Saturday, March 20, 2010

Lumpers V. Splitters

In clicker training, particularly in shaping there is a concept called "lumping" and "splitting". I think most humans by habit are lumpers. I know I am.

Lumping is a term in clicker training that refers too asking for a complete finished behavior before your dog knows how to do that behavior.

So it goes like this: we want to teach a dog to lay down. We tell the dog, very earnestly and lovingly, "Down!" Pup looks at us and is thinking, "I know you want me to do something Mom, but what is it?" While they are thinking they stand there patiently waiting for more information, for a better explanation. Which to us looks "stubborn" when really we just haven't given enough explanation.

Meanwhile as they stand there thinking, we as humans stand there thinking impatiently, "Why won't this dog lay down? I have told her 25 times and she won't lay down!" Come on admit it, we've all been there.lol

Enter the beauty of splitting. Splitting is exactly what it sounds like. You picture the finished behavior and split it into many smaller behaviors. And with the right timing of the clicker you are able to reward any behavior in the right direction to the finished behavior you want. This is a wonderfully fun way to teach something because, really, who doesn't like to get paid for being successful? We all do, and so do our dogs.

As an example in L2 Tricks it states: Dog performs a trick of the partners choice. It may be very simple. L3 Tricks is much the same, but it has to be a shaped trick. So I chose to start shaping Maizey to ring a bell that sits on the floor.

Now think of this in lumping. I imagine it would go something like this, "Maizey here's a bell ring it!" At which point she looks at me as if I'm nuts and offers me 5 things she already knows all of which have nothing to do with ringing the bell.

But picture this w/ splitting, there are plethora of behaviors she can offer me that are in the right direction of actually ringing the bell. She looks at this strange shiny thing, click/treat!(c/t) she walks closer to it one step c/t! Two steps c/t! Sniffs it c/t! nudges it w/ her nose (can you hear me cheering?) c/t! and so on until she accidentally hits the little button and "DING!" c/t! and a huge cheer from me! She is excited and I am excited, I mean just look at all the things she did right! Do I care that the actual ringing of the bell was an accident? NOT AT ALL! It gave me the chance to reinforce the final behavior I want and then in the next session I can just go back to splitting. Gradually you can ask for more behaviors in the right direction before you c/t. But in the beginning if is important to have a high rate of reinforcement to encourage the dog to keep offering behaviors.

Here are two video's that show her third session.


You can notice in this clip we end on a successful "ding" of the bell.


Obviously I'm not a pro at this (yet;)) but hopefully this shows the basic concept. And please forgive the goofy 'dog talk' and probably just get used to it. The more enthusiastic I sound the more enthusiastic she is.

4 comments:

soggibottom said...

Ha, look at the babies.
Amie soto blossom used to look like that. AH..... she still does to us.
ah.ah. ah.
First on the Christmas card list then babies.
Really good to see you at the cottage. X X X

katie said...

Even if in years they are grown, in our hearts they stay sweet babies! Thx for visiting, your Amie is a beauty;)

Marie said...

How fun! I love the videos! :-)

katie said...

it is fun! I love teaching tricks, it is less worry to me if my timing's not great or I make one of the other jillion mistakes I usually make.lol

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Lessons From and For 4 Legs has moved to a new address: http://www.lessonsfrom4legs.com. Where we will continue to learn life's lessons from my little Cavalier King Charles Spaniel's, Maizey and Magnus. Don't miss Meeka's lessons too, by checking the archives of my big girl rescue Rottie. They all teach me so much!