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What do YOU think of clicker training

This is a discussion on What do YOU think of clicker training within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category
  • Clickertraining primates
  • Is clicker training stupid

View Poll Results: Do you recommend clicker training?
Yes 22 48.89%
No 23 51.11%
Voters: 45. You may not vote on this poll

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    07-11-2012, 04:16 PM
  #11
Banned
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe4d    
Still think the clicker is nothing more than a gimmick. I see nothing you can do with a clicker I can't do with a couple simple voice commands. Why waste time training with something then phasing it out ? So I am supposed to train my horse to stand with a click, then phase it out to use something else ? Sounds kinda dumb, why not train him to stand when I say "STAND" from the getgo ? My horses are perfectly capable of understanding STAND, BACK, YAH MULE, WHOO MULE, and GET THE @#$%^^ off my foot you stupid f$&*^* !!! Jack @#$%^ !!!
I just spit my coffee all over LoL!!!!


Basically for me, I'm a lazy butt. If I have to add an extra step ... "click" .. then at some point I don't want to click any more so I phase that out. Then I've just doubled my work essentially. Also, being 50 ... I had one hell of a time keeping up with where that danged clicker was. I'll be lucky if I can remember where I put a lead rope most of the time ;)

Am sure this method probably works wonderfully for some folk. Just isn't my thing :)
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    07-11-2012, 04:27 PM
  #12
Foal
The difference that positive reinforce creates in the horse and his impetus to learn is amazing. Sure you can make a horse do things. But when you put something in it that the horse values, that changes the horses life and subsequently the way the horse looks at learning. I mean, what is in it for the horse to stand quietly? Really think about why he does it. How did he learn how to do it? What do you do if he doesn't do it? Think about what happens when a horse doesn't stand quietly for mounting? Or doesn't do a good upward transition, what do you do? What about a poor downward transition, what do you do? Does the horse get anything out if it? Pretty much, when they are good, we just leave them alone. We are busy correcting the wrongs, not rewarding the correct decisions. This is the basis for traditional and NH. Why not put something in it for your horse. They don't look at food as some sort of game, they are hard wired to seek it for survival. When they acquire it, they remember what they did to get this valuable commodity. This is happening all of the time and it is called operant conditioning. They are constantly trying to seek what they need to survive and how to avoid unpleasant things. Traditional and NH focus on the use of aversives. Applying pressure through reins, bits, legs, seats, ropes, halters, body placement and displacement. All very effective but not necessarily in the horses best interest. It seems like it was the easiest way long ago, before we learned about how animals (and people too) actually learned and processed information. Fortunately for us and our horses, we are getting a lot smarter . People are catching on fast and change is happening in the horse world.
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    07-11-2012, 07:01 PM
  #13
Green Broke
The "reward" is the release of pressure. When you do right I leave you alone. Hand feeding treats during the training phase is a bad road to go down and can make your horse disrespectful.
     
    07-11-2012, 08:47 PM
  #14
Yearling
I posted a question about clicker training a few days ago because I just started using about 2 weeks ago. I have been using Alexandra Kurland's book "The Click that Teaches." I am very pleased with the results so far. I work with 4 horses and 1 donkey 2 times daily. I try to break it into little 5 minute sessions and each animal gets about 20 minutes of this training a day.

I think the pros are the excitement of my equines. They "ask" to play very politely, and I don't think it is just because of the food. They seem to enjoy the process of figuring out what I want and the feeling of success when they get it. For example, when my nervous mare kept her head down for a full minute, she got a "jackpot" (more, better treats for reward), she honestly seemed so pleased with herself! Also, it helps distract my nervous horse. She can focus on the game when she is nervous about something and calm herself. Her attention is on my request, not on the scary trailer/rope/saddle/fly spray/etc.

Finally, and more importantly, it is teaching me to be a better trainer. I know there are a lot of awesome horse trainers on this forum, but I am still learning to pay attention to the details of what my horse is doing. When I ask for a behavior, I really must watch and pay attention for her responses and then be very mindful of my reactions. I am not always on target myself, but I am improving.

The cons are that the click marks the end of the behavior so using it under saddle has limits. However, I have started using CT under saddle with two of the five and it really helps me reinforce the "YES! That's it!"

Fading is an important concept in any training situation. When you first teach a behavior, you reward every little try, even if it is completely accidental. In fact, it usually is accidental! Just as with NH when you release pressure and praise, with CT you click and treat. But you begin to ask for more as the learner gets more proficient; longer duration, more energy, more creativity, closer to the target behavior (from touch the target to pick up the target). Finally, you just ask for the behavior, the learner performs it, your response is simply to go on to the next task without comment, and your satisfaction is the learner's reward. You have moved to a new behavior to focus on, reward and learn.

