Lv 6
Chix asked in PetsDogs · 8 years ago

Does allegations of abuse in marine animals reflect on clicker training advocates who train for "entertainment?

For those not in Ontario - there has been a recent outcry and investigation by the SPCA regarding deplorable conditions in a well known marine park (Marine Land) where marine mammals have been filmed as having their eyes swollen and infected as a result of poor water quality, and others kept in social isolation and states of neglect.

While I realize MarineLand is not a dog-park - to my knowledge, the clicker training approach has its roots in marine training.

What I find disconcerting is the trainer at Marineland (who just quit) was there for SIX years - and reading over the information in the paper (link below), he KNEW of the conditions. Yet he continued to train (presumably because he enjoyed it and it was good money).

QUESTION: Is clicker training for "entertainment" ethical? Or is it just another form of abuse?

HOW can people defend training a dog (or animal) with non-physical methods (such as clickers) but then admit the animal is kept in filth, or in a state of constant suffering?

While we continually hear about abuses of dogs using compulsion type methods, and (as a result of those methods) attitudes about protection training, tactical defense (where the dog may experience pain as part of the training) are criticized as inhumane, does keeping animals in sub-standard neglect for years and justifying it as training without "pain" or compulsion make it any better?


@AnneB: Thanks for thoughtful response. A recent post (link below) is case in point. We "clicker" for Talent shows. I wonder how much social isolation is used to non-physically compel that dog to perform? (read: leave it in a crate and only take it out to train and only reward if it performs). I don't want to suggest its exactly the same - but (some) interrogation techniques of POW are no different. Just because you don't loose your temper doesn't mean permanent damage is not done.

I'm not anti-clicker - and emphasize this question is about "Tricks" and "entertainment" based training. I find it incomprehensible that a trainer (at Marineland) can stay for 6 years and then when the newspaper does an investigation - suddenly he becomes all moral and upstanding. How does the dog "clicker" community defend marine animal training - because in my view, there is no reason (beyond money) to train a dolphin, seal or orca to do tr

Update 2:

...tricks and using a marine mammal as your reference point for compassionate training of dogs is a contradiction. (You - being the clicker community at large - not "You" as in AnneB :-);_ylt=Al...

Update 3:

AnneB: RE: complaints of abuse in compulsion- the AMVA comes to mind. I don't want to get into compulsion methods on this thread (another question for another day) but to make my point, there was a dog trainer in Ontario recently charged with all kinds of terrible things and yes, it was awful. He used some clients dogs as bait for his dog fighting . He was a "hard line" trainer. Point: society condemns a prong collar because of sicko's like this...while trick training for talent shows is sanctioned. I'm suggesting clicker people be more discriminating when they choose their role models (ie forget using marine mammals - its unethical)

Update 4:

@Anne: Re: your MinPin trick dog? Well, only you know. But I suspect the difference between you and this dolphin trainer is motivation - ie money. Which brings me back to my point - dolphin (or dog) trick training strictly for entertainment (money) can be no different than (some) compulsion trainers.

Update 5:

Re: Skidboot. Yes I know of it. My analogy (bit of a stretch) is Canadian cyclist Lance Armstrong - 7 x gold medal winner Tour de France - now stripped of medals for doping allegations. As a result, now they call it the Tour de Pharmacy. Some justify his (alleged) doping as OK becauase of his cancer fundraising

Point...Is training dogs (ONLY) to do tricks simply to bring awareness and joy to people worth it? Or in light of marineland, do the clicker crowd need a new ambassador for their cause?

7 Answers

  • 8 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    I don't see the connection?

    Clicker training does not prevent lack of hygiene, lack of space, lack of proper nutrition etc. It is a training method.

    The reason why someone who is otherwise not treating their animals well would use clicker training is probably because this is the method that gives the best and fastest result for said animal.

    As for your question whether clicker training for entertainment is ethical. It depends on the animal and the situation. Completely, unrelated to training, is it ethical to keep animals such as dolphins and killer whales in the first place? I personally don't think so, but it is not the clicker training that keeps them in them there. It is the paying audience.

    For an animal that is confined to a smaller space than it would have in nature, then many times the clicker training will enhance their quality of life by helping to prevent boredom. So the question is probably not so much if the clicker training dog community condone clicker training of marine animals as much as if they condone keeping marine animals in parks for entertainment purposes only?

