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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

POEM #13- Clicker Training

During our two years together, I have to teach Rooney approximately forty different commands, and then he will learn a bunch more as he moves through advanced training. CaPR (Canine Partners of the Rockies) uses a technique called clicker training. Basically, the trainer rewards every approximation toward the behavior they want the dog to learn. Right now, Rooney is working on a behavior called "target," where I drop a carpet square and he touches it with his nose. Ultimately this behavior will be what he will use to turn on special light switches or push automatic door openers. It's super interesting to watch the dogs think and try to figure out what the trainer wants. (For my teacher friends, it reminds me of Brian Cambourne's approximation stage). And in case anyone is worried about the impact on the dogs-- they LOVE it! Their tails wag the whole time we are training. 

Rooney, on the far left, at class a couple of weeks ago. He's on an extended stay, and one of the trainers is in the closet clicking a rubber chicken. It's taking everything he has not to break the stay. 

Clicker Training

Mama has a green square

She drops it on the ground

Points and waits.

What mama?

What do you want?

I sniff the square.

Click. 

Treat.

You want me to sniff the square?

For a treat? 

Ok.

Got it.


Mama has a green square

She drops it on the ground.

I remember this game.

I sniff the square. 

I listen for the click.

Nothing.

What mama?

What do you want?

I put my foot on the square.

Click. 

Treat.

You want me to put my foot on the square?

For a treat?

Ok. 

Got it.


Mama has a green square. 
She drops it on the ground.
I remember this game.
I put my foot on the square
Scrape and turn it over. 
Listen for the click.
Nothing.
What mama? 
What do you want?
I move my foot and try again.
This time no scrape. 
And no turning the green square over.
Click. 
Treat.
So you want me to put my foot on the square
But not scrape it
And not turn it over. 
For a treat?
OK.
Got it. 

Mama has a green square. 

She drops it on the ground.

Says, “Target.”

Target?

What does that mean?

I don't know that word.

Does she want me to touch the green square with my paw?

I try it. 

Click.

Treat. 

Yep. 

Square, target, touch, treat.

OK.

Got it. 


Mama puts a blue X on the green square.
She drops it on the ground.
Says “Target.”

I put my foot on it. 

I do not scrape. 

I do not turn it over.

No click. 

No treat.

What does she want?

I look at the square.

What is different?

Does she want me to touch the X?

I try it.

Click. 

Treat.

Square, target, X, touch, treat.

OK.

Got it. 


I love clicker training.


(c) Carol Wilcox, 2021

3 comments:

Linda B said...

Dogs are amazing that they can reason & figure this out! Trainers are, too, Carol. I'm glad to be learning what you do during this, a lot of time and, I'm sure, patience.

Ramona said...

That's a bunch of thinking required. Way to go for figuring it out, Rooney.

Mary Lee said...

Fascinating! What a process! What a good learner!