View Full Version : Clicker madness

06-17-2009, 01:40 PM
After a LOT of prodding, I finally gave in and let a lady try clicker training with my dogs. Penny got over excited with the clicking sound. She reacted the same way she does with squeeky balls, she started trying to get that thing- jumping around and snapping her teeth. When we first started, the lady asked me to go out of sight- my dogs kept staring at me, so to not confuse them, I was out of their sight, but could watch. This trainer does not believe in any kind of corrections. I wanted her to tell Penny to "settle" but she didn't want to force her to do anything. She was going to click & treat whenever she calmed down- only she didn't calm down. She wanted to see the clicker! When she finally sit still for a moment, the lady clicked. I understood what the lady was trying to do, but I also understood what my little red head was thinking. She was not being calm- she was looking at that women the way she looks at livestock- staring & twitching her tail! She jumped up when the clicker came out and bit the womens hand. She was not being aggressive IMO- just out of control prey drive. Long story short, the lady ended up with a swollen, bloody hand and refused to work anymore. She then worked with my submissive boy (only after my female was put in the house) He ignored the clicker, but got very persistant wanting the treats. I thought he might like the training, as he is very submissive, but I've found out he is not submissive to everyone. Many of the folks I train with have worked with him, but they are more forceful trainers than I, so he is submissive. But he showed me a side of himself that I had never seen- he was being a bully- jumping up on the lady and trying to take treats out of her treat bag. Everytime he did something (and wasn't corrected) he got even more pushy. She tried the same thing she did with my female- waited until he was sitting still and clicked & treated- but from my perspective- he was exibiting the same behavior- staring, twitching tail- she gave him a treat and told him he was a good dog, then tried to pet him. He took the opportunity to grab her treat bag- when she tried to take it from him, he bit her:s4: From now on, I will be sure anyone trying something new with my dogs knows what they are doing! I'm sorry she got hurt. I don't abuse my dogs, but I still think that sometimes you need to tell the dog (in a no nonsense voice) to behave. I'm still trying to figure this no-correction thing out.

06-17-2009, 01:52 PM
LOL And that is why my dogs are never handed over to anyone! I HATE the totally old style training, and I HATE the new style, both for the same reason: They take it to extremes, and there is not room to work with the individual dog. Training, IMHO must be tailored to the DOG and can and often should be a little of both. There are several "methods" of teaching a dog what a command means (to get "technical" they include): Molding, Modeling, Capturing, Shaping, Luring) but these defintions are narrow and in reality the number is several times that if you take the different ways these can be applied into account.
Cyndi, if you ever want a different idea on how to use clickering (I can give you many different ways to use it in different senarios) let me know :)

06-17-2009, 02:14 PM
I usually don't let strangers work my dogs, but I was looking out the window the whole time- but unfortunately that didn't stop the women from getting hurt. When they started to get pushy, I should have come out and stopped it- right there! I'm an old style trainer, but I don't think the things I do are harmful to my dogs. I would have given Penny a loud ANK! and she would have settled down. I do use the prong collars if she is not paying attention and her heeling is off and I would have grabbed her collar and gave her a little shake and a loud NO! for trying to take the clicker- nothing that I consider cruel, but a lot of new trainers are teaching that any correction will damage a dogs spirit! This whole concept worries me. My favorite training method is the Volhard method. Some corrections, but in no way too harsh (IMO)

06-17-2009, 02:26 PM
I train multiple dogs and I can tell you none are exactly the same (some are more similar to each other than others).... Some would do ok with Volhard, a couple would be miserable... I really like a lot of Micheal Ellis stuff:)

06-17-2009, 03:05 PM
Cindy: I'm thinking your submissive boy had the smell of blood in him (from the trainer's hurt hand from your strong girl), which probably amped him up a bit. Sorry she got hurt, but I guess this lady isn't used to the ACD personality, is she?!?

06-17-2009, 03:18 PM
I . I really like a lot of Micheal Ellis stuff:)

I just missed one of his seminars! He was here in Texas! I've got some video clips from the Leerburg site I'm watching tonight. I'll catch him sooner or later- hopefully, he will keep doing seminars.

