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whitecarnations's avatar

Dog Lovers Who Use Clickers: Do you feel like your dog is just a robot slave for food?

Asked by whitecarnations (1635 points ) March 23rd, 2012

I’ve seen some people train their dogs the harsh way (example: smacking, strict discipline and their dogs have turned out really loyal and steadfast to commands). How is this negative? Furthermore, is too much clicking bad? I mean, from what I’ve read there has to be treats everywhere! What happened to just mans best friend being obedient? Please don’t take this the wrong way I’m merely curious about the contrast between treating a dog for every single aspect versus getting a point across with physical discipline. Also, when doing treats, as I do, will I have to do this the rest of my life? It seems like one of my older dogs only comes on command when there is a bag sound raveling. I try to be the most exciting thing around when I call my dogs, I use a high friendly voice as well. Also I have a problem with my puppy at the moment where she is not walking with a leash at all (3 months).

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11 Answers

marinelife's avatar

Of course hitting your dog is bad. It’s unnatural and cruel.

My dog does stuff for me out of love all the time with no hope of reward. Treats are useful when training to reward good behavior.

whitecarnations's avatar

@marinelife Oh I’m pretty sure your dog is indeed hoping for a reward. You showing love back is their reward.

LostInParadise's avatar

Based on what I learned in psych 101, if you use treats to train a dog, it is best not to reward the dog every time. I would guess that at the beginning the treats would have to be frequent to get the dog to catch on to what you want it to do. If you then taper off, the dog will not only obey, but the training effect will be stronger, meaning that if you stopped offering treats, it would take longer before the dog stopped obeying. The way that I make sense of that is that if you reward the dog 10% of the time versus 100% of the time, it will take longer for the dog to notice the difference if you suddenly stopped rewarding it.

Plucky's avatar

Treats are for training (to reward the desired behaviour). You do not use treats for the rest of your dog’s life (they are for training). If you have to continuously give your dog treats for its whole life, just to do any small command, then your dog is most likely training you (with great success). Look up Pavlov’s Dog – it will explain, in much more detail, where this classical conditioning comes from – treats/training/behaviours/etc.

Hitting/hurting the dog is considered abuse in my opinion.

I use a clicker with my dog (not for training though). My dog is going deaf and blind. I find the clicker is perfect for calling him. It is loud and sharp enough for him to hear it. Nothing else in our house sounds the same, so he knows what that sound means.

If and when we get another dog, I will use a clicker and treats for training. I have a very quiet voice and my yell is practically nonexistent. A clicker works great for this. Again, it is not a normal sound so it is easy to condition a dog to that noise and the desired behaviours you are working on with the clicker.

Compare the training to children. For the first bit of their life, they get rewards for desired behaviour…but this does not last through out their whole life (if it does, we usually call those children spoiled – and it can last into their adult years). A spoiled child is not an emotionally healthy person in my opinion.

I hope some of that makes sense :)

rooeytoo's avatar

This is like the child spanking debate, for a lot of years the primary dog training model was the Koehler Method. It worked quickly and well and I personally never saw a dog ruined or turned into a psychopath by this type of training. It is still used almost exclusively in police, military, schutzhund, etc. type training where lives depend on the dog’s immediate response.

That said there is no one size fits all method of dog training. Soft dogs respond well to clicker training and if your life is not depending on immediate response of your small dog, and you see dog training as a hobby and don’t mind it going on for years, then by all means use it exclusively.

If you want dependable responses from a harder dog, it is not my choice. It goes on forever, no punishment and only positive reinforcement. I think most people want their dog to learn quickly to become a socially acceptable member of the family. In which case punishment and reward based training is so much more effective.

I have been making a living with dogs for almost 40 years now and I have seen more and more dogs sitting in the backyard or surrendered to the pound, given away, whatever because they were never properly trained and could not be integrated into the household. A swat with a newspaper, smack on the nose or sharp jerk on the choke chain will not ruin your dog, it will teach it what its place is and therefore will not end up a statistic.

whitecarnations's avatar

Sorry it’s just that I married my wife and she has really untrained dogs. They bark at everything outside of the home, and struggle with being called when they start barking at other dogs up the hill. It’s really frustrating. One dog is just socially awkward. As a pup I remember we let two of our pups go on freely to meet it’s new owner. We let them on the floor. One pup ran straight to our friend and the other which we have curled in its tail and ran backwards and had super high anxiety when we tried to pick him up he squealed and what not. These dogs are extremely loving and currently we have two older dogs. One is about 6 years old in human years. The other older one is her pup (the scaredy cat). He was born a whole year and a couple months ago so I believe he is still trainable. He knows when I’m angry at night when he goes up barking on the hill. I have to use a really angry tone to get him to come down the hill as he is barking at the other dogs. How can I get him down on command? I feel like if I give him a treat he will think barking at the dogs up top is the reward. Also I have a little newer puppy she is very loyal and loving. But she was born very late December and needs to learn potty training as well as being on a leash. She is having a hard time exploring the whole front lawn by herself. I’m scared we have another high anxiety socially awkward pup. When on the leash I try my best to be positive, but she won’t move at all. Where should I purchase a dog clicker and what are some pretty cheap value treats that aren’t crap I should buy? Thanks!

rooeytoo's avatar

Any kind of kid’s clicker will work you don’t have to buy a dog specific one. The cheapest treats are the ones you make yourself. Oven dry any cheap cuts of meat or offal.

Get into a class, any dog can be well behaved with it is in familiar surroundings with familiar people. Obedience classes teach you how to train your dog and teach your dog social manners.

happy123's avatar

Hitting a dog to follow a command is something someone should never even think of doing. I prefer rewarding them with treats. By doing this, they enjoy it of course but know that there is a reward. Some dogs just remember the command and don’t care if there’s a treat involved. But others may need an appearance of a bag to motivate them. By the way to solve your leash problem try to motivate her with treats and if that fails try to find a harness. Dogs who find leashes uncomfortable, tend to not mind the harness. Hope I helped:)

jazmina88's avatar

I used clicker with my rescue pup at the beginning. It works well and does not make them a robot. It is a fabulous tool for training your dog.

whitecarnations's avatar

So how do I work the clicker? Just, “Click click, reveal treat?”

OpryLeigh's avatar

I don’t believe in forceful/physical punishments when training dogs. I love the clicker method and try to encourage anyone who brings their dogs to my classes to use them. The key with the clicker is that, if you are using it properly, eventually you will be able to get rid of the treats completely (although I still recommend treating every so often to reinforce what the clicker means) as most dogs will just be waiting for that approval that the clicker gives them.

I agree with @LostInParadise

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