    Do I condone clicker training for marine animals? Yes, I do. I have seen it as a valuable tool for scientist and veterinarians to treat and handle the animals safely without harming them, and there are circumstances where this is necessary to ensure the well-being of wild animals. I have done project work at such a research station, and there was no paying audience and no income generated. In fact that part of the facility was strictly off limits to the public as not to stress the animals and to give them as natural a habitat as possible.

    Do I condone keeping marine animals in captivity for the sole purpose entertaining and audience and generating an income for the park owner? No, I don't, and I would never visit a place like that, but I still would prefer that these animals are clicker trained to perform instead of being trained using aversive methods (to my knowledge that doesn't work very well with marine animals anyway because of their sheer size and the environment).

    My dog is not 100% clicker trained, but I use clicker training on both my dog and cats and have found it very effective. I think much of the controversy surrounding clicker training is lack of knowledge of what it actually is. Many fail to see that the clicker is merely a precision marker (I mouth-click and don't actually use a clicker at all), and many believe that clicker training = food lure training, which it is not if you do it correctly. The same with some believing that clicker training = never as much as saying no to your dog, but the two are not mutually exclusive.

    I train my animals because they enjoy it and to teach them how to behave an interact in an environment dominated by humans. Many dogs thrive with training, and my dog doesn't care whether what I teach her is a trick or something useful. It's the work she lives for, not whatever purpose it might have. To her there is little difference between finding a glove I dropped on the field or picking out "Red Teddy" from a pile of stuffed toys, both are fun.

    To me the best ambassadors for clicker training are working animals and domesticated animals that are performing outstandingly AND are happy, healthy, content.

  • anne b
    Lv 7
    8 years ago

    Chix, I don't think you can compare zoo like environments to dog ownership.

    I for one,am not a fan of zoos, and although the Shedd Aquarium does not have an issue with caring for their animals, it seems they would all be happier in their native environment. Oops! Did I use the word "happy" in context with an animal? Sorry!

    That being said, I don't think clicker training has anything to do with animal abuse, or bad management, which is obviously the issue at Marineland.

    And I really don't know anyone who clicker trains who keeps their dogs in a "sub-standard" environment. I also happen to know some compulsion trainers whose dogs are well loved and well kept.

    However, I know some compulsion traners who have bad tempers, and anyone with an anger issue should NOT be compulsion training an animal. The question becomes, why do so many people with confidence and anger issues choose compulsion training over other methods? And they execute it poorly. And why do so many people without backbones choose clicker training as their method? And execute it badly? Or is it vice versa?

    Is it at all possible that the issue is not the method, but the handler in charge?

    By the way, I for one, don't continually hear about abuses of dogs using compulsion training, but I do hear some things about crappy trainers who try to use this method and end up hurting their dogs because they fall into that category of owners with confidence and anger issues.

    I am currently clicker training my one Minpin to perform tricks at the nursing homes she will be visiting. Does that qualify as "abuse"?

    ETA: LOL if you could meet my Minpin, the spoiled little princess, it really isn't about the food. It is about the attention and the worship. She performs much better without any treats. However, when I use the clicker to reach her a behavior, she is a rocket scientist. I have never seen a dog pick stuff up so fast.

    What you are referring to is using dogs as a commodity, to make money. Lots of people do it, in many different venues.

    As far as talent shows, you may have missed the broadcast many years ago with Skidboot as the winner on a pet talent show. This man trick trained his dog with patience and the result was just awesome. He then took the dog out to visit schools and other organizations.

    Off to the lure course now! My little vermin hunter needs some fun!

    ETA: exhausted Minpin sleeping like a log!

    As far as clicker trainers needing an ambassador, I don't believe they do. I think that their results speak loudly enough. Except on this forum, obviously.....

    I think that training a dog simply for a performance is similar to training a circus elephant, or any other animal for that purpose only. Which is why you will not find me watching these types of entertainments.

    Now trick training a dog who lives in a home and has a life besides the trick performances? Nothing wrong with that, says my tired little Minpin. She got her worship frm the crowd today, and is satisfied in a job well done.

    But don't you just love Skidboot anyway?

    Source(s): A big fan of folks who can see that one method is not the perfect answer.
  • Anonymous
    8 years ago

    While marine animals and dogs are NOT the same thing, the one thing they do share in common when it comes to clicker training is that they BOTH must be hungry in order for it to work.

