Diamonds in the Ruff
What is Clicker Training?
It's a fun way to train, for both dog and handler, and a great way to build strong lines of communication and exercise the canine mind!
Click HERE for a video demonstrating clicker training.
Great book on the hows and whys of clicker training by clicker training pioneer Karen Pryor:...."Reaching the Animal Mind".
What is a Clicker?
The clicker is a sound device, an acoustic arrow, used to mark precise behaviors and exact positions. You could use any novel sound that has no previously learned association. Why does the click sound work so well? Because it is crisp and consistent - it is always the same.
Dogs love praise, but although praise is a good reinforcer, it is not a good marker signal. First of all, we talk all day long; a marker signal must stand out. Any spoken word just tends to get lost in the clutter. Second, most words take too long. Say "Good dog!" for coming when called, and the dog can be going away again before you finish saying it. Yes, you will still use verbal cues ("sit!") and will still deliver verbal praise ("Good dog!") as you deliver the reward. The clicker simply communicates with precision exactly what the dog did to EARN the praise and reward.
A recent study reported 50% faster acquisition of new behavior using a clicker vs. a verbal marker like "Yes!" As your dog learns which behaviors earn clicks, you will find he will start to repeat those behaviors, "offering" them to you. The clicker helps to obtain results quickly because it teaches your dog how to think for itself as it tells your pet what it did RIGHT! Discovery is part of the reinforcement.
How does clicker training work?
But I'm not interested in tricks - I want obedience!
It's all "tricks" to them. Sitting up with a biscuit on his nose or sitting and staying while a cat runs by is all the same to your dog. Whether it's for cheers in the living room, smiles on a pet therapy visit, ribbons in the show ring or just good behavior when visitors come, the clicker helps perfect anything you want to teach. And it can make teaching complicated behaviors easier!
What about UNWANTED behaviors that you want your dog to STOP doing?
For every behavior you don't want, there is a behavior that you would rather see instead. If you concentrate on what you DO want and make that behavior very strong and reliable, the undesireable behavior will quickly be replaced. You can eliminate behavior without ever "correcting" it. The 'punishment' is lack of reinforcement.
Clicker training works with ALL animals!
Cats - yes, you can train cats.
Cats can learn anything a dog can learn
Mice who play basketball and ride skateboards!
Chickens - yes, chickens.
Clicker training a pony to guide the blind!
For more information on Clicker Training,
check out our favorite links:
Karen Pryor - Don't Shoot the Dog
The Well Mannered Dog -Shirley Chong's Keeper Pages
Virginia Broitman-Dare - Take a Bow-Wow!
Web resources on using the clicker for:
Conformation (stacking and gaiting)
How to Train Your Show Dog by K. Pryor
A great BOOK on Positive Gun Dog training
Clicker train for low-stress handling, grooming, vet care
FREE how-to videos on YouTube!
Emily Larlham's Kikopup Channel - the best!
Donna Hill's Video Index - great how-to videos!
Articles by horse trainer Alexandra Kurland:
What is Clicker Training? Part 1
What is Clicker Training? Part 2
What is Clicker Training? Part 3
What is Clicker Training? Part 4
TAGteach - clicker training for humans!
Sport coaching with TAGteach
"We set out this morning to practice what you taught us last night. And guess what? Sammy very quickly did everything he didn't seem to "get" just yesterday! In just a few minutes, he offered various behaviors to get the click/treat and consistently put himself into a down when he realized that was what I wanted. I changed positions and locations (sitting on the floor, sitting in a chair, standing, trying different rooms throughout the house, etc.) It was fun to see the light bulb turn on! - Annie E.