There are several ways to train a dog and in this post I am going to cover Clicker Training, what it is, its advantages and disadvantages. Clicker training has become popular during the last years and many people report success with clicker training. It is furthermore a humane and mild dog training method and not difficult to use. So what is clicker training and how is it used?
Defining Clicker Training
To clicker train your dog you need a “clicker”. This is kind of logic but what is a clicker? The clicker is a small device made of plastic and steel and when push on a button it will emit a distinctive “click” sound. The clicker is used to mark when the dog has done something good. So if you are teaching your dog sit, at the very moment his bottom touches the floor you push on the clicker. Then you praise and reward your dog. So the clicker is used for that, marking when the dog is performing something good and doing it at the exact moment your dog performs the act.
So what is the point of using a clicker? Well let’s go back to basics here. When you are training a dog you need to tell your dog that it has done what you expect from it and this has to be done at the very moment your dog has performed it . For example, you give your dog the command “down” (to make your dog lie down) and at the very moment your dog is touching the ground you “mark” this by saying “Yeees” or “good” or something in a happy voice. This is the marker and it will let your dog know that she done what you asked of her. The marker has to be given at the very moment your dog has done what you asked of her or in the following three seconds otherwise the dog will not know what she did well. Timing is very important here.
This is the advantage of using a clicker. When you are using a “verbal marker” (using your voice saying yeees or goood) then the tone of your voice might differ from time to time and it will not sound exactly the same every time. Dogs are very sensitive to this and could become uncertain if they have performed well or not as your marker do not sound the same as it did last time you used it.
With a clicker, you will not have this problem as the clicker will sound the same every time. Then there is the timing. Like mentioned, you have to mark desired behavior of your dog at the exact moment she performs it, and this is easier to do when you just have to click a button instead of using your voice.
Often when using a clicker to train a dog, it is complemented with a treat. So the dog performs the act, hears the click and is then rewarded with a small treat. Note that a treat in this case do not necessarily have to be food but it can also be attention, caresses or play. The idea is to make the dog associate the sound of the clicker with something good.
This is called “Positive Re-inforcement”, making a dog associating following a command with something good.
Below you will find a video showing how the clicker is used
Advantages and disadvantages with clicker training
Like with all training methods there are advantages and disadvantages. There are people who like this method and there are people who doesn’t. First, there is one thing to point out here and that is that a clicker is just a tool used to mark when a dog has done something good and that when using a clicker you will still need to teach your dog the different commands. Clicker training is really like reward training with the addition of a clicker.
Now some people do not like the idea of carrying a clicker with them all the time but prefer using their voices to mark when the dog has done well. Others argue that a dog should follow the commands given out of respect for its owner and not because he/she wants a treat.
Those who are for Clicker Training say it is an effective and easy way to train your dog and one which could easily be used by less experienced dog owners.
What I think of clicker training
Clicker Training is an easy to use method that works well for many people and it is also humane and gentle for the dog so in my eyes clicker training is fine as a training method for dogs. I would however recommend that you learn as much as possible about your dog and its behavior as this will make you understand each other much better and part from making training easier you will also bond with your dog and get closer to her. My recommended method of dog training will still be dog whispering even though this method requires a little more from you than clicker training does.
I hope you enjoyed this article, you can share on social media by using the buttons on the right side of the screen. If you have any comments, suggestions and/or if you want to share your own experience of clicker training, please write them below.