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Discussion Starter #1
Clicker trainers, how do you manage outdoors? Every time I've tried, I just haven't been able to juggle leash, poop-bag, and treats while using hand signs.

When I first adopted Dilly-Dally, I started clicker-training with her right away. It worked phenomenally - indoors. Once we ventured outside, though, I just couldn't keep my hands straight.

Since then, I've started obedience school, and we use 'Yes!' as a bridge word. It works - but I've noticed it's not nearly as fast as with the clicker. It takes a lot more reps for her to get it. I'm not complaining - I love training, and if it means I have to do it more, so much the better - but there are times where I miss the clicker.
 

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poop bags in my pocket, Waist belt for the leash to be attached to, treat bag on my hip, clicker in one hand, hand signals with the other.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
How do you do handsigns with a clicker in hand? Or do I adjust the hand signs to simulate having a clicker in the palm? Do you switch the clicker to the leash hand while treating? Do you alternate hands to ensure the dog understands the signs work from either side?
 

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I put treats in my pocket, the clicker and leash in one hand and signal with the other. If I don't have pockets, I'll put treats in my clicker hand and put the leash on my wrist (my dog is tiny so no concerns about him taking off and wrecking my arm). Depending on the area I make use of benches and tables too!
 

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I have a little piece of bungie cord threaded through a hole in my clicker, so I can keep the clicker hanging around my wrist. Treats in my left hand, hand signals with my right, clicker hanging on my right wrist so when they perform a trick correctly I can just grab it and click, then treat with my other hand.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks, everybody, for the advice. One last question:

Is it ok to use both the bridge word and the clicker? Or will that just confuse the dog?

We use the bridge word in class, and it's been working pretty well. I don't want to keep switching things around, and I'll be using it for at least another 4 weeks. But I hope to move on to more advanced training once we're done with class, and I'm just wondering what the best course of action is. "Yes!" is effective enough, and I don't want to mess with what ain't broke, but I know from experience how great the clicker is.
 

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Is it ok to use both the bridge word and the clicker? Or will that just confuse the dog?
It really depends on the cost of the behavior in question...and of course that varies from dog to dog. I do think dogs can be conditioned to many different secondary reinforcers without a problem. But if the behavior is complicated or if you're having problems training a behavior, eliminate as many variables as you can and use the more consistent clicker. Otherwise, use "yes" as needed and interchange with the clicker without concern.
 

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I always start using just the clicker, and then once they're consistently performing the behavior, I'll click and go "GOOOOOD puppy" at the same time. It seems to make it easier, at least for me, when I go to phase out the clicker.
 
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