By: Erin Young (RVT, CPDT)

The clicker training application was invented and developed more than 40 years ago. It first reached widespread use in the training of marine mammals. Those trainers used whistles rather than the dog trainer clicker but the principles are the same as we use in dogs.

A clicker is a small box that when the button is compressed it makes a click sound. We use the clicker as a way to communicate to our dogs “you did the correct thing”. A clicker marks an event as correct. For example, you ask your dog to “Sit”, *Click* and reward with a tasty treat.

Benefits Of A Clicker:

Positive based training

  • No punishment or aversions

Dogs learn faster

  • Training is black and white

Has no bad emotion attached to it

  • If we use words we can inadvertently attach our emotions to it. We can feel frustrated, excited, angry etc.

Clickers are used as Behaviour Modification tools

  • From aggression to separation anxiety!

Builds confidence and enthusiasm

  • Highly rewarding atmosphere which encourages exploration and trying new things! There are also many games to do with clicker training.

Never say the wrong marker

  • We should always use a consistent marker word.

Clear form of communication

  • Clicker is monotone and always means the same thing.
  • Any dog and person can use a clicker

Limitations Of A Clicker

Sometimes it is nice to add more emotion to a marker.

  • Say the word “Yessss!” with enthusiasm

If your dog isn’t food motivated it makes clicker training much more difficult.

  • Not impossible but it is more difficult to reward with toy (less frequency, must know a drop, lose training momentum)

If you forget your clicker at home you will be without your marker

  • That’s why it’s good to train with both a clicker and a marker word (yes)

Some dogs are initially afraid of the clicker noise

What you click is what you train

  • If you click to early, too late or the wrong behaviour you are marking it as correct
  • It takes some coordination in the beginning to get used to the timing of the click and the reward

There is no real bad side to using a clicker. All of my dogs are clicker trained & marker trained and I believe all pet parents should try it! What do you have to lose? You might just fix an unwanted behaviour, learn at a faster rate or simply make your bond stronger!

Archie Clicker Training