Clicker training problem

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Clicker training problem

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  • The problem with horse clicker training
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    08-22-2011, 10:19 PM
Clicker training problem

I have pony that I have been doing clicker traing with and he responds very nicley to it but every time he sees my hand or arm near his head he bites me looking for food.He is very mouthy to begin with and I was wondering if I should change the way I do it or maybe try another method, any suggestions.
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    08-23-2011, 03:37 AM
Originally Posted by rileydog6    
I have pony that I have been doing clicker traing with and he responds very nicley to it but every time he sees my hand or arm near his head he bites me looking for food.He is very mouthy to begin with and I was wondering if I should change the way I do it or maybe try another method, any suggestions.
This is a normal response for a horse. They look for food with their mouths, and they go straight in for it with their heads. That is what they do.

What you haven't done is make it clear to him foundation for the clicker training. Clicker training can be a very useful tool, but unfortunately like many forms of training people just go pick it up and use it often with little knowledge of the fine detail that is important to be safe and effective.

If you do not set the foundation correctly then one of two things happens.
The first is what you are seeing - the constant search for treats. This is because he has not been taught the clear enough distinction of the process - cue, try, click, reward.

The second and for me worst outcome is when I see horses that become obsessed and are constantly offering repetitive behaviours like a nervous twitch, looking for the treat.

So what you should be doing. Firstly NEVER carry treats in your pockets. I always recommend people either have a little pouch, or easier still a bum bag (or fannypack as it is in the US). You only do clicker training when you are wearing this. Therefore the horse knows when you try for behaviours and when to relax.

Secondly use the clicker training to reward standing and not looking for food. When he looks for food give him a cue like 'leave'. The moment he moves his head away click and reward.
    08-23-2011, 04:21 AM
It sounds to me that you need to go back to the very first lesson of clicker training. There are numerous articles on the web about it and most advocate starting with the horse in a stable so you can step out of his space if they start to get mouthy.

My mare also started to get a bit angsty about treats (not nippy just anxious) and I simply began to teach her to look away for a treat. I had my treats in a little pouch (unlike Doe I often carry the treats in my pocket, especially in winter when I'm wearing a big jacket but in the beginning, a pouch is definitely better).

I would simply stand next to her, my hands at my sides (NOT one hand in the pouch as I've seen many people do) and she would naturally try to get to the pouch. I would let her try but if she got nippy or tried to grab the pouch with her teeth, I simply took a step away. Then, often by accident, she would look away from me and I would click and reward. Very soon she learnt that mugging=no treats and looking away=treat. We have since progressed so that now whenever she hears the click, she looks away first before getting her treat, even when teaching new behaviours.

Another important aspect to look at is your food delivery/how you give treats and your consistency as these can all create more anxious/mouthy/nippy horses.
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    08-23-2011, 11:11 AM
Thank you so much I will definetly try the pouch and go back to the beginning,i did clicker training with my dog when he was a puppy and now 5 years later he knows over 45 different commands,i guess im just a little rusty with starting clicker training since it has been a long time:)

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