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Discussion Starter #1
Couldn't find a thread or posts on clicker training vs. reward based. (hope I got that right)
Anyway, Rudy and I are in Obedience 1 at a new training facility and the trainer uses clickers to "mark" the behavior and then reward. I understand but just wanted some of your input since I've been using Susan Garett's techniques with him.
On a side note he and I got horribly lost finding the new facility even though I left early just in case. There were 19 dogs in the class! The instructor must have been peeved with me arriving late because later when she was demonstrating It's Your Choice, which Rudy and I have been doing for months successfully, she turned to me and asked if he could do it since I didn't sit on the floor to do it (at my age if I got down there with nothing to brace myself on to get up I'd still be there) I said yes he could and we'd been doing it for months and then she said, "But, can he do it here" so I showed her! Ha! Rudy did it perfectly! Thoughts? So far I'm not enamored with this place.
 

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The first puppy class I took with Renn, he knew all the basics they were training but I mainly went for the socialization with other dogs & people. The instructor was very good with those of us who were older and took that into consideration. We had one woman who could not walk around the arena with her dog and the instructor did it whenever she could. I probably would have gone to the instructor at the end of class and told her how lost you got even though you left to get there early. Its very disruptive when people come in late and she could have been burnt in the past with that, you physically can not get on the floor. (I can't either) 19 dogs in one class is way too many for me. I personally would be good with 6-8 and no more than 10.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I was going to explain how I got lost to her at the end of the class but so many newbies swarmed her that I thought better to do it early next time. Their website had comments about people loving the smaller classes and then I get there and find 19! I am hoping that going forward that I keep an open mind and learn. I know I've learned something from the other in person trainings I've taken plus from Recallers. Being an owner is a lifelong learning experience! At the very least Rudy enjoys seeing other dogs.
 

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19 dogs in one class is way too many for me. I personally would be good with 6-8 and no more than 10.
Long ago I signed up for a beginning obedience class and when I got there it was a LOT of dogs in a small space. When people complained the instructor quite calmly said "Oh, many of you will drop out and then the space will be big enough". I did not go back, so I guess he was right.

I have never enjoyed beginning obedience classes, they are in my opinion not about learning obedience, but about you and your dog learning how to stay together and try to keep attention on each other around other people and dogs, most of the dogs being wild and many of the people not being able to control them very well. This is something that has to be learned if you are going to continue in any kind of classes, but I think there are better ways. Unfortunately, most clubs require you to take them if you want to do anything else there.

As for clicker training, it is reward based. There are many reward based training methods, clicker is one. I like it, because I find that my dogs get really engaged in it, and become participants rather than subjects. You (and they) can look at it just as much as them training you to give them treats as us training them to do things.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Hi Reraven! I think of you often when I do Rudy's nails! He's a good boy about it now except that I think he is ticklish! I totally agree. Since I've paid good money for six classes and they offer so many avenues to pursue I'm going to ride this one out. There was a huge variety of ages and stages of people in this first class! From 18 yrs. old to looked like a 90 year old but most dogs were very well behaved. Of course, there was one that wasn't and I attribute that to a poor choice of breed and the use of a retractable leash! This woman had a not so young Rottweiler on a retractable leash that actually lunged at the puppy sitting next to it during the class!
 

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I got quite close to my instructor last classes I took with my Dal and the reason they hate it when people come late is that it disturbs the class massively. Once she demonstrated this with her own dog - where after 15 minutes of a large group of dogs settling she brought in a new dog (her own which had been waiting in the car) and you could see how it messed with the group of pups who all of a sudden had to resettle their brains - which took a good 15 minutes again. In our training facility there is a huge sign on the outside - that says something like (if you are late don't bother coming in) which I know sounds rude but it really has to do with the group dynamic.
 

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19 teams with one instructor? Sometimes I have a dozen teams in class, but I also have an assistant. I can't imagine doing almost 20 teams all by myself unless it was open or utility, certainly not for a beginner class.


A clicker is not a reward by itself, but is a bridge to tell the dog a reward will come. As for any training the timing of the click or other marker and the delivery of the reward matters more than the specific marker or specific reward. I find it hard to juggle a clicker and treats and a leash and use them all effectively, therefore I use a verbal marker/bridge rather than a clicker. In general you should use your click or verbal marker instantly when the desired behavior is emitted by the dog and then you have three seconds to deliver the treat or other reward to effectively reinforce the behavior.
 
