Automating clicker training with PupPod
The foundation of PupPod is based on operant conditioning, more specifically positive reinforcement, and the well-known training technique of clicker training. With clicker training, when a behavior is ‘marked’ with a click, dogs begin to recognise that there is an association with the click, a good behavior and, most importantly, a reward.
Once dogs gain familiarity with the click and how it is used by either pet parents, dog trainers or PupPod, they are able to learn new skills quickly. PupPod effectively supports clicker training for dogs in multiple ways.
In this blog we’ll delve a little deeper into what clicker training is and why it’s a favored method, before discussing some of the pawsome benefits of using PupPod for clicker training.
What is clicker training?
Clicker training is a type of positive reinforcement training – a technique that increases the likelihood of a dog performing desirable behaviors due to the association with a positive outcome, such as food or attention.
What makes clicker training different to other kinds of positive reinforcement training is the use of, you guessed it, a clicker. The clicker is a simple a tool that makes a clicking sound, usually controlled by pet parent or dog trainer.
A clicker would be used to ‘mark’ a behavior as soon as your dog performs it. For example, if you wanted to teach your dog ‘paw’, the second your dog gives you their paw, you would activate the clicker, marking the behavior, and then follow up with a food reward.
Why clicker training?
Clicker training is about creating an association with a sound to a treat. When dog’s build the understanding that a behavior ultimately leads to a treat, it increases the likelihood of the behavior continuing.
Clicker training is a relatively straightforward for pet parents to achieve these goals built around a cue -> mark -> reward framework. It also helps to establish a dog-to-human communication through the use of a simple tool and boosts canine learning. Below are some more reasons why clicker training is a useful training technique.
Success at speed!
What makes clicker training so favorable to pet parents and dog trainers is the speed at which it can be done. There are some tricks or behaviors where a reward cannot be given quick enough to successfully mark the action. Activating a clicker sound is a reactive way to quickly mark a behavior.
Praise from a distance
Teaching a dog to go to their place on command - like a mat or dog bed – is a good example of where clicker training is useful. If you are sat on the couch, but their mat or bed is across the room, you are likely too far to give them a reward for following the command. The click can mark the behavior and, once they know what the click means, they can understand that this is a behavior we like, and wait for their treat!
Helps dogs to distinguish
Verbal and physical praise aren’t always clear forms of rewarding as with the clicker trainer technique. We give this kind of praise to our dogs a lot, and they know it’s a good thing, but they might not be able to distinguish the behavioral praise from your daily cuddle. The click of a button is also much quicker than running over to your dog to give them a belly rub and a “good boy!”.
Clicker training a dog with PupPod
If you want to start using clicker training for your pup, then PupPod is a great place to begin! Not only will it help establish and automate training, but it is used by lots of our customers alongside it, to optimise dog cognition, problem solving abilities and concentration.
Charging the clicker
Firstly, what is effective about using PupPod for clicker training is that it helps dogs to learn what the click actually means.
Charging the clicker essentially means creating an association in your dog’s brain between the sound of the click and a reward. This process works to change the way your dog thinks about the clicker, from a redundant noise to something more significant.
Charging the clicker is a process that can be done by pet parents and trainers, but PupPod is a good way to help build on that association, too. As dogs play with PupPod they will begin to understand through a process of trial and error, that when they perform a desired behavior (in this case, touching on cue), marked by a click, this means they get a treat!
Ensure that you customize the PupPod settings so that the clicker sound is used. Other sounds can be used in the same way, however the clicker sound is one that can be used to support other training efforts more easily.
Dispensing sequence and timing
Timing is one of the most important components to successful clicker training. The ‘mark’ needs to be as instantaneous as it can be following the performance of a behavior that wants reinforcing.
A significant benefit of PupPod for clicker training is that the timing between behavior and mark, or click, is less than half a second (around 300-400 milliseconds). This timing is something that usually only the most experienced trainers can achieve!
The dispensing sequence is a ritual of behavior, mark and reward, and it’s good to keep consistency within this ritual, with timing between the behavior and the click being the most important aspect.
The click-to-reward time is also important, but it doesn’t have to be as rapid. With PupPod, dogs wait a few seconds for their treat. This helps to encourage patience and remains within the time frame for dogs to still understand the association between behavior and reward.
Automating clicker training
PupPod is an automated approach to clicker training. As a dog interacts with the game, touching on cue, the Feeder will make a ‘click’ sound and then will then dispense a treat. The smart toy controls all aspects of clicker training, reacting to a dog’s behavior and activating a click sound without you needing to!
Automating clicker training erases human error, keeping that all-important timing aspect as precise and quick as it can be!
The great thing about the automation of PupPod for clicker training is that it’s repeatable. Your dog can keep learning time and time again, in a way that is consistent, repeatable and reliable, without human error.
PupPod is infinitely patient! While us humans can have short attention spans, get frustrated easily and have limited time, PupPod can automate clicker training without giving up. Training and positively conditioning your dog can take a lot of time and often in long stints. As long as your dog wants to learn and play, the PupPod will be there to respond to them – a great time saver for you!
Keeps training fun
Clicker training with PupPod keeps dogs entertained and having fun, while also learning. So, when you’re clicker training without PupPod, your pup should have more excitement to engage with you and ‘play’ along with their training.
Dogs are smart creatures who love to learn, and equally love to play! Dogs can view clicker training as a game, working hard to earn a click and get their reward.
PupPod completes the puzzle
PupPod can help familiarize your dog with clicker training and the basis of how it works. Giving all the pieces of the puzzle – cue, marker and reward, the electronic dog toy works to help your dog learn through a process that is free from human error – and saves you some time.
Training with a dog can be a tiring process. Using PupPod alongside training can help keep your bond strong, taking some of the frustrations off your hands so you can spend more time together that you both enjoy.