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Is clicker training worth it?

This is a discussion on Is clicker training worth it? within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; Originally Posted by leashedForLife Originally Posted by MarvelousMabel ... We've tried [the clicker] with the touch command and so far so good... guessing that's targeting? ...

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Old 10-26-2017, 10:42 PM
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarvelousMabel View Post

... We've tried [the clicker] with the touch command and so far so good...


guessing that's targeting? [dog noses something, or paws it, on cue]

- terry

Yes, I hold out one finger and she has to touch it with her nose. I used one finger because she got confused when I held out my hand, which was too similar to our signal for "shake a paw".
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Old 10-27-2017, 05:49 AM
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You mentioned separation anxiety. My dog is very smart and treat motivated and learns very fast. In our intro obedience class when I first adopted him, he learned a bunch of cute tricks and commands in only 3 weeks using the clicker or praise and a treat. He was an absolute star. However he was given away by 2 homes in 15 months and spent a traumatic month at the shelter. His 1st home had him over a year and then gave him away because they were moving. His second home had him only 2 months before surrendering him to a shelter where he was for a month before I got him. When I started packing to move less than 2 months after I got him and he saw all the boxes and me packing, he flipped and developed severe separation anxiety. Clicker training did nothing for this issue, since you have to be there with your dog to reward. If he's afraid alone at home and it's severe he'll need a behaviorist and possibly medication like my dog does. It depends on the severity and the dogs history. There are behavioral rewards you can do to help but mine was trying to jump out 3rd floor windows the second I walked out the door and breaking floors and doors and a huge danger to himself. He absolutely needed medication.
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Old 10-27-2017, 06:30 AM
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@DriveDog I love your popcorn advice--really makes me want to try that.

as for "the experiment" of giving a different verbal and handcue, sadly, I do this all to often with "spin" (clockwise) & "twist" (counter-clockwise), even if he sets me straight (does the verbal) it takes me too long to figure it out.
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Old 10-27-2017, 08:03 AM
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But you shouldn't

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Originally Posted by leashedForLife View Post


It doesn't mean i can't add an enthusiastic, thrilled "Yes!", to the clicker when the dog i'm working has a breakthru - of course, i can! -



Your use of the word "Yes" and timing of delivery of "Yes" in this scenario is really confusing to me and I would assume to a dog as well. Since you don't use verbal markers the word "Yes" would have absolutely no significance to a dog because the use of the word "Yes" in your situation has not become a conditioned reinforcer. Until you turn your " Yes" into a conditioned reinforcer by pairing it with a primary reinforcer such as food, your example of using "Yes" would have little benefit if any. Even if you did "charge" your "Yes" similar to your clicker, what exactly are you marking with the delayed "Yes" after the first click to mark the original appropriate action? I would think a trainer that understands the use of a clicker would use a jackpot payoff of treats when the dog nails it for the first few times as one cannot alter the nature of the click but can certainly change the payoff. It is for this reason I chose to use a verbal marker because I can alter its intensity commensurate with the dog's "success" and with a more intense "YES" comes a bigger payout which seems to register with the dog as "AHA!, this is what I need to do to get more of what I want " I gave the dog two "signals" of what I want and that the dog performed properly. This really worked for me with my current dog when I was training for speed and accuracy in execution of certain commands.
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Old 10-27-2017, 08:20 AM
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You mentioned separation anxiety. My dog is very smart and treat motivated and learns very fast. In our intro obedience class when I first adopted him, he learned a bunch of cute tricks and commands in only 3 weeks using the clicker or praise and a treat. He was an absolute star. However he was given away by 2 homes in 15 months and spent a traumatic month at the shelter. His 1st home had him over a year and then gave him away because they were moving. His second home had him only 2 months before surrendering him to a shelter where he was for a month before I got him. When I started packing to move less than 2 months after I got him and he saw all the boxes and me packing, he flipped and developed severe separation anxiety. Clicker training did nothing for this issue, since you have to be there with your dog to reward. If he's afraid alone at home and it's severe he'll need a behaviorist and possibly medication like my dog does. It depends on the severity and the dogs history. There are behavioral rewards you can do to help but mine was trying to jump out 3rd floor windows the second I walked out the door and breaking floors and doors and a huge danger to himself. He absolutely needed medication.
HI! So far her anxiety is no where near that bad. She will whine a little bit when I am gone but eventually settles down. I've been managing it with leaving her for short amounts of time, keeping her out of the crate when I leave and giving her a stuffed Kong fill of her favourite foods. She still whines and sometimes howls a little bit when I leave but she's getting a lot better, and luckily is not destructive in the home at all. I'm starting to wonder if she even has separation anxiety, or just doesn't really like being alone! I absolutely would not hesitate to consider medication if she was hurting herself trying to escape, I'm just not sure she really needs it at this point!
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Old 10-27-2017, 08:45 AM
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@DriveDog - I definitely reward effort, especially if I'm shaping something new. I listened to a great podcast on how sometimes how we shape things isn't fair.

