The Modern Way to Train Dogs
Clicker training is a method of training an animal using a clicker, a tool which makes a clicking sound when pressed, to mark particular desired behaviour. Clickers have been used to train whales, bears, lions and domestic dogs and cats, and even humans, though I hasten to add that I am yet to get breakfast in bed! This method of dog training uses positive reinforcement, is reward based and allows the subject to identify that a behaviour is sought and also how precise it needs to be. Only once behaviour is established and reliable that a cue e.g. a verbal command such as “sit” is added to the click. Once the response transfers to the verbal command a click is no longer necessary. This method of training informs dogs or other animals of their success in a prompt and precise manner
Clicker training is a very effective way of managing a number of tasks in a calm and rational manner. The tasks range from simple training such as teaching the dog to walk or stay to more challenging and fun tasks such as tricks or more practical tasks such as teaching your dog to help around the house. We do not routinely use clickers in a club situation as it can be quite difficult when more than one person is using the clicker however we welcome their use and offer help and advise where necessary. During home visits however, a clicker is something I advocate and use routinely to overcome many simple and complex issues. Clients, however, are not obliged to use clickers and there are alternatives that we can offer, which are just as effective.
Effectiveness of Clicker Training
Our use of clicker training dogs is primarily during our home visits and one – one work although a brief introduction to clicker training is made during our beginner and intermediate classes where it is felt that knowledge of using a clicker would benefit both the handler and their puppy/dog. Individuals who wish to use clickers are permitted to do so where it is felt that other members will not be disadvantaged or distracted.
We have routinely observed that puppies or dogs trained with clickers have been easy to train and their owners have found the methods to be both simple and effective. Furthermore, we have noticed that children embrace the idea of clicker training far more positively than do adults and any thing that encourages children to train in a kind a positive manner can only be beneficial to the dog and subsequently their bonding with their trainer.
Negativity Towards Clickers
Many handlers who have used clickers in a group or club setting appear to have negative views about using clickers or find the concept confusing. As is the case with many “new or alternative” methods of training it takes time to become proficient at using clickers and a great deal of patience is called for. Puppies or dogs cannot be rushed into achieving and only when they are allowed the time to learn and consolidate new information will the methods come to fruition. Remember puppies in particular have low attention spans and also undergo various development stages and hormonal changes. The handler who trains without expectation will put least pressure on his/her dog and achieve the greatest success.