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Is Chet Womach a Clicker Trainer? (Updated 6/08)

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Note: This entry was originaly written in December of 2006.  I want to update it now in June of 2008. 

My original article said" Is Chet Womach a clicker trainer?  Chet produces a series of videos and manuals and sells them on his websites (you can Google it).  Whether he is a clicker trainer or not is a bit confusing though.  I would say that he is - but you wouldn't know it from his videos."

Update 6/08: At this point, I would say, no Chet Womach is not a clicker trainer - the materials do talk about using a clicker, but that does not make you what I think of as a clicker trainer.  A clicker trainer has a commitment to positive reinforcement and the principles of operant conditioning based on the animal chosing to participate.  The BirdTricks.com course does not have that commitment.  If it did, the course would have been pulled from the market until the non-positive techniques were edited out.

My original article said, "Here's the thing - Chet's videos show him training his birds using a voice bridge and a lot of luring.  He does introduce the clicker in one video as a bridge, but then states that the bird would learn faster if he used the voice bridge instead.  From this angle, I would say that he is not doing clicker training - at least not very effectively."

Update: There are many other areas where the videos show techniques that clicker trainers do not endorse - flooding being one.

My original article said, "However, Chet's training manual is a different story - he clearly explains clicker training and the importance and effectiveness of clicker concepts.  He appears to be "right on" in his writings.  It seems like Chet learned a lot in between the time he made his videos and the time he produced his manual.  He says in the introductory material for the course that it is essential that you read the manual before you view the videos.  I agree."

Update: So, what the manual says is pretty good - but the videos are what is being marketed and none of the harmful techniques have been removed.

And, originally, I said, "Chet looks like a clicker trainer today - but his videos don't show it.  I hope that he redoes his videos some day - and even more that he changes his marketing strategy."

Update: Chet does not look like a clicker traner today.  His videos don't show it and his lack of commitment to the methods and science don't show it and his promotion of other people's teaching as being something he invented doesn't show it.  People who do show it are Karen Pryor, Barbara Heidedreich, Linda Morrow, and Melinda Johnson - stick with them.

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Salman Khan
Salman Khan

So glad to have found this site!

Quite by accident, while searching Chet Womach, I found this site. We've been exploring clicker training for our golden retriever and were looking into some means of taming our bird. Who knew it was the same method! I was really impressed by the promises CW made. Not impressed enough to plop down the $ though because, Chet, you said the problem with all the other videos was they started with already tamed birds and there you were with Tico, your trained bird! If you had shown even the beginning stage of approaching a lunger/biter, you might have been more successful. I did hear the clicker in the background on one of the trick clips though.

Fortunately, I already have a how-to book and clickers so I can see if luring my senegal and using a clicker with treats is as effective as it is with my dog.

Thanks for posting and saving me some $ :)


chet womach

For a long time I have been receiving email bits about birds from cw. All of them were sales pitches! They are in the form of friendly stories about his amazing, stupendous, unbelievable, incredible, superior success in training his favourite bird!!!! Fortunately (!!!), while I felt enticed, I could never afford to buy any of his videos! Recently I searched for help with dog training and happened across Chet Womach, dog trainer!!!!! My hackles rose and I smelled a RAT! Wanting to give this fellow the benefit of the doubt I had a look at his dog training information! It was word for word exactly the same as the bird stuff! The same seductive, friendly story about his wonderful friend who had not previously been understood! The same casual language with the same grammatical mistakes and language misuse, the same images of an intimate setting and an ingenuous guy futzing around and accidentally discovering the perfect way to train his bird/dog - incredible information which he would LOVE to share with you and you ONLY - with the caveat that you are being offered an incredible deal on his latest set of videos, if only you agree to buy them within the next X amount of time, after which he will, of course, need to sell them at a much greater price - perhaps because he needs to buy a diamond ring for his honey! Later he will write you endearing stories about the proposal, her acceptance, subsequent developments, like romantic trudges through snow and ice! The guy may be completely genuine and indeed have amazing information to share, but his manner, which was previously endearing, now seems transparent and sinister! Now I imagine him with a shrewd look and a red pen in his hand as he marks the sections of other's books that he will re- and mis-write for his endearing, weekly notes to me! He may be quite sincere and I may be utterly suspicious, nonetheless I feel I have been cheated and will never again be able to believe anything he has to say! That I will forever cringe and never be able to believe anything he says even though it may all be quite correct is the most painful aspect of this experience!

Erin Facet

BlueHairBob's picture

Wow, marketing can really paint you

Erin, I did a search for the dog training stuff and I was surprised. The formula marketing of all of the sites using that template is offensive. I don't really want to comment more.

Answers About Chet Womach

Hey there,

Saw this post while searching under my name and thought I'd share my comments... first off you're right. I did write my manuals after I produced the videos and that's why my later stuff talks about clicker training while the other doesn't so sorry it's not all clicker training yet but it will be soon.

We'll be showing more variety of birds, and how clicker training can get results with all sorts of birds. There will be a few things that we'll be dumping from our first edition of our videos as they aren't the best techniques to use in all instances.

As for you not liking my marketing, I think I'll just respectfully disagree with you ;-)

Happy Training,

Chet Womach

BlueHairBob's picture

Dear Chet,

Chet, I am glad you were able to comment here. I own your elite course and your talking course. Since you have searched for your name on the web, I know you have found that there are at least two distinct and opposing views about your training methods - I am looking forward to seeing what you come up with for your new videos.

I have seen your brother Dave perform at Stan Kramien's Birthday Party extravaganza - it was the first time I ever saw a bird "torn in half" and I was blown away!

I wish you had time to sit down and chat with me someday - I would really like to talk about parrot training methods with you. Actually I wish I could sit down with you and Barbara Heidenreich at the same time - I think we would have an interesting lunch and get along great; respectfully disagreeing and having a great afternoon.


BlueHairBob's picture

I was wrong...

In the comment above, I say that I own Chet's courses - but I don't want anyone to think that I endorse them! I see that a reader could get that opinion from the tone of my post. I do not in any way endorse these courses.

I also say that I think that Chet, Barbara Heidenreich and I would have an interesting lunch together - I now believe that isn't going to happen. I had dinner with Barbara and some other trainers a few nights ago and we did have a great time - but Chet Womach wasn't there. If he had been, I don't think he would have had a good time.

I have this course, for which I paid full price, so that I could find out what was in it. Chet has admitted that some of the techniques he demonstrates are "bad" (in private email at least) - and yet, he continues to sell them. If they are not good for the bird or for pet trainers, the responsible thing to do would seem to be to pull them off the market until a corrected version is made. That hasn't happened either.

I am convinced at this point that the "great divide" between professional positive reinforcement trainers and Chet Womach will continue to grow wider. At this point I hope so - I will stay on the side of the gap with real, professional trainers who are most interested in what they can do for the birds and the community.