CPT Internal Training Seminar- Clicker Training
January 22, 2008
In our continuing efforts to keep the CPT training staff as the most educated group of pet trainers in the Atlanta area, we have commenced a series of internal seminars designed to enhance the trainers’ knowledge regarding canine learning theory, canine communication, new equipment and applications, and leading edge training methodologies. On January 22, 2008, the third in a series of bi-monthly seminars featured a presentation, discussion, and demonstration practical on clicker training theory and applications.
Clicker training is a recent, highly positive form of canine training that combines aspects of classical conditioning and operant conditioning theory. Marine mammal trainers developed clicker training as a superior method for communicating behavioral markers and secondary reinforcement to dolphins and killer whales. Later, creative marine mammal trainers designed protocols for incorporating the clicker into dog training. When used properly, the clicker can enhance confidence, improve attitude, and improve the clarity of communication between the trainer/handler and the dog.
Fourteen CPT staff members attended the session, which began with a lecture by CPT owner Mark Spivak on general classical conditioning theory and classical conditioning theory as it pertains specifically to the clicker. Mark also briefly discussed pertinent operant conditioning theory. Mark next discussed the history of the clicker and practical applications for CPT pet trainers when working with client animals. Mark then turned the floor over to CPT Head Agility Trainer Holly Schmidt, who was fresh from completing a second place finish in a national agility event. Holly discussed and demonstrated how to introduce the clicker, how to “load” the clicker, and germane obedience and agility applications for the clicker. The seminar concluded with a practical working session where Holly assisted the attendees in using the clicker to teach either a personal dog or a board train dog a new behavior.
CPT trainers learned how to better:
- Discuss the origin of clicker training.
- Describe the evolution of clicker training.
- Understand and apply classical conditioning theory.
- Understand associative learning.
- Understand and apply operant conditioning theory.
- Understand the concepts of control-based learning.
- Use the clicker to enhance the confidence, motivation and participation of dogs of various temperaments and energy levels.
- Use the concept of cueing when working with the clicker, including how to deliver purposeful cues and how to avoid inadvertent counterproductive cues.
- Incorporate the concept of fading when weaning cues, the clicker, praise, and/or treats.
- Comprehend the potential advantages of clicker training.
- Comprehend the potential disadvantages of clicker training.
- Understand which applications and temperaments are most suited to clicker training and which applications and temperaments are less suited to clicker training.
- Understand how to use clicker training to countercondition and desensitize a timid, anxious, excitable, reactive or aggressive animal.
- Eclectically decide whether and when to use clicker training when designing a training program for a client.
- Informatively and persuasively discuss the preceding criteria with clients.
- Informatively, persuasively, and clearly demonstrate and teach the philosophical, practical, and physical usage of the clicker to clients.
Consequently, CPT trainers are now familiar with an additional tool and additional knowledge of pertinent learning theory and psychology that will enable them to deliver superior instruction to client dogs and owners. Future planned seminars will cover issues such as using the age appropriate puppy training, advanced psychological theory, diagnosing potential physical origins of behavioral problems, and pet first aid.