So, just as an example I recently taught my Border Collie to fetch a ring toy, and go and place it on a stick, sort of like ring toss. We shaped each part individually, and then slowly pieced it all together. If she went and fetched the ring, brought it to the stick and missed it, I would definitely still reward her, I mean she did 99% of the work.

I think the big difference is I just refrain from clicking if it isn't quite what I'm looking for. The click is such a conditioned reinforcer to her, that when she hears it, she knows she did a good job.

Also, about your verbal marker being able to express varying levels of excitement, I do agree! I am currently teaching my dog running contacts for agility, and because you throw a toy out to encourage the running, the dog is getting rewarded every time, regardless of if they meet criteria (hit the contact) or not. As a result, the way I reward is very different:

1. Doesn't hit the contact - she still gets to run to her toy, but when she returns to me, I simply ask for an out and reset for the next rep.
2. Hits the contact, but not with rear feet - I click, she gets her toy, we play tug for a few seconds, while I praise her.
3. Hits the contact with rear feet - Click, gets her toy, HUGE celebration, praise until the neighbours think I'm insane, lots of tugging.

She has VERY quickly caught on to the difference and is really trying to make the effort to hit with her back feet.
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Old 10-27-2017, 09:36 AM
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Question OTC calmatives? - extremely safe, no dosage-risk, no interactions

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarvelousMabel View Post

... So far, her anxiety is no where near that bad. She will whine a little bit when I am gone but eventually settles down.
I've been managing it with leaving her for short amounts of time, keeping her out of the crate when I leave and giving her a stuffed Kong fill of her favourite foods. She still whines and sometimes howls a little bit when I leave but she's getting a lot better, and luckily is not destructive in the home at all.

I'm starting to wonder if she even has separation anxiety, or just doesn't really like being alone!
I absolutely would not hesitate to consider medication if she was hurting herself trying to escape, I'm just not sure she really needs it at this point!


did the shelter / rescue / former-owner say she has Sep-Anx?
I'd agree this doesn't sound like it - the primary symptom of sep-anx is attempts to escape, in order to find / join either any human, or a specific human.
Digging the linoleum off the floor at a doorway, scratching or biting chunks out of the door, jumping thru closed windows, gnawing window-sills, etc, are clearly sep-anx; ripping sofa-cushions to shreds can simply be a bored dog finding busywork, & metronomic barking ['Arf... Arf... Arf... '] is simple protest.

OTC calmatives often help with mild [or even serious] anxiety, such as being solo - they commonly use oral, nasal, or tactile routes.

D.A.P. [ComfortZone for Dogs, Adaptil] is especially good, & the pump-spray is extremely handy - carry it anywhere, use it as needed.
DAP goes on objects, not the dog; it's a synthetic mimic of the pheromone produced by nursing Fs, which serves to calm pups so they make the most of nursing opps when Mom-dog returns, vs waste time whinging & fussing. // It lowers BP, pulse, resp, & secretion of cortisol & other stress hormones.
1 spritz is a measured application, & lasts about 90-minutes; it can be refreshed ad lib, no interactions / no dosage concerns.

I put it on collars [remove collar, spray 1 side 1x, opp side 1x, replace collar], anywhere the dog likes to lie [dog's bed, a chair, the corner of the sofa, a particular spot on wall-to-wall...], the car-seat & seat-belt harness, the LATCH / swing side of the crate door, crate door-sill, the leash a hands-length from the clip so that each time it swings past the dog's nose they get a whiff...
in the fold of a stuffed-toy, on a chew-toy in a crevice, on the exit door below the doorknob / dog's head-ht, etc.

I put it on my clothing:
the cuff of long sleeves, my gloves in cold weather, coat or jacket-cuffs, at knee-ht & ankle-ht on the outside seam of my pants, on my boots or shoes [dogs love to sniff shoes; they are rich in info about us, & where we've been].

When I leave an anxious dog, i refresh
- their collar [off the dog, 1 spray each on opp sides, put it back on]
- their crate or bed
- a fave chew-toy, in a crevice away from dog's tongue
- the exit door, at head-ht to the dog
- the exit door, at the door-sill

I do their collar 1st, 10 to 15-mins B4 i leave - to give it time to start working, ahead of departure. The rest take a matter of seconds, anytime - if there's a yard, i'll put the dog outside while i spritz, so s/he isn't alerted that i plan to depart, & can void one last time.
If there's no yard, with a more-anxious dog, i'll pop them in the bedroom for a moment while i spritz, then potty, & finally, play tug or fetch B4 leaving to exit on a happy note.

