24 Mar Clicker Expo
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.