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Clicker Training for Beginners - Lesson 2

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BraveheartDogs

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Clicker Training for Beginners - Lesson 2

Mechanical Skills

One of the most important things to work on when training is your timing and mechanical skills. We have to work on our mechanical skills BEFORE bringing the learner (our birds) into the training mix. So, that is what we are going to work on now.

This lesson will be done without your bird present. This is for you to practice your mechanical skills without causing problems for your bird.

I want you to get the treats that you found were most reinforcing to your bird and play around with how you intend to deliver those treats to the bird. Will you be putting a handful into your hand and then "pez dispensering" them to the bird? Or maybe you will just put a small pile of them on the counter or desk next to you and grab them one at a time? If you are using millet will you be holding the spray of millet to offer for each click or will you break pieces off and offer them that way? If you are using mash or something soft (I sometimes use baby food or smashed sweet potatoes) how will you deliver that? Will you deliver it from a spoon? Will your bird take food from your hand or will you need to drop treats into a bowl? Experiment with this and decide how you think it will work best. Do this for all your top reinforcers.

Still with no bird....

Now, I want you to practice clicking and then practicing the delivery. You will find that adding the clicker changes things. Now, you have to decide which hand you will click with and which hand you will feed with. Practice on both hands.

Interview Your Learner
At this point I want you to start thinking about things that you may need to know about your birds personality or history that may affect how you will carry out your training.

For instance, I have a dog who has impaired vision and is flat faced so I have to think about delivering the reinforcer so he can see it and find it easily. Another example, Papaya, my rescue Regent Parrot is fearful of hands so only comes out of his cage on his own. For right now, I will train him in his cage.

You want to think about specific things that will affect your training so that we can plan for them. If you have a bird that is extremely fearful of hands, you may need to drop the treats into a bowl for them. These types of things.

Please feel free to ask questions. And, hang in there, we are going to be training very soon!!!
 
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Oknuma

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thank you so much for this next instalment.
as soon as my clicker arrives tomorrow then both DD and I will start to practice the above
 

BraveheartDogs

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thank you so much for this next instalment.
as soon as my clicker arrives tomorrow then both DD and I will start to practice the above
You're welcome:) And, you can always do the other stuff without the clicker until they arrive:)
 

Saemma

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Thanks Vicky. I will think about these mindful actions.:)
 

Sharpie

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Thank you for this lesson! When I was first introduced to clicker training I missed out on something like this to explain (train) ME on how to do things. It made it very frustrating to start out with and I still have trouble when there's a prop of some sort involved.
 

cmoore

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I heartily second this lesson! These things all seem superfluous, but practicing this stuff before you actually start training is SO HELPFUL.

One thing that it is really helpful to practice is clicker timing. Try bouncing a bouncy ball and clicking every time the ball hits the floor. Another exercise is to have a human companion display 1, 2, or 3 fingers at random intervals and only click for a certain number of fingers (e.g. 3 fingers). It's surprisingly hard to always click the "correct behavior" (3 fingers) and to ONLY click the "correct behavior"!

Another thing to practice before you start training is how you'll hold all of your stuff at once. Practice holding the clicker in one hand, a treat in that same hand, and a target stick in the other hand. Move things around until you find a configuration that feels comfortable. (If you have an iClick clicker, practice clicking with different fingers! Index finger, middle finger, ring finger...)

Not being able to juggle the clicker plus treats plus a prop is one of the reasons I often hear for why people don't use a clicker. Yes, it takes a bit of practice to get the hang of it, but the clicker is such an incredibly powerful training tool that it is worth it to figure out how to integrate it into your training.
 

BraveheartDogs

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Thank you for this lesson! When I was first introduced to clicker training I missed out on something like this to explain (train) ME on how to do things. It made it very frustrating to start out with and I still have trouble when there's a prop of some sort involved.
It is something that we don't always think about and it can really slow training down and make it frustrating especially for new trainers. I'm glad that everyone understands how important it is!

I heartily second this lesson! These things all seem superfluous, but practicing this stuff before you actually start training is SO HELPFUL.

One thing that it is really helpful to practice is clicker timing. Try bouncing a bouncy ball and clicking every time the ball hits the floor. Another exercise is to have a human companion display 1, 2, or 3 fingers at random intervals and only click for a certain number of fingers (e.g. 3 fingers). It's surprisingly hard to always click the "correct behavior" (3 fingers) and to ONLY click the "correct behavior"!

