Clicker Training – Law 6 of Shaping Behaviour


Once you are underway with clicker training (positive reinforcement) you can teach your horse anything.  However, there are some keys to training that are key to successful teaching of clicker training.  These rules or laws were defined by Karen Pryor (from her book;  Pryor K (1999) Don’t Shoot the Dog! Bantam Books, USA) and the 6th law is presented below with my explanation of the rule.  Check back each week for a new law for shaping behaviours.

When clicker training your horse, if behaviour start to break down, you can’t seem to get to your end goal, get stuck at one point in the path towards your end goal, then check in with the 10 rules of shaping and it will be one or more of these rules that are affecting how and how quickly you get to the end goal….

Law 6:  Don’t change trainers in midstream. You can have several trainers per trainee, but stick to one shaper per behaviour

Each trainer will have a slightly different way of training things.  Even if you show the new trainer they way you have been teaching something, they will have a slightly different eye for what is clickable.  So although it is not impossible to have 2 trainers clicker training the same horse, it is not effective (and appears to be confusing to the horse) to have those trainers training the same behaviour.  If you have more than one person training the horse, make sure they are training different behaviours.

Imagine, or perhaps this has happened to you, you are learning something new and the instructor changes half way through.  It takes time to tune in to what they new trainer is trying to achieve and how they are trying to achieve it.  Then imagine you just got used to that trainer and they changed back again !

If you do many different activities where you require a different trainer for each (e.g. one for jumping, one for dressage etc), this is easier to deal with because they are each teaching you a different task.  You may prefer the teaching style of one of the trainers, but you can easily switch from one to the other because you are also switching end goal. 

SMAART Horses

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