Posted by: Linda Trunell | March 20, 2013

What is clicker training?

 

clicker-training_gif

Clicker training is a form of marker training.  Marker training is used to train many animals including dogs, cats, horses, dolphins, whales, and chickens. A marker is used to catch the moment when a desired behavior is performed.   The click is like taking a snapshot of what you want.

In positive reinforcement training, we mark the desired behavior and then reward with food. We are adding something the dog wants to make the behavior stronger. The click tells the dog what is being rewarded.  In my experience, most dogs learn faster when I use the clicker instead of a vocal marker.

We teach the dog that click means food reward and then we click when a desired behavior is performed. The marker is a distinct sound and means only one thing – YES!

No click means no reward was earned so we do not need to say “NO” or “Eh”.

Max 4

Once the behavior is learned and the dog is responding to the cue, the clicker is no longer needed. I will then switch to praise (vocal marker) and the reward will not always be food. I can use affection, play, or access to something the dog wants as a reward. I still reward with food often so the dog anticipates the possibility of food. If a learned behavior starts to become less reliable, I will increase the number of food rewards to reinforce the behavior.

Here’s to being our dog’s best friend,

Linda


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