Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What Happens After the Click: II

An important piece of clicker training is that we separate the marker from the reinforcement.  Mark.   And then we reach for the reinforcer.  If we reach with the food as we click, that movement becomes a great source of information for our animal, the movement becomes the relevant marker, the click/other intended marker is less valued, less useful, and just some unimportant part of the environment.

Early on, we learn to click and then feed. Click and then feed.  But we get sloppy over time. Sometimes we might start reaching during the click. Or maybe even before.   It takes a little effort and attentiveness to establish the intended pattern for us.  (We had a great example of this at the seminar last week...someone who had done some clicker training but wasn't making the full use of it that she could. She desperately tried to move as she clicked, even when the presenter was trying to physically hold her still!)

We don't want to wait too long after the click before we reach the food, or else we get some messy supersticious behaviors.  If we click, nothing for seconds, then get the reinforcer, our learners won't do very well. They'll also start adding in behaviors between the click and the reinforcer..... things that we do not want chained in and connected to our goal behavior.

I didn't know what this picture was from.  My dog is asleep while I'm driving...and apparently this is on the way home from 4H camp last year...see the sticker on her head?

3 comments:

Canine Behavior Training said...

What if, if instead of worrying about what happens between the click (mark) and the reinforcer, that you always make it the same no matter what behavior you're teaching? I've had great success with just having the dog move toward the reinforcer while it is moving away from the dog. This makes the "mark" the release and tells the dog what activity is good between the mark and getting the reinforcer. Then you just use duration of the behavior before giving the mark. The mark is always the release. AFter the release go get the reinforcer rather then have the reinforcer come to the dog and having the dog do other things waiting for it.

I hope I made some sense.

Kristen said...

Great point and that is an option. It's also how I trained my first two dogs and many shelter/student dogs.

Some of my concerns:
-Not as efficient with the set up time.
- The moving away/out of position does have an impact on the behavior. The person has to be VERY skilled and conscious of placement of reinforcer (Mostly behind dog on stays, moving exercises, heeling... ahead on many agility skills, go outs, etc).

Consistency (whether it's constantly variable or constantly the same) definitely is important and I've heard about cases where the behavior deteriorated when placement of reinforcer changed.

We do some of sending the dog to the reinforcer after the mark with specific types of behaviors and specific types of reinforcers. (toys, food dishes, etc).

Over the seminar weekend I definitely saw benefits of having different markers for "return to handler for the reinforcer" and "Get the reinforcer in the environment" Having the flexibility to do both of those, as well as reinforce in position can be very helpful. This led into a bit of a side talk between the attendees about having different markers to indicate different placement/ways to access reinforcers. More complex. But more information for the dog and ultimately more flexibility on what the humans could do.

Thanks for your great thoughts.

Kristen said...

Great point and that is an option. It's also how I trained my first two dogs and many shelter/student dogs.

Some of my concerns:
-Not as efficient with the set up time.
- The moving away/out of position does have an impact on the behavior. The person has to be VERY skilled and conscious of placement of reinforcer (Mostly behind dog on stays, moving exercises, heeling... ahead on many agility skills, go outs, etc).

Consistency (whether it's constantly variable or constantly the same) definitely is important and I've heard about cases where the behavior deteriorated when placement of reinforcer changed.

We do some of sending the dog to the reinforcer after the mark with specific types of behaviors and specific types of reinforcers. (toys, food dishes, etc).

Over the seminar weekend I definitely saw benefits of having different markers for "return to handler for the reinforcer" and "Get the reinforcer in the environment" Having the flexibility to do both of those, as well as reinforce in position can be very helpful. This led into a bit of a side talk between the attendees about having different markers to indicate different placement/ways to access reinforcers. More complex. But more information for the dog and ultimately more flexibility on what the humans could do.

Thanks for your great thoughts.