Sunday, October 24, 2010

20. Four Ways to Teach Behaviors

The first four are the most commonly used in Clicker Training

1. Luring-this involves having the horse follow a food or toy reward to move through the physical motion you want to get him to do. You want to fade the lure as quickly as possible so the horse does not start to rely on it as a cue to the do the behavior and also becaseu it is a primary reinforcer-that is the horse doesn't need to be conditioned (or trained to know what it is) and therefore it becomes much more difficult to remove once the horse ecpects it as part of the cue for the behavior.

2. Targeting-this involves teaching the horse to target a hand, stick or other object as a way to focus him on the spot or to move him or as the beginning of a more complex chained behavior such as a retrieve. Different parts of the body can be taught as the target: nose, foot, shoulder, hip, butt, chin etc. It can be used to have a horse follow (as in luring but requires more thouhgt from the horse), to send the horse away from you, to stand still on a spot, to load into a trailer, turn around and much more.

3.Capturing-This is an easy way to get any behaviors that your horse does naturally. It involves catching your horse doing a behavior you want to have control over (add a cue to). Standing, moving, stopping, sniffing things, snorting, calling, lip curling, laying down, turning are examples etc. It can take some patience to use this method as you have to set up the situation and then wait for the desired behavior, but if your horse understands how the clicker works, it might also be the easiest way to get a complex behavior on cue.

4. Shaping-This is the best use of the clicker. Think of shaping as capturing little tiny bits of a behavior in steps until the horse is able to do the entire behavior. Or that you take a picture of each tiny step that makes up a more complex behavior. Look back at Teach the Food Zen or 'not mugging' behavior in post 8. This was a process of shaping. Once your horse understands the process of how to shape, he can learn behaviors very quickly. It takes a little time to develop the skill of shaping in both you and your horse, but is well-worth it later on when you can get behaviors very quickly than other training methods.

5. Modeling-This could also be called 'learning by observation'. Some animals learn easily by watching another of its kind do a behavior. When stuck at any point, I use this with my dogs and they usually can do the behavior after seeing the other dogs do it. It is most effective to use it for social behavior as that is its most common application.

6. Molding -This involves physically manipulating an animal to do a behavior. Lifting a horse's foot to teach him a foot lift is a good example. With a large animal for gross movement behaviors, this can be difficult and dangerous unless the horse is already trained to be comfortable with you manipulating his body.

7. Allelomimetic Behavior/Social Facilitation: This involves using behavioral activities of a herd or group of animals that have strong components of social facilitation, imitation, and group coordination. (How the herd turns together when faced with a threat etc.) This type of learning is naturally exhibited in horses and other social animals like dogs & deer but can be used to teach skittish animals to accept humans or other things that are fearful of.

No comments:

Post a Comment