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There really isn't any difference. With clicker training - the dog does the right behavior, you make the click noise to mark the behavior and then you reward. With what I assume you call reward - the dog does the right behavior, you say "YES" or whatever word you use to mark the behavior and then you reward. Basically the same thing. I've used clickers but mostly I prefer to use "YES" because I don't have to have to walk around with a clicker all the time. A classful of people using clickers is extremely annoying. Even one person in a class using it a lot is annoying. But it's a good tool, easy to train the dog to learn that a click=food and a tool that everyone training a dog should have available. I use a clicker when I want to capture a very small behavior when sometimes I"m too slow saying "YES".

19 dogs especially in a beginner class is far too many. In both my clubs they would never allow so many dogs. Does the trainer have an assistant or two to help? My clubs have a limit of 5-6 dogs per trainer and a few more if there is an assistant in a class of this type. Is there enough room for each dog and handler to work safely - say about 6-8 feet between each pair? Classes are limited both by the number of teachers/assistant as well as the size of the venue to safely train them. With 19 dogs you should be so spread out that it might be difficult to see or hear the teacher.

As for the teacher's comment "But, can he do it here" - that is a legitimate question. Dogs don't generalize very well. When you teach a new behavior you need to teach it in many places - sit in the kitchen doesn't mean sit in the family room until you teach it there - and sit outside needs some training etc. Many dogs can sit at home but in a new class with so many distractions, they won't sit and require more training. Generally you train a new behavior in many different locations so they fully understand that the command means to do it anywhere and everywhere. It was great that Rudy was able to perform in this new building with tons of distractions - but don't expect it always to work that way, and it's okay, it's how dogs learn.

I also don't like to get down on the floor - not sure if I can get back up again haha and I can't put any weight on my knees due to arthritis. A good trainer should be able to work with physical limitations. They shouldn't make you feel bad if you can't get down on the floor to train.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Totally understand juggling a clicker, leash and treats especially after I've been using Recallers protocols. I bought one and will keep up using it for awhile. I plan on apologizing to the trainer next time.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Moni, I am one of those people that is never, ever late, always early so I was frantic AND this was a new location that even the website stated some special instructions because GPS would not work. Anyway, it was a crazy class with that many dogs and multiple people so I'll make double sure I'm there on time to apologize next week.
 

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I find clickers very helpful when I am training a specific behavior and want to precisely mark what Noelle did right. I use a clicker to mark new behaviors, and then I transition to "yes!" as my marker soon after.

Right now, for Rally we're training the "send away sit" signs. Noelle has to go out to a cone and sit. I'm using a clicker for this because I want to mark the moment Noelle is where I want her to be. Once she gets the hang of it, I'll fade the clicker and transition to yes.

A class with 19 dogs would be very overwhelming for me. I think if I was in that class, I would work on the Look At That game and not much else. I also think I would not be in that class. 19 is a lot.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thank you for the tip on transitioning from clicker to a marker word! I was wondering about that as, like Lily said, I find it challenging to juggle a leash, treats and a clicker! Not sure what the "Look At That" game is. Can you tell me more?
 

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I have to give credit to Click for that LAT video. It is the one she had posted at least once somewhere around here. I was happy to find it for you.
 
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Discussion Starter #18
Week two of training and I'm again reminded that it is ME that needs training! ha! Couple of side notes, almost half of the 19 people didn't show up for class #2. I find that hard to understand since you put your hard earned money down for training classes. It did, however, make for a much calmer class and more individualized attention. So, she had us show how we had progressed from week #1. I faithfully worked with Rudy every day in between with a clicker at home and he did well. Slight change for impulse control that instead of telling him he can have the treat on the floor by saying "get it" that I have been doing, she says we should pick it up and give it to them so that they learn not to take anything off the floor, only things we hand them. THEN on to lessons for week 2. Luring/shaping of heeling with treats, down moving the hand between chest to floor (Rudy did great) and not giving a command with it and then progressing to having the hand off the floor for a down which Rudy looked at me confused like "now what do you want?" Last was a game of having your dog start to walk through your spread legs and eventually a game of throwing it and running etc. hard to explain here. Kinda overwhelmed!
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Forgot to say that as I was struggling with the leash, clicker and treats, placement, timing etc. the owner/trainer said I was using the leash to control and asked if she could take Rudy. Of course, Rudy did perfectly, thus pointing out it is me that needs training! She also said something to the effect that miniature poodles are a bundle of energy so what did I expect?
 
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