Saturday, November 13, 2010

Intro To Clicker Training

I introduced Seven to the clicker weeks ago, but I captured it all on video. For those unfamiliar with clicker training or operant conditioning, it is a very positive method for teaching animals all sorts of things. A clicker is a small, handheld, plastic box with an opening (see above). When you press your thumb into the opening and depress the metal strip, it produces a “click” noise. The dog is taught that the “click” means “That is what I want and you are getting a treat for it.” The clicker is used to mark desired behaviors offered by the dog that you then reward with a treat. It is a very sharp and clear way of telling the dog that she is right! I always explain the clicker training concept to my greyhounds by teaching them to touch a cup with their noses.

In this video, Seven has no idea that the "click" has any meaning. For this reason, I start her on leash (even if indoors) so she does not accidentally touch my cup when I am not ready to Click & Treat (C&T). I hold several treats in my dominant hand and the clicker and leash in the other. I place a treat on top of the cup and click as the Seven removes the treat. Anytime she checks the cup for a treat when a treat is not there and touches the cup with her nose, I swoop in quickly with a C&T. Right now it is important that I put a treat in her mouth as soon as I click. When I run out of treats, I pull her away from the cup so I can refill my hand without missing any opportunities to C&T. Also, you will notice Seven target my hands because she smells the treats. I just ignore it and let her exhaust that behavior.


I recommend using small, easy to swallow treats that do not require any chewing. After you have completed a few repetitions, do not place a treat on the cup. Instead, wait to see if your dog will check the cup and reward immediately with a C&T when she does. Try not to rush. Some folks get really frantic with trying to be organized. The second purpose of this silly exercise is to train you to work with a clicker. Use the leash to pull your dog away from the cup when you get disorgnaized. Also, resist the urge to point to the cup each time. Give your hound a chance to think about what she is doing and let her figure it out. If she does appear to be stuck, go back a step to remind her of the task.

In this video, Seven catches on that the cup is significant, but notice that she still does not respond to the "click" when I test her. Also, notice that I am still using a leash to restrict her access when I am not ready or get disorganized.


Here we have a change of scenery. Dogs do not generalize unless you teach them to so it is good to change your location frequently. You can see Seven start to recognize the "click" sound and turn to me for the treat.


Here is the final video. Once again, we are at a different location so it takes her a short time to realize what we are doing. I consider my dog well versed in clicker training when she can turn away from me, the clicker, and the treats to touch the cup and then responds quickly to my click.


Now Seven is ready to learn other things with a clicker. The point of clicker training is to make your dog an active participant in his own training and figure things for himself. I love that the clicker is an enjoyable way to point out to your dog all of the good things she is doing instead of correcting her for mistakes. Too many corrections can make a dog feel afraid to try something and they can become frozen. Clicker training gets a dog willing to move around and take risks.

33 comments:

greytblackdog said...

Awesome! I love watching a new pup learn. BTW - I'm doing clicker training with my mom's alpha schnauzer that I'm caring for while she recovers. She is VERY smart but VERY stubborn. It is a slow process with this dominate bitch! :)

houndstooth said...

We love clicker training, too! I love the progression of your videos to show how she learned it. I also like using the cup -- that's something we haven't done!

KF-in-Georgia said...

Sam and Jacey aren't particularly well-trained, but they can nail that cup for you, even when the cup is behind them and you're in front with the treats.

Sue said...

Fabby. Thanks for sharing this.

Anonymous said...

I love the wagging tail. She looks very enthusiastic.

Lisa S.

whygreyhounds said...

Seven looks great and she seems quite enthusiastic. Gotta love clicker training as it gets really great results!

Sara said...

Greyt video on clicker training. I have been thinking of starting to train my nearly 3 year old gh - Do you think he is too old for training now. I reckon he would really respond to clicker training as he is so eager to please. BTW I love Seven's windmill tail!

Eliz said...

What great videos!

Zan said...

I'm really enjoying watching Seven progress. Thanks for sharing!!

Amanda Violette-Groth said...

She moves so quickly! I see what you mean about needing to be organized first. Looks like lots of repetition with positive consequences (treats). The videos are fantastic.

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Never too old to learn clicker training! I teach clicker training in my greyhound obedience class and I think the oldest student was 10+ years old and he did just fine.

Thanks everyone!

jcp said...

