Why Clicker Training for Dogs?
Have you ever gone to a sea park and wondered how they were able to train killer whales? After all, you can’t force them to do what you want. And even if you could, it would likely be very dangerous for the trainer. So if we can train killer whales without the use of force, why can’t we train our dogs that way? The answer is that we can, and do using the same science and methodology. It’s called clicker training for dogs.
Clicker trainers learn to see behaviors differently, rewarding good decisions and behaviors they like, rather than reacting negatively and punishing behaviors they don’t like. This is why clicker training brings out the best in people, and creates deeper bonds with their pets.
Clicker trained dogs are confident, happy dogs. They have learned the game. Unlike lure/reward training that uses food to move the dog around, clicker trained dogs have learned to learn, and the delight they experience is in stark contrast to the dog that was trained with a lure.
Clicker trained dogs feel safe to offer behaviors knowing that when we see one we like, we will reward them. By reinforcing behaviors in successive approximations, we finally reach the goal behavior, and then name it (give it a cue). Compare this with the use of punishment or coercion, which not only suppresses unwanted behaviors, it has the unfortunate effect of dampening all behaviors, which makes training new ones difficult.
To learn more, see the ClickerConnect page
Frequently Asked Questions about Clicker Training
Can clicker training be used to fix problem behaviors in puppies and dogs?
You bet! Clicker trainers study the behavior to understand what the trigger is and why it is being reinforced. We first try to eliminate the reinforcement, and then train a preferred behavior.
Will I always need to carry around a clicker and use food?
No. Dog clicker training is used to train new behaviors. So once the behavior is on cue, the dog clicker is no longer necessary. If you want to clean up a behavior (have your dog respond more quickly, or do it longer, etc.) then you can use the clicker again to make the behavior better.
There are a lot of things in life that your dog finds rewarding. Food happens to be one of the most rewarding. It will be important to learn what your dog likes, and use those things to reinforce the trained behaviors – things like play, attention, and affection. We also take advantage of life-rewards like going outside, going for a walk, greeting another dog, etc.
Can’t I just use a word like “yes” instead of the clicker?
When dog clicker trainers don’t have a clicker in hand, but want to mark a behavior, we use what we have, usually a sound out our mouths. But the sound of the click is something quite unique. Not only does it sound distinct, as opposed to a verbal sound that they hear all the time out of our mouths, research suggests that the sound of the click is processed in the brain differently (in the amygdala as opposed to the cortex), which may explain the long-term recall of behaviors trained in this way.
So, why clicker training? Because IT WORKS!! Dogs and puppies love the game and the challenge! And for us, it’s a way to connect and communicate with our dogs in a fun and loving way that gets results. Because it is so stimulating for our dogs, training sessions can tire them out as much as physical exercise! For most dog owners, that’s a pretty big perk!
Sign up for Dog and Puppy Classes with Citizen Canine Dog Training in Boulder County, Colorado today! Register here.