Clicker Training 101

What Is Clicker Training?

There are a lot of different terms used for dog training styles. Mainly we hear “traditional,” “balanced,” and “rewards based,” in conversation and when searching for trainers near us. We use neither “traditional,” meaning there is a use of force and punishment, nor “balanced,” meaning both punishments and rewards are used. What we do is called Clicker Training. 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.

Who Does It Work?

Clicker training is a style of positive reinforcement training that uses a marker, clicker, to indicate to your dog that they have done something correctly and that they will be receiving their much anticipated reward. Some people use a tool, called a clicker that is made of plastic and metal and when you push the button, makes a sound. Some people use a whistle or a certain word for marker training as well.

The trainer clicks at the moment the behavior occurs: the horse raises its hoof, the trainer clicks simultaneously. The dog sits, the trainer clicks. Clicking is like taking a picture of the behavior the trainer wishes to reinforce. After “taking the picture,” the trainer gives the animal something it likes, usually a small piece of food but sometimes play, petting, or other rewards.

Very soon (sometimes within two or three clicks), an animal will associate the sound of the click with something it likes: the reward. Since it wishes to repeat that pleasurable experience, it will repeat the action it was doing when it heard the click.

Any behavior can be trained with any animal following these three simple steps:

  1. Get the behavior.
  2. Mark the behavior.
  3. Reinforce the behavior.
Try It Out!

If you’d like to try this method of training and think it’s right for you and your dog, contact us now! I would be happy to further discuss the benefits of clicker training with you and how we can use this method to improve your dog’s behavior!