between the reward and the desired behavior. This is why some people swear by it. Dog does what you want-"click"-dog gets reward. The animal can associate the chain of events, as in, "oh, when I pooed next to the bush mommy clicked, and that means I get a pig ear, so I am getting the pig ear for pooing, great!". If you have the dog's attention for some other reason and reward when the desired behavior is exhibited, believe me, the dog will make the connection.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nekochan View Post
The reason it is better than just saying "good" is because the clicker is very quick and precise and much faster than trying to say a word. In fact some studies have indicated that the sound of a clicker reaches a different part of the brain than the human voice does.
I did not say that after the dog has exhibited the desired behavior, that you should simply say "good". What you say and how you say it depends on what exactly is being trained and how much of a fuss you think the desired behavior it worth. I also disagree that it is "better" than the human voice, certinaly not the recommended high-pitched happy tone that tells the dog that his human is pleased with him. I am one of those people who reinforces ALL the time, practicing commands and I am not about to have a clicker with me all day long. After all, the point of training is that your dog understand certain commands that may even save his/her life.

There is no "one size fits all" with dog training. Clicker training is a fad, as is crate training. My point was that if you use it to get Lola to LEARN the commands, that fact that your husband simply issues the commands or trains without a clicker will not have any negative effects. You do have to agree on the commands and be consistent.
post #15 of 21
I would not call it a fad. It's based on sound scientific principles and has been around for many years.
It is a form of training that many trainers have realized works wonderfully for many types of animals without compulsion and so more and more trainers are moving towards it. Some have been using it for years and there are no signs of them moving back to compulsion based/traditional training. In fact I have never known of any trainer who has seriously taken up clicker training then switched back to traditional training later.


That you need a clicker with you 24/7 if you use clicker training is one of the common myths. I only use the clicker when I am working on something new (that my dog does not already know) in a planned training session. It is especially useful when working on complex behaviors...
The rest of the time I use a short marker word. However I have found when I use the word instead of the clicker to teach a new behavior, the training process goes more slowly. The clicker is more effective.

Here are a few articles which dispel common myths about clicker training:

http://www.positivedogs.com/faqs.html#eight

http://www.4pawsolutions.co.uk/ClickerTraining.htm

http://www.clickandtreat.com/FF01.htm
post #16 of 21
I used clicker training for my dogs. It's awesome. I also enjoy it because it IS based on learning theory, not some "cesar milan" made up stuff.

You can also click with cats, rats, horses, rabbits... even fish!

Paige
post #17 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the input guys... I was hoping to get a clicker and a book at Petsmart but couldn't find any so I'll keep looking.

Here's a pic of Lola for Sarah, who was looking...

post #18 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by pinkdaisy226 View Post
Here's a pic of Lola for Sarah, who was looking...

Oh my goodness, Ari! Lola is absolutely gorgeous! I just noticed your thread about her keeping you busy! I'm sure she'll be enjoying every minute of it!
post #19 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by pinkdaisy226 View Post
Thanks for the input guys... I was hoping to get a clicker and a book at Petsmart but couldn't find any so I'll keep looking.

Here's a pic of Lola for Sarah, who was looking...

OMG Shes adorable!
post #20 of 21
Thread Starter 
Okay, had to update: I bought a clicker and a clicker training book today (neither of which was my first choice, I want Karen Pryor's book and the iclick but I decided to start training TODAY so we settled). Anyway, it was almost as if she realized that clicker=treats=act more focused so she seemed a lot more focused than in the past. Plus now I understand how to teach stay better so maybe she'll learn faster.
post #21 of 21
Karen Pryor is where I got all my clicker stuff too. She was a dolphin trainer (one of the first animal training areas to use operant conditioning - they use a whistle, but it's exactly the same principal) and her stuff is really, really good. Very informative and very helpful. She has a great website with loads and loads of good information on it.

Clicker training certainly isn't a fad but it is much more commonly in the vernacular these days than it was 20 years ago, even though it's been around much, much longer. It's like `dominance theory' (don't get me started) and other things - they come and go but are sometimes more popular than not. I think clicker training will be in the forefront for a long time, as people realise how quick and easy it is, and children can also learn to use it with their pets much more easily than other methods of training.

It's not for everyone, and it doesn't have to be the only `right' way to train your dog/cat/bird etc. It's just one of many great ways of training. It has many advantages and lots of people like its ease and speed. But it doesn't mean it's the only way or the best way, either, it depends on who you are and what you like to do. And also how your dog learns, as well, which is very important.

I think that as long as you are using positive, consistent methods, and your dog is learning, based on reward and encouragement, then you are doing the right thing - with or without a clicker.
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