Once upon a time I was teaching a clicker class to this West Highland Terrier Club. People were laughing and clicking and two dozen little white dogs were learning different things all over the room. Then I noticed one woman just sitting there, with her dog hiding under her chair. "Don't you want to try? It's fun!" I said.
"Oh, it wouldn't work with MY dog," she said, glancing disdainfully around the room. Her air of certainty aroused my curiosity. Perhaps her dog had some unusual medical problem.
"Really?" I said. Why not?"
"My dog's from England!"
That was certainly the silliest reason I ever heard for why clicker training wouldn't work. It's a common assumption, though: "Clicker training might be fine for YOU but it couldn't possibly work in MY situation" (whatever that situation might be.) I call that one the my-dog's-from-England argument.
And there's a bunch more. Everyone who loves the clicker hears them over and over.
"I don't see why I can't just use my voice."
"Will I ALWAYS have to use a clicker? I can't carry a clicker everywhere!"
"Shouldn't dogs work for love? How soon do you get rid of the treats?"
"What if the dog DELIBERATELY does something wrong?"
Sometimes the questioner is genuinely worried, and trying to understand. Click. Sometimes they are playing 'Gotcha.' "See? Bet you never thought of that little difficulty, did you." (No click. We've heard that one before...again and again...)
NOW! Clicker answers in Melissa Alexander's CLICK FOR JOY!
But now! You can have the answers. And not just the answers, complete and accurate, you need for students, friends, family, skeptics, and critics. In this wonderful book are the also answers to all the questions you may have, yourself, as you move forward in your clicking experience. [picture of cover of book]
The book is delightfully well written, with a clean, open design and dozens of sidebars of first-person Success Stories and Food for Thought. It's fun to just open and flip through. The cross-referencing, visual coding, and index make it easy to use.
Advanced clicker training explained
Most important, though, is the training advice! Here is the beyond-basics stuff you really need! This is clicker information that has not really been available or laid out clearly and specifically for the dog trainer--until now. And it's presented so simply that you can turn just about any topic into a lesson plan, for students or for yourself.
For example Chapter 9, "Making the Behavior Perfect," includes:
- Different ways to add the cue
- Developing duration of behavior (as in long sits and downs, or protracted searches)
- How to add distance with the clicker
- How to build tremendous reliability into any behavior-with the clicker
- Using the clicker to 'proof' against distractions-ANY distractions
- How clicker trainersgeneralize behavior across any new circumstance or location
Chapter 10, on reliability and fluency, gives advanced trainers a whole set of very specific clicker tools for building higher levels of performance in ANY competition or working dog. So if you're training field dogs, or drug detection dogs, or guide dogs for the blind, or police patrol dogs, or whatever...this chapter will be a gold mine for you.
Chapter 12, Problem Solving, covers clicker solutions for everyday problems such as chewing and jumping up-but it does MUCH more. For example it introduces you in considerable detail to how we clicker trainers use our techniques for counteracting shyness and fear. And this chapter also introduces you to using the clicker to treat aggression, whether dog to dog or dog to person. Didn't think it could be done? Well it can; and it's very interesting. Read Melissa's book and see.