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Preview: Karen Pryor Clickertraining - Training Theory

Training Theory


Are You Clicker Training, or Training with a Clicker?

Wed, 18 May 2016 19:27:06 +0000

I began teaching people how to clicker train their dogs in 1996. At that time, most pet owners had never heard of clicker training and few class instructors took it seriously. Mine was the only advertisement in the local Yellow Pages that mentioned the word "clicker." I had to persuade students to even try this novel gadget.

A decade later, clickers are now common in dog training classes. But, I suggest, clicker training still is not.

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Click and Play: Using Play as a Reinforcer

Sun, 01 Mar 2015 05:00:00 +0000

Dogs smile. Just like people, dogs pull the corners of their mouths up high toward their eyes, partially open their mouths, and smile. In 1872, Darwin wrote of the universality of facial expressions in The Expressions of Emotions in Man and Animals. Roughly 130 years later, Dr. Patricia McConnell authored For the Love of a Dog in which she compared human and dog facial expressions using the methods developed by Paul Ekman, the world's leading scientist on the topic. The truth is out: dogs smile, and, of course, experience emotions.


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Beyond Clicking and Treating: The Power of Choice

Thu, 04 Dec 2014 14:35:40 +0000

If you’re on this website, and reading this article, you are probably interested in clicker training—and for good reason. The clicker is a wonderful tool. It lets us communicate more clearly with other species (as well as with our own, in some cases). It helps us focus on the behavior we want to see. It also enables the training of behaviors that would be extremely difficult, or even impossible, to train in any other way.


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History of Clicker Training II

Tue, 24 Sep 2013 14:52:22 +0000

Yes, it is charming; but it is also rather sad. We have been training animals for thousands of years, and we almost never ask them to DO this! To bring their own abilities to the table. To think. If you'll excuse the expression. ((laughter)).

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History of Clicker Training I

Tue, 24 Sep 2013 14:52:11 +0000

Behavior analysis is the science that underlies the technology of reinforcement training. Applications of behavior analysis include performance management, in industry and business; precision teaching, in schools; behavior modification, in clinical practice; and clicker training. The annual meeting draws some 2000 psychologists, from around the world. The speech reproduced here was given as part of the opening ceremonies. Karen Pryor's address at the Animal Behavior Society convention in Chicago, May 1997

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How to Help Your Fearful Dog: Become the Crazy Dog Lady

Sun, 01 Sep 2013 07:00:00 +0000

My two dogs and I were out for a walk one morning, enjoying the fresh air and the exercise. Mokie and Monte walked next to me with their tails wagging happily. They were probably laughing at me as I hummed along with my iPod. 

About three blocks away, a dog rounded the corner and began walking toward us. Despite Monte's full-body hackling, despite his rigid and tense body posture, and a deep, low, rumbling growl, I quietly told him what a good boy he was. I began shoving meatballs, liverwurst, and smoked Gouda into his large jaws at a rapid pace, creating as much distance as possible between the approaching dog and the three of us. I continued to feed Monte until the dog was out of sight, at which time the tasty treats disappeared back into the abyss of my faithful treat bag.


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Carnivorous Chairs and the Cone of Shame: Creativity in Action

Tue, 02 Apr 2013 21:19:28 +0000

Click and create

One subject that crops up frequently in training circles is the side effects of various training techniques. We caution against the harmful fallout of punishment-based methods. We debate the relative merits of luring, shaping, and capturing. We examine studies that compare the rate of behavior acquisition using various marker signals. And, of course, we love to talk about the added benefits of clicker training—engaging the dog's mind, the respondent conditioning of a positive emotional state, the fostering of creativity in both trainer and trainee.

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The Eight Ways of Changing Behavior

Sat, 01 Sep 2012 15:00:00 +0000

Anything you do to get rid of behavior you don't want will fall into one of the following eight methods. The first four are the 'bad fairies,' the methods that have neither kindness nor special efficacy to recommend them. The second four are the 'good fairies,' the approaches that involve positive reinforcement and some understanding of behavior, and that are highly likely to work.

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Ben: An Aggressive Dog Case Study

Tue, 01 May 2012 15:55:00 +0000

Editors' note: Award-winning paper!

What I am going to present to you is my own case study about my golden retriever, Benjamin. It was through Ben that I met Karen Pryor and, thus, found some of the most effective ways to deal with aggression and fear-based behavior in dogs.

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How to Develop a Training Plan

Tue, 01 Nov 2011 20:08:36 +0000

Editor’s note: Be sure to view each section of Laura’s accompanying video as you read through her article.

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Should You Use No Reward Markers? Examining the Debate

Thu, 01 Apr 2010 16:00:00 +0000

What is a No Reward Marker (NRM), and is it a useful tool or an awful mistake?

Should a good clicker trainer use an NRM, and, if so, when?

It’s out there, lurking. At times you feel it stalking just behind you. At last it springs as someone asks, “Why don’t you tell your dog it was wrong?”

The NRM debate has been reopened once more.

The debate arises in cycles, but next time you’ll be prepared for it, no matter how stealthily it creeps.

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Excerpts from Agility Right from the Start

Mon, 01 Mar 2010 17:00:00 +0000

In their highly anticipated new book, Agility Right from the Start, Eva Bertilsson and Emelie Johnson Vegh present a comprehensive guide to agility, based entirely on the powerful modern training system that made them leading agility teachers throughout Norway and Sweden.

Advance readers comment:

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Can a Punisher Also Be a Reinforcer?

Tue, 12 Jan 2010 06:00:00 +0000

A chilly start

On New Year’s Day my otherwise wonderfully sane son-in-law took his family to the beach and went for a swim. Big deal, right? But this is Boston.

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Does Your Dog Require a Leader? If So, What Kind?

Sat, 02 Jan 2010 00:12:14 +0000

The scientific study of behavior has led to some very useful ideas and insights about how dogs learn, really about how all animals learn. All organisms—dogs, cats, parrots, alligators, or humans—learn pretty much the same way. We each find different things reinforcing or punishing, of course, and we experience sensory perceptions differently. Some species or individuals are more tenacious, others more sanguine, some sleep most of the day, some are capable of learning more complex skills. Our unique environments play a large part in shaping us. But whether we live under the sea or in the desert, spend most of our lives perched on a tree branch, eat grass or hunt large prey, there are over-arching principles that govern how we learn.


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How to Motivate Yourself to Train or Exercise Your Dog—Or Do Practically Anything Else!

Fri, 01 Jan 2010 22:00:00 +0000

Psst! Do you want to know the secret to getting things done?

Do you feel guilty about not walking your dog every day? Or not training as often as you should, or even not training when you really need to?

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