Clicker training is very popular within the dog training community and we are, as owners encouraged to use it when training our lovable pooches.
What is Clicker Training?
Clicker training is an animal training method based on behavioral psychology. It relies on marking desirable behaviours and rewarding them.
The desirable behaviour is marked by using a clicker which is a mechanical device that makes a short, distinct “click” sound. It tells the animal exactly when they’re doing the right thing.
“This clear form of communication, combined with positive reinforcement, is an effective, safe, and humane way to teach any animal any behavior that it is physically and mentally capable of doing” taken from Karen Pryor clickertraining.com
Why should I use Clicker Training?
A click is more powerful than the spoken word. Think about your dog and how they respond to your voice. Most of what they hear is a lot of mumbo jumbo but they will pick out certain words like their “name” or “walk” and definitely “treat”. I actually have to spell out that word in conversation with others.
The truth is that we often say the words or commands in a different way every time we use it because our voice is variable in terms of its volume, pitch, speed etcetera. Even your mood can affect the way we say things. The click however is delivered at the same Volume, speed and tone every time. It is also a lot quicker than any voice command you can ever give. In very simple terms, the click means the same thing every time.
If the click is followed quickly by a treat it will not take long for your dog to associate behaviours they did with the click. If they heard a click, it can only mean one thing, a reward is coming because of what they did when they heard the click. The click can be produced instantly and at the exact moment a behaviour occurs. Even a very quick and subtle behaviour, like the twitch of an ear, can be clicked if you really want to.
The clarity with which a click enables us to communicate with our dogs also has an impact on our relationships with them. The level of interaction between you increases, and you and your dog will become more interesting and fun for each other.
How do I use clicker Training?
The trainer meaning you, clicks at the moment the behavior occurs: Your dog sits, you click. Think of the click as like taking a photograph of the behavior you wish to reinforce. After taking the photograph you give your dog something it likes, usually a treat but sometimes play, petting or a favourite toy.
Very soon, and often within a couple of clicks, your dog will associate the sound of the click with something it likes: treats, it’s favourite toy or fuss and petting. Since your dog wishes to repeat the pleasurable experience, it will repeat the action it was doing when it heard the click.
Any behaviour can be trained following three simple steps:
Get the behaviour.
Mark the behaviour. (Click)
Reinforce the behaviour (treat)
To get you started why don’t you get the clicker to hand and have a pocket full of small treats, maybe 20. Throughout the day or your time together, every time your dog does something good, Click and treat. Maybe it will be, not jumping on the furniture or going to the toilet outside. It will all depend on the age of your pooch and at what stage of training you are at, but if you see a good behaviour, Click and treat.
You could also use commands you have already worked on but now introduce the click too.
If you have read any of my other posts you will know that I have trained Ralph mainly using verbal commands but I have found that the clicker works just as well if not better than those vocal commands. I find he is responding much quicker to new things I introduce. Maybe it’s because he is a bit older and used to being trained and learning new things or maybe it is the clicker?
No matter what age your dog or how far you have come in their training, it is definitely worth giving the clicker a go. They are very cheap, I think I got mine for £3.00 including shipping.
I hope this has answered your questions regarding Clicker Training and dogs. If you want to share your dog training experiences or want to ask a question, just comment in the section below and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
I am always happy to receive your photographs for my doggie rogues gallery. You can send them to email@example.com
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