I know I was when I first tried it around ten years ago.
I now use clicker training for teaching a number of skills to my own gundogs.
There several advantages and benefits to be gained from clicker training your dog. Below are some of the situation when clicker training comes into its own
This article is part of a series called ‘Clicker training for gundogs’.
1. Clicker training reduces stress and conflict
For any trainer whose patience is not his or her strong point, learning to clicker train has the benefit of avoiding conflict between handler and dog. There is no focus on error or mistakes, the whole process is centred around watching for and rewarding specific actions. It is simply impossible to get angry or feel stressed if you are clicker training correctly.
2. Clicker training reduces fear & anxiety
Any dog that is overly sensitive, will benefit from clicker training. There is no stress involved whatsoever. To the dog it is simply a great game where he has to puzzle out what he needs to do to get the reward. He does not have to worry about making the wrong choice and upsetting you. Many sensitive dogs get ‘frozen’ with indecision because they are so keen to avoid punishment.
3.Clicker training can be carried out when dogs are very young
For just the same reasons clicker training is ideal for puppies. Gundog trainers will often tell you to wait until your gundog is six to eight months old before you begin training. They will tell you to let the dog be a puppy. This is all well and good for dogs living in kennels, but sharing a house with an untrained six month old gundog is no joke. Nearly everyone whose dog lives indoors will start training far sooner, and with traditional and perhaps rather forceful methods, may well do more harm than good. So for an early start to training with your companion dog/gundog at home – clicker training, or training based on its principles, may be just what you and your dog need.
4.Clicker training can work for people with mobility problems
If you are physically disabled or recovering from an injury and cannot move around freely, clicker training is a useful training tool. With its emphasis on shaping the dog’s behaviour through rewards rather than physically manipulating the dog the clicker training handler need not be an athlete, or even very mobile.
5.Clicker training gives dogs confidence
There may be times during your dog’s training when his confidence takes a dive. This could be because you have been pushing him to fast or too hard. A spell of clicker training can do wonders to restore a dog’s confidence in you and in training generally.
6.Clicker training improves your timing and training skills generally
When you have learnt to clicker train, and followed the principles of the system, you will almost certainly have a much better understanding of how all training works and how dogs learn than you did before. Clicker training takes the stress out of training. It takes responsibility for mistakes away from the dog and places them firmly on your shoulders. Far from being a burden, this actually gives you more control.
7. Clicker training solves one of the most common gundog training problems: delivery
There is not a gundog trainer in the land that at some time or another will not have come accross some kind of delivery problem. Getting a neat and tidy delivery is often the most frustrating problem that new gundog owners struggle with.
There are plenty of traditional methods for getting around a poor delivery, in fact there are so many different methods that beginners often don’t know which way to turn. On top of that, many methods of dealing with poor delivery create other problems in the process, and many experienced gundog trainers are still occasionally defeated by dogs with persistent delivery problems.
The clicker retrieve is the only completely fool proof method I have come accross for creating a perfect delivery in any dog. Sadly very few professional gundog trainers are yet promoting this method, and even fewer are willing to learn it themselves. Despite the fact that the clicker retrieve is probably the single most usefu tool to have fallen into gundog trainers laps in recent years.
Fortunately you do not need to be shown how to train a clicker delivery, I learnt from a web page, and so can you. I have fine tuned my own version over the years, will be posting up a clicker retrieve article shortly.
Don’t forget, whether or not you decide to pursue the ‘positive-only’ route, or to introduce occasional corrections at a later date, you will almost certainly enjoy clicker training a skill or two - it is fun!