Clicker training’s origins go back to the 1930s. Clicker training rewards desired behavior through the use of positive reinforcement. An example of the use of clicker training techniques can be found in the training of dolphins by marine biologists. However, in training the dolphins a clicker was not practical since sound is muffled the deeper dolphins descended underwater, for that reason an air horn was used instead. Since dolphins quickly understood the tasks they were expected to perform these training techniques were considered to be very successful. Today clicker training is being used to train almost every animal imaginable; dogs, cats, birds, horses, as well as wild animals.
There is one main difference between clicker training and traditional dog training. During traditional dog training reprimanding inappropriate behavior is commonly used. Bad behavior is ignored in clicker training and good actions are rewarded. It is a principle of clicker training that the animal, who is being trained, wants to please his trainer. If an animal exhibits inappropriate behavior it is usually the result of ineffective communication by his trainer.
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What is a Clicker?
Clickers, that will do the job, are simple, inexpensive mechanical devices that make an identical sound every time they are pressed. Used properly the clicker produces a motivational incentive for an animal to repeatedly complete tasks.
Using a Clicker during Training
As an animal performs as requested he learns, through conditioned reinforcement, to control the click and the accompanying reward. An animal’s training accelerates as soon as he realizes he can control the click of the clicker. Using conditioned reinforcement this understanding will eventually occur with all animals.
Dogs are smart and quickly pick up the idea that they are able to control the click of the clicker. The click sound tells the dog, “Job well done, here is your treat”. When the techniques and principles of clicker training are used a dog’s ability to master various tasks is greatly improved.
Since your dog’s ability to focus is limited training sessions should be short, less than 15 minutes. It is a good idea to repeat these short training sessions multiple times throughout the day. During training sessions a task is shown to your dog and after the task is performed the clicker clicks and your dog receives a treat. You gently move your dog through a desired task until he will perform it without the clicker or the treat.
Clicker training benefits your dog by helping him to learn, think and adapt. Training is faster with clicker training because your dog is more motivated to learn and it is easier for them to understand the task you want them to perform.
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All Family Members Can Use Clicker Training
Your dog becomes confused when he receives mixed signals from family members. Clicker training can prevent confusion. Even young children can quickly understand the techniques of clicker training. With a clicker trained dog any member of your family can correct bad behavior with a signal or command accompanied by the clicker. There is better communication, with you dog, when all family members understand what they are to do.
Clicker Training is Fun
Clicker training strengthens the personal relationship between you and your dog. You and your dog become more responsive to each other. In this way a strong bond is created between you and your dog.
Clicker training is fun. Due to clear communication your dog learns tasks quickly. You will find it enjoyable because you quickly see results of the training sessions. It is a win/win situation for both you and your dog.
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