Obviously, I do combine CT with other methods, mainly NH. I studied Clinton Anderson's basics and use that a lot. CT has helped me refine the cues. Again, I think it is my horses attention and positive reactions as well as my improved attention to detail that is helping in this. Now I just point at the chest (back), the shoulder(yield fore), the hip (the hind), the rump (forward), and the poll (head down) to get a response. I was working on that with CA and making slow progress but CT allowed us to really advance quickly with this.

Now, the question about avoiding a horse that is pushy for treats is a good one. The first lesson is that when you hear this click sound it is good and you get a reward. The second is that you must stand quietly and calmly to get the treat. You must take the treat carefully. If you seek treats, it only takes longer to get the reward. If you look forward and wait patiently, you will be rewarded. It is the BEST part! My pushy, grumpy KMSH has become a much better citizen using CT. I do not get mugged for treats at all.

And one of my horses has already started accepted my vocal click in place of the clicker in just two weeks.

If anyone is interested in CT, I recommend a good book that takes you step by step. I don't have internet at my house because I live in a remote location, so I don't know if there is enough out there on the web to guide you through it. I go to my book every day and find things I missed the first time.

I have been an educator for 18 years (K-12) and I like finding ways to teach that include the positive as much as possible. I have been saying for years that horses and teenagers have WAY too much in common. Both respond better to a positive approach. That doesn't mean I don't believe in punishment or negative reinforcement. You need to have as many tricks in your tool box as you can.
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    07-11-2012, 10:52 PM
  #15
Started
Quote:
Originally Posted by tiffanyodonnell    
I have been an educator for 18 years (K-12) and I like finding ways to teach that include the positive as much as possible. I have been saying for years that horses and teenagers have WAY too much in common. Both respond better to a positive approach. That doesn't mean I don't believe in punishment or negative reinforcement. You need to have as many tricks in your tool box as you can.
Oh, clicker training teenagers - now THIS would be a revolutionary thing! Actually, get on it, parents would pay heaps to get their problem teenagers sorted
     
    07-11-2012, 11:28 PM
  #16
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe4d    
the "reward" is the release of pressure. When you do right I leave you alone. Hand feeding treats during the training phase is a bad road to go down and can make your horse disrespectful.
The first sentence is not correct. A reward is positive reinforcement - something DESIREABLE that is given for a behaviour to strengthen it. Release of pressure is negative reinforcement - something UNDESIREABLE that is removed, to strengthen a behaviour. They are both valid & valuable methods of influencing behaviour(training).

The second statement is your opinion. That's fine too. I do think that saying 'treats make a horse disrespectful' is a bit like saying 'money is the root of all evil'.... money & treats are inanimate objects, albeit strong motivators for different species, but they don't 'make' anything themselves, it's what the human/trainer/employer chooses to do with it & ask for it that can be a problem.
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    07-12-2012, 01:59 AM
  #17
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe4d    
A horse IS NOT a dog. Nor does its mom bring it food. I strongly disagree with the concept of using food as a training aid.
Wild dogs bring food back to a den and feed their pups. When you give a dog a treat his brain says, "WOW what a cool dude he brought me some food".

When you give a horse food, he thinks he just punked you and took it away from you. Yes you can establish dominance and then give treats, but nothing sends a bigger message of leadership to a horse faster than making him wait until you are done eating.

Still think the clicker is nothing more than a gimmick. I see nothing you can do with a clicker I can't do with a couple simple voice commands. Why waste time training with something then phasing it out ? So I am supposed to train my horse to stand with a click, then phase it out to use something else ? Sounds kinda dumb, why not train him to stand when I say "STAND" from the getgo ? My horses are perfectly capable of understanding STAND, BACK, YAH MULE, WHOO MULE, and GET THE @#$%^^ off my foot you stupid f$&*^* !!! Jack @#$%^ !!!
This just might be the wisest, most accurate post I've ever seen on here. We may never win this argument because we're in a room full of women, but you're right. I don't care what they say.
     
    07-12-2012, 02:48 AM
  #18
Started
Quote:
Originally Posted by AmazinCaucasian    
This just might be the wisest, most accurate post I've ever seen on here. We may never win this argument because we're in a room full of women, but you're right. I don't care what they say.
Oi, I'm a woman and I agree with Joe4d!

Then again I do have a beard...
     
    07-12-2012, 03:29 AM
  #19
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bribrigirl111    
What is YOUR opinon on clicker training?
I think the *principles* behind c/t are invaluable, no matter what style of training you do. I think c/t is valuable in helping people learn how to be effective and timely with reinforcement. While I don't use a plastic clicker myself, I do find it's helpful to use when teaching people - to the people that is, don't think it's obviously more effective for the animal.

Quote:
Pros and Cons?
Pros of using positive reinforcement training are that the horse is very motivated and wants to play your games, learn what you want. They enjoy it & have fun.

