Verbal vs. Nonverbal Markers

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by straw, Dec 5, 2012.

  1. straw

    straw New Member

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    Forgive me if this has been discussed before, but I'm curious...

    Do any of you believe a nonverbal marker (like a click) is stronger than a verbal one (such as 'yes')?

    What do you use when you train your dogs?

    I've always used my voice (a happy 'yes') as a marker because it is convenient -- it's something you always have handy, you're not going to forget to bring it on walks, and it's not something to juggle along with your leash, bait bag, toys etc. What about you?
     
  2. Maxy24

    Maxy24 Active Member

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    I think the clicker is often stronger than a verbal marker simply for it's uniqueness. Tucker has three markers. The clicker, "yes!", and a clicking noise I make with my mouth. The clicker appears to be the weakest, the clicking with my mouth appears to be the strongest. However I use the clicker so infrequently it's hard to say if it's even fully trained. so I can't really count that here.

    I think the "yes!" is weak because it sounds like how I talk all of the time, and as all dogs know most of what people say is useless. "Yes" is undoubtedly used when myself or others speak to him but it is not followed up with a treat, thus weakening it. It does work well in formal training sessions because he knows it always means something in that setting, and he's always listening to me in a formal training session, always waiting for information. But on walks or in real life scenarios he doesn't really notice I've said something important to him.


    I don't ever accidentally click with my mouth, it is 100% followed with a reward. It also sounds distinctively different than my talking voice which makes it easy to notice, not human babble to be ignored. I also use it almost exclusively on walks/out and about and never in formal training, so that might make a difference. He knows to listen for it because it appears out of the blue, "yes!" usually does not.


    I'd say if your dog appears to notice the marker (and looks happy about it) even in distracting scenarios then it's a good one for your dog.
     
  3. sassafras

    sassafras mushinois

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    When I am teaching a brand new skill I prefer the clicker, it's more precise. Once they kinda get it, I often switch to verbal. I also use verbal markers for mushing, because I don't really have another choice.
     
  4. Southpaw

    Southpaw orange iguanas.

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    I know that for my dogs, absolutely, a clicker is wayyyy stronger than a verbal marker.

    They hear my voice all the time. It's not a unique sound that jumps out at them, and when I use my voice as a marker, I don't always sound the same. It varies too much.

    A while ago in one of my obedience classes, there was a young dog being... well, a young dog. Not very focused, easily distracted. That went on for a couple classes. This was a positive reinforcement class but they didn't go too in depth about learning theory and markers and whatnot, for most people they were fine to just use "yes!" as a marker. But the trainer suggested to this owner that maybe she should start using a clicker instead of her voice, and that her dog might respond to that better. And yep.... the dog was much better with the clicker, more engaged and seemed to have an easier time learning.

    I'd like to just use a verbal marker, but it just doesn't get a strong reaction from my dogs like the clicker does.
     
  5. TuffStuff

    TuffStuff Twin 1

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    I use "yes" as a verbal marker. I haven't had any problems with it, but that may be because I don't talk much? I dunno.
     
  6. AdrianneIsabel

    AdrianneIsabel Glutton for Crazy

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    This is why I use a clicker when I'm training something new, I'm a horrible cheerleading chatterbox while training and I've never taught myself to shut up.
     
  7. Fran101

    Fran101 Resident fainting goat

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    This.
    If my marker was a word my dog would have to be very careful to select it out my running commentary lol

    plus.. I like being a cheerleader! lol
     
  8. Linds

    Linds Twin 2

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    This

    And

    I talk. A lot. All the time.

    So yes, for new behaviors and shaping things typically I use a clicker but I do make sure my verbal marker of "yes!" is always fresh because I use it a lot while out and around or after the idea of the behavior is understood.
     
  9. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

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    I agree with the others who think that the clicker is a stronger, more precise marker than a verbal marker.

    Personally I prefer a clicker - especially when I'm trying to shape something very specific - because MY timing is a lot better. For some reason I'm MUCH slower getting a word out than I am just moving my thumb, speaking seems to take more brainpower. :dunno: I did, however, used to work with a trainer who was actually a lot better with a verbal marker than the clicker, so maybe it's just that I've had a lot more practice with the clicker or something.
     
  10. JessLough

    JessLough Love My Mutt

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    I use "yes!". Mainly because she hates the sound of the clicker, and I hate the sound of a clicker, so getting her used to it wasn't a battle I was willing to fight :p

    ETA: I do squeaker training with the ferrets, and I've found it's a lot easier for me to just use "yes!". I'm clumsy trying to click things, apparently :lol-sign:
     
  11. spiffy

    spiffy New Member

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    I find the clicker to be a more effective marker. I'm a chatterbox and I talk to my dog all the time thus a happy "yes" can be confusing. Unlike a clicker that is more precise, the tone of the "yes" varies and therefore can be misunderstood by my dog.
     
  12. Dr. Zombie Snakes

    Dr. Zombie Snakes New Member

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    In formal training sessions, I'm so quiet I'm pretty amazed.

    In informal training, I talk. A lot. It's a lot of "Good boy" "Good job" "That's what I'm looking for" "Oh, hey, look a bug! Wait, you can't eat it! Oh my Goddess, I heard it crunch! That's gross, Lobo"

    So... The clicker is really useful for us. Lobo LOVES it. And I do, too!
     
  13. Hillside

    Hillside Original Twin

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    Even though we have tried to use them in the same manner, yes and the click mean totally different things for Nico. At yes, he will completely disengage from whatever behavior he was doing and bounce around like an idiot. A click has him anticipating his reward, but more often than not he will either hold his position (if we are doing something that involves positioning) or keep performing a behavior (if it is a behavior that involves DOING something). Even though they both mean he gets rewarded, he responds drastically different so I've adjusted to using them as each situation dictates.
     
  14. SaraB

    SaraB New Member

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    I believe the click is a lot more effective at least with my dogs. I tend to use a clicker for teaching elaborate behaviors or precise behaviors. I use yes when I can't use a clicker but I rarely use it when initially teaching a new behavior. I also tend to abuse my yes, meaning I'll use it and then not immediately reward my dog.
     
  15. Shai

    Shai & the Muttly Crew

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    I use the clicker when teaching very precise discrete behaviors or behavior chains.

    Otherwise I use Good as a verbal marker and Yes as a bridge.

    To quote our good friend Bob Bailey, "I'm not a fan of the 'ever-clicking' approach to training. The proper application of the clicker is that akin to using a scalpel to make fine cuts. However, the increasing use of reinforcement to get behavior is good, so I guess the prevalence of sloppy clicking is a price paid for trainers thinking more about reinforcement rather than punishment. Most pet owners seldom have need for a clicker, in my option; a clicker can easily get in the way of getting good behavior...I do think that sometime down the road most trainers will learn that the clicker is the most powerful single tool they have, and they will quit beating it to death and learn to exploit it to its highest potential."
     
  16. Shai

    Shai & the Muttly Crew

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    Oh for further reading, if interested:

    There was a small study done on 20 shelter dogs to compare the learning speed/efficiency of dogs during free shaping using a clicker vs. a verbal marker. The intent was to eliminate other factors such as relationship between dog and human, previous training history, yadda yadda and just see if the hypothesis that the clicker sound results in faster learning than a verbal marker, all else being equal, is actually true. Their conclusion was yes.

    I'm not what (if any) peer review this study underwent and it's obvious they had bias going in but still it is interesting.

    http://www.clickertraining.com/files/Wood_Lindsay_CLICKER_BRIDGING_STIMULUS_EFFICACY.pdf

    Skip to page 9 for the actual experiment.
     

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