Different ways of training.

shamrock2021

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I was watching a video of YouTube about clicker training and positive reinforcement . Which is training with feed or treats. What your opinion on these different ways training .
 

VioletStripe

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A dressage rider friend of mine swears by it, and actually put the clicker on the end of her schooling whip to do it during her schooling and training in conjunction with the classic pats/strokes/releases. She says it's a great tool as part of the larger picture, but definitely needs time and consistency - not something I could commit to as I keep mine on part livery!
 

tallyho!

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My honest onion?

Positive reinforcement is good but I just can't see the point in clicker training. I've not trained an awful lot of horses but two were unhandled without anything but just my own voice and maybe the odd treat... a good old scratch and a rub work equally well.

I was taught to be quite hard on horses and firm when I was young and whilst I can see where this comes in and has its uses, I've since realised that you can just talk to the beasts sometimes and remarkably it's worked!
 

HollyWoozle

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I haven't done any clicker training myself (haven't done much training in fact, haha) but I am all for anything which uses positive reinforcement really, if it's effective. I was thinking about this lately as I have been flushing out my horse's mouth after a tooth extraction... I thought I had no chance at all and it was very difficult to start, but I really worked hard on my patience and keeping it positive and I think we've done an OK job. I mentioned it on Facebook in the beginning (just posted a funny photo of her looking unimpressed) and someone, albeit abroad, immediately suggested an ear twitch to get the job done! Really made me stop and think about the different trains of thought.
 

Pearlsasinger

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Clicker training really is about the timing more than anything. I used to think it was a peculiar way to train an animal and really couldn't see the point of having a clicker when you have a tongue/fingers/voice. Then our RC invited a Senior Guide Dog Trainer from another country to judge a fun Dog Show. I think she had gone to school with the Treasurer before moving abroad. After the classes she gave a short demo of clicker training with a member's dog, who had obviously never met it before. That made perfect sense, you don't need a clicker but you do need good timing. Then our young Appy got a foot injury and became very worried about having that foot handled. Sister clicker trained her back to her usual compliance with herself, farrier and vet. We have used it to introduce her to new things as she is a sensitive soul and have used it to overcome the very determined cob's objections to the very few things that she does object to, such as fly spray.
 

planete

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Clicker training really comes into its own when you want to 'shape' a complex behaviour. It was developed by wild animal trainers, of sea lions and dolphins I believe. You cannot explain to a dolphin that you want him to jump out of the water and through a hoop but you can mark every small movement that gets you nearer what you want to achieve until the dolphin is jumping through the hoop. The click can happen at the same moment the movement is offered, followed by the reward, whereas a reward alone would happen after the movement and lack the precise timing needed. By breaking down the desired action into very small segments you eventually achieve the whole sequence. Clicker training as practised by many people is just a fancy way to do reward based training.
 

PapaverFollis

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Shaping a behaviour with a clicker can be extremely powerful when done well. The point of the click it to be a mark that is absolutely clear and precise in it's timing.

I have however tried to train people to train their dogs with a clicker and actually think that for many people and dog combos "good dog" then rewards will work just as well and be far less confusing. The amount of people who seem to understand then start clicking the darn thing at the dog like it's a remote control... 😆
 

Pearlsasinger

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Clicker training really comes into its own when you want to 'shape' a complex behaviour. It was developed by wild animal trainers, of sea lions and dolphins I believe. You cannot explain to a dolphin that you want him to jump out of the water and through a hoop but you can mark every small movement that gets you nearer what you want to achieve until the dolphin is jumping through the hoop. The click can happen at the same moment the movement is offered, followed by the reward, whereas a reward alone would happen after the movement and lack the precise timing needed. By breaking down the desired action into very small segments you eventually achieve the whole sequence. Clicker training as practised by many people is just a fancy way to do reward based training.

Yes it's the breaking things down into small steps along with the timing that creates the success.:)
 

gunnergundog

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Shaping a behaviour with a clicker can be extremely powerful when done well. The point of the click it to be a mark that is absolutely clear and precise in it's timing.

I have however tried to train people to train their dogs with a clicker and actually think that for many people and dog combos "good dog" then rewards will work just as well and be far less confusing.
The advantage of the clicker however is that it is a constant whereas 'good dog' is subject to both emotion and intonation which adds in variability for the dog, which leads to confusion and unpredictability.
 
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Clicker training is an excellent way of conditioning when done properly. I am a big fan of it and have used to work with dogs and parrots frequently. Not ever really tried it with horses.
I have yet to meet any animal that doesn't take well to it....problems encountered are almost always down to the human ;)
 

PapaverFollis

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The advantage of the clicker however is that it is a constant whereas 'good dog' is subject to both emotion and intonation which adds in variability for the dog, which leads to confusion and unpredictability.
Well yes, of course... in fact, exactly what I said in the first paragraph of my post....

My point being that that level of precision and consistency is not really necessary for the average owner and the average dog. If I was teaching puppy classes again I'd hold off on the actual clicker and get people using a distinct marker word instead. Without necessarily going into the theoretical and explaining that it was a marker word, just get them to do it and form a habit. Clickers and operant conditioning theory can be very confusing for the humans. As I said the number of people that despite careful explanation and demonstration and correction will still try to use the clicker as a command or think it if FOR getting the dog's attention etc is quite amazing. It's not everyone and many people also pick it up really well. But I don't think it is needed and it it perfectly possible to train a pet dog kindly and successfully without it.

I train the horse using a marker word and she responds to her marker word with a whinny 😂
 

Gloi

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I taught my old pony to fetch using clicker training but nothing actually useful. I keep meaning to do it with the youngster but haven't yet. I need to discipline myself more.
 

Courbette

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It can be incredibly useful. I have seen it be used to teach a mature horse to canter under saddle and then have used it to refine the canter on my old loan horse. It can be used to complement other training methods and my old trainer used it to refine advanced movements. I only have limited experience myself but I used to reward any sort of canter depart, then looked to refine that to a quality transition and then to a couple of steps etc until the horse got the idea and I then used it as an occasional reward. I’d probably be sceptical of clicker training if I hadn’t seen how it can be used so successfully and because the timing of the reward is so precise it is very easy to communicate to the horse what they have done well. You can also wean them off treats so they don’t get a treat for every click but recognise it as praise that may be rewarded with food but not every time.
 

Wishfilly

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I have a friend from uni who now works as a zoo keeper. She has trained giraffes and rhinos via clicker training to accept foot trimming and vaccination (among other things) without the need for sedation. She says the clicker is useful because it is always consistent and can easily be used to mark a series of small behaviours working towards the end result. It can also be used at a distance, which isn't the case with e.g. a scratch.

She rides a bit, and thinks that a lot of people expect a lot of horses without ever clearly communicating what they want (which I wouldn't disagree with).

I think there are scenarios where clicker training would be really useful with a horse, and I'd actually quite like someone to teach me how to do it well!
 

GG13

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I had never used clicker training until last summer when I got a semi-feral companion pony. He was extremely needle shy and my vet recommended I try clicker training to help as his reaction was so severe. I didn’t use an actual ‘clicker’ but made a clicking sort of noise with my tongue as I could be even quicker. Plus Initially I needed both my hands to hold and ‘jab’.
It worked extremely well and by the next jab a few weeks later he stood perfectly.
 
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