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Old 08-21-2006, 08:34 AM
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MK&C MK&C is offline
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Default Clicker Training

Do you use a clicker? If so would you reccomend it for Charlie? Our breeder advised against because she said the dog always thinks theres a reward coming right after doing something. I understand, but can't I just wean him off treats? But I think it's a great idea.
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Old 08-21-2006, 09:26 AM
travis_doggies travis_doggies is offline
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We have tried clicker training with many dogs, and found that it doesn't work. Perhaps it works better on other breeds, but for Ridgebacks it certainly doesn't.
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Old 08-21-2006, 11:11 AM
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Clicker training is based on classical conditioning. Dogs learn by operant and classical conditioning. We all do. That is science. There shouldn't be any debate about it. It works on all mammals from dolphins to llamas to tigers in the zoos (they train them now to be "nice" when they get their blood drawn or other medical procedures where they use to have to anestesize them). They clicker train circus dogs, movie actor dogs, therapy and other service dogs. Some of the best trained dogs are trained with clickers or the clicker concept.

When people say it doesn't work, I'd wager that it is not the method which doesn't work but something important they're leaving out of the method. It takes more than just a scanty amount of study, not a huge amount to get started, but some basic understanding of how dogs learn and the science of training, the ins and outs of the method and some practice. I've heard people say that the dog doesn't like treats, isn't hungry. Well, work with the dog before dinnertime. Deprivation increases the value of a treat. Use better treats. There has to be something that the dog loves. Find out what it is and use it as a motivator. Make it more valuable with a little deprivation. Don't use it all the time for freebies. There are things to do to overcome the objections I often hear.

A Ridgeback is a hound, right? Hounds are not the easiest to train because they're bred to do their "job" quite independent of humans, right? It may be very difficult to find a motivator which out performs anything in the environment which is a motivator to the dog. You may have some serious competition with other things, in other words. But...if the trainer "plays their cards right," taking all factors into consideration, setting the motivator you're using up to be very valuable, starting in a very low to no distraction area, using a variable reward schedule once the dog has a behavior down, gradually adding distractions, I am quite sure a Ridgeback can learn from this too. I mean, if a llama and tiger can learn, why not a Ridgeback? LOL.

MK&C, I highly recommend you spend some time learning how it works. Most people read one little part of it and don't learn the rest and then say it doesn't work. They're, in many cases leaving something out.....I later find out.

I recommend you get a couple of books: Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson and Don't Shoot the Dog by Karen Pryor. Karen is the famous dolphin trainer (I think Sea World) who revolutionalized this highly effective method in the use of dogs.

Your breeder is not a trainer so that source is not reliable as far as an opinion on this goes. A lot of people make statements like that and they don't know anything about it. They grab a clicker and start clicking and the dog doesn't perform and they say it doesn't work. But, there's more to it than that. There's priming the clicker, there are other factors which are ignored.

Quote:
Our breeder advised against because she said the dog always thinks theres a reward coming right after doing something. I understand, but can't I just wean him off treats? But I think it's a great idea.
That statement proves it. You have more common sense than your breeder. YES!!! You click and treat every time at first, while the dog is learning the behavior (or skill) and then you go to a variable reward schedule which actually strengthens the behavior. But you need to really read and understand the whole thing to have the best success, so you know what you're doing. It's incredibly fun for both owner and dog. And training HAS to be fun. You get a dog who thinks better, is smarter, is much more enthusiastic about learning, who learns HOW TO learn. If you make a mistake, it's not damaging as it is when you make a mistake say...with the timing of punishment. There are so many detrimental side effects of punishment. I've used clicker training (sometimes no clicker, just the concept) with my Doberman and I tell you, it's wonderful to see it at work.

