ClickerSolutions Training Treasures

Adding Duration

Someone asked how to use the clicker and a release word when adding duration.

Let's say I'm training a pet-quality "sit." (Competition preciseness is a different matter altogether.) Initially, I click just before the dog's butt hits the ground. The click ends the behavior, so if he jumps right up, that's fine. I don't worry about that right away. In the beginning, I'm concerned with his learning that it's the sit I want.

Once the sit is strong -- offered freely, on its way to being "on cue" -- I work on duration. First, I simply delay the click 1/2 second to 1 second. I build up to about 5 seconds. Then 10. Then 15.

At that point, I'm ready to fade the clicker. I replace it with a release word. I also begin varying my reinforcers, very gradually using less food and more praise -- at least for repetitions that the dog is very comfortable with. Training isn't done at that point. In fact, I'm still pretty early in the process. I need to add distractions, distance, do more generalizations, work on fluency, etc. (I still use a lot of food for training the new things.) But I don't need the preciseness of the clicker anymore.

Does that make sense?

Melissa Alexander
mca @ clickersolutions.com
copyright 1999 Melissa C. Alexander

 

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