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I trained my previous dog (Dynamo) with a vocal marker, and it worked great, but it was short sharp and I sounded like a clucking chicken, which was fine at the time (I have no shame when it comes to dog-training) but my new future dog will hopefully be visiting the nursing home with me, so a less obnoxious marker would be nice.
So I might try a clicker, but, really super dumb question coming, ready...?
How in heck do you hold the clicker, click, collect treats to deliver and do hand signals (touch, target) move things around (targets). My two hands are super busy, would love to see pics and videos of the human end of clicker training, or I go back to clucking like a chicken, it worked for Dynamo right through agility.
Oh, and I get to practice on my cats in the meantime--they don't mind at all.;)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
This is kikopup she is a really good clicker trainer. I think in this video she explains how to hold and use the clicker. If its easier for you, you can use your tongue. Click it like you would to encourage a horse forward. The important part of the clicker is that it makes the same noise every time.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_wv1uvvqaSw
Thanks, it's a lovely tutorial.

My takeaway for my question was this: it seems like she's caching the treats in the same hand as the clicker (this would solve one of my problems, as I cache treats in one hand and treat with the other (keeping both hands busy). I only cache treats in the beginning stages when you need rapid rewards (especially with cats!), but that's where I'm at with the felines and where I'd start with New Future Dog.

Second takeaway. Had no idea clickers needed a muffler, or how. I tried pen clicking with my cats (as they are noise sensitive) but it turns out I'm in the habit of clicking pens, oops, and I felt like I needed three hands (which goes back to the first question).

Anyhoo, thanks millions. I mean, at worst, I just keep on clucking like chicken. I'm sure the old folks would get a laugh, and I'll bet clickers need plenty of explaining too.

PS. I probably 'talk' with my hands too.
 

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Second question, related to the first. Ha, just in case I decide to continue with a vocal marker, would love to know everyone's 'bridge word' or non-mechanical marker.

Mine was a high pitched 'gud!' (from the back of my throat, hence, like a clucking chicken), very distinct, and quick but weird.

"Yes" was no good, as I use it casually in general praise talk.

Have tried 'click', the word, on the cats, but it seems to lack the head swivelling punch.

So, what's everyone's bridge word or marker?
 

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I trained my previous dog (Dynamo) with a vocal marker, and it worked great, but it was short sharp and I sounded like a clucking chicken, which was fine at the time (I have no shame when it comes to dog-training) but my new future dog will hopefully be visiting the nursing home with me, so a less obnoxious marker would be nice.
So I might try a clicker, but, really super dumb question coming, ready...?
How in heck do you hold the clicker, click, collect treats to deliver and do hand signals (touch, target) move things around (targets). My two hands are super busy, would love to see pics and videos of the human end of clicker training, or I go back to clucking like a chicken, it worked for Dynamo right through agility.
Oh, and I get to practice on my cats in the meantime--they don't mind at all.;)
Takes practice!:p

I don't have any one set way of juggling everything. Depends a lot on the behavior, where my dog is working (my left, right, front, out at a distance...), the stage we are at for the behavior, what else I have (leash, props, etc.)...

I guess in general, I have the clicker in the hand I am not feeding from. Most of the time treats are in pockets (which again depends on where my dog is and reward placement).

If just starting a new behavior and needing a really high rate of reinforcement, normally clicker is in opposite hand and I have multiple treats in the hand I'm going to feed from. I try to keep that hand behind my back/out of sight until after the click. And to reward I slide a treat out of my palm with my thumb.

If working something in front or behind positions I switch the clicker and treat hands backs and forth to encourage a straighter position. Always feeding from one hand causes a crooked position. That def takes practice and it's not unusual for me to ditch the clicker and go with my verbal marker!

I've learned to hold the clicker in my hand with my thumb and to click with my thumb as it frees my fingers should I need to give a hand signal.

If working with a leash or prop (cane, Target stick, etc.) I hold the clicker in that hand and keep the hand I would be feeding and likely signaling with/using as target free.

Like I said takes thought and intentional practice to get good at it. The trainer who owns the facility I take classes and teach at actually offers classes and workshops periodically on just this... The finer details of handling and training (also includes theory, rate of reinforcement, reward placement, how/when to raise criteria, setting criteria, etc.) I take the classes each time she offers them. I tend to fall back into bad habits so it helps me to clean up my training.


Second question, related to the first. Ha, just in case I decide to continue with a vocal marker, would love to know everyone's 'bridge word' or non-mechanical marker.

Mine was a high pitched 'gud!' (from the back of my throat, hence, like a clucking chicken), very distinct, and quick but weird.

"Yes" was no good, as I use it casually in general praise talk.

Have tried 'click', the word, on the cats, but it seems to lack the head swivelling punch.

So, what's everyone's bridge word or marker?
My verbal is ''yep!" though this is an area I've developed bad habits...
I think it comes from demo'ing with student dogs. Lots of different markers (yep, yes, da, tongue clicks, recently had a ''bueno''). I get used to using different ones and am not as consistent with my own dogs. "Yes!" often pops out of my mouth now as that's a common choice... Fortunately as my guys are pretty savvy they've been figuring it out. Just isn't a good habit on my part. Sigh.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks Kmes, super detailed description of hand co-ordination, which is just what I was looking for.
Practiced with cats, clicker in target hand, treat hand holds cache.
Only problem was co-ordinating the click when I was pointing. Need to convince myself that my thumb can click, and finger can point at the same time. It's good to have practice cats.
Also, since I want to move on to props eventually, I'm really super glad I know how to use my voice as a consistent marker. Sounds like there's a time and place for that.
And, I used a gum eraser to muffle the click. Makes a nice calm quiet sound now, so the kikopup vid was very useful in that tip also. The cats took to the click immediately (would be about the 4th marker I tried, they'll be experts on markers before I am done with them). They are not minding at all being experimented upon.
 

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Great questions!

I know there are lots of different ways people manage this, but what I'll most often do is have my clicker on a finger (I have one with the finger elastic), have treats in the palm of that hand, and then use my other hand for any hand signals or physical direction/support. My non-clicker (support) hand is also what I use for treat delivery - after I mark the behavior, my dog understands that YES you did the right thing, so a second or two between the mark and the reward is not the end of the world.

I use a clicker and a marker word relatively interchangeably - I favor one or the other depending on environment and what behavior we're working on. I like the distinctive aspect of the clicker's sound, but I also like having a word for those times that I don't have a clicker with me, or when there are other people around using a clicker. (plus, verbal marker = an extra free hand!) My marker word is "Yes!" and it's packed full of enthusiasm and a crisp cut off that I don't have when I use "yes" in everyday conversation. My dog can definitely tell the difference between my marking "Yes!" and a regular "yes."

My bridge word is "good." Also different in emphasis and pitch than any other time I use "good" in conversation. For us, "good" means, "you're doing the right thing, keep doing that until you get a mark or get a release word."

More on treat delivery - If I'm training in a place I can be mostly stationary, I often won't even bother having a handful of treats, I'll just have a little pile nearby that I can grab from. Similar but slightly different (better for moving exercises and/or outdoor/traveling work) is having a treat bag, or even a ziplock of treats in a pocket (hoodie, pants, jacket, etc.). I'm a big fan of snap-open bait bags, less danger of tipping it and losing all your treats! Treat bags on their own belt are great, because you can position it wherever makes the most sense for whatever you're working on (bag in front, behind, or on either side of you.)
 
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