What is a Clicker? A clicker is a small hand held mechanical device that ‘clicks’ when you press it.
How is it used? You ‘click’ it when your dog is doing something you like (sit/down/walk with loose leash, for example). The ‘click’ sound ‘marks’ or points out the behavior you like. Within a couple of seconds after your click, you reward your dog (usually with a small tasty treat). Clicker training teaches us to notice the positive and reward it.
Why should I use a clicker? Because it is fast, clear, and effective! Clicker training is more than just using a clicker. It is a training approach. We watch our dogs and reward them for behaviors we like. Dogs repeat behaviors that are rewarded (so do people!). If you reward multiple sit-to-greet behaviors, for example, she’ll sit-to-greet more often until that becomes her usual greeting!
We can teach new behaviors more quickly, with less confusion and fewer errors using the clicker and rewards.
Am I going to have to click and treat forever? NO! The clicker is just a teaching tool. Once your dog is reliable with a particular behavior, we gradually transition to a word (verbal marker) instead of the clicker. At the same time, we begin substituting non-food rewards (e.g., pats or praise) for the treats.
Clicker training is fast, fun, and effective.
Take a look at the photo of Albee the Standard Poodle below, perched in a very unlikely spot on the cue of his owner.
Albee the Standard Poodle learned this behavior using the clicker to shape it each step of the way! Now he leaps onto perches on cue just for praise!
As their good behaviors becomes more habitual (reliable), we transition from clicker to verbal marker and from treats to praise.
You are training for a lifetime so it should be fun for you and for your dog!