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Discussion Starter #1
We are getting ready to attend our 4th (out of 6) beginning training class. The class is a conventional training classes that uses positive reinforcement and food lures...no clickers.

However, I'm very interested in trying clicker training. My question is whether I can do some clicker training at the same time we're doing conventional training. My plan was to do the clicker training with behaviors we're NOT going to learn/work on in the training class because I think that might be too confusing to our dog.

Do you think this would be okay? Or do you think we should wait until after the training class is finished?
 

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I think you could probably go either way. I would probably wait, just so there wouldn't be the chance of confusion in the class, and clicker training takes some preparation. You could get the clicker and read a book or two and even practice your timing in the meantime so that when you start, you'll be ready.

But overall, yeah, I think clicker training and convintional training work fine together. I do them both.
 

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Is that really conventional training? I always think of molding & praise as "conventional" rather than food lures and treat rewards.

Anyway. Why not take the clicker with you? Your trainer shouldn't have trouble with that.
 

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We are getting ready to attend our 4th (out of 6) beginning training class. The class is a conventional training classes that uses positive reinforcement and food lures...no clickers.

However, I'm very interested in trying clicker training. My question is whether I can do some clicker training at the same time we're doing conventional training. My plan was to do the clicker training with behaviors we're NOT going to learn/work on in the training class because I think that might be too confusing to our dog.

Do you think this would be okay? Or do you think we should wait until after the training class is finished?
Forget the dog, think about yourself, as you are the guiding light for your dog. 1st finish the class and work your dog 30 days using what you already have learned from your new class so you can get a training base and learn more about your dog's ability to inhale the new lessons taught. As your partnership with your dog grows and you have more dog training expertise with what you already know you can then start adding new techniques/methods.
 

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Are you using a bridge word like "yes"? If so you're likely already doing marker training. You probably haven't shaped a behavior, but shaping always involves some confusion on the dogs part, regardless of when you start or what other methods your using.
 

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The only problem with doing clicker and 'traditional' training that I have found really only applies when you are using a correction (verbal or physical) and free-shaping. You're never going to do both at the same time, but the mindset it requires is tough, because for one, you want the dog to offer behaviors and try new things, and the other you want the dog to NOT offer new things. You can use a no-reward-marker while shaping to head off entire series of behavior (for example, if you're shaping a go-out, you might give a no-reward-marker the first time the dog tried lying down, as you aren't going to reward any behavior in that session that starts with a down) but you don't use a correction in any shape or form- there aren't any wrong answers, just less right ones.

I think you CAN use clicker and traditional training, but frequently you'll end up with a dog for whom free shaping is not a very strong skill. (This isn't always a huge drawback, especially if you're willing to use luring and possbly some molding - there ARE things where free shaping is by far the fastest way to teach a behavior, but there's almost always an alternative of SOME sort.) For my mixed and crossover dogs, I find that the clicker lets me be VERY precise for marking slight improvements of behavior, and fine-tune things, but that my dogs enjoy the free-shaping games less.

I have one pure-clicker dog (Lizzie) and the rest of my guys are combination trained. For me, that's what works best. I *do* teach a pure OC (I can't cal lit pure clicker, as I let people use other markers) and I think clicker has a lot of really strong points- but I don't think it's the end-all of training. (I think OC is the end all of training - but OC isn't limited to clicker, and you use the principles of OC whether you're training with a clicker and a bag of treats or an e-collar and tennis balls- your quadrents are just different.)

For many folks training their first dog (especially in pet manners!) lure and reward is frequently an easier way to start. It requires a lot less dexterity as you have less stuff in your hands to juggle, and I think in a lot of ways the timing is a little more forgiving. SO yes, definitely give it a try.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks so much for everyone's replies. To clarify, Mayzie is our 2nd dog and so I'm really familiar with "traditional" training. And Mayzie is catching on to it very quickly.

I'm doing a lot of reading about clicker training and trying to get my head around the concept...especially the part about not adding the cue word until the dog has the behavior down fairly well.

What I am specifically thinking about using it for right now is to desensitize and counter-condition Mayzie to other dogs. When another dog is approaching us, she tenses up and won't take treats. It's like she's unsure of the other dog's intentions. She's generally okay once they meet but she has lunged on a couple of occasions. I know this is a fear response and I want to work on changing her feelings about other dogs approaching.

I'm currently reading "Click to Calm" and it seems like a great way to shape her behavior in this regard. Since I wouldn't be using it right away to actually shape an "action" per se, I think it could work to do both at the same time. But maybe I should start with something easier.

Ack! I'm so confused.
 

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Click To Calm, an excellent training aide. I'm just finishing it up myself.

As for me, I think you can combine the 2 with no issues at all, you won't confuse the dog at all. In fact, when you do use the clicker, he will catch on faster. I really notice that with my dogs, and will be starting Sonny on it soon, have been doing some charging of the clicker the last couple days.
 

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I train using a balanced method, that fits the individual dog. I use a CR word a lot of the times, but I used a clicker for stuff like retrieves and eye contact, some heeling, etc. You have to fade the clicker and since I compete, I like to use a word that I can take in the ring with me. I use shaping some, but not a whole, whole bunch. I'll never be a 100% positive/operant trainer.

I wouldn't worry about taking the clicker to class. Use a word, or just learn to read your dog well and modify the training program to fit that dog. Some dogs need more, some less. Like wvasko said, you will learn more over time, and will add in stuff later on down the road.
 
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