Clicker Training for Dogs
You may have heard about clicker training for dogs but you
are still a little confused what it means. Here is some
history and a few facts to get you started. Clicker training
is what is called an operant conditioning that is reward-
based. The basic concept is that you use a small clicker as
a mark for good behavior. Good behavior is met with a click
of the clicker and followed up by a reward. It teaches your
dog that good behavior will be acknowledged and rewarded,
which gives your dog incentive to keep repeating what you
deem as good behavior.
Clicker training was originated by a group of graduate
students who were participating in military research. Their
first success was using it to teach a pigeon to push a ball
around with its beak. The initial studies proved that
clicker training is more effective than other praise and
reward methods and was picked up and learned very quickly by
the animals that participated in the study. Clicker training
has since been tested and has worked to train over 140
species of animals including whales, bears, lions, domestic
cats and dogs, and even humans.
Clicker training has been proven to be far more effective
than the human voice in reaching the animal. It is believed
that the stimulus created by the sound of the clicker can
reach the amygdale (the part of the brain that controls
emotion) before reaching the cortex (the thinking part). So
the dog will react to the clicker before he even takes the
time to think about it.
Clicker training can really be done with any kind of
noisemaker as long as the signal is brief and precise.
Although some people use whistles, clicks or other sounds
made with their own voices (such as the hissing sound used
by Cesar Millan) or even flashlights, usually for domestic
dogs and cats a real clicker works best. A clicker can be
purchased at any store that has pet supplies and is usually
a small plastic box with a thin metal strip inside. When you
press it the popping of the metal strip makes the "click."
Clicker training is not designed to be used forever. It is
meant to help the dog identify correct behavior during
training but it is not normally used to maintain the
behavior once the correct behavior has been learned. Once
the dog has learned via the clicker, the trainer begins to
associate a voice command to the behavior and the clicker is
gradually phased out.
It is usually best to start clicker training in a quiet
environment where your dog is not distracted by other
noises; however over time you should add more noise
complexity to make sure your dog can identify the click in
Overall, clicker training has proven to be effective and
stress free for you and your animal since you are rewarding
your dog for good behavior instead of trying to force
behavior on him. Clicker training is especially effective
with puppies but can be used on a dog of any age. If you are
looking for the best way to train your dog this is
definitely a method you should investigate more closely.
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