Clicker training for obedience? (long)
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Thread: Clicker training for obedience? (long)

  1. #1
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    DefaultClicker training for obedience? (long)

    Some background...

    Henry has always been a "do-as-he's-told" kinda guy. In the past, we've trained using lots and lots of food (as lures and rewards) and praise. Luckily, he is extremely food motivated (he was the only dog in any of his classes that I could use only kibble as rewards and he would give it his all for some kibble! I can't use kibble anymore as he now eats raw, but I digress...) and that has gotten us this far.

    We tried a click-for-tricks fun class when he was younger and he was the only dog not to "get" it. :-[ We tried again later on and still, to no avail. I realize that this means he hasn't learned to think "out of the box"? and just does as he's told. :-\

    Our new trainer, whom I just love!!.... clicker trains.

    We spent the majority of our first class reacquainting Henry with the clicker. First, we did click/treat, click/treat, click/treat over and over and over again. Then, I was to click whenever he offered a sit, and treat. From then, I was to only click every few sits (but verbally marking each sit each time) and treat.

    Gosh, I could almost hear the crickets chirping inside his gorgeous yellow lemon-head. :-\

    Can any dog (or rather, any owner... haha) be taught clicker training? I get so flustered and am worried I'm not clicking fast enough or I miss the behaviour all together.

    Our homework for this week is for me to teach him to target my open hand and to target a touch stick. I think he's almost got the hand one... except every now and then he keeps trying to give me paw. LOL! :

    The touch stick? He's absolutely disinterested in it. I hold it in front of him, and he stares at me like he's trying to figure out what I want. He offers his usual repetoire... sits, downs, high 5s, and then seems to get really frustrated. After all, this is what has worked in the past, and now it's not.

    Am I allowed to cue him ie. cheat and say, "Touch!", tap the end of the stick with my finger, then click and treat when he does??

    Also, clicker trained dogs learn to offer different behaviours, right? (or do all dogs do this?) So, is it possible that when we're doing our long sit/long down and I'm standing still and quiet, way over on the other side of the ring, that he might think he should start offering different behaviours in order to get that click/treat?

    I have friends who do competitive obedience and have clicker trained their dogs (and use a combo between lure/reward and clicker) and do extremely well. Is it the sort of approach that will work for every dog/owner or do some dogs just don't get it?

    Sorry this is so long... just trying to wrap my brain around this. Thought I'd pick all of your collective obedience brains!!

    Oh yes, and heehee... I'm to work on my pace, and looking straight ahead, not down at Henry!! Oops! I am to trust that he is where he should be and is doing the right thing! She had us heeling off leash around the ring and I guess he heels very well, very attentive, though sometimes a bit laggy.

    Any thoughts, comments, ideas re: the clicker for us would be greatly appreciated!!

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  3. #2
    lcspt is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Clicker training for obedience? (long)

    From what I understand about shaping behaviours ( touching the stick) you need to wait and be patient. The idea is to let the dog offer the behaviour and when he figures it out he will offer it sooner and then later you put a word to it.

    I use my voice instead of a clicker ........... I don't feel I am fast enough and my voice is always with me. I use "yes" in a very happy voice.
    "In moments of joy all of us wished we possessed a tail we could wag." W. H. Auden

    Linda, Kona and Bo

  4. #3
    Tatyana is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Clicker training for obedience? (long)

    I know that clicker training is very popular, but you can always use your voice to mark the behavior. Your trainer should be flexible enough to let you not use the clicker if it's not working out for you and Henery. I tried the clicker, but it was just too many things to keep under control with the clicker, leash, and usually something else in my hands. I use "good" as a marker word after Scotty does what I ask and it works for us.

    The touch stick? He's absolutely disinterested in it. I hold it in front of him, and he stares at me like he's trying to figure out what I want. He offers his usual repetoire... sits, downs, high 5s, and then seems to get really frustrated. After all, this is what has worked in the past, and now it's not.
    I am not sure exactly what is a touch stick. We used a wooden dowel to teach Scotty "wrap" around a traffic cone which we now use to teach broad jump landing. When we were working with the stick, I would squirt some Ez-cheese on the end of the stick and give him the command. He would be more than happy to touch the stick to lick off the cheese. Eventually, we phased the cheese out. Maybe you can try this.

    So, is it possible that when we're doing our long sit/long down and I'm standing still and quiet, way over on the other side of the ring, that he might think he should start offering different behaviours in order to get that click/treat?
    I think if you teach stays incrementally, he'll learn that he gets the reward at the end of the exercise by staying and not by doing whatever else he thinks might please you.

    Oh yes, and heehee... I'm to work on my pace, and looking straight ahead, not down at Henry!! Oops! I am to trust that he is where he should be and is doing the right thing! She had us heeling off leash around the ring and I guess he heels very well, very attentive, though sometimes a bit laggy.
    Pace is very important. When we train, I look at Scotty 90% of the time. I just have to know if he's heeling in the correct position and have to be able to correct if he's looking around or lagging. When we're in the ring, I look forward but try to tilt my head slightly to still be able to see him out of hte corner of my eye. Just my preference on this one.

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  6. #4
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    DefaultRe: Clicker training for obedience? (long)

    Thanks Linda and Tatyana!

    I'm going to ask if I can use a verbal marker... I'm just not co-ordinated enough to juggle a leash, clicker and whatever else! :

    Tatyana, yes, a touch stick is a wooden dowel. I'm to teach him to target the end of the stick, so that I could put the end of the stick anywhere and he would go to it, so it sounds like what you use for Scotty. I never thought to rub food on the end! Duh! *smacks head*

  7. #5
    kaytris is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Clicker training for obedience? (long)

    Quote Originally Posted by henrysmom
    Some background...

