I just uploaded a video clip to show it to you here.


This clip is an excerpt from Dr. Robert Sapolsky's (one of my gurus;) )
speech about the "Uniqueness of humans". In this segment he is talking about studies made on how dopamine levels are affected when we use rewards in clicker training. The result might be surprising to some :) I think this is very relevant to those who uses clicker training, and it is also important to realize that clicker training is less about food than one might think.

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Very interesting, I'm going to remember this with Rip at feeding time.
Very interesting, indeed! It makes sense. I immediately thought of teaching a child how to do something, and then watching their eyes light up when you ask them to do it and they know how. Or what about contestants on a game show? You can see when they know the answer to a question, and the excitement builds because they know they've just won the prize. Those two examples may be way off and not related to clicker training, but I was just thinking about what a dopamine "high" might look like :o) And I can understand why the 50% reward might make the high even higher - the thought that maybe you've "got it" this time can just about send you for a loop. lol

When I get the clicker out to work with my dog, she just about goes crazy. She would stand on her head if she thought it might get the desired result!
Oh wow.. That's cool stuff. I may have to buckle down and find my clicker!
You don't need a clicker to do clicker training :)
The clicker is often used with dogs, but with horses it's useful to have both hands free. I just use a voice signal as a clicker. The only purpose of a clicker is to make a distinct sound that is used as a marker for the behavior you want to reward.

With dolphins for instance one uses a whistle (because it is easy for them to hear under water)
With other animals one can use other signals, it just depends what is the most useful.

With some of the monkeys I trained I couldn't use a clicking sound because it sounded a lot like their own warning signals, and it simply upset them; simple solution was to just change the clicker sound!

Personally I recommend using the voice because:
- your hands are free
- you don't need to find it in your pocket so you have instant access to it
- you rarely need it to communicate over long distances (like one often does with dogs - one of the reasons a clicker is often used with that species)
- you can actually give more information than with just a clicker; my horses hears the difference in my voice when I am happy or very excited, and that has proven to be extra information. Remember that a clicker is just that; information.

On that note; use a sound that is not used for anything else or sounds similar to a command often used. For instance; avoid words like "good" because people will tend to use it when they praise, and that is something else. Just saying the word "click!" seems to work well, most people don't say that unless they actually mean to click the horse.
"my horses hears the difference in my voice when I am happy or very excited, and that has proven to be extra information. Remember that a clicker is just that; information."
=Very cool! That is good to know! Knowing me, I'd stifle my reaction to sound uniform, so that is great info:)

That sounds much better to me (using my voice).. For reasons you already gave:)

In your opinion, should the "click" be followed by praise, or no?
The click has to be followed by a REWARD.

For some this is praise, food, scratches etc.
For some this is just food…
for some this is an activity…

It's the animal that decides what is rewarding to it, and the better you are at figuring out different things it wants, the better motivation you will get in return.

With some animals praise is not a reward, but by using praising sounds while giving a reward they appreciate, the animals can learn to appreciate the praise as well over time. The same with petting (again, depending on the animal - with wild animals the petting comes after the clicker and training already means something pretty great to them, otherwise they will consider that consequence as a punishment! That is probably irrelevant for most horse people (most horses like petting and praise already), but something to take note of if one is dealing with a wild or semi wild animal).

The point is…
- the click is a MARKER that is used to tell the animal the TIME their actions earned them a REWARD.
- the REWARD follows the click and has to be something the animal wants.

Your excitement will be important when you have an animal that gets exited in the training. That is when the dopamine kicks in when the command is given :) If you reward extra when you are extra exited this will soon become an important indicator of how well they did, and I have found that to be a great additional learning tool. It is common for clicker trainers to only use the reward as an indicator over when they do extra well (they call it giving a jack-pot) but with the added information in the voice click the information is provided in the moment, making it even clearer to the animal what you are wanting.

Another cool thing here; you really can't fake it :) You will not sound exited when you are not, and you can't hide it when you are. It gives you a bit of free timing :)

When the horse is doing something the first couple of times you will probably be excited. After about 20-30 times, a little less so understandably, and that is usually the right time to change the criteria. Remember to use this for NEW learning, it's about keeping the MAYBE in there.

Use it to train it to do things it MAYBE can understand - if it's something he knows too well there is no maybe, and if it is too difficult, there is no maybe… Without the maybe there will not be that much excitement for either of you, and the clicker is much less powerful and fun… (remember the first clip in this discussion)

On a little side note here; I have noticed that laughter and me having fun is a good motivator for most animals, even wild ones! It seems they understand and can relate to this happy feeling and they seem more at ease with me then. I guess I am not being threatening when I show happiness! :) to my horse, laughter is one of the strongest clicker signals I have, whether I want to or not. If he makes me laugh, he will try to get it to happen again, and this has caused some fun and strange training situations at times. To me that is not at all a problem, but something I think is a bit unusual…

Personally, if a horse makes me laugh when I am working with it, I consider it a successful training; to me having fun with my horses is the absolute main thing. (Probably not a huge shock to you now that you have seen some of my videos… !)
This has me stoked to try this more with my girls! I was worried that being my sillier, more happy-go-lucky self would scare them.. But I guess they gotta get used to that ;)

Cool food for thought.. I guess that'd make sense considering their personable, social nature..

Kai hammed it up one night when I was scratching her.. The harder I laughed, the harder she shook her butt. I WISH I could've gotten that on film.. Affirmation to what you said, I think, about them responding to our laughter and happiness:)

I wish we had all the time in the world and a personal jet.. It'd be so fun for you to just come here (or us come there) and just hang out.. Good times:)

I'm copying and printing what you typed--This will be REALLY helpful for both of my girls.

..Which reminds me.. I need to tell you about the awesome thing that happened with my skittish girl.. I'll put it on the other thread to keep it relevent:)
AND HOW WAS FRANCE??

Like this!
This is my mom + three sisters + me on the beach drinking wine after swimming in the ocean:)
I am going to live vicariously through this picture while I sit behind my desk at work..

Talk about an amazing day! All lovely ladies!!

I take it you had fun? :)
We had fun like a bunch of kids! Just check out my mom (aged 70) after getting hit by a huge wave! ;))
HAHAHA!!

A) She's 70?!? She looks GREAT!! Looks much, much younger than that!
B) Man, I am so jealous.. :)

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