Thursday, April 30, 2009

10. Over train foundation skills and other behaviors that are important to you (this means establishing extreme fluency and training with more difficult distractions / variations than you really need). This way you will always have a margin of error in case you need it.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

9. My ideal for training new behaviors is 1) little help as needed 2) as few errors as possible 3) as quick a progression as possible 4) as little of fixing mistakes after the behavior is learned. Choose a training technique which will help you to achieve this. Use free-shaping/capturing as your plan A. Adapt the environment if necessary so that the shaping process will be easier. Consider using targeting if shaping is difficult and leads to a lot of errors or little progress. Luring is only to be used as a last measure, and should then be removed as quickly as possible.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

8. The most important thing is to click accurately (good timing is KEY), but remember that the dog keeps learning after the click as well. With some behaviors you can achieve faster results by being conscious of how you deliver the reward. This is called "reward placement". This can be particularly useful at the beginning of training. But don’t get dependent on a particular reward placement forever. Once you’ve got the behavior, you should start to proof it, so that the dog is able to perform the behavior correctly no matter where the rewards are coming from.

Monday, April 27, 2009

7. Use a higher quality reinforcer when you’re training new behaviors, difficult behaviors, strenuous behaviors, or when there are a lot of distractions around. I like to use string cheese, cut up pieces of chicken, roast beef, or hot dogs for my food motivated dog. I use tugs, balls, and frisbee's for my toy motivated dog. Just make it something that is special, something that they do not usually get. Make sure the toys are put away and the only time the dog has access to them is when he/she is playing with you. This will make those toys more valuable. :)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

6. Always use a high rate of reinforcement when training new behaviors. Ideally the dog should be earning a click at least every three to five seconds. It is not good clicker training to stand around waiting for a long time before the dog is finally able to offer the correct behavior and earn a click/treat. Most dogs will quit and give up if they are not being reinforced enough. If my boss decided to pay me every other week, I would search for a new job or do poor work at the job I have. My reinforcement is money and my dogs are reinforced with toys, treats, or their environment.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

5. To develop the behaviors to "fluency" is crucial to effective clicker training. Clicker trained behaviors without fluency are usually worthless in the real world. Start training new behaviors in a distraction-free environment. Establish fluency for the behavior before you take the behavior out into the world and really generalize it.

Friday, April 24, 2009

4. Start early with building a large file of offered foundation skills. You don’t necessarily have to train them "perfectly" right away. You can do that later, once you have quickly touched on a large number of behaviors so that your dog has become "creative". THEN you can start establishing good fluency with the behaviors.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

3. Keep you training "clean". Avoid ”sloppy” training (luring, nagging, repeated cues, hands in your pocket before the click, treats in your hands, smacking your lips, bending over the dog, visible treat bag, reward hand held in front of your belly/chest, low rate of reinforcement, unplanned criteria and so on and so forth). Practice your mechanical skills. Video tape your training if possible, attend classes with a skilled clicker trainer – or join a Chicken Camp!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

2. When you want to improve your training or solve a problem you should first examine 1) timing, 2) criteria, 3) rate of reinforcement and 4) quality of reinforcement before you look for more advanced solutions.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tips for Effective Clicker Training

For the next 10 days I will post the most effective clicker training tips.

1. Effective training requires effective reinforcers. Establish a large selection of effective reinforcers, preferably while your dog is still a puppy/adolescent. Take care not to ruin your dog’s appetite, and emphasize teaching your dog to play with many different objects. So-called "high-drive" dogs and the classic "food hounds" are the easiest dogs to (clicker) train.
It’s also great if you can condition an arsenal of reward substitutes (anything from clapping your hands to ruffling the dog’s fur, and so on, can be effective reward substitutes if you associate them repeatedly with food or play). And not least – teach you dog to work for things he wants in the environment. Then you will even be able to use things others see as distractions as effective reinforcers.
By working systematically on developing many different rewards and reward substitutes you won’t have to get stuck with only using click + treat.

Stay tuned for more tips! :)