Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Can You Clicker Train A Deaf Dog?

I've been receiving wonderful emails from folks reading my blogs with questions so I want to share some since if one person has the question there maybe others curious as well.

I was asked if it was possible to clicker train a deaf dog.  The answer is yes!  Clicker training is really positive reinforcement training.  The clicker is used to "mark" the desired behavior you are wanting.  If I want my dog to sit, I click as he sits and then reward with a treat or play of a toy.  At the sea parks, they use a whistle to mark the behavior.  But if the animal can't hear, what can be used?  How about a pen flashlight.  That can mark the behavior.  A hand signal can also be used to be the "click."  But using a hand signal would be similar to using the word "good" to mark the behavior.  When we use a verbal "click," it is virtually impossible to say it exactly the same way each time.  And if you recall in my last blog and how I discussed how Wiley can discriminate differences and not generalize, he would take longer to learn a behavior if I used verbal "clicks."  My tone would be different each  time no matter how much I try and say it the same and I know me well enough to know I wouldn't be concentrating on making sure my "good" sounded the same.  Doing a hand signal would be similar to the verbal "click" and you would be mostly training your dog to understand hand signals to indicate what behavior you are wanting so that could get confusing for both you and the dog to use a hand signal as the "click."  The click is a click and sounds the same all the time.  The same is true for the light source of a flash light.  This doesn't mean you can't use hand signals or verbal clicks.  Just be aware that it may take longer to get the behavior you are training and do your best to be consistent with how you say it or your hand signal.

I found this interesting link on clicker training deaf dogs.  Thanks for asking questions and please keep them coming! 

Just a fun picture to share of Johnny Be Good

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