Dog clicker training is a method which uses a unique sound to tell the canine that he has done something correctly. Since the sound is challenging to replicate in their regular environment, it becomes a distinctive reward whenever they hear it. You can produce this noise with a handheld device that will create the sound when you press it. This option is one of the most popular choices to use when completing positive dog training.
The clicker works when a dog can associate the sound with a tasty treat. You would start the training session by pressing the clicker and offering a treat whenever they follow a command. If you say sit and the canine sits, then press the clicker, offer the great, and tell them they’re a good boy or girl. Then follow that process repetitively for every other command that you wish to teach them.
Then the dog associates the sound with something positive that they have done. You can begin to back off on the treats for every reward once this recognition occurs without reducing the impact of the reward. Each click creates an anticipation of receiving praise. That is why it is such an effective option.
Some dogs respond to clicker training and others do not, so an evaluation of the pros and cons is essential to know if this option would work for your needs.
List of the Pros of Dog Clicker Training
1. It creates a highly rewarding atmosphere for your dog.
Because the clicker becomes associated with an anticipation for a reward, you are creating a highly positive environment for your dog that encourages them to learn and follow commands. They are more willing to start exploring with this training option, which means their curiosity engages to try new things. That is why using this marker as a foundation for a reward is such an effective tool. Some dogs even want to keep learning new things because they enjoy the rewards of their clicker training so much!
2. You can use this training method in any environment.
Every time you click, then give your dog a treat. You’re going to make their day because it feels like free praise and good snacks is coming their way. Don’t click and treat at the same time. Follow the treat up after you make the click. Another option is to toss the treat on the ground and click your clicker right before your pet eats it. You can use this training while sitting down, standing up, or moving around the house. This process helps your dog to understand that they can receive a great reward in any environment. The click tells them that they did something right.
3. Clicker training works with other marker types as well.
There are several different tools that you can use with dog clicker training to serve as your marker. Animal trainers sometimes use whistles to associate a specific amount of praise when a pet does something correctly. Even your voice can become a marker, using a single word like “yes” or “good” to indicate praise to your dog. If you discover that your pet is afraid of the unnatural clicking sound, then you might try to use verbal markers instead to see if you can start making some progress. Your words must be sharp, outside of your everyday conversation, and short. Don’t use the dog’s name as the reward point.
4. There is no delay in the reward with clicker training.
Dogs receive an immediate reward at every stage of the training process when you use a clicker as your marker. Your pet understands immediately that they did something correctly, which reinforces their good behavior. That instant gratification is a powerful motivational tool for most dogs, since they love to please their owners. Even high-energy pups respond well to this instantaneous award, so you can communicate clearly that you’re happy. That will make your pet happy in return.
5. You get to eliminate any unintentional misinterpretations of your inflection.
If you use a voice response as your marker when training this way, then the inflection of your tone and non-verbal body language can get in the way of the reward. When you use a clicker, then you eliminate any of the variations that your dog might pick up on as you’re offering them a reward. Changes in your inflection can be confusing to canines, especially if there is more than one person involved with the behavior modification. By using the clicking tool, the sound will always be the same in every situation.
6. Multiple people can work on the training program for your dog.
When your dog responds to the sound of a click, then anyone can produce that sound from your device. That means you can hire behavioral specialists to work with your pet if there are days when you don’t have the time to do so. Your significant other can work with you as well to manage the environment, especially if you are working with a larger breed like a Great Dane, St. Bernard, or Newfoundland. As long as the process of receiving a click remains the same, your dog won’t be confused when everyone starts saying that they’re a good boy or girl. They will just listen for the click to sound.
List of the Cons of Dog Clicker Training
1. It can become an expensive venture for some dogs.
Clicker training works best when you have a puppy because the treat to clicker ratio is going to be 1-for-1 until they begin to understand that the sound is the equivalent of a “Good boy!” You can still use this training method for adult dogs successfully, but the treat you provide them must be meaningful. That means bigger treats are needed for the larger dog breeds, which can get to be an expensive proposition. You might go through an entire box of bones in a couple of days you are trying to modify some inappropriate behaviors.
2. Some dogs do not respond well to the sound of the clicker.
There are some dogs who do not like the sound of the clicker as a training tool at all. You can avoid this disadvantage somewhat if you don’t point the device at your canine as if it were a remote control that turns the dog on or off. Try to hold it by your side or behind your back and offer a click that way. If you’re still getting an adverse reaction from your pet, then you may want to muffle the sound of your device to see if that makes things better. There are softer clickers on the market you can try as well.
