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What do YOU think of clicker training

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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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    08-28-2012, 09:33 PM
  #81
Started
Ya know, I don't get the 'don't treat a horse like a dog' thing either! I take my pony out for walks, I don't have a dog, what harm is it doing him to go for a walk, get some exercise, learn about new things, and give me some company?

Any time spent positively with a horse is NOT a waste! It doesn't matter if you're scratching them behind the ear and feeding them treats, so long as rules are enforced and obeyed why Shouldn't you enjoy playing with your horse? What is classified as 'treating a horse like a dog'? Giving them a treat? Taking them for a walk? Scratching them? Teaching them commands and tricks? Maintaining respectful boundaries? Are you treating a horse like a dog simply by not making them 'work'? Can't work be fun? Why not enjoy your animal rather than just use it as a tool for work?

I simply don't get it.
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    08-28-2012, 09:36 PM
  #82
Foal
I can't remember if I've posted on this thread already, but I know I've talked about clicker training on other threads and will get up on my soapbox to talk about it here. Sorry for being so repetitive, but this is something I'm passionate about and I hate seeing it go misunderstood to the point of being completely stomped on.

The basic truth is that ALL ANIMALS LEARN THINGS THE SAME WAY. THIS IS A FACT. YES, EVEN YOUR HORSE LEARNS THINGS THIS WAY. NO ANIMAL (NOT EVEN YOUR HORSE) IS ABSOLVED OF THE LEARNING THEORY. The four quadrants of the learning theory are positive reinforcement, positive punishment, negative reinforcement, negative punishment. It doesn't matter if we're working with other humans, horses, dogs, or goldfish - the same theories apply. How you choose to apply these theories (and which ones you choose to apply) is up to you. For me, I prefer to use positive reinforcement and negative punishment wherever possible. Only in extreme cases would I use negative reinforcement (very rare) or positive punishment (almost never).

Can you teach an animal (dog, horse, dolphin, etc.) without a clicker? Of course. Can they learn faster, without fear of punishment, and be motivated to learn more things with a clicker? YES.

Clicker training can be applied to an absolute multitude of behaviours. Most people use it for dog tricks, and that's cool, but to be honest that's about 5% of the big picture. Next time you pull out your clicker, look at your dog (or horse) and see how keen they are to work once they see it. Now what if you could take that excitement and put it to use in other ways - such as basic manners, grooming, leading, etc.? The opportunities you have with a clicker are honestly...completely endless. I'm not saying that those who choose not to use clickers are doing their animals a disservice, or that your animals hate you, but only that you should open your eyes and minds to it. It's not witchcraft, it's not heresy, it's not being a pushover or a pez dispenser. It's making your animals excited to work with you, and seeing rapid and long-lasting results.

If I can turn an aggressive dog into a lover dog using a clicker, certainly horse people can teach their horses to like having their feet picked! And yes, you can train aggressive horses with a clicker in the exact same way that you would do it with a dog.

What people forget is that clicker training started with marine mammals and then was used for horses LONG before it ever caught on with dogs. You can't whip, kick, spur, etc. a dolphin, so what are you left with if you can't apply pressure? Think about how often you use pressure in your daily life with your horses and ask yourself...is there another way that I could do this?

My mantras are:

I want my dog/horse to work WITH me, not FOR me.
Training is something I do WITH my dog/horse, not TO my dog/horse.

Please - read Don't Shoot The Dog! By Karen Pryor (it's not about dogs) and learn more about it. Part of being responsible in this sport is knowing and understanding all aspects of training, and choosing the one that's right for you. Making blind assumptions about something you clearly do not understand is never helpful to anyone.

Here is a video of a horse who came to the present owner as a totally unpredictable bag of nerves. This horse was completely rehabilitated and trained using only force-free methods, including the clicker. I really encourage you to watch the whole thing.

Think about how these simple techniques can be applied to "real" horsemanship. Running a figure 8 around the chairs can be expanded into barrel racing, jumping over logs and jumps can be expanded into bigger jumps, the horse is learning to be less fearful of ordinary objects such as chairs and blankets through targeting (touching with the nose), the horse accepts grooming, and knows a multitude of really practical things. All that may look sweet and fun, but have a real purpose in life. Not to mention...how amazing is their relationship??? This is a horse who could not be touched!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CPi...layer_embedded
     