06-17-2009, 03:18 PM
We almost gave up on Ozzie the first couple of months - going to positive-only obedience classes and using modern training techniques that included NO discipline - only positive reinforcement. We are by no means harsh, but Ozzie seems to respect us way more when we do make it very clear that a behavior is not acceptable. It certainly hasn't made him submissive or timid, and now that he is under control and knows exactly what he can or cannot do, he is a much happier dog.

06-17-2009, 04:32 PM
Yikes. That lady sounds like she was pretty clueless about cattle dogs (and maybe other dogs, too). I did clicker training with Buck and we had good success with it, but you definitely have to know the dog to know what will or won't work. Trying to do the same techniques with all dogs just says to me that the trainer doesn't know what they are doing. I'm sorry she got hurt, but maybe it will open her eyes and keep from getting hurt worse. :no:

06-17-2009, 04:45 PM
If we've learned anything w/ ACDs is that you have to be consistent and firm in training from the get go. Dogs read energy and I'd guess this woman's energy was not calm nor alpha so your dogs picked up on that thus the problems. She also needs to take into account the breed. You have to let ACDs know in no uncertain terms when their behavior is unacceptable or it will be repeated. That doesnt mean be cruel but just let them know w/ consistent firm corrections that the behavior is not acceptable. I'd guess with the first incident w/ your female it shook her up and her energy was even worse and even fearful so your normal submissive male knew he could easily dominant her and reacted in a similar way. Apparently she doesnt have a clue how smart these dogs are much less how to handle them. These dogs need to know who the boss is or they'll run all over you. It be interesting to know if she's really had much experience as a dog trainer. If she has she should be watching and understanding their body language and realize what was really going on. A slight change in their stance can mean a dog fight or attack is about to happen. If your dogs reacted to her they way they did I'd suspect she was doing everything she could wrong. It's unfortunate it happened but I dont think it is anyones fault but her own. Hopefully this was a learning experience for her which she'll take to heart and make some significant changes in her training methods. If she is fearful of big dogs then she needs to stick w/ small ones or she'll always have problems. Mrs YB

06-17-2009, 07:43 PM
Sounds like the woman was in over her head - I clicker train all my dogs, including the ACD mixed pups and it works waaaay better than any other methods I've tried.

That being said, I'm not permissive at ALL and I do have some pretty strict rules for Kes because he's a hard headed boy; clicker training and rules are not exclusive. ;)

Kes could really care less about corrections - he *does* care about gaining access to things he wants, which works incredibly well with the clicker training method. :)

06-17-2009, 09:07 PM
Pat Miller covers desensitizing a dog who is nervous or scared or sensitive to the clicker in her book The Power of Positive Dog Training. Just out of curiosity, did this trainer try muffling the sound of the clicker and keep it visible? Did she let your dog investigate it? I clicker trained Pawsom and my shepherd mix and let them investigate it. It was only after they were comfortable with it that I kept it out of sight. I also used VERY high value rewards (i.e. chicken or steak) in the beginning. I found that they were WAY more interested in getting the chicken than caring about the clicker after a little bit. They would try doing stuff to figure out what got the click and the chicken. For very high drive/energy dogs, it might also have helped if the trainer used calming signals (Turid Rugaas has a great DVD called Calming Signals).


06-17-2009, 10:24 PM
Pat Miller covers desensitizing a dog who is nervous or scared or sensitive

My dog just wanted the clicker. She seemed to think it was some kind of toy. She did eventually get hold of the clicker. She ran around with it in her mouth. It was all chewed up. I had to take it away from her.

I also used VERY high value rewards (i.e. chicken or steak)

The high value treats were what got her bit. My male was very pushy and was determined to get the treats.

it might also have helped if the trainer used calming signals

What are calming signals? How does that work?

Nicole This thing keeps telling me my message is too short! ARGGGG

06-18-2009, 10:26 AM
I use clicker to train my 3 dogs. not all the time but with certain tricks and in some obediance training. It sounds like to me she didnt use enough time to let the dogs figure out what the clicker really is.

I also used VERY high value rewards (i.e. chicken or steak) in the beginning. I found that they were WAY more interested in getting the chicken than caring about the clicker after a little bit. They would try doing stuff to figure out what got the click and the chicken.

