Clicker Training at Work

Clickers are used typically for training dogs, but can be very effective in the officeI have a dog training clicker app on my phone.

I use it at work.

I go by the premise that it’s the only usable tool in a work environment.


There are three types of dog training, which is essentially a practice of behavior modification. These are:

  • Negative Reinforcement
    most notable as ecollar and choke chain training
  • Positive Reinforcement
    most notable for reward training (food or toy motivation)
  • Clicker Training
    compromise and kudos/reward training

While these are known for dog training, I find they are all used readily in people training. While we do not use choke chains or ecollars, the premises remain. However in the work place, only one is remotely applicable. Here’s the rationale for workplace clicker training:

  1. Negative Reinforcement:punishment for bad behavior.  It has fallen out of favor for public consumption in dog training and while still effective for some, the effects are not generally worth the risk/damage to the dog. As it relates to people in the work place, well, it has a tendency to piss off HR. Also, not being the boss it could, would and should get one fired (but of course, if you ARE the boss, negative reinforcement can be used at random, regardless of the behavior in question and in fact, is MORE effective when used to reinforce positive behavior with a negative technique!)
  2. Positive Reinforcement:rewarding good behavior. This is very effective in dog training for the majority of dogs, needs and situations, but unfortunately, not very effective in human behavior beyond surface, which is applicable in the work environment, but cash is merely more effective. Not very effective for dogs though. The positive reinforcement (even with cash) in the work place approach is not long lasting as within an astonishingly short period of time the negative behavior is worsened as bragging, bravado and comparisons begin and pettiness returns. Also, it is not readily usable in a work setting as it’s so rare that the opportunity arises.
  3. Clicker Training: Acknowledging Non-Shitty behavior. The premise of clicker training is that you make the clicker sound to initiate a reaction and deliver kudos and praise conditioning when a behavior that doesn’t suck is performed by the dog. This is the only remotely effective training method in a typical work setting, but only useable if you completely change your expectations. For instance, if a co-worker returns from using the bathroom and doesn’t smell like pee or poo you can use the clicker and say “yay, you didn’t shit yourself today”.

I use the clicker app regularly. I haven’t told too many folks about it, but it makes me happy, especially when there isn’t a marker handy to sniff.


About Laurissa Doonan

I'm a marketer. I've been a professional marketer for over 25 years, but in reality, I have always been one. Marketing to me is about communicating effectively, regardless of platform, regardless of channel. Marketing is understanding both your objectives and your audience, and finding the right method and message for your customers to reach them where they are. Now I dedicate my efforts to helping very small and small companies pursue their passions and grow their businesses through marketing; providing agency trained expertise without the overhead.
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