Once they learn the basic rules, it's reasonably quick to teach new basic commands & pretty straighforward to build on those basics to teach complex stuff. It's a non stressful, non confrontational approach.

Any unique sound can be used as a 'bridging signal'. I personally use the word "Good!!" Anything that the horse desires can be used as a reward/reinforcement. Food treats are a common & strong one.

Cons. If using a plastic clicker(specifics like that aren't necessary though), I think this can be a bit limiting, as I like to have 2 hands free to use with horses, especially when riding. I don't like the sound of a clicker personally either.

If using food treats(again not necessary, but does tend to be the most practical & reliable +R for horses IME), it can be a problem if you leave your bag full of diced carrot around for horses to find. It can be a problem for other people who don't use +R when their horses prefer your company!

If using solely +R and not using any -R(pressure/release), which some do, I feel it's more time consuming and you've got to teach a whole nother language of cues, rather than conventional seat/leg/rein aids. But I'm not speaking of that from much personal experience(since I first learned & played around with pure shaping & +R). I use a combination approach & not a 'purist' +R trainer.

Quote:
What experience/have you ever used clicker training. Did you have success?
I've successfully trained dogs, horses, cats, chickens, ducks, geese and a magpie. I've helped 'rehab' fearful & aggressive dogs. I've successfully worked with fearful horses, aggressive and 'rude' horses and I've taught everything from tricks to dressage with these principles.

Quote:
Can you combine clicker training with other training methods?
Yes. It's basically applied behavioural psychology using positive reinforcement(rewards), so it's not a 'method' as such IMO(altho you'd call using specifics of a plastic clicker a method), and the principles apply to whatever method you wish to use.

Quote:
Will you ever be able to stop using the clicker and treats or will you always have to click and treat your horse?
c/t is a way of teaching, not long term management & far from making the animal ever reliant on c/t in order to do something, I believe it's vital that clicker & treats are only used reliably when teaching new behaviours, then they're reduced until it's only randomly given, or for extra Good behaviour. If you do keep on keeping on, it actually is less effective and it's hard to build extra/better behaviours on the foundations you've built.

An appropriate analogy may be that we reward/praise a first grade child for spelling her own name, but if we continue getting all excited for every little thing she does like this later in her learning, it would be a bit pointless & depending on how we reward & the level of difficulty of her current stage, it would also inhibit her motivation to try harder, learn more.

Quote:
How to keep a horse from becoming 'pushy' with the treats?
Teach him & reinforce him for Good manners instead. Be aware of exactly what it is you're reinforcing & be consistant about NEVER reinforcing Rude behaviour. It's not the type of reinforcement you use, it's what you reinforce that strengthens or weakens a behaviour.
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    07-12-2012, 04:00 AM
  #20
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe4d    
Hand feeding treats during the training phase is a bad road to go down and can make your horse disrespectful.
Without wanting to be overly disrespectful this is a load of tosh. It is extremely easy to use clicker training to teach the horse to wait quietly for the treat. Like any training method, if the timing of the reward is incorrect, the wrong response will get rewarded and in the case of clicker training the pushiness is what can result. So its not the horse's fault and it has nothing to do with respect, simply poor timing on behalf of the trainer.

I use clicker training extensively in my horse training business, for starting babies as well as solving a number of problem behaviours, especially those related to fear. I no longer use a clicker as the bridge because I kept forgetting it, I use a kiss sound which I can't drop or lose. Unsurprisingly horses are more motivated to perform behaviour to get something they really like, such as food, than escape from something they don't like, such as pressure. Negative reinforcement relies on subjecting the horse to an unpleasant sensation and then removing that sensation to reward the response we want. Positive reinforcement gives them something that they intrinsically enjoy. I think of it as wages.

I combine positive and negative refinforcement with all my horses and I find, esp for the babies it makes learning the basic cues for stop, go, back, turn happen much faster and without tension because the horse is searching for what it needs to do to turn on the food. For fearful behaviours it can be the difference between the horse trialling a big escape response or attempting the behaviour I want in order to get food. It also reduces their anxiety as their focus switches from what they are scared of to how to get the treat. Combined with tactful negative reinforcement its a winner.

I have been using it for about 10 years and I would never go back to only relying on negative reinforcement to get the responses I want. It does take time to get the timing right, but it also teaches you to get very good at recognising the try and then shaping the behaviour to get the final result. In fact it can make you much more observant and subtle as a trainer. And guaranteed your horse will genuinely want to be with you because you bring good things rather than simply taking bad things away as with negative reinforcement.

Dog, doplphin, elephant, seal, primate etc trainers have been using this method for over forty years now, and yet in the horse world people who do are seen as soft and ineffective. I don't understand why we are still so resistant to it and its many benefits or why we believe using food to reward our horses for good behaviour is a bad thing.
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