The Clicker Mafia

A common reason for dogs to arrive at an animal shelter is their behavior. Unfortunately for dogs their natural behavior is not completely compatible with living in a modern home. Jumping up on people to greet them, mouthing, counter surfing, taking slices of pizza out of your hand as you’re about to eat. Not to even mention house breaking. All of these little things too often land Fido in the hands of an animal shelter. All too often because there are too many dogs and not enough shelter we kill them. If you have even the smallest amount of humanity in you that should bother you.

What to do about it? The answer should be obvious: train the rotten mongrel. As it happens there are a lot of different ways to go about training a dog and I think this is actually a good thing. What is interesting about it is the human behaviors that get wound up in this stuff. What I refer to in the title of this post, “The clicker mafia”, is the way some people act when it comes to the different ways to train.

What I have seen from people is that if you are not using entirely pure ‘positive reinforcement’ training methods you must be some type of racist knuckle dragging homophobic puppy killer. If you so much as own a pinch collar, let alone a choke chain you’re going straight to hell. Out of a small sense of decorum I’ll not even touch shock collars.

In one case a trainer is working with a dog that has some socialization issues. He commits the sin of not doing it the way the clicker mafia believe he should so the entire pack proceeds to attack. A little digging reveals that they really are like a mafia (Beyond Cesar Millan). Here’s the thing: while they may have a point somewhere and in some fashion their troll like attacks are not helpful or beneficial to anyone. In fact they mostly succeed in turning people off of dog training all together.

Watching what goes on with dogs (and cats too) and having a small piece of insight to the problems make this type of internet trolling that much more frustrating. This guy was taking the time to show and explain what he is doing and his reasons for doing it that way. But because the new hipster training method says something else these people decide he must be drowned.

I do own a pinch collar but I don’t use it. Why not? Initially because I just didn’t like it and I had just started learning positive training stuff and it said not to bother with one. Over the past year I’ve learned a lot more. Along the way I learned how and when to use a pinch collar. There in is the problem in my opinion. If you’re first teaching a dog some new behavior you don’t need a pinch collar. A toy, some treats, or just praise will get the job done really well and in the process the relationship with your dog will grow stronger. Once the dog knows what to do most of the time in most situations that is where a pinch collar might be used. However, your ultimate goal in training your dog should guide that decision. My dogs are companions that go hiking and get taken places with me. They are not guard dogs, they don’t compete in anything. They’re my fur kids. I don’t need 100% obedience from them 100% of the time. So no need for pinch collar or any other aversive training aids. If you can actually get your dogs to the point that you can walk them through your neighborhood off leash, encountering other people and dogs without incident and want to go even further (no idea where you go from here – beyond camping) then rock on. But for 99.9999% of the population simple positive training techniques will take care of you.

There are situations, dogs and people who this may not work for. Other training techniques are valid. From my perspective if that trainer can keep the dog out of a shelter so that it can live a long happy life with its family – I honestly don’t care. But from what the clicker mafia writes and their behavior I’m thinking they’d prefer to see the animal euthanized.




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