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:

Me with a Cheetah on a leash, proving you can clicker train anything!

How Do You Clicker Train More Than One Dog

And, the solution is pretty simple plus there are lots of options.

First:

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.

Next:

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!

Other Tricks

Training your Tapir. Thanks to Joe Coe Design for the picture.

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!

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Comments

  1. Marion A. Carter says:

    I am about to lose my mind…..I have one stanfdard poodle now 20 months (male) and a female 16 months…..He started to chew the windowsills in the bedroom which is “their room”. I ried everything….then she started and the sills look like beavers had attacked them…Not only did/do chew the sills…they attacked the venetian blinds and chewed them half way up the windows. Nest the BIG THING..chew, and rip the bed comforter, blanket, sheets, mattress pad an pillows…then………….chewing holes in the mattress and box springs. !!!!!! I had the16 month crated just about every time I would go out..then when I was home, we would go out on the deck and they had toys to play with as they also had about 20 in “their room”….when they are allowed to play in the main part of the house, they are not destructive……Ysterday. I tried to put duck tape on the damaged spots on the mattrress and my female pulled it off and had it stuck to her paws which I then had to cut off ! I will not replace anything in that rroom until I am sure they will not destroy the replaced items….
    Any suggestions would be SOOOOOOOO appreciated.
    Thank you

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Crate training!

    They are having a great time and creating problems!! A crate will save your things, until they are older and ready to be alone.

    [Reply]

  2. Jean Wells says:

    I will have to try that… I have a 5 dog household… and thought that it would be way to confusing for them… But hopefully it will work..

    [Reply]

  3. Sharon says:

    Hi,
    I have looked for clickers and I can’t find them. Any suggestions as to where I can find one? I have four dogs and would like to begin training them properly.
    Thanks,
    Sharon

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I believe it is Karen Pryors “clicker training.com”

    [Reply]

    Jody Reply:

    Petsmart has them and gives them to anyone who signs up for their obedience classes.

    [Reply]

  4. Anne Skarzenski says:

    Hi,
    I use my tongue to do a clicking sound. That way all I need to worry about is having treats in my pocket.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    But the sound is never “exactly” the same or the same when someone else uses it 😉 like a clicker is

    [Reply]

  5. Lisa says:

    Loved the article. I have two dogs now and the older one was even getting more distracted when we are outside together. seperate them. So simple but I just hadn’t really thought of it. And I am a simple person too so one clicker it will be and then let them figure it out. I love getting all your articles. I am always braggingon your course to my co-workers. It worked great with my first pup so thought I could handle two. Two is more difficult but my dogs love each other and get to act like dogs and not just be surrounded by people all the time.

    [Reply]

  6. Just the info I’ve been wanting to know. My two Female Pups just turned one year old. One is so smart she seems to knowwhat I mean when I talk to them.The other just flowers her sister. I’m 87 live alone and they are a lot of company to me and make my life better.

    [Reply]

  7. I have three dogs, one 11 yrs, old, (listens very well), one 6 yrs old ( stubborn as can be and will only listen when she knows I’m “serious” and one2 yrs old- same thing. I would love to know how to get them to listen to me.

    [Reply]

  8. Pam Kutscher says:

    I initially work with my two dogs separately on any behaviour but when I work with them together I use their individual names before any command or “praise” and when I want to refer to both at once I precede it with “dogs” this or that. They have learned that when I say “dogs” I am referring to both of them–when I use their names I refer only to THAT one. Dogs ARE smart!

    [Reply]

    Ginnie Reply:

    I have 2 – 12 week old German Shephards they are brothers. I say “boys ” when I want them both to pay attention and use their names when I am talking to one. I agree dogs are very smart

    [Reply]

  9. Phyllis Reed says:

    Is it possible to clicker train a 3 year old chahua (still don”t know how to spell it)

    Thanks for your help in advance. I love your articles.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Absolutely! Any dog can learn at any age!!

    [Reply]

  10. Ann Ridgway says:

    I have 4 dogs now.A (Male) German Shepperd be 2 in Dec, A (Male)chihuahua/Pug be 1 in Oct.A 7 lb.(Male) terrier/mix was 1 in July, And my grandson brought in a two-month old (Female)Pit-bull, born 29th of April. He brought her in a couple of weeks ago.The Shepperd and the Pug came from the animal Shelter. those two digs caves in my yards. They are sneaky, they dig late in the evening or early in the morning. One day I thought I did a good job covering one of their caves and walked out on it and it caved in all the way to my knee. So now, I take a pick and knock in the cave until I get solid ground, makes a big hole to cover up, but at least no one will break a leg. The Pug and the Pit-bull has five holes chewed in my LazyBoy Sofa and they think Biting is showing how they care. Boy, I have got to get some control, before I start singing “They are Coming to take me away, Ah Ha!!”

    [Reply]

  11. Heather says:

    I have neverheard of ‘clickers’ or clicker training. Please can you send me information on them and how to use them with training. I have an 18 month female. I think her ‘blood lines’ are whippetxfox terrier who displays this ‘leash aggression’ tendancy. She knows where every dog lives and you can feel her start to tense up and pull well before you reach their yard, so I am very interested in anything that will help make our walks more enjoyable and less fraught with tension. Thank you.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Here is more on clicker training.

    Also if you put it in the search box to the right many articles on clicker training will come up for you to read. http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/basics-started-clicker-training/

    [Reply]

  12. Deborah Todd says:

    Hi Minette,
    Do you believe in using a No Reward marker like “wrong” or “oops” as a way of saying “keep trying; I’m not clicking that behavior right now?”

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    It depends on what I am doing and who I am working with… I try not to unless I am working with a very advanced dog that understands the game.

    I think using a “wrong” marker can be frustrating in the beginning and for puppies. They just don’t understand.

    But when a dog starts to understand the training and you are working on complex behaviors I think it is okay to add that so that you can move on faster to the behavior desired and leave the behaviors that are not being rewarded.

    [Reply]

  13. Kathy says:

    If there are 3 adult people in the house do they each have to train the dog separately?

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    If they want the dog to listen to them like the dog listens to the primary trainer

    [Reply]

  14. Fred McCaugheu says:

    I have two dogs, they both will sit, wait on command, I got a clicker mainly for recall work, on the basis to train both with the one clicker, I feel this can be done, though now concerned I may need to train seperatly?..
    Fred

    Two chihuahuas.

    [Reply]

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