Why Clicker Training?
In the 1950’s, behavioral scientists discovered that animals could be conditioned to a variety of commands when given positive reinforcement. This form of training was found to be most effective when animals were immediately rewarded with a treat after the desirable behavior was exhibited. However, consistent timing of this reinforcement was critical. Treats could not be administered at the exact moment the proper behavior was exhibited, which was a challenge. Marking the behavior with a verbal “yes!” was difficult, due to variations in voice, the subtleties of emotion, and inconsistent timing.
What is a Clicker?
To circumvent the difficulties of marking positive behaviors with voice, a clicker was created. This simple tool makes a reproducible clicking sound when pressed.
How does Clicker Training Work?
The first step in clicker training is to condition a dog to understand that whenever the clicking sound is made, a treat will be administered. From there, clicker training is similar to positive reinforcement training, except that the click is given as soon as the correct behavior is exhibited, with a treat to follow.
What are the Advantages of Clicker Training?
In comparison to positive reinforcement training with treats, clicker training is more consistent as the appropriate behavior is marked immediately. In many instances, dogs can be trained more quickly with clicker training than with simple rewards-based training.
The clicker is also useful for communicating with pets, because it is a simple, effective, and reliable way to say “yes!” without using your voice. Dogs pick up on clicker training more quickly because positive behaviors are reinforced almost immediately, leaving dogs little time to become bored or confused. To test for yourself, which behavior can you do more quickly: tap on a desk, or enthusiastically say “yes!”?
In comparison to aversive training techniques, clicker training helps to build a more confident dog. When working in a positive environment without the risk of painful punishment, dogs are more likely to offer the correct behavior - even when they are unsure - as opposed to when painful correction is a possibility. Additionally, clicker training helps to promote a strong bond between dog and owner, as the positive, reinforcing atmosphere is enjoyable for pets.
Please note: all dogs should be treated as individuals. The Actijoy™ blog is for educational and entertainment purposes only. In case of emergency, always seek qualified healthcare from a local veterinarian or emergency facility. Actijoy™ blogs are not designed to treat, diagnose, or prescribe medication for your pet.