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 Trouble charging the mark

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joemamma474
Newborn
Newborn


Male Join date : 2015-02-28
Location : Michigan

Trouble charging the mark Empty
PostSubject: Trouble charging the mark   Trouble charging the mark EmptySat Feb 28, 2015 10:02 pm

Hi all,

My wife and I just got an 2 month old husky last week.  His name is Tuco.  He has been home with us for about a week now and overall he has been doing pretty well - potty training accidents but much less than expected, whining in the crate at night but slowly improving, no accidents in the crate, etc.  However, I have been having trouble getting him started with formal training.  I'm not really sure what to expect, since I've seen videos of people training dogs younger than ours (he is now nine weeks old).  I am trying to use "clicker" training (but using a "yes" mark instead of a clicker).  On multiple occasions in the past week I have tried to "charge the mark" with treats, but he hasn't really demonstrated understanding yet.  I tried it with the same treats at the beginning, but I found some treats he seemed more interested in and tried with them as well.  One major problem is that when he has any significant amount of treats during the day (maybe more than like 7 pieces) he seems to experience diarrhea, and it looks bad.  I can only attribute it to treats, because when he doesn't have any during the day the stools seem much more "normal."  So, how can I charge the mark if I am so limited in the amount of treats I can give him?  Has anyone found treats that don't cause this problem?  Is he too young to be having multiple treats throughout the day (and I have been breaking them into small pieces)?  Please HELP!  I want to start training so we can get him under better control and I really am not sure what to do!Trouble charging the mark 1625187496
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seattlesibe
Senior
Senior
seattlesibe

Male Join date : 2013-02-05
Location : seattle, wa

Trouble charging the mark Empty
PostSubject: Re: Trouble charging the mark   Trouble charging the mark EmptySun Mar 01, 2015 3:58 am

You have already answered one of your questions: yes, you are giving him too many treats. In general, training based on treats is risky, as you are conditioning your puppy to expect a pay out for compliance to your commands, which will become problematic down the road. But, you are clearly overdoing it if you are causing him to have diarrhea; that's just a fact and not an opinion or judgment.

Also, 9 weeks old is incredibly young. What exactly are you expecting at this age? Can you clarify what type of training you are doing and what you are expecting at this age?

Can you elaborate on what "charging the mark" is and how you are doing it?
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joemamma474
Newborn
Newborn


Male Join date : 2015-02-28
Location : Michigan

Trouble charging the mark Empty
PostSubject: Re: Trouble charging the mark   Trouble charging the mark EmptySun Mar 01, 2015 11:47 am

Well the reason I asked is because 7 bitesize morsels spread throughout the day (fractions of a treat) was surprising to me that it would cause diarrhea. So, I was struggling to figure out how to reward him if he can only handle 2-3 rewards per day.
As far as what I am expecting from him, I just wanted to see an indication that he was developing an understanding that "yes" means "a reward is coming." So I wanted to see him look for food when he heard yes or become a little excited. I'm not expecting him to do anything elaborate, I just wanted him to demonstrate attention.
"Charging the mark" is just a name for how to teach an animal that the "mark" (sometimes a click sound, or in this case "yes") means that a reward is coming, so I can use it to capture the exact moment he completed the behavior I was looking for. In order to do so, he needs to have this word associated with reward, which essentially means I say the word and then give him the reward a second later.
I heartily disagree with the idea that training with treats is "dangerous" down the line. It could certainly be dangerous if someone fails to fade out the reward over time, but as a basic principle of behaviorism, a random reinforcement schedule provides the strongest response of all, in all animals including humans. I can't expect an animal to just "do things" without having some sort of reward, be it food or play or anything else. But per what you are saying the same problem would be true no matter what reinforcer you choose (he will only do things because he is going to get play afterward, or praise afterward, or something else). The trick is just to fade out the reward gradually but still include it at times. That is just the knowledge of decades of behavioral science. So I'm not really sure what you are recommending needs to be done in order to train an animal.
Regardless, I started having more success this morning by having him earn his kibble. He picked up pretty quickly on coming when called, sitting, down, and eye contact. So, hopefully this is the start of good progress. Thank you for the feedback and questions.
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seattlesibe
Senior
Senior
seattlesibe

Male Join date : 2013-02-05
Location : seattle, wa

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PostSubject: Re: Trouble charging the mark   Trouble charging the mark EmptySun Mar 01, 2015 5:23 pm

Well what types of treats are you using? How many different types have you tried?

If you're going to play the science card, part of that is accurate quotations. I didn't use the word "dangerous" at all nor did I imply any danger, so you're defense is a bit misconstrued. I said risky and problematic, for reasons having much to do with what you've described in your response.

