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Discussion Starter #1
Hi there,

So I've started doing some clicker training with our dogs. I've read Click to Calm and Control Unleashed, and am currently reading Click for Joy.

I think I'm starting to "get it" but have a question I need clarification on because I feel like I'm reading two conflicting things.

On one hand, I understand that clicker training works on the basis of offered behaviors. I believe it was in Control Unleashed that she said to click for pretty much anything and everything, especially at the beginning.

But on the other hand, if you want to shape a particular behavior, shouldn't you start the training session with that behavior as your goal? Or should you just take what the dog gives you and go from there?

AND if you have a specific behavior as your goal, how the heck do you get that out of the dog without luring or commands?

ACK! I'm obviously very confused on this particular aspect of it. Help!!!
 

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When I want to shape a particular behavior, I will definitely use luring of some sort to get it started. For example, to get a dog to lick his lips, you might put a tiny dab of peanut butter or cream cheese on his lip and click and treat when he licks it. To get a "beg" behavior, I would use a treat lure (c&t) and then fade out the treat to just my fingers and THEN start the waiting game. There are more ideas in the Monthly tricks threads. :)
 

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But on the other hand, if you want to shape a particular behavior, shouldn't you start the training session with that behavior as your goal? Or should you just take what the dog gives you and go from there?
Yes & yes. Your goal is the behavior you want from the dog. Shaping means taking what the dog will offer and approximating the behavior until you've reached the behavioral goal. For example, a play bow may start with a dip of the head.

AND if you have a specific behavior as your goal, how the heck do you get that out of the dog without luring or commands?
This is very important to clicker training so keep this in mind...you click for behavior, but reward for position. Back to the play bow example...you would click for a dip in the dog's head but reward (basically a lure) at the next approximation of the behavior. So where you offer the reward is one way to move towards a goal.

That means if you want a play bow, click the head dip, but offer the reward where his head would have to be at the next approximation of the behavior, and maybe where he would also need to extend his front paws (like close to his chest). Do not reward above the dogs head or at some other position that would counter a play bow (you can, but it will take longer).

It depends on the behavior too, how you can get from nothing to something. But as you improve your mechanical skill in shaping, it will always be important to remember, click for behavior - reward for position.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you both so much for your input! It helped a lot!

FourisCompany...I'm relieved to find out that I CAN actually use a lure occasionally. It seems that with some clicker trainers, "lure" is a four-letter word. I'm sure the key is to fade the lure out quickly.

it will always be important to remember, click for behavior - reward for position.
Wow! I feel like a light went on when I read this. I had to read it twice to make sure I got it...but it makes so much sense! Last night during our training session, I made sure that I did this and I can see how it will help move things along.

I'm kind of amazed at CT, really. We went through a 6-week non-CT obedience class with Mayzie recently and although she "kinda" got what we were doing, her "error rate" was pretty high. But since I've been doing CT with her, it seems like it all came together for her and she totally gets it now. Even though I'm sure my own "error rate" is pretty high since I'm just learning myself.
 

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There is still more to learn about training and clicker training so keep reading :) I will try to explain a bit.

But on the other hand, if you want to shape a particular behavior, shouldn't you start the training session with that behavior as your goal? Or should you just take what the dog gives you and go from there?
You always start the behavior with a goal in mind. The reason in Control Unleashed that they say click for all behaviors is to help you get the dog on the right track to making Good Habbits so you do not have to deal with any of the bad. It is called SHAPING. Shapping is when you take what the dog is offering you if it is even remotley close to what you want as the goal. For example I have clicker trained my dog to go and get his leash for walk time. I started out clicking and treating my dog for smelling his leash. As he figured out that is what he was getting clicked for I stopped clicking for that behavior. I wanted him to do more. So I sat back and watched him try to figure it out.- You have to make them frustrated enough to try something else.....if they stop trying to figure it out, make it easier. His next try was scooping it with his nose so I started clicking for that. He got good at that so I stopped clicking and watched again. Next he figured out to grab it with his teeth so I started clicking for that and so on. SHAPING is about sitting back and being patient. You do nothing to influence your dog - Shaping is all free thinking on your dogs part, you take what is close to what you want and work him up to YOUR goal. Shaping takes alot of patients and does not happen in one session. It makes your dog smarter as it teaches him to problem solve and think for himself.

AND if you have a specific behavior as your goal, how the heck do you get that out of the dog without luring or commands?
SHAPING is how you train your dog to do the more difficult tasks without luring. Your dog does not come knowing english so you can give commands all you want, but until you teach him what that word means it just falls on deaf ears.

Control Unleash is really an advanced book. I would work with the click for joy right now and read all you can about clicker training. Click to Calm is more behavioral related and not much about the training though it is a really good read.

Best of luck
 

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I agree that CU is an advanced book and you should probably not be trying stuff in it at this time until you get a better handle on the basics. I found CU very helpful as I wanted to be able to do the LAT (Look at that) game with the reactive dogs I work with, but it's "clicker logic" is advanced not only for the trainer, but the dog as well. I had to rethink that until I had established clicker saviness in the dogs before trying it.

Starting with the basics (Click for Joy) helps you work on your timing and delivery AND helps the dog to become clicker savvy. Even shaping can be difficult in the beginning if the dog does not yet really understand what the click means beyond a reward..as opposed to "the click means that whatever you were doing at that exact moment" earns the reward.

Good for you for giving CT a try. It's a really amazing process and can really build an enthusiasm for training in you and your dog!
 

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Wow! Your replies have all been SO helpful. Thank you!

Shaping takes alot of patients and does not happen in one session.
This is definitely something I need to keep reminding myself. I really think this is the hardest thing for ME to learn.

It's a really amazing process and can really build an enthusiasm for training in you and your dog!
I did "traditional" lure training with my other dog and I feel like we hit a wall in training. Learning about CT has made me feel like the possibilities are endless with regard to what my dogs can learn...really only limited by my own abilities. It's interesting because my 1st dog is having a much harder time with it than our new dog. He's very smart but I think he's so used to us telling him what to do that he doesn't get that it's okay to offer a behavior rather being directed to do something.
 

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You're exactly right. It is harder for dogs that haven't been raised on CT, so they're waiting for a command while you're waiting for them to offer. But they do come around to it. I didn't CT my first 2 girls when they were puppies, but they picked it up. Cara is getting to be a real pro. In our training sessions, I just get the clicker and she starts offering behaviors that she's learned before. :) It helps if they're food motivated.
 
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