One of the greatest challenges clicker trainers face is making the technique palatable to the average dog owner. Most dogs seem to get it right away. A few well timed clicks paired with a valuable reward and it is easy to get a bouncy, pouncy pooch to sit calmly and focused next to you. On the flip side, most people take years to learn the intricacies of timing, reward schedules and all of the terminology that accompanies research that dates back to Pavlov’s dogs.
Since the inception of the Clicker Leash Co., our primary focus has been to boil clicker training down to concepts that can be understood and applied by the everyday pet owner in five minutes or less. We have attended numerous trade shows and expos where we have been competing with countless other products and dog training techniques. Often we have 30 seconds or less to get people’s attention and peak their interest before they move on to the next tantalizing booth.
We have found the key to reaching most people is to stay away from the jargon that we and other fellow “dog geeks” (we use the term affectionately and with pride) love to throw around. We have broken the years of science down into a few simple concepts. “If you like it, click it” is one of our favourite phrases that we use to explain how to use a clicker. Instead of taking hours to explain the four quadrants of learning theory to people, we sum things up with this one pivotol sentence. The concept is simple and it is catchy so it will stick in people’s heads much easier than positive and negative reinforcement and punishment. We try to use lots of real life, human examples when we explain our training methods so people can quickly visualize and relate to what we are saying.
We also focus on the emotional aspects of clicker training. Let’s face it, this is why most people fall in love with the technique. It enriches the bond people share with their dogs. Because it is such an effective training tool, clickers make people feel a great sense of pride in their dog. Clicker training builds respect and trust into our relationships and this is key to winning people over from dominance-based camps. Dog ownership is evolving into dog parenting and people are looking for ways to train their dogs without using fear and harsh corrections.
Please leave a comment and share your ideas on how to quickly and effectively relay the benefits of clicker training and positive reinforcement to the average dog owner so we can all learn from each other. Together we can make dog-friendly techniques mainstream and relegate punishment and dominance-based methods to a corner of the past!