Clicker Training


You’ve never heard of “Clicker Training?” You’re not alone!

Although this method of training has been around since the 1940s, it has only been used to train our companion dogs for a couple of decades. At first, clicker training was used primarily as a scientific study into the use of operant conditioning and for use in performing animals. In the 1980s, scientist and dolphin trainer Karen Pryor, introduced the general public to the psychology of operant conditioning for dogs with her book "Don’t Shoot the Dog". With her next book, “A Dog and a Dolphin,” Pryor introduced the dog-training world to the world of clicker training.

How does it work?

Clicker Training is a form of operant conditioning. You utilize the click sound to indicate to your dog which behavior is desirable and is worthy of a reward. Once your dog realizes which behavior is being clicked and rewarded, he is likely to repeat that behavior. The click sound acts as the secondary reinforcer and the food reward is the primary reinforcer.

What is a clicker?

The clicker is a small plastic box with a metal strip. When you press down on this strip it makes a CLICK, CLICK sound. When you pair the CLICK, CLICK sound with a reward (like food), your dog begins to associate the sound with something good - food!

Once you have conditioned your dog to associate the sound with receiving a food reward, you are ready to start shaping your dog’s behavior and marking the events that are desirable to you. This is why the clicker is referred to as an event marker.


Why does it work?

Clicker training is not a magic formula for training your dog. It is just another method of training, with the clicker being one of many tools used in dog training. However, the principle concept behind clicker training, and training with positive reinforcement, is something that should not go un-noticed. When you allow a dog to think things through and use his inherent willingness to please, learning is more effective and permanent.

Clicker training is based on using positive reinforcement and allowing your dog to experiment and learn through guidance and reward. Force and compulsion methods are not used, as this would serve to only confuse a dog that has been encouraged to offer various behaviors, so they can be rewarded for the desirable behavior. When you train in this fashion your dog becomes a partner in the training process and you develop a deep bond built on trust and friendship.

Article submitted by: © Jackie McGowan- all rights reserved. Article from Dog Professor Software