From Debi Davis, service dog trainer: Karen, your heart would have soared if you'd seen the group who met in Delaware for a week last month. It was the very first clicker service dog conference, and it was out of this world wonderful. You would have loved seeing all the service dogs offering behaviors, all the upbeat handlers and happy dogs having a total blast learning. Having attended many service dog conferences, I can assure you this is NOT the norm. Force and coercion is still the mainstay in service dog training, so seeing this gathering of like-minded people all enjoying learning with their dogs just was too cool for words!
From Sophie S.: Last week I noticed another situation in which there is a distinct difference between clicker training (using a marker signal!) and giving goodies without a clear-cut signal: calming a stressed dog.
Let me give you an example. I've been a clicker trainer for about three years now, but I never clicked my aunt's shepherd-Doberman mix (now 10 years old). Mascha's history is this: My aunt saved her from being put down, because her previous owner wanted to get rid of her. She was then six months old. He also probably hit her.
From Sue Ailsby: There's a certain kind of dog-owning household that produces, entirely out of kindness and good intentions, an almost unmanageable dog. This dog doesn't just jump up on people, but careens into them, grabs and tears at their clothes, knocks over furniture and small children, steals, digs, barks, and carries on incessantly. The family have almost always had the dog since puppyhood: sometimes it is two or three years old before they begin looking for help.
With cats we need not use the clicker to 'train' the cat in the traditional sense; we can use it to enrich the cat's environment, to give it some control over its world, and if possible to widen its own perceptions of that world. We are communicating to the cat so the cat can learn healthy ways to communicate back.
From Mara Windstar: I have been clicker training my service dog "Freely," a golden retriever, for about one year. While we were coming home from a walk last week, a white cat whose house we pass daily lept at me and grabbed onto my side... CLAWS EXTENDED! It was terrifying.. I looked at the cat for an instant and it screamed and showed its pointy teeth--and that was it for me! I looked away immediately! I was trying not to panic... Freely started barking and lunging but he was not trying to attack the cat back. Fortunately the owner saw and heard the commotion and came running over and screamed to the cat and it lept off me.