Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 65

“The click ends the behavior” is practically a spiritual belief among many clicker trainers, but without starting any religious wars I’d like to share my moment of enlightenment when trainer Leslie Whitney first advised me, “The click doesn’t end the behavior. You’ll get into trouble if you think that it does.” Teacher and handler/trainer of agility champions and owner/operator of Tails Up Training Center in Falmouth, Maine, Leslie helped me realize that to be a more effective trainer, I’ve got to be able to predict and influence what will happen after the click, as well as before. click must be followed with a treat. The click is a contract, and true, you need to honor it (and pronto) if you want to preserve its strength. But behavior does continue happening after every click. Life is one big behavior chain. And if you intuit that the timing of your food reinforcement is just as important as the timing of your click, you’re right. If you make a habit of delivering food after the dog has popped up, you’ll find out that the click didn’t end behavior in the dog’s mind. You’re reinforcing, and thus training, the dog both to sit (with the click) and pop back up (after the click) for the treat. Other things that can end a behavior include: satiation, exhaustion, distraction, or any signal (cue) that this opportunity for reinforcement is no longer available. The street musicians keep playing until they get a cue (rain?) that it’s time to stop. An animal can be conditioned to continue wellreinforced behavior after a click; for example, to continue targeting or heeling, as long as you haven’t built a double association with the click and conditioned it to serve as both a reward mark and a release cue. We can be such linear thinkers, but let’s think cyclically for a moment. Where is the beginning of a behavior and where is the end, really? Where is the middle? It’s wherever we say it is, that’s where. As our training criteria If someone told you, “Stand right there, because I’m going to start throwing money out this window. If you catch it you can have it!” You’d be standing there ready to catch money till they yelled, “That’s all.” A release signal is a cue that really cleans up and clarifies the ending of any behavior. evolve, and behaviors become longer and more complex, the benefit of separating out the release signal from the reward mark and delivering strong reinforcement in all parts of a behavior becomes clear. If I want to click and treat my dog Tigerlily while she’s waiting to get her dumbbell, I’d be in trouble if my click ended her waiting behavior. She’d be gone like a shot! Instead, I teach her (with several clicks and treats) that, once cued, a behavior continues to be eligible for more clicks and treats until I deliver another cue or a release signal. The release signal often becomes both a cue and conditioned reinforcement, just as many cues become reinforcements. She wants that dumbbell more than she wants a piece of cheese. So once I’ve given her the O.K., allowing her to go get her dumbbell, I can give her another cue to end that free behavior: Here. As she brings it back, I might holler “yaaaaay!” She drops the dumbbell in my hand, so I click again. This time her “treat” is a tennis ball and as I throw it I sing O.K. and/or Get It. If I don’t give her a release cue, I expect her not to chase the ball. But this time, as I predict, she runs in a crazy happy loop with the ball until I give her a new cue (Drop It). And again I click and treat, this time with food. We keep playing like this, in a cycle, not a line: cue—keep going signal—click and release to treat—cue—click and treat, click and treat, click and treat—release. Depending on how you look at it, I’m putting a click at the beginning and the middle and near the end of behaviors I’m training. It’s fine by me when the release signal doubles as treat, but I keep discovering new advantages in not having the click double as a release signal. As in all training, set the dog up to succeed. One example: The dog sits, you click and treat, then you toss a treat as you say O.K. Some people use other less-common sounds such as Free. I find O.K. works for us. The dog is then free to get the treat and you’re set up to practice the cues again. Sit. Click and treat. If he’s still sitting there, why not click and treat again? And again? Eventually you can start putting a “Yay!” in the slowly lengthening duration. Some people call this a “keep-going signal” or KGS, and it is conditioned by placing it just before a click and treat. Then release with Free and toss another treat a few feet away. The dog learns to anticipate more reinforcement for continuing a cued behavior until he gets a release signal. 65 Doesn’t End the Behavior: Conditioning a Release Signal By Jenny Ruth Yasi We teach the dog what the click means and how it is used: it’s a conditioned reinforcer (CR), not something dogs are born understanding. As Kathy Sdao said at the 2004 Clicker Expo, the “click” is most analogous, in human terms, to money. Money is inherently useless (like a click) but we are taught it represents all sorts of good things. True enough—getting money thrown at you (think of a street musician, playing for tips) might interrupt behavior, but it wouldn’t end it. We’d all continue to sing our hearts out as long as that money kept raining down. A conditioned reward mark—our “click”—is a tool artificially created and used to increase efficiency and effectiveness of training. It helps us communicate with our dog. Ideally, a conditioned reward mark should mean just one thing to a dog: money in the pocket. We don’t have to teach the dog that the click is a release signal, too. Maybe the dog doesn’t even want to be released. The click shouldn’t come across like a bartender yelling “closing time.” The click simply marks a behavior, and if anything, a well-conditioned reward mark should increase the likelihood that a marked behavior will continue. There is something chicken-and-egg about all of this. Trainers teach that the click ends the behavior to drive home the idea that a February 08 | Clean Run When the Click

Clean Run Magazine - February 2008

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Clean Run Magazine - February 2008

Clean Run Magazine - February 2008
Contents
Editorializing: Barbarians at the Gate?
Tip of the Month
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Agility…
Backyard Dogs
On Course with Annie Lehman
Basic Turns
Trainer’s Forum
Do You Have a Preferred Handling Speed?
Foundation Fundamentals: Dealing with Distractions, Part 2
Case Study: The King of the Off-course
Conquering Ring Nerves: How Do I Stop Shaking When I Step to the Line?
Sports Retraining for Agility Athletes
When Pigs Fly: What Is an Operant Dog? Why Should I Care?
Power Paws Patterns: Number Three
Cece’s Gym Exercise of the Month: Increasing Challenges on the Ball
Spy Kids: Balance in Training
Skill of the Month
When the Click Doesn’t End the Behavior: Conditioning a Release Signal
Shelter Champs: Dunk
Distance Challenge
Letters
Agility Organization Update
Nested Courses for Mardi Gras
Course Diagram Keys
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Clean Run Magazine - February 2008
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 2
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Contents
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 4
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Editorializing: Barbarians at the Gate?
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Tip of the Month
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Agility…
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Backyard Dogs
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 9
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 10
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 11
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 12
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 13
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - On Course with Annie Lehman
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 15
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 16
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Basic Turns
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 18
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 19
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 20
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 21
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Trainer’s Forum
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 23
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 24
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 25
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Do You Have a Preferred Handling Speed?
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 27
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 28
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Foundation Fundamentals: Dealing with Distractions, Part 2
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 30
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 31
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Case Study: The King of the Off-course
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 33
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 34
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 35
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Conquering Ring Nerves: How Do I Stop Shaking When I Step to the Line?
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 37
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 38
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Sports Retraining for Agility Athletes
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 40
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 41
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 42
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - When Pigs Fly: What Is an Operant Dog? Why Should I Care?
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 44
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 45
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 46
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 47
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 48
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Power Paws Patterns: Number Three
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 50
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 51
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Cece’s Gym Exercise of the Month: Increasing Challenges on the Ball
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 53
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 54
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 55
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 56
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Spy Kids: Balance in Training
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 58
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 59
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 60
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 61
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Skill of the Month
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 63
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 64
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - When the Click Doesn’t End the Behavior: Conditioning a Release Signal
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 66
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 67
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 68
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Shelter Champs: Dunk
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 70
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 71
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 72
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Distance Challenge
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 74
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 75
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 76
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Letters
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 78
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Agility Organization Update
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 80
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 81
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - Course Diagram Keys
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 83
Clean Run Magazine - February 2008 - 84
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