Clicker Training Part 2
Clicks - Why a click?
One reason that a click is used to mark the event, rather than a verbal 'Good Dog', or other verbal signal, such as 'Yes', is that a click carries no emotional attachment.
If we were to use a verbal signal, we may give an exasperated 'Yes', after waiting what seems a lifetime (probably actually minutes), or a very excited 'Yes' if the dog offered some particularly stunning behaviour, and then our 'standard' 'Yes' - that's three different responses for your dog to work out.
Then after Mums finished, Dad does the next session, so there's another three or four, then Daughter - etc etc - A Click is always just a Click and not open to interpretation.
Timing - We have already mentioned the importance of accurate timing in this form of training.
One possible explanation of the power of the click, is the way that the dog reacts to a simple stimulus, such as a click, a flash of light etc.
The part of the brain that receives this information does not have to 'work out its meaning' where as other information, like a verbal signal, with its subtle tone variants, have to be interpreted before the dog associates the meaning - sounds a bit complicated, but just think of ourselves :-
We learn that a car horn means 'there's a car!' - we have been Horn Conditioned.
So we are crossing the street and there is suddenly a Horn Blast behind us - do we think - Oh Yea, I know that sound, its a car, and that means I may be about to be run over, perhaps I better take a look and see if I need to get out of the way!
No - we would be squished long ago, the brain triggers an immediate response and we leap back on the kerb without thinking.
Offered Behaviour - What's that?
Its as it sounds, the dog offering us bits of behaviour in order to get that click.
This is the most powerful way of training, often used in Heelwork to Music routines, the dogs offer different 'tricks' in their training sessions, which are captured with the clicker, and produced with magical results by the likes of Mary Ray, - once seen, not forgotten.
How do we get this, and what do we do with it?
First, we have to let the dog discover the idea - This time, there's talking at the front end - we say 'What can you do then', or 'Show me!' - dog thinks ' don't know what that means', but the moment he does anything - anything at all, like looks away, or sniffs, or wags his tail, or anything - we click and treat (CT).
Then we ask again, he does something else - (CT), it needs to be something different - so what happens if he repeats his action? - we say 'Very Good, but what else?' and no CT, so he gets praise for offering the same thing, after all, he's offered something, but we want something new, that's what gets his CT.
So now our dog learns that being asked to 'Show me' or whatever phrase is used, is an opportunity to experiment - work out what we are after.
How do we use it?
Say we wanted our dog to do a Down, we can get him to try out different 'tricks', CT ing, after each new bit until he does one.
Then what? - what stops the dog just trying something else, just as he has been doing?
We Jackpot the required behaviour - One Click - then at least 10 times the treat value, the more the better - your super duper treats are now used, and lots of them, one after another, and he gets a game, and a back scruff, and anything else that gives major value to our 'required' behaviour
Its pretty likely that next time he will try the same thing - so jackpot again, this 'trick' will be very soon learned - then just as before we backtrack a cue word into it, and before long we have the dog doing a down, on cue.
Don't forget - a down isn't a down stay, its just a down - we can shape the down into a down stay separately.
OK, So I've been waiting for this down for ever! (10-15 minutes) I'm going to give up, cos I'm not getting one, and this clicker lark is rubbish!
Patience is required in dog training, particularly in clicker training, but not everyone has it, so what's the next best thing?
We can LURE the dog into the Down, using a treat, and Click and Treat as he achieves it - see Lure & Rewards Training HERE.
But first, I would try a mixed approach - lure and reward a down or two, that will place this behaviour in the dogs mind, then try to get some offered behaviour - its a good bet it will be Down.
So why not just use the Lure Reward Technique? - Nothing wrong with that - there's many ways of training, but I prefer the power of the dog owning his own behaviour, not following yours.
This is a technique by which we capture the beginning of a behaviour that we wish to train, and extend it, or mould it into something else.
For example, we want to clicker train to roll over.
We begin by clicker training the down.
We then get the dog to look at our hand beside one ear.
We then get the dog to turn its head to look at the hand.
We then move the hand further around the back of the dogs' neck..
And so on etc, each time advancing the movement until the dog rolls full circle - we then back track a cue word into it, and there it is a roll over on cue, done by shaping the down.
Alright then, so what else can we do with it?
Virtually anything, we can train and shape all sorts of behaviours, obedience stuff, good manners, such as sit and lift a paw to 'Ask' for your attention rather than bark, or jump all over us.
We can Clicker train dogs to stop pulling on lead, or to poop in the 'correct' place, to like getting in the car, to 'Not' be afraid of bikes - etc etc, the list just goes on.
There are some links on these pages to clicker sites and sections with more info and things to try - so have a go, once bitten by the clicker bug, there's no stopping you and your dog - Try THIS one