His heel was very sloppy and one time, he lagged or he'd forge. I decided to get busy, get out my clicker and clean it up. In one 20-30 minute session, he was looking spiffy. No collar yanks, jerks, scolding, forcing. If he heeled close to well, c/t. Then I'd wait for him to give me better....c/t. If he lagged, no c/t. If he forged, no c/t. When he was right next to me just so, c/t. We kept walking around, turning etc. He was getting the idea. If he wanted the treat, he figured out where he had to be. This was him thinking and figuring it out. It was not me dragging him to me, yanking, punishing. He trained himself! That's just one little example.

So, I hope you'll get those books. If you can't buy them, check in your library. They're wonderful and so explicit.

Good luck. Let us know how it goes.

Here's a great link. Take the time to study this before you start. And keep on studying as you go.

http://www.wagntrain.com/OC/
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Old 08-21-2006, 12:35 PM
travis_doggies travis_doggies is offline
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Doberluv,

You're right, they are hounds, and are very difficult to train - It really depends on the level of training you want. Our dogs sole function is to protect livestock and bounderies, and with clicker training, they are learning to eat from trainers and yourself and other people. With this being said, our dogs have been trained to only eat from my family, you could throw raw meat over the fence, and they will not eat from you.
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Old 08-21-2006, 12:53 PM
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Quote:
and with clicker training, they are learning to eat from trainers and yourself and other people.
You can clicker train, as well, a dog to not eat from anyone but those you choose. The fact that you're using a clicker doens't have anything to do with it.

I think that's a wonderful thing that your dogs do and that they won't eat from strangers. With all the nuts out there, it sure reduces the liklihood of your dog getting poisoned. I knew someone with a Lab once and some creep poisoned him. How sad.

It sounds like you have some good dogs who are doing a fine job of guarding. They are certainly one of the most gorgeous hounds I've ever seen.
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Old 08-21-2006, 12:58 PM
travis_doggies travis_doggies is offline
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Doberluv,


Is your dobie obedient/Gaurd/attack ? How did you train them, as we are getting 2 shortly. How do you train a dobie to eat from a few people? With regard to my post re docking, it seems that we must tell the breeder to dock them for us. Most breeders here clip the ears, personally I prefer them unclipped. What would you recommend?

Sorry for all the questions.

Last edited by travis_doggies; 08-21-2006 at 01:18 PM.
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Old 08-21-2006, 01:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MK&C
Do you use a clicker? If so would you reccomend it for Charlie? Our breeder advised against because she said the dog always thinks theres a reward coming right after doing something. I understand, but can't I just wean him off treats? But I think it's a great idea.
Any dog can be sucessful with a clicker, as long as the handler learns to do it the right way. They will not become dependent on treats. With my Collie what I would do is c/t the first two or three times so she got the idea of what she was supposed to do, then I would give the command and only click, and give her a pat, and only randomly give her a treat.

Now I dont have to use the clicker or the treat, a good girl and a rub is good enough for her.

...Now if only I could teach her to learn past the standard behaviors...lol
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Old 08-21-2006, 01:34 PM
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Oh wow! You're getting two Dobes? Cool! What made you decide on that breed?

My Dobe is wonderful. Dobermans excell at obedience. It's in their genes. LOL. They, as you know were bred to work very closely to their master. They're not particularly independent, more on the dependent side, I'd say and very, very affectionate and into their owners and families. I've had a lot of breeds over the years and I can say hands down, no contest. This is my kind of breed.

I didn't train my Dobe to not eat from other people. I used that to encourage his socialization, to associate friendly people with good things. They need oodles of socialization from a very young age and this was part of how I balanced his normal, healthy suspicion of strangers. He is a wonderful protection dog and really knows the difference between the good guys and the bad guys, normal situations and abnormal. The breed is extremely sensative and intuitive, so aware of every little nuance going on around them in their environment. This is why I've found that clicker training (or the concept....without the clicker) is so effective. They're highly intelligent and do have moments of where they want to learn, but they're sure they have a better way to do it. LOL. That's where you have to get creative. Over all, my Dobe is very, very into learning new things....so eager, enthusiastic and ready to try, very quick to catch onto what you're trying to show them. They are distractable as they're always aware of their environment so when they're young, it's not an easy task to keep them focused. But when they are, they really are.

