1. Clicker Training Is Permissive
Clicker training does not mean you will never tell a dog “no.” Behaviors that are reinforced with a click/treat will repeat; behaviors that are ignored will go away. Ignoring behaviors and/or NOT clicking/treating is telling the dog “no, that’s not what I want.”
2. A Clicker Is Forever
Some people think, “I will have to carry a clicker and treats with me everywhere for the rest of my dog’s life.” Once the dog’s history of reinforcement for a behavior is built and the behavior is on stimulus control, the click/treat reinforcement is no longer as important. It is, however, important to remember that to maintain behaviors, reinforcement of the behavior should still occur.
3. It’s A Juggling Act
You need to have three hands (or more!) to clicker train. Practice clicker mechanics just like you practice “sit” and “down.” Get your leash, clicker, and some treats (candy or something rewarding for you) and practice without a dog (hence the treats for you!). Another way to practice is to have someone bounce a ball while you click/treat when the ball hits the ground.
4. It’s Bribery
Some people also think, “My dog will only listen to me when I have a clicker/treats.” Dogs will not do what they are asked to do until they have learned the cue and the behavior. Once dogs understand the cue and know the behavior, this is no longer an issue. Using proper clicker training mechanics is also an important part in preventing bribery – keep those hands out of the treat pouch!
5. It Isn’t Applicable To Other People
Do you want your dog to listen to someone else? Then have that person train with your dog. Or if what you want is a dog who will listen to a variety of people (vet tech, groomer, dog walker, etc.), have a variety of people train with your dog so that your dog gets used to listening to a variety of people. It is not about training method — it is about generalization and training in general.
6. A Classroom Full Of Clicking Will Confuse A Dog
Life is not lived in a vacuum and dog training is not done in a vacuum. Dogs pay attention to the whole picture – body language, verbalization, emotion, clicker, treats, etc. Your dog absolutely knows which click is for her.
7. Clicker Training Is Limited
You can train everything with a clicker – from sit to housetraining to dog sports to working dogs. Everything.
8. You Can’t Use A Clicker For Dog Sports Or Therapy Dog Work
Clickers are not allowed in the ring or on therapy visits (with many registering organizations/groups). But you can certainly utilize clicker training to train and prepare your dog for these things (remember it’s about history of reinforcement and stimulus control). Fortunately, you can utilize the clicker in your warm-up routine (at competitions it is polite and good trial etiquette to warm up outside or away from the ring(s) if you are using a clicker so as not to distract the working dog(s)).
9. Clickers Won’t Help With Reactive Or Aggressive Dogs
Using a clicker to work with a reactive or aggressive dog can be very calming for the dog. Once the dog understands that click means reinforcement, it helps the dog feel more comfortable and confident. They enjoy knowing that a click means the same thing in the training space, at home, on the street, alone, with other dogs, etc. A clicker increases comfort and confidence in reactive dogs because it consistently reinforces the behaviors they should do in a trigger situation while creating a positive association.
10. Sound Sensitive Dogs Hate Clicker Training
There are a number of different clickers with different levels of sounds for dogs and for humans. Experiment! If you can’t find a clicker that your dog is comfortable with, try a clicking pen, a canning lid, children’s toys – be creative. You can also put your clicker in your pocket or behind your back to quiet the sound a bit. Always be careful not to click too close to a dog, especially his ears.
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