Clicker training is definitely one of the best methods of teaching your pet to behave properly, whether you are inside or outside of the home. You may not be able to afford to pay for costly obedience school lessons, so you decide to train your pet during your free time.
Operant conditioning is one of the methods used to make effective Clicker training work. Not known as a classical form of conditioning; it is instead, the type of animal training that focuses on getting the animal to behave the way you want by encouraging the target behavior.
You encourage the target behaviors through nonverbal signals, verbal signals, clicks, and rewards. Rewards are a very important part of clicker training because a reward is the clearest sign (to the animal) that it has performed the desired outcome for the trainer, and hence a reward is received and the animal will think that this will always be the outcome if it performs that action.
Clicker training is also different from all other forms of classical conditioning in that it reduces the use of aversive control, or punishments. That effectively means that clicker trainers do not punish.
In this method corrective actions are performed, the animals are never scolded or physically hurt just because they did not perform the desired action. If an animal does not perform the task correctly, a neutral verbal sign is given to signal to the animal that it has not performed so hence will not be rewarded.
Power & Simplicity
This method is easy enough for any animal to understand, because all animals understand the concept of reward. Another thing that separates the clicker training method (operant conditioning) from classical conditioning is that the trainer must have a huge amount of patience during training, because small steps are also rewarded.
If you want your dog to run to a target, this means you will have to reward it even if it only managed to just look at the target on the first go. When the target behavior is very complex, it will have to be broken down into smaller steps that can be done easily by the student (your pet). Your pet will then be led on into the next phases more gradually.
With every small success you will meet this with a click, and a reward. The incorrect or non-targeted behavior will then be met with a neutral deterrent, so over time your pet will choose the target behavior over non-targeted behavior.
Clicker training works extremely well because of its positive reinforcement mantra. Positive reinforcement helps your pet to figure out which actions provide the highest return (the reward), and which actions do not.
Generally of course, most animals will choose the action that renders a treat or reward, because it is in the animal’s best interest to do so.
Animals that have been trained with classical conditioning can still be trained with clicker training. Researchers have shown that any dogs that cross over from the traditional method of training can still produce amazing results, especially if the owner or trainer is willing to help their pet during the first few sessions (which can require 20 to 50 successful repetitions or cycles). The nonverbal and verbal signals can be added later on when the animal has mastered the target action.
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