Love to watch them start to figure it out.. You mean when I do "this" I get a treat.. seriously.. every time.. ok I just don't understand humans.. but if it makes you happy it certainly makes me happy. :)

John said...

Very sturdy looking hound you got there, ma'am. I'm thinking this should be a multi-sport hound !

Sara said...

GREAT illustration of how to begin clicker training. Fun to watch Seven figure it out and LOVE the tail action!

Oscar the Indefatigable said...

Thank you for sharing your training methods, my human finds them so useful. I'm doing clicker training too and it really makes training so much easier to understand and more rewarding!

Love, Oscar and the gang

Jackie said...

Hi I have rehomed a briddle greyhound 4 months ago, I call her Haley, have problems teachin her 2 sit, any advise, she is lvly & great at comin bk when of the lead, age 18 months, 2year old Jackie

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Hi Jackie,

I did a series of posts on teaching greyhounds to sit and down. Look at the left menu bar for "Sits and Downs" and click there. But for sits, a steep hill with the dog's nose pointing down the hill works best.

Jen

Megan said...

I know I am late to comment on this, but since I just found it I am right on time. ^_^

I love watching this series of videos. It is really informative and helpful to see your use of the clicker and the way that you let Seven discover how to get treats.

Stephanie said...

I'm a first time dog owner and have NO experience with grehounds.. This website has been so helpful! I'm still pretty lost but things for Ace and I are looking up. Thanks!

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Thanks for the feedback, Stephanie.

bigh2odog said...

How long did it take for Seven to connect the 'touch the cup' = c+t? I have a 3 year old rescue whippet and I'm trying this on him. Wonderful information.

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Bigh2odog, Seven was fairly quick. But some are slower than others. I usually say that it takes 3 sessons for the dogs to figure out that the click = treat. They usually figure out the cup is significant fairly quickly, but then its another session to get the sound... but some are faster.

thedoghouse said...

Just found your blog for the first time today courtesy of a friend on the Scottish Greyhound Sanctuary forum - Wow! What a fantastic resource you've created here. I was initially directed here to see greyhound agility in action as I am considering starting agility classes with my 6 year old greyhound Molly who we have had for 3 years now, but was instantly captured by your clicker training. Having read this post & watched your videos I just introduced all 3 of my hounds (Sandy & Dennis are the 2 new kids on the block, adopted just last month) to your targeting technique & not only have they all more or less grasped the concept already (although obviously we'll need to work on generalising) but it was so much for, for them & for me!! Thank you, thank you, thank you. I will so be coming back for more ;-)

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

thedoghouse, thanks for the super nice comment. I'm glad it was helpful. Its nice to hear that the videos and posts are helping someone out there. Thank you.

Danny said...

Love the video progressions. Would love to see progression videos of other positions like sit, name recognition etc!

Greyhounds for sale said...

Hey this is a really great idea! We deal with lots of retired racing greyhounds and I might blog about this on our up and coming site and send a link to your site.

Felicity Estrin said...

I don't know if I could bother you for a little advice - I have a four month old whippet and most things are going well, but the loose-leash walking is just terrible. Anything you could suggest?

Felicity Estrin said...

Hello, I'm so glad to have found your page - I'm going to back up on the clicker training and use the cup as I'm not sure my 4 month old whippet completely is using his mind yet to get the treats. Most things are going well, but my biggest problem right now is the loose leash walking. Would you have any advice? Thanks so much!

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Felicity,

Can you please email me and ask the question. Thanks.

Jen

Heather Wall said...

Great site, I'm so glad I found it! I've started my guy on clicker training with the cup and he's getting the hang of it. I'm just wondering what would be the next step? Should I try to teach him sit or down next or something easier?

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Hi Heather, I usually do downs next and then sits later. But you can do whatever you want. Happy Training! :-)

ArgosTheGreyt said...

Thank you SO MUCH for this blog! I took my boy to a basic obedience class and for 8 weeks the trainer basically ignored him because he didn't respond to her more demanding style (no real physical touching or anything [no way that would be allowed by overprotective mom here!]), but her usual methods didn't work, so she told me to just try to catch the behavior and maybe I'd get lucky. I tried clicker training before with a previous dog but was just so confused by how it worked. This method and explanation (and videos!) have been so helpful and my boy Argos is responding so much better to the training already! Sorry for writing so much here, but I'm just over the moon about this!

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Argos, thanks for such a great comment! You are very welcome.