I'd like to tell you the story of my relationship with a 14 month-old Border collie. This dog was used to having his own way in life; he was dominant/aggressive and extremely hand-shy when I adopted him. If it weren't for the use of a little clicker toy, I am positive he would not be alive today.
In a business article I wrote for this website in 2005, I noted that clicker training needs to become popular with the mainstream, to be the people's choice. One of the central tenets of that proposition must be raising the goals that pet owners have for their relationships with their dogs. If pet owners are bogged down by what could be called a culture of obedience, they are saddled with low expectations for interactions with their pets. And, if they have low expectations, in most cases they don't need something special. "Any ole" training method can get a dog to perform a down.
When Katie came to our veterinary office, she was a skinny, sickly, 1.8 lb tabby kitten with a fever and lots of worms. We estimated her at about 4 months old. Katie had been born into a band of stray, mostly feral cats. We admitted Katie for care and grew so attached to her we adopted her as one of the office cats.
It wasn't until 2000, however, when eight members of the Gemini training staff attended the APDT conference in Houston, that clicker training really "clicked." As Paul remembers, "We sat around and talked about it and said 'It's truly more effective and it's better for the dogs. We're going to close our eyes and jump.'" Looking back, Paul is proud of that decision. "It took guts to walk out of Houston and say 'We're going to throw the choke collars out and order some clickers.'"