    Henry has always been a "do-as-he's-told" kinda guy. In the past, we've trained using lots and lots of food (as lures and rewards) and praise. Luckily, he is extremely food motivated (he was the only dog in any of his classes that I could use only kibble as rewards and he would give it his all for some kibble! I can't use kibble anymore as he now eats raw, but I digress...) and that has gotten us this far.

    We tried a click-for-tricks fun class when he was younger and he was the only dog not to "get" it. :-[ We tried again later on and still, to no avail. I realize that this means he hasn't learned to think "out of the box"? and just does as he's told. :-\

    Our new trainer, whom I just love!!.... clicker trains.

    We spent the majority of our first class reacquainting Henry with the clicker. First, we did click/treat, click/treat, click/treat over and over and over again. Then, I was to click whenever he offered a sit, and treat. From then, I was to only click every few sits (but verbally marking each sit each time) and treat.

    Gosh, I could almost hear the crickets chirping inside his gorgeous yellow lemon-head. :-\

    Can any dog (or rather, any owner... haha) be taught clicker training? I get so flustered and am worried I'm not clicking fast enough or I miss the behaviour all together.
    Depends on the dog... some dogs are shaping fools (eh Sopharoonie?) and others are more methodical. I've tried shaping with Tristan, and he just does NOT offer anything. Period. I tried the 101 things with a box, and he laid down and happily chewed a corner. But from what you write below, Henry is offering behaviours - that's the start you need. (tristan never learned to offer.. although I didn't pursue it longer than a couple months)


    Our homework for this week is for me to teach him to target my open hand and to target a touch stick. I think he's almost got the hand one... except every now and then he keeps trying to give me paw. LOL! :

    The touch stick? He's absolutely disinterested in it. I hold it in front of him, and he stares at me like he's trying to figure out what I want. He offers his usual repetoire... sits, downs, high 5s, and then seems to get really frustrated. After all, this is what has worked in the past, and now it's not.

    Am I allowed to cue him ie. cheat and say, "Touch!", tap the end of the stick with my finger, then click and treat when he does??
    just wait him out. He'll get it.. make sure the touch stick is close to his nose.

    Also, clicker trained dogs learn to offer different behaviours, right? (or do all dogs do this?) So, is it possible that when we're doing our long sit/long down and I'm standing still and quiet, way over on the other side of the ring, that he might think he should start offering different behaviours in order to get that click/treat?
    by the time you are trial ready, he will have learned that when you say sit/stay, he's to remain in that position in order to get the click. This will no longer be a shaping exercise - it will be under verbal control

    As for the target stick - I hated the dang thing, and used my hand instead. Juggling clicker leash treats and stick, I always ended up dropping one or the other. (I prefer to use a verbal marker most of the time, but the mechanical clicker comes in handy too when I need to capture very quick, momentary behaviours - the clicking reflex is always faster than a word.

    Who are you working with?

  8. #6
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    DefaultRe: Clicker training for obedience? (long)

    Thanks Nancy!

    We're taking lessons with Dawn Lisabeth, in Mt. Brydges.

  9. #7
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    DefaultRe: Clicker training for obedience? (long)

    Felicia, that cricket sound wasn't Henery, it was Ruby while we're working on the +/-7000 steps to become a retriever. Rhys really "got" the clicker and Roo, well, thanks goodness she's cute.

    I don't think we are going to continue doing it, she is just not picking up that the click is a good thing, though I do a verbal marker and that sends her over the edge.

    Good luck with Henry though!

  10. #8
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    patm is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Clicker training for obedience? (long)

    I will be the first one to admit that I don't know the "learning theory" behind clicker training. We did a smidgeon of it in Emilu's puppy class (I still have the clicker somewhere). I also know that I like the idea of using my voice to "mark" the correct behavior. (although true clicker afficiandos say that it isn't as good because the clicker is quicker and is always consistant in tone, etc). But after watching some dogs go through the "shaping" behavior - OMG - I do not have the patience for that at all. Wait around until your dog does a little bit of something that you want it to do and click? Are you kidding? The dogs in my advanced obedience class are learning the dumbell. They have been doing it for MONTHS and most of the dogs still haven't taken the thing in their mouths yet. They are still being rewarded for touching it with their noses, or looking at it, etc. Drives me crazy. When I taught Emilu (in another obediecne class) we pretty much put it in their mouths and gave the command. Took about 2 lessons for that. "Hold it" took a tad longer, but not much. Remember Skidboots? That dog could do any number of really different things and his person trained him by just doing the behavior himself and the dog would imitate him. Wouldn't that be nice? I know that I don't have the patience for true clicker training. I like to help me dog do the behaviour, and give her a command with it. That might mean literally helping her, or putting her in a situation where she is physically helped to do it. (like having them sit in heel position against the side of a building so they don't swing out). Good luck with your class, but I can imagine that there are some dogs (and their owners) that clicker training just doesn't "click" with.

  11. #9
    kaytris is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Clicker training for obedience? (long)

    Quote Originally Posted by patm
    I The dogs in my advanced obedience class are learning the dumbell. They have been doing it for MONTHS and most of the dogs still haven't taken the thing in their mouths yet. They are still being rewarded for touching it with their noses, or looking at it, etc.
    Just like any method, there's good clicker training and bad c-training. It should NOT take months to teach a dog to retrieve. With a shaping savvy dog, you should be able to get a solid pick-up, at the very least, within 2 or 3 sessions.

  12. #10
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    DefaultRe: Clicker training for obedience? (long)

    Felicia, that cricket sound wasn't Henery, it was Ruby while we're working on the +/-7000 steps to become a retriever. Rhys really "got" the clicker and Roo, well, thanks goodness she's cute.
    LOL!! I'm glad I don't have the only one!

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