Once, Twice, Three Times a Clicker(er)
I get ideas for writing new articles pop into my head all the time. Most of the time it is at the most inopportune moments (like when I am asleep, in the shower and sometimes when I am asleep in the shower). But usually it is when I don’t have a piece of paper to write down my silly thoughts.
But, thankfully the best articles come from multiple questions on the same problem.
I swear I have had this same question asked at least a half a dozen times this month and if that many people are willing to ask the question, I know there are others with the same question who just haven’t asked.
The Nice Thing For Me…
It’s not really a problem; it’s more of a simple question.
And even better, it means people ARE or are getting ready to do clicker training!
I LOVE clicker training!
The question is:
How Do You Clicker Train More Than One Dog
And, the solution is pretty simple plus there are lots of options.
If you are beginning training two or more “newbies” to the clicker you will want to separate them!
It will be very difficult for them to learn and discern who is getting clicked for what behavior if they are together trying to understand the intricacies of the game.
That doesn’t mean that eventually they cannot be together and be expected to understand who’s clicking who. But in the beginning it is confusing.
I recommend separating them to the point that the other “kid” doesn’t hear the click. Whereas dogs are extremely smart, I think it will be to your advantage to separate them totally for the first few sessions.
In My Experience
- I prefer to crate one fury person while I work with another. And often I crate them both 10 to 15 minutes or more before training.
- I like to utilize the crate to my advantage, and I like to pair it with really fun training.
- By using the crate first I give my dogs a chance to calm down and decompress before we start training. They can take a short nap prior to our session and be “fresh” and ready for training.
- It also helps to amp their excitement.
- And for anyone of you who may decide to compete someday; crating prior to “showing” or competing is sometimes unavoidable. So I get my dogs use to crating first.
- Put one kid in a crate and take the other outside. Or put one kid out in the yard while you clicker train indoors. Or turn the radio up for the furry kid still in his crate and take the other furbabby to another part of the house.
Dogs are extremely intelligent creatures, with some problem solving skills.
As a dog trainer, I have often had “clicker classes” and each owner has a clicker that sounds almost identical.
Some people say that “to the dog” each clicker is different.
I am not sure I believe that but it is likely since their hearing is so much better than ours, but I do believe that dogs are very quick about understanding WHO is getting clicked and who isn’t in these classes. At first the moment one person, or the teacher clicks, everyone thinks they are getting a treat. But within just a few moments the dogs realize that the only click they need to care about is that from their owner.
Now compound this to your household. Your dogs will learn to discern whom you are looking at or speaking to or who did the behavior that got rewarded. If I click dog A for sitting; dog A realizes sitting is what you desired and dog B realizes whatever he did was incorrect. If they both sit you can click and reward both.
But that scenario is too difficult to understand (in my opinion) in the very beginning. Your dogs will eventually catch on but it will take much longer!
If you just aren’t convinced. Or you want to make it easier for your dog but a little harder for you; you can try these tips.
- Clicker+ The clicker+ has several different tones or sounds that can be used for separate dogs. When I worked with a Cheetah cub and a puppy; we used different noises for each animal while training together. The tricky part is making sure you hit the right noise for the right “kid” or it can be just as confusing if not more confusing than using the same clicker.
- You can also put tape over the dimple of the button of the clicker to make one clicker sound different from another.
- Or, you can drill a hole in the metal of one clicker vs. the other. But again make sure you are using the right clicker for the right kid in these scenarios.
- AND you can use a different verbal marker for different dogs.
I ALWAYS click and use a verbal marker “click YES” “click YES” so eventually if I don’t have a clicker or I am not fast enough finding it I can use the YES command and let my dog know what he did was right.
You can use separate markers for separate dogs. YES for one dog and GOOOD for another. That way you can reward, verbally the correct dog. But just like using the wrong clicker, you have to be careful not to confuse who knows which word.
I am a simple trainer. Actually I am a simple person. I may expect too much from my dogs, but I think they are much more brilliant than we give them credit for, and I am not as brilliant. I have trouble walking and chewing gum at the same time some days. So I stick with one clicker and after I have taught my dogs the basics (separately) I put them together and let them figure out what I want and when I want it.
AND, they prove day after day just how brilliant they can be in spite of me!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.