Bird Dog & Retriever News

February/ March 2011 issue page 22

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Feb/March 2011 Now in our nineenth year 

Dog Training Tips Using the Clicker/Vibration Approach
By D.T. Systems Pro Staffer Chad Hines
 What is Positive
and Negative
Reinforcement Training?
The famous behavioral psychologist, B. F. Skinner, defines positive reinforcement as an increase in the future frequency of a behavior due to the addition of a consequence immediately following a response. Giving (or adding) food to a dog contingent on his touching the target is an example of positive reinforcement (if this results in an increase in the future behavior of the dog touching the target). Negative reinforcement, on the other hand, is an increase in the future frequency of a behavior when the con
 sequence is the removal of an aversive stimulus.
How do you use Positive and Negative Reinforcement?
The backbone of Willow Creek's training technique is positive and negative reinforcement. We look to increase the likelihood of a behavior in the future by teaching positive reinforcement and following up with negative reinforcement, albeit mild with the vibrate conditioning.
Nearly all commands are taught with a clicker and a food reward (positive reinforcement). This develops a very consistent, reliable dog by creating the desire for a positive
 reaction. Although counterintuitive, using the term "negative" in animal training does not mean it is bad. The negative reinforcement can simply mean something is taken away. So when using the DT Systems H2O 1820 collar, the vibration is taken away. We hold the vibration button down and wait until the dog touches the target, help them if needed, then release the button, taking away the mild, effective form of negative reinforcement.
How do you use a Clicker?
We start clicker training puppies as young as seven weeks old. A treat is placed in the hand between the pointer and ring finger, with the middle finger receding to provide backing so the treat does not slip out. This "target" is presented to the pup and we allow him to take the treat from our hand. As soon as the pup touches the hand we "click." After about 30 repetitions most dogs will be watching for the target very closely. If the dog is not interested in the food reward we can remove morning feedings and train before we feed or find a better food reward. Hot dog slices work extremely well when nothing else seems to elicit interest. We usually use 2-4 sessions, at 30 repetitions per session, before moving on to vibrate conditioning.
How do you use the Vibration Feature?
The trainers at Willow Creek Kennels have found the
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Do not reproduce or retransmit in any form, and we surf the web, we'll find you.
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