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The queen of clicker training, Karen Pryor, released her new book “Reaching the Aninal Mind” yesterday and the launch garnered her a spot on Good Morning America. Kudos Karen! If you missed the show you can watch it here. Karen demonstrated clicker training with a bouncy five-month-old Golden Retriever puppy who had been recently adopted by one of the show’s staff members. She worked with the puppy for ten minutes the day before and taught it a nose touch on her hand, explaining that this was a foundation behavior that could be used to get the pup to go wherever you would like without using force. She had the puppy jump onto the couch and then jump off (it was very good at jumping on her too!).
We are happy Karen got the exposure that she did for clicker training but we would have liked to have seen a clearer explanation as to how people can incorporate it into their everyday lives and all of the benefits that come with this method like the enriched bond it forms between human and canine, the speed with which animals learn, the safety of clicker training and the fact that you don’t always have to use food treats to reward the dog. The host even made a comment about all of the treats and the dog getting fat. In our opinion, this is one of the greatest obstacles for clicker training. People who don’t understand conditioned responses and the fact that you gradually eliminate your rewards when you use clicker training argue that the dog isn’t working for the person, they are just working for the food. It is important that people know they can use ANYTHING the animal wants or needs to make clicker training work for them and this point was not driven home. If you control the resources, you control the dog.
Could Karen have won over a lot of dominance-based trainers and people who love dog whispering by explaining that a clicker helps them control the resources in their dog’s life thus making the person important to the dog? We have found that when you use clicker training, you become the gateway to wonderful things which helps instil a great deal of respect between you and your dog. Hopefully this is just the beginning of clicker training’s journey into the mainstream and as we all get more practiced at speaking with the media we will be able to clearly get our key messages across and make an impact on the general dog owning public.