This is not really the place to debate the validity of how science is or isn't accurately utilized in positive reinforcement behaviorism, as I trust you and I both know where that debate ends up. Other types of reinforcers include toys, playing , or the best of all simply getting to hang out with you more due to good, obedient behavior. Having to continually find relevant reinforcement is only an issue if you are solely using the positive reinforcement aspect of behaviorism. The other aspects of behaviorism that are far too readily ignored allow you to utilize other motivators and reinforcement.

As for practical help for you, I think a more age appropriate level of expectations and different types of treats should get you back on track. I've found either simply meat or veggies, like carrots or snap peas, work really well and don't cause issues with poop the same way that grainy type of treats, like kibble or "cookie" types, seem to do.
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joemamma474
Newborn
Newborn


Male Join date : 2015-02-28
Location : Michigan

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PostSubject: Re: Trouble charging the mark   Trouble charging the mark EmptySun Mar 01, 2015 6:09 pm

Well certainly I utilize all aspects of behaviorism - positive reinforcement, punishment when appropriate.  I didn't mean to say dangerous, I was referring to the comment about it being "risky."  I just get frustrated when there is a question about the validity of the science, since in school and in my job I am made aware of the overwhelming scientific support.  Not debating it, just expressing why I become frustrated with it, probably in much the same way a client scientist becomes frustrated in their own field when the population may discount or not understand their research.  Of course there are several aspects to behaviorism more than just giving treats, so I didn't mean to sound like I was oversimplifying it, nor trying to debate.  I have seen a lot of people claiming to understand behavioral principles and using them in training but doing it "wrong" because of their timing, or just a lot of other errors.  I'm a lot more careful than that in my own training.  
So you find that just regular foods don't tend to cause the issues with bowel movements?  That is helpful.  I'm well aware of his limitations and I don't expect him to be running obstacle courses.  Just to start being receptive to the idea of training and showing some interest.  At any rate, again, I'm noticing more success today with a mix of kibble and treats.  In fact he is still wanting to "perform" for kibble right now even though there is some readily available in his dish.  Smile
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seattlesibe
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Senior
seattlesibe

Male Join date : 2013-02-05
Location : seattle, wa

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PostSubject: Re: Trouble charging the mark   Trouble charging the mark EmptySun Mar 01, 2015 6:22 pm

Is his normal food kibble?

One thing you could do is take whatever amount he eats in a day, and then just divide that amount up into his training routines.  So, the food he gets isn't excess, but rather just his normal daily amount of food.

Hunger, is a very powerful motivator be behavior modification Wink

Science isn't perfect. As a premise of science, it is implied that it isn't perfect. It is also used to manipulate and market is less than perfect ways.

I guess, I am just wary of science being used as an irrefutable, untouchable trump card.


Last edited by seattlesibe on Sun Mar 01, 2015 6:26 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Playing with the Big Dogs
Adult
Adult
Playing with the Big Dogs

Female Join date : 2013-12-04
Location : Idaho

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PostSubject: Re: Trouble charging the mark   Trouble charging the mark EmptySun Mar 01, 2015 6:24 pm

If your pup is really food motivated (as most are at this age) you could use his kibble and not treats. When my boy was young we would mesure out his food for the day in a mason jar and use it through out the day for training and rewards and for stuffing his kong and only gave him a little food actually in his bowl.
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Playing with the Big Dogs
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Adult
Playing with the Big Dogs

Female Join date : 2013-12-04
Location : Idaho

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PostSubject: Re: Trouble charging the mark   Trouble charging the mark EmptySun Mar 01, 2015 6:25 pm

Jeff I think we posted almost at the same time. Great minds think alike I guess. Wink
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seattlesibe
Senior
Senior
seattlesibe

Male Join date : 2013-02-05
Location : seattle, wa

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PostSubject: Re: Trouble charging the mark   Trouble charging the mark EmptySun Mar 01, 2015 6:26 pm

Jynx

Smile
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joemamma474
Newborn
Newborn


Male Join date : 2015-02-28
Location : Michigan

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PostSubject: Re: Trouble charging the mark   Trouble charging the mark EmptySun Mar 01, 2015 9:21 pm

Thank you. He definitely seems to be working well today with using the kibble (which is his normal food). He caught on very quickly and is reliably producing a good "come here" and "sit" and making eye contact when I use his name. Of course, that is just today, so we'll see how much he forgets by tomorrow. I can tell it exhausts him to use his brain power, but he was very interested and followed me around for most of the day even without any food on me....and that was with food in his dish. He seems to like "working" for his food even when given a choice. Very Happy
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