If your pet is one of the few who doesn’t like this sound at all, then forcing dog clicker training on them will not produce positive results. You will want to try an alternative training method in that circumstance.
3. You must use this training method with precision.
Because you are working to develop a positive sound association with something that you know your dog will love (a treat), there must be a precision to your actions that is not always necessary with other methods. You must only use the clicker once when your pet does what they are supposed to do after a command. Once you make the sound during your training, then you must produce a treat. Even an accidental click can associate a positive relation to a specific behavior that can be challenging to adjust.
Repetition is also necessary. When your dog is sitting, click the clicker and produce a treat. Then repeat whenever you see them sitting. Once your dog understands the meaning of your command, then you’re ready to ask for an action. If you click prematurely, you might need to start all over.
4. Your dog will need to have a high drive in a reward category for this to be effective.
Because dog clicker training uses a rewards-based mechanism to encourage behavioral change, your pet will need to have a high food or toy drive for this method to be useful. If you’re dealing with a canine that doesn’t really care about those rewards and there is nothing valuable enough to use as a reward for them, then it will be challenging to train your dog when using this method. Every dog has a drive for something, but it must be a givable reward that you can offer with a click. Going for a walk after every sit might get you a lot of exercise, but it won’t be an impactful training tool.
5. The learned behaviors through dog clicker training are more prone to abandonment.
If your dog clicker training work is not completed correctly, especially as you transition to the variable treat-giving stage, then you might find behavior abandonment waiting for you. Random reinforcements can be challenging to use if the drive for the reward is even a touch low. When this disadvantage occurs, then the behaviors or actions practiced with the canine may begin to fade or disappear entirely. Intelligent pets can struggle in this area because they’re so used to receiving a reward for their actions. Since they can’t “manipulate” you into providing a constant treat, then you can bet your dog will start doing their own thing once again.
6. Advanced exercises require excellent timer.
Dog clicker training requires a lot of practice and knowledge to be effective. The outcomes which are possible depend on what you are trying to teach your pet. If you’re going through the basic commands of sit, stay, and come, then you can get away with clicks that aren’t perfect every so often. If you are working on advanced commands, exercises, or behaviors, then your hand-eye coordination must be perfect for this tool to be effective. If you’re unsure about how well you can respond in a training situation, then it might be a good idea to try a different training option first.
7. There can be conditioning problems with dog clicker training.
One of the most significant disadvantages that some pet owners encounter with clicker training is that their dog becomes conditioned to the sound. There are canines who will refuse to obey a command until they hear the sound associated with a reward. You can begin to ween some dogs away from this behavior by associated the sound of your voice with a reward in the same manner you did with the clicker, but it isn’t effective 100% of the time. When you see that your pet is responding consistently to the clicker, then it is time to begin using it less often.
8. It can become a cumbersome training method at times.
If you are working with a larger dog with a clicker, then the entire process can be difficult to manage. There are times when you will need to hold your treats, the clicker, and the leash all at the same time. Your clicker will always take up one hand. Because you need to click whenever you see the desired result, the multitasking functions that become necessary at times can set your training back unintentionally. You may need to work with a partner if your dog weighs about as much as you do to ensure that the entire process goes smoothly.
If you are the type of person who is a bit fumbly every so often, try to use a clicker which can wrap around your finger or wrist. You’ll still need to control everything, but it can lessen the complications of multitasking.
Conclusion of the Pros and Cons of Dog Clicker Training
Dog clicker training produces a uniform sound that your pet will associate with a treat once you’ve “charged” the device. If you just bring a clicker home and press it, your canine isn’t going to know what you’re trying to communicate to them. It may take a few days for them to understand that “click” equals “treat.” Once you get to that point, then the benefits of this process typically outweigh any disadvantages which could be present.
Some dogs are very afraid of this sound. You might encounter past abuse issues that they associate with clicking if you adopted a rescue animal. If you see a negative reaction, then discontinue this training method immediately. Dogs who are anxious and afraid will not respond well to the device.
The pros and cons of dog clicker training are essential to review if your pet has a strong food or toy drive. Whenever they hear that sound, you will be sending them a robust signal that says, “YOU ARE A GOOD BOY (OR GIRL)! COME EAT ALL OF THE TREATS!” That motivation encourages faster, more accurate training sessions. This process also means that every click for a while must equal a reward, so there are some expenses to consider before following through with this work.
Brandon Miller has a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a seasoned writer who has written over one hundred articles, which have been read by over 500,000 people. If you have any comments or concerns about this blog post, then please contact the Green Garage team here.