Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Clicker Training

I thought that since this blog is about bits and pieces I should talk a bit about one of the biggest bits of my life.

My dog, Gem.

Gem is a Papillon, and is my Medical Alert Dog.

As I was a dog trainer, back in another life (in my twenties, when I was young, fit and healthy) I trained her myself. Mostly I use the clicker method.

A clicker is a little box with a metal side that you press and it makes a click sound. You click at exactly the moment the dog does the "right" thing and then give them a treat. They associate the noise with "AH! THAT'S what is wanted!" and it imprints what they are doing in that exact moment in their minds.

It's incredible how quickly they can learn once they undersand the concept - and it's amazing how quickly a puppy (or dog) picks up the concept when food is involved!

At a recent talk to Life Line about Medical Assistance Dogs I gave a demonstration of clicker training, teaching Gem a new trick in less then 5 minutes while I talked to the audience. People were standing to see and there were gasps of amazment when, without any verbal communication between me and the dog at all, she was, in seconds, returning to the spot I had picked at random between clicks.

So, I think a series of articles about clicker training are probably on their way!


  1. That's extremely interesting... would love to hear more.


  2. More comming soon. It really needs photos, so I'll take some!

    First - Sit! (the dog, not you...)