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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.