Friday, April 3, 2009

Clicker Training :Eliminating Undesiarable Behavior

It is much easier to teach a dog to do something good than it is to teach it not to do something bad. When breaking a dog of an undesirable behavior, the first thing to consider is what reward the dog is getting for it. He must be getting some reward or he wouldn't keep doing it, but sometimes rewards are subtle or counterintuitive. When a dog jumps up on his owner and the owner pushes him off, being handled is the physical reward and may be more powerful for the dog than the punishment of yelling. Handlers must be careful not to accidentally reward dogs for undesirable behavior. Once the handler identifies and eliminates the accidental reward (to the extent possible), the next step is often to train an incompatible behavior. The dog trained to sit when the owner picks up the leash cannot simultaneously jump up and knock her owner over.

The clicker is a training tool and handlers should not use it indefinitely. The purpose of the clicker is to communicate the desired behavior. Once the dog understands the command and performs it reliably, you can eliminate the clicker. You can still reward the dog, but over time you may shift from a highly prized food reward to a less desirable food reward, then perhaps to just a verbal reward. When the behavior is learned completely, no reward may be necessary at all, though dogs as well as people appreciate feedback for a job well done.

Operant conditioning is a powerful tool in shaping the behavior of almost any animal, including dogs. A focus on positive reinforcement helps everyone enjoy training and deepens the bond between the trainer and learner. The use of a marker helps accurately pinpoint the desired behavior and greatly speeds the training process. When a dog fails to learn something, it's often because of a breakdown in communication rather than an unwillingness to cooperate. A good trainer can help troubleshoot these problems. The only real limits of this kind of training are the ability of the handler to identify meaningful reinforcers correctly, and to break the desired behavior into manageable steps.

Cliker Training

he clicker is not inherently meaningful to the dog. Like Pavlov's bell, the dog must learn that it means, "Treats are coming!" via classical conditioning. To do this, trainers "charge" the clicker by repeatedly clicking and then immediately offering a treat. In this way, the dog learns to pair the clicker with the treat. Once the dog knows that a click means a treat, it is ready to start learning new behaviors.

Trainers vary in their methods of eliciting a behavior. Some advocate using food to lure the dog into position. Others simply wait for the dog to offer the behavior simultaneously. Most clicker trainers do not advocate physically pushing the dog into position, as that is counter to the force-free philosophy of clicker training.

Once the dog offers the behavior, timing is critical. The trainer must click at the exact moment that he sees the behavior he wants. If the dog lies down and then rolls over before the handler clicks, rolling over has been marked as the desired behavior, not lying down.

Dogs can learn complicated behavior patterns using clicker training if you teach the sequence gradually. For example, if you wanted to train your dog to jump through a hoop, you might initially click and treat the dog just for walking up to the hoop. Once the dog is reliably walking up to the hoop, you would click only when it stuck its head through the opening, and then only when it walked through. Finally, you would click only when the dog actually jumped through the hoop. The standard for what will earn a reward keeps getting higher as the dog learns each new step. This is shaping.

Rather than giving a command and then teaching the dog what it means, most clicker trainers prefer to introduce the command only after the dog is reliably offering the behavior. Luring motions (such as holding a treat and moving it in front of the dog's nose, then to the ground to teach a dog "down") can be adapted into hand signals for commands by stylizing the motion and eliminating the food lure. Many trainers feel hand signal are easier for dogs to learn that verbal signals anyway, but having a dog that responds to either is ideal. Once a dog is offering the desired behavior, the handler can begin using the command so that the dog learns to associate the two. Eventually, the handler will only click the behavior if it was requested with a command, not when it's offered spontaneously. It's important to remember that animals are contextual learners. That means that they may understand a command in one place but not another. A dog may be able to sit flawlessly when the handler is standing, but become very confused when the handler gives the command from a sitting position. When training a new command, handlers need to add new contexts, backing up when necessary, to help the dog generalize.


Reinforcers can involve either the addition of a new element or the removal of an element currently present.The terminology for this is a little confusing,but adding something is refered to as "positive" though not necessarily in the sense of "happy" or "good"."Negative in this case,is the removal of something, and does not necessarily mean "bad".Therefore,both rewards and punisers can be either positive or negative.

Giving a parrot a piece of fruit for waving it's foot is addition of something good; a horse moving faster to stop the pressure of spurs is the ending of something bad (negative reward).Evan though "negative reward" sounds like an oxymoron,the removal of something bad is a kind of reward.

Punishers work exactly the same way.When a dog pulls on the leash and gets a sharp tug in the opposite direction,especially when using a choke chain or prong collar,it's a positive punisher or correction;the reviews unpleasant feedback for undesirable behavior.Alternatively,a punisher can be the removal of something good as when a child loses the privilege of going out with friends following misbehavior;thisis a negative punisher.

There are many ways to teach a dog. to set using reinforcer.The trainer may push or lure the dog into a sitting position,or he may simply wait until the dog sits naturally onit's own.Once the dog sits,the trainer may offer a positive reward such as verbal praise ("good boy"),tactile (a pat bad head),a favorite toy, or a treat.Some trainer use negative rewards like electronic collars to administer a mild shock to the dog,which stops as soon as he sits.However ,it follows the same principles of operant conditioning.In every case,the dog will learn that when he hears the command "sits" and he sits,he will get a reward.

