What is Clicker Training?
August 26th, 2021 by Marlene Ring
Today I want to Introduce you to Clicker Training.
Clicker Training is simple, it is training with a reward marker.
The Clicker is this little box, when you press it…the sound is distinct. It is a sound that your dog doesn’t hear readily in nature. What this sound will eventually mean to the dog is that his behavior has won him a prize!!
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.
As a San Antonio dog Trainer, I am convinced that with Clicker Training, I can get the behavior quicker and more solid in a shorter period. When I work Board & Train Dogs I almost always use the clicker. If my client doesn’t want to work with the clicker for some reason, I will train the dog and then wean the dog off the clicker before the end of the two week training period.
Of course you won’t have the clicker attached to you all day like I do. So if your dog does something wonderful, you can use a verbal reward marker….I use “YES!”.
Soon your dog will figure out that his behavior makes the “CLICK!” happen. Thus he is his own treat dispenser. This is a Cool day!!
Clicker training is a terrific, science-based way to communicate with your pet. It’s easier to learn than standard command-based training. You can clicker train any kind of animal, of any age. Puppies love it. Old dogs learn new tricks. You can clicker-train cats, birds, and other pets as well.
You can even train Velociraptors like in ‘Jurassic World’. Chris Pratt does this in the early scenes of the movie. After successfully calling the raptors off a pig they’re hunting, then performing a couple simple commands, he throws each of them a dead rat and praises their good behavior. Not realistic obviously, but fun to think about.
Here are some simple tips to get you started
Push and release the springy end of the clicker, making a two-toned click. Then treat. Keep the treats small. Use a delicious treat at first, little cubes of roast chicken, not a lump of kibble.
This is the basic starter exercise called “TURNING ON THE CLICKER”. You don’t need to do anything in particular. You are just conditioning the dog with: “CLICK!” – Treat. “CLICK!” – Treat. “CLICK!” – Treat. If the dog does something undesirable, don’t give a treat.
After your dog is conditioned to the fact that hearing that click means TREAT, try a new command. For example: Sit. Lead him into a sitting position as you say sit and when the Dog sits…(butt hits the ground)….CLICK!….dog gets a food reward. The CLICK! marks the behavior. It tells the dog he did it correctly and that he will receive a reward.
Keep practice sessions short. Much more is learned in three sessions of five minutes each than in an hour of boring repetition. You can get dramatic results and teach your pet many new things by fitting a few clicks a day here and there in your normal routine.