Your dogs would do that too if they only got the chance to find out. It would not be wrong to correct the dogs while they were taught how this thing works. Not to allow the pushiness etc. Since they are not puppies and are used to a different way of training, correcting them would have helped them to find the real clue about the clicker. Im shure they would love it really!

So she should not have behaved towards your dogs as if they were used to being clicker trained, that was her mistake. A clicker-trained dog would respond to "no reaction" from the trainer as if she told them "this is wrong". A dog not clicker-trained or clicker-wise, would not see a "no reaction" like that. That dog would see "I can do what the h.. I want to this woman". Its a real big difference! And the fact that this lady didnt know this is proof she is not the best clickertrainer IMO.

06-18-2009, 12:04 PM
One thing to note is that this woman should have been charging the clicker rather than attempting training anyhow. You can't use the clicker for training until the dog has made the association between the click sound and food. Initially you should have several treats in your hand and be clicking and feeding almost (but not quite) simultaneously. If she had been doing so the dogs would not have had time to bite her anyhow, since as soon as she clicked they would be eating a treat....

06-18-2009, 03:35 PM
Calming signals are appeasement gestures that dogs use to communicate with other dogs. For example, most dogs approach each other on a curve not directly nose to nose. Some dogs, just like some people, are not as good at communicating to other dogs but you can actually teach them calming signals to help them in future interactions.

Another one is if they are approached or around other dogs who are making them uncomfortable, they might sniff the ground (i.e. if they are around a boisterous or threatening dog). Many of these signals (okay maybe not sniffing the ground :biggrin2:) can be used by people (i.e. yawning, approaching on a curve, turning to the side) to help calm an agitated or nervous dog.

Turid Rugaas is a well known expert in this field and she has a book and a DVD out called Calming Signals. I would HIGHLY recommend it for anyone working with dogs. It might help with your shy boy too. A classic example of a dog using calming signals with people is when you call your dog in from outside and they choose to stay out and not come when called. When you become agitated or say "come!" more strongly (I've been there!) thinking the dog is just being stubborn, he picks up on your more agitated body language and uses an appeasement sign to calm you...that is, he slows his movement down and sniffs the ground. The more forceful and agitated you get and the more assertive you become at the dog for not immediately coming when called, the more he uses calming signals to appease you. Instead of being willfully stubborn, he's trying to appease you by s...l...o...w...l...y....walking towards you.

It was so funny when I watched the DVD and read her book. My shep x used to do that to me all the time. Instead I turned to the side (another signal) and got down low and called her while sort of wiggling side to side. Wow, did she ever come flying! She is just very sensitive to body language and tried to avoid conflict when I would yell for her to come. I try to use some of these calming signals when I am with nervous or even very assertive dogs. It helps diffuse the situation and make them more comfortable.

I agree with the comment that maybe you should try clicker training them yourself first since they are more comfortable with you? I would visit Karen Pryor's website (www.clickertraining.com) for more info. I found since I started clicker training that my ACD is so driven to work that she almost never "misbehaves"...she's too busy trying to get the reward. She offers sits and downs all the time and is constantly giving me eye contact. It's helped a lot!

Good luck!


06-18-2009, 07:40 PM
Thanks for all the advice, but I don't have any problem with my dogs obeying me. Opie has occasional meltdowns in the obedience ring- I know he is trying his best to please me, but I can't turn sideways or do anything different (AKC rules) I wanted to see his reaction to a different style of training, but I feel that it would be better for him to be worked by me, especially now that I've seen how much of a little bully he can be to someone else. He is getting his scent articles right (most of the time) I need to work on not showing any disappointment when he doesn't. He will start a tracking class in the fall- I think this will be a good destresser for him.
As for Penny- the only problem I have with her is her over-enthusiasm! She wants her dumbbell like she wanted that clicker! BUT- she IS waiting, when given the command to wait. Heaven help anyone or thing in her way- she is going to get that dumbbell and bring it back! She comes at me like a rocket on the recall and had problems dropping. I don't know how to slow her down? I like her fast response, but she has actually fell and turned a flip, trying to drop, while going so fast! I'm afraid she is going to hurt herself! I'm just glad she didn't swallow that clicker or pull down the ladies pants- but would have prefered either to biting- even though she didn't do it out of aggression.