Saturday, November 20, 2010

Clicker Training? Marker Training? The difference?

Earlier this week, someone posted this on several lists. The poster wondered if there was a difference and if so, what is that difference.

I haven't read all of the replies, but, I did get through quite a few. The general consensus was that clicker training is about using any sort of marker-noise to indicate that reinforcement is coming.

And it's hard, because, technically, theoretically, in a perfect world, it really is the same sort of thing. Use any marker to indicate reinforcement is coming. Gradually increase criteria.

But, realistically, I've found that people using verbal markers typically are doing something quite different from the typical clicker training.

Common themes:
-- These people often do not also use clickers.
-- The marker is NOT always followed by food. Usually, yes, and during training sessions, mostly. The trainer at hand does not always notice this. I've found myself doing the same thing with my verbal markers.
-- Many of the people using this...cite that you can't use a clicker in the ring/etc...and so verbal markers are better. Completely missing the point that 'the ring' is not the place to do this sort of training. Have a different type of marker for that. Please. The point of the clicker is NOT to take it in the ring.
-- People using verbal markers often do not have good, clear, training plans ...using approximations to reach the final goal.
-- Most do not 'get' clicker training.

I've had this come up in classes a lot, people who have been training for a while, know quite a bit, and are sure using a verbal marker is just as good as a clicker. And it can be.

If we use it the same way.


Crystal said...

You can't really use a marker in the ring, either, though. Especially if you're pairing it with food every time.

Kristen said...

That shows how clear I was....

You're VERY right and it's one of those things that always makes me thing... "Do you understand this clicker training thing?"

A clicker-type marker SHOULD be paired with a primary every. single. time.

But the time someone is competing, theoretically you are way past the stages where you need a marker-primary for those behaviors.

And you definitely shouldn't use a verbal marker in the ring just because you can. It can/does/will deteriorate the power of the marker.

Crystal said...

Agreed, of course. :) I was mostly responding to this:
Many of the people using this...cite that you can't use a clicker in the ring/etc...and so verbal markers are better.

Which indicates, like you said, that the person doesn't really understand how to use ANY marker. Or uses it in a completely alien-to-me way. A verbal marker in rally MIGHT make sense, especially in APDT where you CAN use treats.

I have two verbal markers, actually. One is equivalent to a click, and one is... I don't know, like half cue, half marker. I said "here" so many times as I gave Maisy a treat in heel position that if I say it, she'll move to heel position, and be very animated.

But the point stands that you can't always use a verbal marker in the ring either.

Kristen said...

You're very right.

There are quite a few activities were verbal cues are not as limited as obedience-type activities too, regardless... it's not the same as a clicker-type marker!