- terry

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Old 10-27-2017, 09:44 AM
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3. Hits the contact with rear feet - Click, gets her toy, HUGE celebration, praise until the neighbours think I'm insane, lots of tugging.
I appreciate your citing of your practical experiences and description of how you define the variations of click, reward and praise pertaining to effort, partial success and total success

Your words above made me laugh as I'm sure my neighbors feel the same way about me. Besides the praise, I tend to talk out loud at times to myself when undertaking certain tasks such as training with my dog and flying etc., kind of like a rehearsal of sorts before I begin. I believe by doing this, it helps ensure follow-through and staying on course as the "seed has already been planted".
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Old 10-27-2017, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by MarvelousMabel View Post
HI! So far her anxiety is no where near that bad. She will whine a little bit when I am gone but eventually settles down. I've been managing it with leaving her for short amounts of time, keeping her out of the crate when I leave and giving her a stuffed Kong fill of her favourite foods. She still whines and sometimes howls a little bit when I leave but she's getting a lot better, and luckily is not destructive in the home at all. I'm starting to wonder if she even has separation anxiety, or just doesn't really like being alone!
Sounds like your dog just wants to go with you because lots of good things happen when you both leave the house together. What worked for me was to place the dog in a specific spot ( not near the door ) every time I left the house without the dog and I told the dog to "guard the house", I could have said anything but whatever you use just be consistent with both the placement and word(s) you choose to use. Your dog will soon learn that this pre-event routine of your departure means the dog is not going with you and will help the dog settle quickly.
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Old 10-27-2017, 11:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leashedForLife View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by MarvelousMabel View Post

... So far, her anxiety is no where near that bad. She will whine a little bit when I am gone but eventually settles down.
I've been managing it with leaving her for short amounts of time, keeping her out of the crate when I leave and giving her a stuffed Kong fill of her favourite foods. She still whines and sometimes howls a little bit when I leave but she's getting a lot better, and luckily is not destructive in the home at all.

I'm starting to wonder if she even has separation anxiety, or just doesn't really like being alone!
I absolutely would not hesitate to consider medication if she was hurting herself trying to escape, I'm just not sure she really needs it at this point!


did the shelter / rescue / former-owner say she has Sep-Anx?
I'd agree this doesn't sound like it - the primary symptom of sep-anx is attempts to escape, in order to find / join either any human, or a specific human.
Digging the linoleum off the floor at a doorway, scratching or biting chunks out of the door, jumping thru closed windows, gnawing window-sills, etc, are clearly sep-anx; ripping sofa-cushions to shreds can simply be a bored dog finding busywork, & metronomic barking ['Arf... Arf... Arf... '] is simple protest.

OTC calmatives often help with mild [or even serious] anxiety, such as being solo - they commonly use oral, nasal, or tactile routes.

D.A.P. [ComfortZone for Dogs, Adaptil] is especially good, & the pump-spray is extremely handy - carry it anywhere, use it as needed.
DAP goes on objects, not the dog; it's a synthetic mimic of the pheromone produced by nursing Fs, which serves to calm pups so they make the most of nursing opps when Mom-dog returns, vs waste time whinging & fussing. // It lowers BP, pulse, resp, & secretion of cortisol & other stress hormones.
1 spritz is a measured application, & lasts about 90-minutes; it can be refreshed ad lib, no interactions / no dosage concerns.

I put it on collars [remove collar, spray 1 side 1x, opp side 1x, replace collar], anywhere the dog likes to lie [dog's bed, a chair, the corner of the sofa, a particular spot on wall-to-wall...], the car-seat & seat-belt harness, the LATCH / swing side of the crate door, crate door-sill, the leash a hands-length from the clip so that each time it swings past the dog's nose they get a whiff...
in the fold of a stuffed-toy, on a chew-toy in a crevice, on the exit door below the doorknob / dog's head-ht, etc.

I put it on my clothing:
the cuff of long sleeves, my gloves in cold weather, coat or jacket-cuffs, at knee-ht & ankle-ht on the outside seam of my pants, on my boots or shoes [dogs love to sniff shoes; they are rich in info about us, & where we've been].

When I leave an anxious dog, i refresh
- their collar [off the dog, 1 spray each on opp sides, put it back on]
- their crate or bed
- a fave chew-toy, in a crevice away from dog's tongue
- the exit door, at head-ht to the dog
- the exit door, at the door-sill

I do their collar 1st, 10 to 15-mins B4 i leave - to give it time to start working, ahead of departure. The rest take a matter of seconds, anytime - if there's a yard, i'll put the dog outside while i spritz, so s/he isn't alerted that i plan to depart, & can void one last time.
If there's no yard, with a more-anxious dog, i'll pop them in the bedroom for a moment while i spritz, then potty, & finally, play tug or fetch B4 leaving to exit on a happy note.

- terry

I've heard of this before, but I haven't really heard how effective it is so this really helps! I will definitely be picking some up from the pet store today and trying it out when I leave her alone next.
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