Wednesday, September 8, 2010

More Clicker Work!

After our last clicker session, I spent some time thinking. I wasn't sure McKinna fully understood what the click meant, since all we'd done was targeting on a handheld object. After all, I could probably produce the same results by just feeding her treats after she touched the the thing, skipping the clicker entirely.

So I came up with a plan! I decided I'd have her target on a stationary object. I could then move away from it, forcing her to walk away from me to touch the thing to get the click, then return to me upon hearing the click to receive her reward. In my head, I decided this would clarify in her mind (and make it clear to ME when the lightbulb went off for HER) that the click means "Yes, that's right, now you can have your treat."

After a bit of searching, I decided on a convenient wooden stool to use as our target today. She knocked it down first thing, so I left it on the ground like that. About a minute of work showed me that McKinna understood she was supposed to try behaviors on the stool, but that she didn't understand how the clicker both marks and ends the behavior. That is, I'd click and she would continue with what she was doing, not turn to me for a treat.

So I improvised. After I clicked, I stuck a "Good giiiirl!" in there. THAT got her attention, and she swung around for her treat. Success! For the rest of the training session, I used that verbal marker in addition to the clicker. Click, verbal marker. This was because I couldn't decide if I should just use the verbal marker on its own or if I should use it just until she understood that the click was a marker as well.

Anyway, here she is about three minutes into our work today. She's showing a very clear understanding of the marker signal, which you can see when she swings around and returns to me. After her first reward, you can watch as she loses a little focus, but eventually performs the behavior accurately and again shows a clear understanding of the marker.

Shortly after this, we took a quick break and I stuck her in the cross-ties to chill for a bit so she wouldn't totally get bored. When we returned, her focus came back. This is why you do shorter training sessions!

Another step forward in our clicker training. I want to get clicker work involved in our biggest training issues (read: quiet, balanced canter!) as soon as possible, so I'm developing a training plan in my head to get there. My favorite thing about clicker training (or any training at all, really) is how you can plan out your steps to train a behavior and then test it. Today, it worked almost exactly as planned. Such a cool feeling.


tangerine said...

Thats so awesome. I would love to see more videos on your progress. I feel like most of the ones on youtube are all once all the work is done. I like seeing the progression. You sure do have a smart pony! I can't wait to see how you fit that into getting a good canter, that'll be interesting!

Leah Fry said...

McKinna looks so ho-hum relaxed, and makes it all look easy.

Back to school?

manymisadventures said...

Back to school a week from tomorrow. Gotta get everything all ready.

Tangerine, I'd be happy to put up more video. I also feel like it's hard to find materials on clicker work with performance once I start using it to improve our dressage, etc, I'll really make sure to put videos up.

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