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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

What is Clicker Training?

We recommend using clicker training if you are planning to enroll your dog in agility classes and also to teach your dog tricks, otherwise, using life rewards is a more effective and realistic dog training method.

Clicker training is one of the most popular methods of training dogs at the moment. It is a kind of positive reinforcement. Clicker training was first popularized by a marine biologist named Karen Pryor in the 1980s and ‘90s in her book Don’t Shoot The Dog! and was only later applied to dogs. According to Pryor and other trainers, any animal, including humans, can be trained using a clicker and positive reinforcement, and the method works with children or chickens.

A clicker is a small hand-held device usually made of plastic with a metal clicker. They are very inexpensive and you can buy them at pet stores or online for a couple of dollars. When training your dog you use them in conjunction with treats. Lots and lots of small treats! Don’t use large treats because you will need to give your dog a lot of treats and you don’t want him to fill up quickly. You can use anything that your dog likes for a treat such as bits of hotdog, chicken bits, pieces of kibble, pieces of cheese, and so on. As long as your dog likes it and considers it a good reward, you can use it for a training treat.

Many people start using a clicker for training when they are training their dog in basic obedience. They may be teaching their dog basic commands such as sit, lie down, come, and heel. When the dog does something that you want him to do, such as sitting down, you CLICK! the clicker to mark the behavior and give your dog a treat. The click of the clicker catches your dog’s attention to let him know that he has done something special. He may not know what he’s done at first, but he knows that it’s good because he gets a treat for it. When he does it again and you CLICK! again, and give him a treat again, your dog will likely start trying to repeat the behavior so he can get the treat again. He will start trying to do things to make you click the clicker. And so your dog is actively participating in his training instead of just repeating things. Once your dog figures out what it is he needs to do to get the click and the treat, he will probably keep doing the action. You can move on to the next lesson then.

Clicker training has many benefits for the owner and the trainer. You don’t have to have any special skill for clicker training. Anyone can do it. Anyone of any age. Even children can train a dog with a clicker. People in wheelchairs can use a clicker and train a dog. It doesn’t require any strength. You don’t have to punish your dog. You are only rewarding behavior when your dog does what you are looking for. You don’t have to correct your dog or put him into position. And, perhaps best of all, dogs really enjoy clicker training. It’s a fun way to train. The more you can make it like a game for your dog, the better. You are reinforcing positive behavior so there is an emphasis on the positive things that your dog does.

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