Why I’m not ONLY a clicker teacher

May 4, 2008

I love clicker training- I really do! I think it’s absolutely the MOST fantastic tool out there for teaching complex behaviors to dogs, and the precision that’s possible with it is WONDERFUL. That said? I don’t think it’s the only- or even the best way- to teach people to train their dogs at the most basic levels.

Please understand- this article is NOT an attack on clicker training, and I think for many people and their dogs, it IS the right choice. However, I am a little bit sick of seeing it touted as the only choice- because it isn’t. All of these points primarily apply to the VERY basic type of obedience class geared towards a pet owner whose main need is to control their dog, with no interest in dog sports, CGC testing, or anything else- pet owners who are just looking for a basic level of control that will allow them to live with their dog. The typical student for this class has only one dog at a time, and may be on their first – or fourth- dog, but has a fairly limited range of experience with dogs other than ‘they’re nice’ and little to no training or behavioral background. They may or may not need instruction in the basics of responsible dog ownership (where there are leash laws in your city, why to spay/neuter, how to keep a dog confined properly, how to housebreak a dog), and frequently, their last experience owning an untrained dog (if any) was their childhood housepet (trained by their parents) or a previous dog which died of old age and whose puppyhood was many years- and possibly a revolution in training- ago.

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