I personally like the cropped and docked Doberman. There are huge debates over this and I don't want to get one started here because this is a thread about clicker training and I don't want to completely hijack the op's thread.
The breeder should have the ears cropped by an experienced vet who has done many, many crops and whose work she knows. The docking can be done by the breeder if she uses the banding method....no cutting, no pain. But otherwise a vet should do that. There is little to no sensation at the base of the spinal cord at that time (2-3 days of age) as the nervous system is not completely developed yet. If you prefer floppy ears, that is fine....no sense in hassling with all the posting and so forth. The tail can be protected by future injury, fairly common in Dobermans if it is docked. It's out of the way when they do the things they do. They're a very, very active breed, full of vim and vigor and those tails get knocked around a lot if they're not docked.

Back to the clicker training. First you need to teach the dog the "leave it" command. Do you know how to do that? You can do a search here. I think I wrote a good method I read about somewhere on this forum) If you never did this and can't find it, ask again.

To teach your dog not to eat from strangers it would be quite involved. But you can get a stranger or someone your dog doesn't know to help you. He or she offers the dog a rather low value (to start) food...maybe a little kibble from her hand. You have the dog on a leash and a little ways off from you....say on a kitchen counter a few feet away, you have something of very high value....a good piece of steak or chicken. (not too big and not too skimpy) When the person holds out her hand with the food in it, you prevent with the leash the dog from getting it. (You don't have to jerk him back, just have it there in case he doesn't "leave it." You must prevent him in succeeding in getting the treat from the "stranger.") And you say, "leave it." (he has to know what this means) You can use a NRM (no reward marker) ("eh-eh" or "nah")....whatever you use, which means that that is not what I want, here try again. It is not a harsh, punishing vocalization....just, woops, that's not it... try this instead.) When the dog resists the food, you click and grab the steak off the counter and give it to him right away. You teach him, in other words, that to leave the food alone which the stranger is offering is MUCH more rewarding than to take it.

This will need many reptitions of being reinforced. You'll need to practice with different people and different locations. Dogs do not generalize well, so if he does fine in your living room, he may not think it's the same thing at all down the street. Gradually work up to more distractions and different places. It has to become almost a habit with him to not take food from strangers and be reinforced with a high value reward many times.

The reason I think that this positive reinforcement works better is that it has been shown by science that a lot of punishment has bad side effects and that punishment may cause the dog to supress the behavior while in your presence, (because it's all associated with you being there) but not learn self control as well. Clicker training and/or concepts teaches a dog to control his own behavior. He makes choices. You set him up to succeed. If there is always a payoff for correct responses, (and when that's reliable, go to a variable reward schedule) he will tend to develop a habit for that behavior.

I was very careful how I handled Lyric's recall training from early on. It is very solid. He even obeys when in mid chase of an animal; deer, squirrels, you name it. It became habit to obey me on account of always having something wonderful when he did. I think brain pathways are even developed so that between synapses the neurons travel just the way it was set up from the training....as it there is just no other way. At least to some degree.

So, this is a great breed if you like being heavily involved with your dog. They do need lots of exercise and they don't tend to do it without you. LOL. So, I've become quite the hiker. Lyric will go a little ways ahead, but keeps coming back to make sure I'm coming. He's not one to want to venture too far. That's a trait I love. I can't stand it when dogs want to run off and leave you to fight the bears alone. LOL.
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Old 08-21-2006, 01:40 PM
travis_doggies travis_doggies is offline
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Firstly MK&C,

Doberluv made an important point, may I apologise in hijacking your thread.
Doberluv, could I ask you to pm your mail addy to me, as i have loads of questions re dobies.

Thanks.
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Old 08-21-2006, 01:45 PM
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I'd be happy to help as much as I can via p.m. There are lots of good sites too online. Go to the DPCA for one place to start. I'll see what things I might have saved as well.
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