    Karen forgot to mention that one to clicker trainers, they found out on their own. Karen also neglected to tell us about a dolphin that was bothering her and her clicker was not making it go away, however, the chair she slammed on top of its head did.

    Again, regardless of your training method, clicker, toys, food, whatever, there MUST be compulsion at the end of it all to proof a dog. Dogs work better to avoid compulsion then they do to get a reward, so do humans.

    To call my use of an E collar on a dog abusive but to agree with starving an animal in order for the clicker to work is absurd.

    To take this a little further, we, as dog trainers, challenge these dogs at levels much higher then a dolphin. We have aggression drives, we expect and demand more from these dogs then we do of a marine mammal that is there just to entertain us.

    Finally, when the dolphin blows the recall, it can only swim to the other end of the pool, just as safe as anywhere in that pool. The dog blowing the recall though can run across 6 lanes of traffic and become part of the pavement.

    The only abuse that occurs in dog training does not happen because of equipment, it happens because the trainers don't know how to use them and they cannot select or read dogs for the proper job, end of.

    Source(s): Realist
  • Anonymous
    8 years ago

    Of course not. Although i have to say, when i think of clicker training, abuse isn't normally my next thought!

    You can see this sort of stuff all the time, like undercover documentaries at zoo's etc. For the public, they're not going to stand there and whack a dolphin over the head with a broomstick to make it behave, in front of the kids and parents. Behind the scenes however, a lot of animals used for tricks are treated a lot differently. I would call it abusive, some of what i've seen. One of the major differences about it, of why i don't like it compared to domestic dogs, is this isn't what these animals are for. Dogs belong to people, they would just die without us. Even the ones that get abused will still go back to that same person. Wild animals are a completely different matter, and it annoys me somewhat when you see animals like lions and tigers reduced to jumping through hoops and climbing up on podiums. It's not natural! Not that i think it natural to make dogs do that, but it's not quite the same..

    Clicker training in those circumstances is pointless. It might please/amuse people, but there's no real need for it. We don't need it in any way. And that's another thing. I don't care how someone want's to train their dog, use whatever method you like. In the doggy jobs you described, what people don't understand is that it's necessary for them to be trained that way. If said dog is going to be used for something important, then that dog had BETTER be good at it, precise. When it comes to situations when someone's life is at risk, why is it more important to think about the dogs "feelings", than make sure that dog ISN'T going to screw up? Make that dog the best it can be, however it's got to be done..

    And to finnish off, i don't think there's any relevance between the fact they're training them with clickers, and the fact they're living in a dump. But, there's no excuse for it. Even if they don't care about the animals (which they should) anyone who needs animals for business, money making, well, it's just common sense to look after them, if for no other reason than to get the best use out of them

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  • 4 years ago

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    By their nature, dogs are pack animals with a well-defined social order. Through basic training, you need to consistently make sure your puppy understands that you are the leader, not him. So in teaching him the basic rules, you take on the role of pack leader.

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  • ?
    Lv 6
    8 years ago

    Well, the question is difficult because there really is no such thing as "clicker" training. The clicker has nothing to do with it. Whether you use your mouth, a bell, a foghorn or just fart....that is not training. The training is what is done prior to...and after whatever device you use to make a noise.

    I could click (fart) and then beat the dog profusely....or, I could fart (click), then give the dog a treat. The noise maker has no bearing on the training method/techniques used.

    But yes......tricks are for kids.

  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

    it is been awhile on account that I even have study something on clickers. I *think of* the belief is which you have accomplished maximum of repetitions of down, accompanied by making use of a reward (ideally, i think the nutrition reward is phased out, so as that the "click" is the reward), that when the command is given, the dogs performs. further to the actuality that when you utilize corrections, as quickly as the habit is discovered, you do no longer could desire to continually supply corrections. it is likewise a similar theory as once you utilize treats for postive reinforcement, in spite of corrections. the clicking only tells the dogs what they did became terrific, assisting the dogs to examine what's asked. education includes over and over performing the habit to instill that habit in them. you're able to desire to get to a ingredient the place whilst the "down" command is given, the dogs does it, with or with out reward so the clicking isn't continually needed. you're able to desire to no longer choose the clicker each and all the time to have the dogs hear to you. and that i do have self belief that there is an ingredient of ignoring the undesirable habit. i prefer to stress, i'm no longer a clicker consumer (I even have seen demos in agility). i became only attempting to respond to the question consistent with what i understand, yet I quite am no professional and defer to those with lots greater adventure.

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