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Hello.

I've heard of many people having success training their family dog with a clicker.
However, I've purchased my dog from a guard dog breeder and am wondering if anyone in similar situations have tried training with a clicker?

Thank you
 

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You don't really train "with" a clicker, per se. If you subscribe to Clicker Training, the clicker is what is used as the "marker" which tells the dog he is right and a treat reward is forthcoming. You still have your choice of commands and methods like freeshaping vs. luring, etc.

I do a lot of marker training but don't always use a clicker. It's not quite the same (though some argue this point). There are some skills where I prefer to actually use a clicker as the marker for various reasons, but for most things since I am familiar with marker training I use a word instead of a clicker.
 

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You don't really train "with" a clicker, per se. If you subscribe to Clicker Training, the clicker is what is used as the "marker" which tells the dog he is right and a treat reward is forthcoming. You still have your choice of commands and methods like freeshaping vs. luring, etc.

I do a lot of marker training but don't always use a clicker. It's not quite the same (though some argue this point). There are some skills where I prefer to actually use a clicker as the marker for various reasons, but for most things since I am familiar with marker training I use a word instead of a clicker.
Thank you Liesje.
For someone who is not familiar with marker training, would your recommend it?
 

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Thank you Liesje.
For someone who is not familiar with marker training, would your recommend it?
Anything you do to get your dogs attention to let them know that you are pleased with its behavior would be considered a marker. I found for me personally that I couldnt click fast enough. I mark behavior with the word yes said in a different way than I would normally use the word... It doesnt sound like a conversational yes. For other people the clicker makes the most sense and they are able to mark the behavior very quickly. I am just not one of those people.

As you start training you will find what works best for you.
 

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I use a marker word rather than an actual clicker. It tells the dog he's done the right thing and that a reward is coming. It works when the dog is in a state of mind to care about the reward. A dog that is too distracted wont care about getting food and a clicker would not be the highest priority there.
 

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Thank you Liesje.
For someone who is not familiar with marker training, would your recommend it?
Definitely! I use it all the time, even without realizing it. My marker work is "yes". I say it in a pretty neutral voice (I don't get overly excited because sometimes I'm building "chains" of behaviors and don't want a more excited voice to interrupt the dog). It's not the same as praise, though praise is crucial too. A marker helps you communicate more accurately with the dog.

For example, right now I'm training my small dog to jump up on my left hip so I can catch her and carry her around. To start this trick, you sit on a chair and first have the dog jump up onto your lap. Each time my dog jumps and lands on my lap I say "yes" the instant all four feet hit my lap, then I reach over to a bowl of treats and hand her one. I could just not say anything and give her a treat, but using the marker allows me to "mark" the behavior I want (all four feet up on my lap, not just nuzzling me with her head or putting her front feet up) at the moment she does it. The marker also lets her know that the reward (treat) is coming. It's a lot easier to say "yes" the instant your dog is correct than have a treat in their mouth at that instant.

Another example is that I'm training the same dog a box turn for flyball. Right now we're at the point where I make a hand gesture in the direction of the flyball box which cues her to launch at it and do a turn and then when she comes off the box she gets a food treat or a toy reward. What I really want is for all four feet to be up on the box in a certain position, so as she's doing the turn I say "yes" when she's on the box, but I don't interrupt the turn to give her the treat, she gets it once she launches off the box.

I also use my marker in impromptu situations to mark when the dog makes a good choice. For example if we're out on a walk and another dog starts barking at my dog and my dog ignores that dog and looks at me instead, I'll say "yes" and then dig out a treat. I don't always plan for these moments and have treats at the ready, but since she understands the marker word means "that was correct, now you get a treat" I can use the marker and then search my pockets for a reward, or praise, or play a little game.

Again the marker is different from praise as a reward because you can use your marker in the middle of a behavior chain whereas typically you praise your dog at the end as a reward. Think of a behavior like a formal retrieve - dog sits in heel, I throw a dumbbell, dog waits for the fetch command, on the fetch command he runs out, picks up the dumbbell, runs back and sits in front of me holding the dumbbell - that's actually a fairly complex "chain" of many behaviors. Say my dog is struggling with picking up the dumbbell correctly. If we do a formal retrieve and he has an awesome pickup, I can say "yes" right at that moment and he's still expected to complete the rest of the behavior chain and get his reward (food, toy, praise) at the end, but I've used my marker word to mark a specific piece of the behavior chain. I do this in agility too. If we're doing a course of 10 obstacles and #5 has a difficult entry and my dog executes correctly I can say "yes" right then but still finish the course and reward.

Anyway, the way to start marker training is to choose your marker (word or clicker or....) and just have your dog sit in front of you. Give the marker and give him a tiny treat. Do this over and over like 50 times in a row. You have to condition the dog that the marker = reward. After that I do something really simple, like I say my dog's name and the second he acknowledges it (looks at me) I mark and reward. This is called "charging" the marker. Once you start training using a marker, for the first few weeks or even months you want to go back and "charge" your marker 10 times or so at the beginning of each training session.
 

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I feel I am too uncoordinated to use a clicker.
I prefer using combination of voice and hand signals.
You would still use voice commands and hand signals with a clicker. The clicker just marks the behavior and tells the dog that they did it right and a reward is coming, after you've cued the dog to do something.

A marker can also be used to "capture" and reinforce uncued behaviors that the dog offers up spontaneously - the more they get rewarded for doing something the more they do it, and for shaping complex behaviors incrementally.

If you're not actively training a new behavior, or increasing difficulty of a previously learned behavior by generalizing to new situations or adding distance, duration, or increased distractions, you don't need a marker of any kind, clicker or verbal.
 

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You would still use voice commands and hand signals with a clicker. The clicker just marks the behavior and tells the dog that they did it right and a reward is coming, after you've cued the dog to do something.

A marker can also be used to "capture" and reinforce uncued behaviors that the dog offers up spontaneously - the more they get rewarded for doing something the more they do it, and for shaping complex behaviors incrementally.

If you're not actively training a new behavior, or increasing difficulty of a previously learned behavior by generalizing to new situations or adding distance, duration, or increased distractions, you don't need a marker of any kind, clicker or verbal.
Sorry to hijack the thread, but do you think a clicker would help with barking at the UPS or FedEx deliveries? Would I use it as a distraction and then reward? This is the one behavior we have a difficult time modifying.
 

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The clicker wouldn't be a distraction because it doesn't command or cue anything, it's simply a marker after-the-fact. Otherwise, yes, no reason you can't start marking and reinforcing good behavior at the window/door.
 

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Sorry to hijack the thread, but do you think a clicker would help with barking at the UPS or FedEx deliveries? Would I use it as a distraction and then reward? This is the one behavior we have a difficult time modifying.
^What Lies said. :)
 
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