equine clicker training

using precision and positive reinforcement to teach horses and people

Notes from the Art and Science of Animal Training Conference (ORCA): Kay Laurence on “Micro-shaping”

What is micro-shaping? The first time I heard the term was at Clicker Expo when Kay gave a presentation on shaping where she talked about the importance of clicking for very small movements that would lead directly to the final behavior, and also on the importance of having a high success rate. I can remember being in a learning lab and taking data on the behavior of a golden retriever […]

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Notes from the Art and Science of Animal Training conference (ORCA): Dr Joe Layng on emotions

Dr. Layng started his presentation by asking the audience if they thought animals had emotions like they do. Then he asked if everyone thought the person sitting next to them thought had emotions like they did. I think most people raised their hands.  He said these seem like simple questions but they are ones that have plagued science and philosophy for a long time. It turns out that studying emotions […]

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Do You Have a Cue for That?

Last week I posted a video on my facebook page of Aurora learning the difference between targeting and manipulating an object, and it reminded me of something that I’ve been meaning to write about for a while. This is the importance of making sure that each new behavior has its own cue, that the cue is regularly practiced, and that old behaviors don’t lose their cues when new behaviors are […]

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One of the advantages of clicker training is that the use of a marker signal (the click) allows the trainer to tell the animal exactly what behavior she is reinforcing. When we observe an animal, it is tempting to think of behavior as discrete units, but a more accurate description of behavior would be what Dr. Susan Friedman calls a “stream of behavior,” where behavior is constantly changing and each […]

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Capturing Behavior

In Kay Laurence’s IDTC class last year we took a closer look at capturing behavior.  I’ve always been intrigued by capturing behavior because it’s one of the advantages of clicker training and there are some behaviors that are easier to capture than to shape. A behavior is “captured” when the trainer marks and reinforces the animal for doing a complete behavior, instead of shaping the behavior in small steps.  In […]

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Body Part Targeting – Moving beyond nose targeting

Touching a target is one of the first behaviors that many clicker trainers teach to their horses. It’s a great way to introduce the horse to clicker training and show him that he can do a specific behavior to earn reinforcement. Once this targeting behavior has been learned, it can be used to train many other behaviors such as leading, standing still, going over obstacles, turns, lowering the head, etc… […]

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