    08-28-2012, 09:56 PM
  #83
Showing
Meatos, well said. When I began to learn NH I began to question whether my horse was doing something because of fear of repercussion which could be mistaken as respect. When I introduced clicker training to a fearful horse there began a profound change in him which tied in to the way I altered my training and gave him a say in the matter. When I began to teach him to stand for spraying, he was at liberty. He got a treat so he'd know I had them. I sprayed the ground beside me,and because he stood still, c/t. The next was on his lower leg c/t As it went to his shoulder he bolted a few strides, then realized I hadn't clicked. It was comical watching him decide. He came back to me allowed me to spray his shoulder and got his reward. Since then he's been a delight to spray and sometimes he'll get a treat. We didn't get into a fight, I let him decide and his belly won out. Had it turned into a struggle it likely would have remained a struggle.
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    08-28-2012, 10:07 PM
  #84
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by Saddlebag    
Meatos, well said. When I began to learn NH I began to question whether my horse was doing something because of fear of repercussion which could be mistaken as respect. When I introduced clicker training to a fearful horse there began a profound change in him which tied in to the way I altered my training and gave him a say in the matter. When I began to teach him to stand for spraying, he was at liberty. He got a treat so he'd know I had them. I sprayed the ground beside me,and because he stood still, c/t. The next was on his lower leg c/t As it went to his shoulder he bolted a few strides, then realized I hadn't clicked. It was comical watching him decide. He came back to me allowed me to spray his shoulder and got his reward. Since then he's been a delight to spray and sometimes he'll get a treat. We didn't get into a fight, I let him decide and his belly won out. Had it turned into a struggle it likely would have remained a struggle.
Amazing example. And "struggle" is a great word - in all the training I do, I try to take the struggle element out of it. I don't want to struggle, and certainly not with an animal that could bite me, kick me, or kill me. I will lose. That's just nature. Every animal has its limits and nobody is immune, no matter how good of a trainer you are. For training to be most effective, both the animal and trainer have to be enjoying the work being done.

Oftentimes when we struggle to suppress behaviours, bad behaviours pop up in other areas, or the suppressed behaviour will come back in full force once the animal has had it with being pushed too far. I don't ever want that to happen in any animal I work with. Fear of repercussion is often misinterpreted as respect - you hit the nail on the head!
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    08-28-2012, 11:41 PM
  #85
Trained
Suppose teaching my horse to play 'fetch' is just a little canine...
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    08-28-2012, 11:43 PM
  #86
Started
Haha I suppose it is, but could also come to serious good use! Imagine being on a trail and you drop your crop? Your horse could get it for you! Well... maybe not your crop... but maybe your hat xD
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    08-28-2012, 11:48 PM
  #87
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by Meatos    
Only in extreme cases would I use negative reinforcement (very rare) or positive punishment (almost never).
Aha! You sound like one of those elusive (nearly) purists! I'm interested to know how you teach the basic cues then, if not with pressure/release? Eg. If you don't teach the horse to yield to pressure from rein, leg, seat, etc, how do you direct him?
     
    08-29-2012, 09:38 AM
  #88
Foal
Oh no, I'm not a purist (I believe in calling an animal on their sh*t, but only after ruling out all other possibilities like pain, fear, etc.) and I don't have nearly enough experience with horses to say how I would go about doing those things. I'm a dog trainer, not a horse trainer - we don't ride dogs!

But those aren't really the types of things I'm thinking of when I talk about struggling with your horse in order to gain their respect. I'm saying they have brains that are capable in working in other ways than avoiding pressure. If they can teach marine mammals to do flips in the air on cue using a clicker (you can't apply pressure to these animals), you can teach a horse how to be directed in a similar way.

I'm just saying that it CAN be done, and IS being done by some great trainers out there. My mentor is setting me up with one of his friends, who used to train dogs but now trains horses. I'm really excited to learn from her, and shall report back!

I'm passionate about this because I've seen firsthand what predominantly negative reinforcement/positive punishment can do to an animal. Depending on the temperament, these things might work well and you'll never have a problem. But then there are temperaments that aren't so forgiving and you can really ruin them.
     
    08-30-2012, 04:24 AM
  #89
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by Meatos    
Oh no, I'm not a purist
I said 'nearly'! I meant re the not using negative reinforcement except in extremes.

Quote:
have brains that are capable in working in other ways than avoiding pressure.
Yes, most certainly & the way I see it, if you have all the time in the world & unlimited patience, I know you can teach an animal virtually anything with pure shaping, but I'm interested to hear from people that do this(?), about specifics. Also time. For eg. What steps & how long would it typically take to teach a horse to sidepass without using negative reinforcement.
     
    08-30-2012, 08:27 AM
  #90
Foal
If you're interested, I found some really cool clicker training videos for horses on Karen Pryor's website (Karen Pryor Clickertraining | The Leader in Positive Reinforcement Training). I was reading one description and apparently they taught a pony to be a guide for his blind owner. That is pretty **** cool.
     

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