Reinforcers can be almost anything as long as they meaningful to the dog.One dog may think treats are more valuable than toys,while another may feel the opposite.It doesn't really matter what the reinforcer is,but for practical reasons,some reinforcers are easier to work with than others.Also,the same reinforcer doesn't have to be used every time or in every situation.Some task may requre a more valuable reinforcer.As pet smart obediance triner Dan O'Leary puts it,"you would probably step over a chair if i offered you a dollar to do it.But you probably wouldn't wash and wax my car for a dollar."Similarly,your dog may work for one type of reward in the relative calm of your home but may need something more desirable to maintain focus in class.

How dog's training works?

Now a days human and dogs are living together happily giving proper training to their doggy.There are many ways to train dogs and just many trainers who will say that their way is the only "right" way,but the reality is that there are multiple methods that work,and how enjoyable they are for dog and handler.In this article we will explore ideas behind most methods of dog of training and talk about one of the most popular methods today:Clicker Training.

Learning Theory

Dog training typically centers on operant conditioning.The first scientist to define this concept was B.F Skinner,who studied the of Russian physiologist Dr. Ivan Pavlov on animal behavior.In Pavlov's groundbreaking study,dogs learned that a stimulus (in this case ,a bell) meant they were about to fed - Pavlov added a third component by ringing a bell before feeding.After a few trials,the dogs learned to associate the bell with being fed and would react by salvating at the sound of the bell in anticipation of their food but without any food present. Since dogs naturally begin salvating when offered food,food is an unconditioned stimulus.No conditioning or special training is necessary to cause the dogs to salvate,which unconditioned response.In contrast,a ringing bell does not normally cause dogs to salvate,they will do so only if they have been conditioned to associate a bell with being fed.Therefore,the bell is a conditioned stimulus.The dog's new reation is a reflex to stimulus and is conditioned response.
Many of us see this today with our own dogs when they break into frenzy of barking at the sound of the doorbell,sometimes even a doorbell on television.In this case,the dog has been conditioned to associate the stimulus of the bell with the imminent arrival of a stranger.

When we see flashing lights or hear a siren behind us while driving,we may reflexively tense up and our heart rate may increase.We have been conditioned to associate the sound of sirens with the unpleasant and stressful experience of getting a ticket.This is classical conditioning.Both animal and people can learn to relate a pair of events and respond to the first in anticipation of the second.This type of learning is passive and involuntary;it occurs without the learner doing anything and often without awareness.

While Pavlop's work dealt with a reflexive reaction to a conditioned stimulus,Skinner become interested in creating a specific behavioral reaction to a stimulus by adding a reinforcer.A reinforcer can be ether a reward or a punisher.A reward is anything thatincreases the frequency of an action;a punisher is anything that decreases it's frequency.

When we are rewared for a certain behavior,we likely are to repeat that behavior.when we are punished for a certain behavior we are likely to stop.This type of learning is active and voluntary;it depends on the action of the learner.

Because the defination of a reinforcer is based on it's effectiveness,it's important to remember that a reward for one person may not be meaningful ,and thus not a reward,for another. Similarly, what is a reward in one contex may not be somewhere else.
If we put a rat into a rectangular box having a liver,it will run radomly at first.When unconciouly caught the liver rat gets food as reward.So rat will continue this task for getting more food.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Is a dog really man's best friend?

The mounted remains Hachiko,on display at the museum of nature and science in Tokyo

Even if you'r strickly a bona fide cat lover,it's nearly impossible not to be moved by the brand of loyalty unic to dogs.Buddhists believe that on the day the Buddha died,he summoned animals to his side.Only members of 12 species - dog among them - reached him before his death.He rewared those who cane with a year of thier own,which is why the cat has no sign in Chiness zodiac. Although not every dog is necessarily friendly by nature,stories emerge from time of a dog becoming separated from his or her family and undertaking an incredible journey toward reunion.Dogs are used in therapy for Alzheimer's disease and in clinical setting as comfort for the terminally ill.And consider this: Between jan. 19 and jan 31,2008, no fewer than five different families in the United States and Canada were saved by thier dogs when thier homes caught fire.All of this substantiates the the old saying that dogs are man's and woman's best friend.One breed of dog is especially prized for it,s fierce loyalty.The Akita is a fluffy dog that favours its wolf ancestors,with pointed ears that stand on end,a slightly scrunched face,and a tail that curls in a loop back toward its body.Ithails from the Akita region in Japan,a prefecture in the north of the island.Originally all light in color,the Akita was first mentioned in Japanease literature around A.D. 717, and is depicted on much older pottery excavated in that country.

Helen Keller asked for and was given an akita after she toured the country in 1937 and learned the story of Chu-Ken Hachiko (in Japanese,"faithful dog Hachiko")
Are dogs humankind's best friend?The answer is a subjective one,but the story of Hachiko that inspired Hellen Keller to adopt an Akita may be the closest we can get to objective evidence.