The rain today has put paid to my session for today as I wanted to work out of doors. If it clears later on I will do catch-up.
In the meantime I would like to discuss marker training as using a marker will enhance your training, especially if you use food as a reinforcer. A marker is a sound that has been paired with food many times so that it starts to predict that a reward is to follow. When the dog hears the sound of the clicker (CLICK!) or the verbal marker (YES!) or (GOOD!) it knows that the behaviour it was doing when it heard the marker is the behaviour that is being rewarded. Although I use verbal markers a lot of the time, when I’m working with tiny slices of behaviour there is nothing to beat the clicker. There is no ambiguity. It is PRECISE, RELIABLE, IMMEDIATE and DISTINCT.
THE ADVANTAGES OF USING A CLICKER.
- More precise at identifying behaviour or parts (splits) of behaviour.
- Allows for a time lag before delivery of the primary reinforcer.
- Allows for treat delivery to be more flexible.
- Allows for easy resetting of the behaviour.
- Affects Demeanour
- Enables movement to be marked and reinforced.
- Allows for distance building.
- As with any training, it is a process that starts with “getting” the behaviour. The steps are:
The First Step – Charging the Clicker.
The Second Step – Getting the Behaviour:
- Get the Behaviour by luring, capturing or shaping.
The Third Step – Offering the Behaviour:
- Behaviour offered – “OK so that’s what you want!”
- Behaviour marked – click – “Hooray, you’ve got it! – payday”.
- Reward the Behaviour – “I always keep my promise!”
- Explain Default Behaviour.
The Fourth Step – Giving the Behaviour a Name (Adding the cue):
- Behaviour offered
- Behaviour named and clicked.
- Behaviour rewarded.
The Fifth Step – Do you get it – is the response on cue?
For those of you have never done clicker training before, and even for some of you that have been using the clicker with lure and reward type training, keeping the click separate from the food (or primary reinforcer) is difficult in the beginning. The sound of the clicker should be meaningful to the dog on its own without its value being diluted by the presence of food. What you are trying to do with the clicker is to encourage your dog to engage its mind, not its appetite. You are helping your dog to “learn to learn”.
In this video, Michael Ellis explains a little more about the clicker/marker.
I see the sun is coming out so I can continue with my plans for today.