Another thing to practice before you start training is how you'll hold all of your stuff at once. Practice holding the clicker in one hand, a treat in that same hand, and a target stick in the other hand. Move things around until you find a configuration that feels comfortable. (If you have an iClick clicker, practice clicking with different fingers! Index finger, middle finger, ring finger...)

Not being able to juggle the clicker plus treats plus a prop is one of the reasons I often hear for why people don't use a clicker. Yes, it takes a bit of practice to get the hang of it, but the clicker is such an incredibly powerful training tool that it is worth it to figure out how to integrate it into your training.
All great advice! In my classes we used to do the dropping the ball and having people click! In my behavior group we train each other (humans). We had one game where we would actually have a bunch of small toys and train behaviors with the toys. We also did one where one person had a pair of dice and the other had a clicker and the one person would roll and the other would click if it was odd or even, etc. It's just important that we think about this.
 

Saemma

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I have decided to chop almonds up in very tiny slivers and place it in a bowl. I will hand a piece to Sachi and Emma when I am pleased. Thanks Vicky!!:hug8:
 

Oknuma

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my clicker finally arrived today (3 days late.. grr) clicker practice for me and dd starts tomorrow night.
 

Cynth

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We got our clickers and a book. My kids are so excited to work with our fids. lol.
I will be taking this very slowly. Is the goal to clisk and give treat at same time or as soon as bird does "thing" click then give treat? are you just clicking at exact moment thus said bird does "thing"? then praise and treat?
Do you understand what I am asking? Are there any videos from you pro bird clickers that shows the correct form?
some of these threads make me feel ADD :o:
 

cmoore

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The click is what we call an "event marker." It should come at the moment your bird does a behavior you want to reward. The click means "You are about to get a reward for the thing you were doing when you heard this click!" You can then follow the click with a food reinforcer. The click gives the animal much more accurate information about exactly what she was doing that is getting reinforced, and it buys you a little time to get the treat to her mouth.

Think of the clicker as the equivalent of a camera shutter; you're taking a snapshot of a behavior you like. You want to "take a picture" of the bird doing exactly the behavior you want. The bird will quickly learn that every time it hears a click, a treat is coming within a few seconds, and will try to replicate the behavior that caused you to click.

So the whole pattern should look like this:

Bird does the behavior --> Click at the same moment --> Deliver a treat within a few seconds

You can see a bit of an example of this in the harness training video I posted in the main Training forum. It's not the best example, since I didn't videotape our first few training sessions, but you can see that when my caiques put their heads through the loop I click immediately, then follow it up with a treat.

I'm sure Vicki will explain this more in a future lesson! I don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves.
 

BraveheartDogs

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The click is what we call an "event marker." It should come at the moment your bird does a behavior you want to reward. The click means "You are about to get a reward for the thing you were doing when you heard this click!" You can then follow the click with a food reinforcer. The click gives the animal much more accurate information about exactly what she was doing that is getting reinforced, and it buys you a little time to get the treat to her mouth.

Think of the clicker as the equivalent of a camera shutter; you're taking a snapshot of a behavior you like. You want to "take a picture" of the bird doing exactly the behavior you want. The bird will quickly learn that every time it hears a click, a treat is coming within a few seconds, and will try to replicate the behavior that caused you to click.

So the whole pattern should look like this:

Bird does the behavior --> Click at the same moment --> Deliver a treat within a few seconds

You can see a bit of an example of this in the harness training video I posted in the main Training forum. It's not the best example, since I didn't videotape our first few training sessions, but you can see that when my caiques put their heads through the loop I click immediately, then follow it up with a treat.

I'm sure Vicki will explain this more in a future lesson! I don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves.
This is correct, you click at the exact moment that a behavior you like is happening and then deliver the treat. When you click you should be thoughtful about your body. You should not be reaching for treats or doing anything else when you click, just clicking. The feeding will happen after.

BUT, for this lesson you are not clicking for a behavior you are simply clicking to get comfortable with clicking the clicker and handling food.
 
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BraveheartDogs

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I have only received feedback from a couple of people on how you are doing but we are going to move on to Lesson 3.
 

tonyasb

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I have decided to chop almonds up in very tiny slivers and place it in a bowl. I will hand a piece to Sachi and Emma when I am pleased.
OH! Try getting them in bulk already chopped or sliced into slivers. Most places that have a bulk section (Whole Foods for example) carry them this way. Will save you a lot of time!

I'm a couple months behind on all this but am enjoying the extra things I can do with my girl.
 

Kolkri

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This is where I need to start. I well start on this while I finish reading the book.
 
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