Clicker Training? - Page 3 - The Horse Forum
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post #21 of 37 Old 05-11-2012, 09:59 AM
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I adore clicker training. I use it for all species of animals. The first few days, when you are teaching them not to mug you for the treats can be the hardest. I have never been able to use clicker training with my gelding as one treat and his mind is GONE for about an hour. Sigh.

For other horses, I have used it for all sorts of commands. For under saddle things, the horse learns quickly to bend into a contorted stretch so they can take the treat from your hand while you are in the saddle. I think it is the funniest thing to watch! I have also seen someone who made up a rig so that when she clicked, a single alfalfa pellet would fall into a small tray next to her DRIVING horse's face so she coudl reinforce good behavior in harness. I am just not that talanted to figure out how she did it, but it worked great for her!
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post #22 of 37 Old 05-11-2012, 11:42 AM
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I also used the clicker for "anti-mugging" behavior with treats. They catch onto that one VERY quickly as it is also in their best interest.

The Dane was adorable! I love the "thinking" face they make.
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post #23 of 37 Old 05-11-2012, 07:45 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you everyone for the great advice! Im deffinately going to have her in a stall for the next few sessions.. because today she got very aggitated with the whole situation... she was mugging me so I stepped back turned away.. finally she ear pinned and tried to bite my face!! NOT OKAY!! Reaction was to lift my hands and drive her away me.. she came back tried mugging me again then turned away her face away i clicked and treated.. ended it there. Later that day I did a little desensatizing with her no treats involved.
Hmm so Im not giving up on it yet.. Im just going to do it in a stalled area..
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post #24 of 37 Old 05-12-2012, 07:32 PM
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What I can't seem to wrap my mind around is why any animal likes the sound of the clicker so much that it becomes a positive reinforcement. How does that annoying click sound motivate them? Not being fecetious I am serious.
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post #25 of 37 Old 05-12-2012, 08:28 PM
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Originally Posted by hberrie View Post
What I can't seem to wrap my mind around is why any animal likes the sound of the clicker so much that it becomes a positive reinforcement. How does that annoying click sound motivate them? Not being fecetious I am serious.

It's not the sound they like.. horses associate the sound with the treat. Everytime they hear that sound, they think OH!!!! TREAT!!! and then over time they think Oh I did great cause I heard that sound!

You could use a word or a different sound and you'd get the same reaction, so long as it is consistent. Just the clicker itself is much easier to operate than say words over and over. You just click, and it doesn't change pitch or anything.
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post #26 of 37 Old 05-12-2012, 08:31 PM
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Originally Posted by hberrie View Post
What I can't seem to wrap my mind around is why any animal likes the sound of the clicker so much that it becomes a positive reinforcement. How does that annoying click sound motivate them? Not being fecetious I am serious.
It isn't the clicker noise itself that reinforces the behavior.

It is the 'bridge' behavior of linking the *click* to "Yes!".
A clicker is often used because it's always the same noise, and it's short and sharp.

Some people make the clicking noise with their mouth, but I prefer a clicker because it is always exactly the same.
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post #27 of 37 Old 05-12-2012, 08:56 PM
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In brief, no amount of p/r would get my horse over his fear of "the dreaded plastic". I had begun targeting with c/t training for a few days. His first test was to be mist sprayed with water. He was at liberty, not even a halter, I sprayed beside me, c/t, then his hoof to which he walked away, but not far. I could see him trying to figure out how to get the treat. He came back, got his treat and he allowed me to spray him all over. Well, now I just had to try the plastic bag on the whip. I shook it behind me, he didn't move so c/t. I did my level best to get a reaction out of him to no avail but the look on his face was "hurry up and gimme my treat" To help prevent mugging try holding your hand extended to your side so the horse has to turn it's head away to get the treat.
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post #28 of 37 Old 05-12-2012, 11:47 PM
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I think the clicker can be just as good as a well timed and consistent use of a praise word. My dog is actually scared of the noise from the clicker I have. (She hasn't ever heard one and is just kind of funny like that. Even if with the food incentive she doesn't like it.) I just say "good dog" in the same tone and pitch pattern and give the dog a treat, and they catch on to that. Then the praise sooner or later is just as rewarding as the treat was at first, same as clicker training. I load my dogs up on treats a'plenty when I first train them, but I rarely give my horses treats. I don't ever want them to become pushy or search for treats, and with dogs I don't really mind. (Plus they know the "leave it" command so it isn't a constant bother.)

I guess clicker training has never been my cup of tea, but I could see that in the right hands it could be the perfect storm. Plus it is one form of training that literally can be used on any species of animal; from chickens to dolphins.
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post #29 of 37 Old 05-13-2012, 09:44 AM
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Like others have mentioned, the clicker is merely the PREDICTOR of a reward (ooh, I have done something right). It marks the behaviour at the EXACT time that it takes place (so your timing has to be spot on) and then the reward comes after. A good way to work on your clicker timing is to have someone bounce a tennis ball on the ground, and you click every time the ball touches the ground. The person can try and trip you up by grabbing the ball instead of bouncing it again, which will teach you to be judicious in your clicks and wait for behaviours to occur instead of clicking preemptively and marking the wrong thing (which is okay if you do, the beauty of positive reinforcement is that mistakes are easy to fix and there is no damage to your relationship with the horse). But even if you click by mistake, you still have to treat. Like I said, mistakes are easy to fix so don't feel bad if you have to give your horse a freebie.

Before doing any clicker training, it's important to "load" it first. A click by itself means nothing to the horse unless you take the time to tell them what it means. So when I'm introducing a clicker to a dog (I work with dogs, just starting out with horses and haven't clicker trained one yet), I reserve the first 3-5 days to do a few 2-3 minute sessions each day, when all I do is click, treat, click, treat, click, treat. The horse (or in my case, dog) doesn't have to do anything to earn the clicks at this point. Once you know they understand that the click means a treat, you can start applying the clicker to actual training and ask for basic behaviours like targeting the hand, or lifting feet, etc.

Some horses (and dogs too) are sensitive to the click sound and may never really come to like it. There are a lot of different clickers out there, and some of them are harsh sounding, some of them have a softer click. My favourite is the iClick, which you can order from Amazon or directly from Karen Pryor's website. Box clickers that you can buy at Petsmart and the such are definitely harsh sounding, harder to click, and I generally don't prefer or use them because the dogs don't like them.

In Saddlebag's situation, I think you moved too fast with the dreaded plastic bag. If I were working on a similar situation, the horse would just be getting clicked for being in eyesight of the bag sitting on a hook ten feet away, etc. Clicking and treating the horse every time they looked at the bag, to let them know that the bag is what brings the treats. Working up to shaking the bag or touching the horse with it, etc. would take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks depending on how fearful the horse was. The point isn't to do what you can to get a reaction out of the horse, the point is that they never react. Positive reinforcement training would make for boring TV because it's all about keeping the animals under threshold and increasing your criteria very slowly if you're working on things like fear or aggression (which are often the same thing).
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post #30 of 37 Old 05-13-2012, 10:32 AM
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what i really dont understand about clicker training is why your horse has to expect that its getting a treat. i want my animals to do something because i told them to, not because they think they are getting a treat for it. dont get me wrong, i feed treats and love on my horses and they love working and doing their job. i understand how positive reinforcement training works, i incorporate it into all my training, but i dont think pure positive reinforcement training is all that useful.

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Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. ~Albert Einstein
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