Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Clicker Training Basics: If you give a man a fish...

As the old saying goes, if you give a man a fish he will eat for a day; but, if you teach a man to fish he will eat for a lifetime.  Do you simply want your dog to 'sit', 'down', and 'stay' at the end of a training class? Or do you want to learn the tools you need to be able to teach your dog anything (including being calm) and have a lifelong bond? Wouldn't you rather have your dog lie peacefully on a mat and chew a bone instead of beg at the table? Are you seeking more practical dog behavior solutions? Come experience the future of dog training at The Animal Scientist.  Through force-free positive reinforcement methods, we can train YOU how to teach your dog for years to come.

The Animal Scientist utilizes the newest method of research based learning and the future of dog cognition: clicker training.  Clicker training was developed in part by the famous B.F. Skinner and world renowned trainer, Karen Pryor, in order to train animals without the use of force or punishment.  This easy, user-friendly method uses the clicker as an event marker to tell the learner exactly what is desired.  This marker is classically conditioned with a reinforcer, something the learner desires, like food, praise, or fun.  Then the trainer uses operant conditioning to capture or shape the desired behavior.

Clicker training teaches the dogs to think and make decisions on their own.  You as the trainer, reinforce behaviors that you WANT your dog to do.  Too many negative reinforcement trainers correct your dog again and again, forcing them to learn what we do NOT want.  Can you imagine having a boss that criticizes your every move, and never praises your good works? Now imagine living with this boss.  This is what life is like for many dogs in American households.  They are scolded every day, “Get off the couch!”, “Stop begging!”, “Don’t chew that!”, “Don’t jump!” and then they are ‘corrected’ with a prong collar while walking, in pain with every step.  This is no way to treat a best friend! Clicker training allows for clear, precise communication between dog and human that is not only rewarding and useful but fun. 

Let science do the talking: research shows that using negative reinforcement training techniques leads to more anxious and aggressive dogs later in life (Schilder et. al., 2004).  On the other hand, positive reinforcement has shown to the most efficient and effective method that shows increased retention as well (a better value!).  Clicker training can not only solve behavioral issues, but it can prevent them as well.  Start clicker training your puppy today (the earlier the better) to boost your puppy's confidence and build a great foundation to an anxiety-free life.  Clicker training is the key to communicating with any animal, young or old, and can lead to a happier, healthier life for the whole family.