What is clicker training?

Train a great family dog...

Karen Pryor on Clicker Training

Clicker training a pointer dogAs a qualified Clicker Trainer, I naturally endorse clicker training. And I'm often asked how it differs compared to other methods.

Clicker training is a method based on the philosophy that you train your dog through reinforcement instead of coercion or fear. The term 'clicker training' was coined by Karen Pryor, a leader in the field of animal training and in the science and application of marker-based positive reinforcement and helped bring the clicker into dog training. It is the leading force-free training technique used throughout the world. Clicker training is an extremely powerful system of training and has been used successfully for many years to train animals. It accelerates learning, produces long-term success and engages your dog in a fun and motivational way. It also deepens the bond between you and your dog.

The clicker is basically a communication tool. Usually a small plastic box with a metal tab inside, it produces a unique sound that communicates a reward has been earned. This is a clear and easy way of communicating with your dog. When the click sound occurs at the same time as the desired behaviour, a reward then follows. Your dog knows exactly which behaviour earned a reward and will very quickly learn to associate the sound of the clicker with their actions. The clicker is used only to teach new behaviours, it is not needed for maintaining established behaviour. Once a behaviour is learned, you can put away the clicker.

Training with a clickerWhy use a clicker?

Dogs do not understand sentences. Although they can learn the meaning of certain words, most of what we say to our dogs is meaningless. Therefore we need to have a clear communication system that is easy for our dogs to understand. The clicker produces a unique and consistent sound, unlike your voice that can differ in pitch, tone and emotion. This means the clicker always communicates the same meaning and can easily be used by everyone in the family.

Clicker training is a precise means of letting your dog know they have done something right. The process involves pairing food with the sound of the clicker. This quickly teaches your dog that their behaviour just earned them a reward.

If you want your dog to repeat any behaviour you like, then you must reward it. Rewarded behaviour will be repeated. With clicker training your dog is working to earn a reward rather than trying to avoid an unpleasant outcome. Once you start clicker training, you will see how quickly your dog learns and you and your dog will have fun in the process. Literally anything your dog is capable of doing is achievable through clicker training.

You do not need to use a clicker to attend our courses, although we think you will enjoy it when you start to instantly see the results. Clicker training is effective, and the results can be outstanding. The lovely thing about clicker training is that you focus on the behaviours you want, and not the behaviours you don't want. We think it is an addictive and fun, low stress way to train dogs.

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