The Animal is Always Right…or, Why I Love Clicker Training


At a seminar Bob Bailey once asked me to publicly defend my stated preference for free shaping for most training tasks seeing that it often takes longer, especially at first with a novice dog, and (as he said) you always run the risk of “junk” behaviors getting reinforced accidentally if the clicks are not accurate (which does happen in this video)… Well, here’s my answer: it isn’t that clicker training is superior to other methods. It just has a different goal. There are many highly effective, as well as perfectly humane (as well as highly inhumane) ways to get a dog to do a behavior, but teach a dog to *think*, and now you have a lifelong learning partner, fully able to fast-map training tasks in an extraordinarily efficient and joyous way.

Here in this “love poem” to clicker training, our two Z-dogs, Zydeco and Zoë, show us how it’s done!

(SHAMELESS PLUG: If you are interested in learning how to train your dog this way too, check out Start Smart, a handy intro to to the basics of clicker training I made in partnership with Lynn Martin and Helix Fairweather of Cyber Dog Online. Only $25! Don’t have a clicker trainer to learn from near you? Cyber Dog Online has a full, eight week basic manners course too!)

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