Rover Achiever | Clicker Expo
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Clicker Expo

Clicker Expo


I’ve just returned from an exciting 3 day conference on clicker training called Clicker Expo. My mind is saturated with new ideas and I’m inspired to apply my knowledge towards training dogs better.

The top 10 gems that I learned at Clicker Expo:

1.  It’s not about shaping impressive behaviours, it’s about impressive shaping of behaviours.

2. Learning is always taking place. You need to manage all your dog’s learning opportunities. When he is learning, he needs to be fully engaged. When he’s not learning, he needs to be tuned out. Whether it’s breaking eye contact with him, transporting him to a mat, your dog should know when he is ‘on’ and ‘off’.

3. Planning a training session, recording the results, analyzing the success rate, having a plan B for mishaps, are all skills advanced trainers implement daily.

4. You can never break a learning process into too many small steps. Only raise criteria when your dog gets the behaviour right 5 times. If he makes a mistake start over. Do short sessions. Count out 20 treats before each session. Stop when you finish the 20 and reassess.

5. Your dog should always be happy and confident while in training otherwise you need to modify what you are doing.

6. Withholding a click and throwing food to get your dog out of the training zone, is a totally acceptable way to restart a session. Better to withhold a click, then to click the wrong behavior.

7. Treating in position, in the intended path, throwing the treat, withholding the click but still throwing the treat, are all dependent on the training situation. Place the reinforcement to enhance the development and movement of learning.

8. The first steps in a shaping session should be focused on the muscle movement necessary for the behaviour.

9. Everything in life is a behaviour chain. Behaviour chains are not simply Antecedent -> Behavior ->Consequence, but instead Cue 1 -> Behavior 1 -> Cue 2  -> Behavior 2, etc. A behavior chain can be successfully broken by interrupting the dog when he is doing the undesirable behavior by, asking him to sit, waiting 3 seconds and then asking him to do 3 other behaviors. This is a method used by Pat Miller (I need to do some more research on it.)

10. Success is measured by the rate of reinforcement, not speed at which final behavior is achieved.

4 Comments
  • Andre
    Posted at 03:55h, 25 March Reply

    On #9… I think the best way to decide whether or not you have successfully “broken” a superstitious behavior chain is whether or not the unwanted behavior is maintained, increases, or decreases. if it is not decreasing, then you have not broken the superstitious chain. So, the wait, sit, and 3 other behaviors – that may be enough for Dog 1, but not necessarily Dog 2. Depends on whether the 3 second Sit is in itself a behavior, in which case the chain has just continued.

  • Andre
    Posted at 03:57h, 25 March Reply

    Further on #9, Kathy Sdao would tell you from marine mammal training, as soon as the wrong behavior occurs, she would suggest a Least Reinforcing Stimulus, which is just 3-5 seconds of nothing. I really don’t understand why one would ask for a Sit first. if Sit was trained +R, then it is a reinforcer, and the Sit would be reinforcing to the extra behavior. Then the 3 second wait would either punish the sit, or just be a 3 second sit stay, and the chain continues. Maddening!

    • Julie
      Posted at 12:24h, 25 March Reply

      Yeah I agree. Bizarre!

  • Emily
    Posted at 13:45h, 06 April Reply

    I think Pat Miller is going to be at PABA… I’m going to ask about this if I get the chance!!

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