What Is Clicker Training?

Posted: October 12, 2010 by at General

Clicker training is a way of training your dog without using any force or compulsion. It is based on a system of rewards: the dog does what you want him to and he is then rewarded with a treat, or a game of tug.

It sounds simple and it is. If your dog is given a delicious treat for doing something, he is going to repeat that behavior in the hope of getting more. You can take advantage of that by only rewarding the behavior you want.
Why do you need a clicker? Couldn’t you just give him a treat and that will reward him? It will, but it’s all a matter of timing. By the time you get the reward to your dog, he may have started doing something else, and you will then be reinforcing a completely different behavior. The clicker accurately pinpoints the exact behavior you want, and tells your dog exactly which behavior is being rewarded.

Before you start training your dog with a clicker, you need to teach him what the clicking sound actually means. Spend five minutes several times a day just clicking and immediately rewarding your dog with a treat. It’s important that the treat is something extremely delicious, and not his regular kibble. It won’t take him very long to understand that the click means a reward is coming.

You can start clicker training with something as simple as teaching your dog to sit. Take a treat and hold it in front of your dog’s nose. Move it up and backwards over his head, and as his nose lifts to follow it, his bottom will hit the ground. At the EXACT instant he sits, click and give him the treat. Repeat this several times, until your dog recognizes that it is the bottom on the ground that makes you click, and gets him the reward.

In Summary – This is clicker training in a nutshell. You can use this method to teach your dog anything. In fact, dolphin trainers at the marine parks use the same method to train their animals, using a whistle and a fish instead of a clicker and a piece of diced chicken.
Clicker training is fun for both you and your dog. Give it a try, you’re sure to enjoy it.