Home » Library » Enjoy » Karen's Letters

Beginners' Edge

Filed in - Karen's Letters

Beginners' Edge

More and more people are registering for all three ClickerExpos, Central in Chicago next month!, West in Berkeley in January, and ClickerExpo East in the Philadelphia area in March. Everyone is looking forward to three days of clicker excitement. Now and then, though, someone calls to say "I'm really just getting started with the clicker. Won't this all be too advanced for me?"

Not at all, and here's why.

If you're there to learn skills, we have workshops specially designed for the entry-level person. In Clicker Fun, with Emma Parsons, everyone can play The Training Game to and experience how clicker training works and what it feels like—to be the dog! In Clicker Solutions, with Melissa Alexander and volunteer coaches, you'll have a chance to see and perhaps work with people solving everyday pet-owner problems in just minutes, with clicks and treats. In A Moment of Science you'll get the whole basis of clicker training in a nutshell, explained by Kathy Sdao, one of the top instructors in the country. In Click for Life—about helping shelter dogs and cats with a clicker—you'll learn how volunteers with no clicker experience at all can make a big difference.

Secondly, a lot of the program will be fascinating, amazing, even, for anyone. Ken Ramirez on training sharks at Shedd Aquarium; Karen's Click a Critter program where you'll see and meet folks who clicker train their cats, parrots, hamsters, rabbits (great agility competitors, rabbits) and even pet fish. Angi Millwood on how clicker training is revolutionizing medical care of animals in the nation's zoos; and of course the noon-time rounds of the new sport, the Clicker Challenge.

But the most important reason to come to ClickerExpo, if you're a beginner, is the huge advantage you have in starting NOW. As Melinda Johnson puts it in her book, Clicker Training for Birds, "You don't need years of experience, because scientists, behaviorists, and pet owners have already done the work for you."

Some of us have been clicker training since the clicker technology ‘revolution' began among dog owners in 1992. Since that time the clicker community has made enormous strides. We've discovered a ton of shortcuts. We have MUCH faster ways of shaping and of adding cues than we did ten years ago. Speed shaping. Get a Cue. We've developed some standard techniques that save a lot of time, such as teaching targeting as the default behavior, an idea pioneered with horses, now standard with cats and birds and many zoo animals. We've dropped some clunky laboratory procedures that we don't need in our work, such as laboriously conditioning the clicker, or using food as bait. Sure you should lure? We're continually developing better and easier ways to teach people to click. There's lots more—I'll be discussing clicker advances in Thinking outside the [Skinner] Box.

And you, the newcomer, are the beneficiary. You don't have to struggle through the same learning curves we did. You start at the top of the escalator, able to begin at the level that we early-adopters have just reached.

It's like computers. I had an awful time with my first computer--‘word processing' was NOT easy to learn. I plowed through some terrible software learning curves, with some truly terrible softwear. Even the games could have you kicking the walls. My grandkids, however, start off where I am now, doing research on the internet, throwing graphics into their e-mails, playing amazing games. What was hard, then, is easy now.

Same with clicker training. That's why we're HAVING ClickerExpo, so everyone can get up to speed with clicker training the way it is today, not the way it began. If you are just starting, lucky you! Come to ClickerExpo; just THINK of the time you'll be saving.

New clicker big hit at APDT


When we set out to design the next generation clicker we had a lot of valuable input from the clicker community so we set clear goals and aimed high. The i-Click would cost about the same as a box clicker and deliver a world of improvement. It would be quieter. It would fit nicely in the hand. It would be easy to use even if you had long fingernails, or large hands, or were wearing gloves. It would be easy to click no matter how you held it – so we could help people improve their timing. And you'd be able to click with more parts of your body ­â€“ a palm, chin or foot – to help out those with disabilities or if you wanted to click while performing grooming tasks like clipping toe nails.

The first samples of our final design, the i-Click, arrived in September. We took 200 of them to the Association for Pet Dog Trainers Annual Conference to give away for testing and feedback. Greg and his wife Emma manned the Karen Pryor Clickertraining company booth.

Wow! They ran out of the new clickers in next to no time. The feedback both at the show and in the short email survey we sent out to those that received samples has been overwhelmingly positive. People loved the design and grasped right away that not only are the i-Clicks easier to use, and quieter, but you can click them in any position. Just as importantly, even though the click has a lighter sound, the dogs make the transfer instantly, (as did my cat). So if you want the next generation clicker, take a look at the i-Click.

Oh and to answer many of your questions, you can indeed get the i-Click with your own imprint and information. Contact wholesale@clickertraining.com

i-Click. You click. Now we all click.

About the author
User picture

Karen Pryor is the founder and CEO of Karen Pryor Clicker Training and Karen Pryor Academy. She is the author of many books, including Don't Shoot the Dog and Reaching the Animal Mind. Learn more about Karen Pryor or read Karen's Letters online.

Post new comment

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <embed> <object> <div>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Glossary terms will be automatically marked with links to their descriptions. If there are certain phrases or sections of text that should be excluded from glossary marking and linking, use the special markup, [no-glossary] ... [/no-glossary]. Additionally, these HTML elements will not be scanned: a, abbr, acronym, code, pre.
  • Each email address will be obfuscated in a human readable fashion or (if JavaScript is enabled) replaced with a spamproof clickable link.

More information about formatting options

To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.