What Is Dog Clicker Training?

by Rena Sherwood

Image from Wikimedia Comons.

Dog clicker training uses the same techniques used with training dolphins and sea mammals. The dolphins learn that the sound of a whistle means a food or toy reward. In the same way, a dog associates the sound of a click with a reward. Small, plastic clickers are used instead of words because the click sound is consistent.

History

The first dog trainer to popularize clicker training in dogs was former dolphin trainer Karen Pryor, in her book "Don't Shoot the Dog! The New Art of Teaching and Training" (1999).

Treats

Initially, treats used are small, cubed low calorie food treats, although commercial training treats are now made. As the dog progresses in training, favourite toys can be used as rewards.

Priming

Getting the dog to understand that click equals a treat is called "priming." This is simply clicking and then immediately giving a dog a treat until the dog looks expectantly for a treat at the sound of a click.

Training

When the dog learns to associate the sound of the click with a treat, the trainer introduces a simple trick that the dog already knows. The trainer says the command and, when the dog performs, he clicks and gives the dog a treat.

Shaping

Breaking a trick or behavior down into steps and clicking and rewarding the dog for doing each step is called "shaping."

Photo Credits

  • Image from Wikimedia Comons.

About the Author

Rena Sherwood is a writer and Peter Gabriel fan who has lived in America and England. She has studied animals most of her life through direct observation and maintaining a personal library about pets. She has earned an associate degree in liberal arts from Delaware County Community College and a bachelor's degree in English from Millersville University.