Friday, July 8, 2011

Did you know the importance of timing in clicker training dogs?

Timing of the click or the “conditioned reinforcer” is always emphasized repeatedly on any article related to clicker training. You can also say that clicker training is all about precision timing. “You get what you click – not what you want” says renowned animal trainer Bob Bailey . The clicking action in clicker training is like taking a snap immediately when your dog performs a desired behavior. So if you are late by even a second, you will end up reinforcing the wrong behavior in your dog. Total disaster !

Suppose you are teaching your dog to sit down using clicker training, you must click precisely when the dog’s bottom touches the ground and not when he has already sat down or when he’s standing. Then, if you are teaching your dog to stand up, you must click the dog immediately when the dog is in the standing posture and not when he’s lying down or when he has already stood up.

Clicking with precision is a fine motor skill that you must practice and perfect. It’s nothing but a perfect co-ordination between your eyes and your thumb. So before you go ahead and start clicker training your dog, you must practice this skill to perfection. Though you can practice it in many ways, I will tell you 2 easy ways to perfect this skill.

Clicker Timing Practice Exercises

  1. You can try out this simple exercise to perfect your clicking time. Ask your friend to throw a ball on to the wall, and try to click when the ball touches the wall. Practice this until you can click with precision, i.e. at the exact moment when the ball touches the wall.
  2. Or you can ask your friend to do multiple sitting down sessions for you so that you can click at the moment when he sits. Use your imagination and you will find several ways to practice and perfect this skill.
If you are too bad at the timing part, you can also click a bit earlier than late, because it has been observed that when you click a bit early the click will sound exactly at the moment when the dog does the behavior or else your dog would have already started performing a behavior. Either ways you are benefited by clicking early than doing the mistake of clicking late. But precision in timing is highly recommended for clicker training to be efficient.

For the clicker training sessions to be highly efficient you must click and treat your dog when your dog makes an eye contact and avoid calling or luring your dog for a training session. Luring will only help in reinforcing that behavior in your dog while it was being lured. Later on the luring will have less or no effect on the dog since it reinforces the behavior while your dog is being lured.

Charging the clicker

Before you start with clicker training you must click and treat randomly without reinforcing any behavior, which is known as classical conditioning in psychology. This is known as charging the clicker, where the dog associates the sound of clicker to something positive i.e. treat. Eventually the clicking sound itself is enough to switch your dog into training mode and the dog will be all excited by looking at you waiting to learn something.

No comments:

Post a Comment