Lure & Clicker Training to teach Sit – Advantages & Disadvantages

New Sheep 5 2012

It makes me so happy to say that Tootsie is doing great. Right now she's sleeping in her crate beside my desk. The door is open, but she loves it there. The only places she likes as well are 1) being in bed with me, 2) being on the couch or 3) being by herself in the crate in the back of the car. She likes it so well in the car crate that I am actually having to train to leave it. I'm assuming this is baggage from her puppy mill days and that she feels most secure and comfortable in a small, confined space. She's progressed so well in so many ways: I'm especially taken with her flipping around mid-air when outside after I call her to come, ears flying like a furry dumbo, her open, happy mouth taking up half of her tiny little Cavalier head. As I mentioned in an earlier post, now that Read More

Are Clicks Better Markers than Words?

Hope and Hap

We've been talking about markers and secondary reinforcers, and there have been some great comments about using clickers in some contexts and not in others. Like many readers, I use clickers for some training, and not for others. Your comments got me thinking about why I use them sometimes, why I don't use them others, and the physics of why clicks can be such a powerful marker (and/or reinforcement). First, I don't use clickers for all training. This is partly because I am a classic "absent minded professor" and there are just too many times in the world in which I forget everything but my head. I also admit that I am always happiest when it is just me and a dog--no clicker, no leash and as soon as practical, no food as reinforcement. However, I've always used clickers for trick Read More

Markers and Secondary Reinforcers

Hope & Sherman

We've been talking about secondary reinforcers and markers, and the good question has come up about the difference between them. On the one hand, we know that a click or a "yes" can be used to communicate to a dog that a specific behavior is what is about to be reinforced. Clicking or saying "yes" at exactly the right moment is incredibly powerful in that it is a precise way of communicating to an animal exactly what it was doing that will elicit the reinforcement (clicks are more precise than words, by the way). However, you could also call a click or "yes" a 2ndary reinforcer, since to be effective it is paired with a primary reinforcer like food, and the animal learns to associate the click/marker with the treat, right? So which is it? Ah, you gotta love the English language: Read More

Karen Pryor’s New Book; Valentine’s Day

I just finished reading a review copy of Karen Pryor's new book, Reaching theĀ  Animal Mind (Scribner). I don't know when it's coming out, I'll let you know as soon as I hear (but you can pre-order it on Amazon now). It's an inspiring book, especially for those that haven't yet used clicker training on any of their animals. I don't use clickers for everything I have to admit, I tend to use them most for tricks, or any behavior that is not in a dog's normal repertoire. One of the interesting parts of her book is a report of research by Lindsay Wood that found clicker training significantly faster than a verbal marker at training new behaviors. This makes a lot of sense, given what we know about sound and the way it is received. I did my dissertation work on sound, and learned that sounds Read More