How To Use Clicker Training To Communicate With Your Dog

Clicker Training Basics

Key Points

  • Clicker training is a form of dog training that employs positive reinforcement. It is also referred to as “mark and reward.”
  • The clicker or marker signals the precise moment your dog complies with your request.
  • Every click needs to be followed by a reward, and knowing when to click is very important.

Dogs repeat behaviours that produce the intended results—rewarding your dog for desirable behaviours is a critical component of positive reinforcement dog training. For instance, your dog will be more likely to give you a paw again if you give them a treat afterwards.

What role do, though, markers and clickers play? You may be familiar with “clicker training,” called “mark and reward training.” Is it merely a sleight of hand? Just the opposite, The efficiency of positive reinforcement training can be increased by using a clicker, also known as a marker. A clicker often develops into a conditioned reinforcer after being associated with a treat or reward. Find out how a clicker during training sessions might assist you and your dog in communicating your training.

The Mechanism of Clicker Training

Like clicker training, positive reinforcement training has the benefit of a clicker. A clicker is a little mechanical noisemaker, to put it simply. The techniques are based on the principle of animal learning, which contends that behaviours are more likely to be repeated in the future when they are rewarded. So, instead of focusing on what your dog is doing poorly and taking positive behaviour for granted, clicker training flips the script and emphasizes what your dog is doing right. Teaching them what to do rather than what not to do can surprisingly impact your dog’s behaviour.

The clicker is helpful because it communicates to your dog exactly what behaviour you are rewarding. You may “mark” the precise second your dog carried out the required activity by clicking at the appropriate moment. So instead of making your dog guess what you liked, the click lets them know precisely what they did right. For instance, if you were teaching your dog to sit, you would click as soon as its butt hit the ground.


Box-shaped clicker


I-Click clicker


Another common clicker design you’ll see in pet shops.

What signifies the click?

The clicker is solely used as a tool to mark a moment. Nothing particularly noteworthy about that specific noise other than that you most likely never make it around your dog outside of training. Therefore, you can use anything else as a marker if it stands out from the other ways you communicate with your dog. For example, you could whistle, clap your hands, or cluck your tongue. It is common to employ marker words such as “Yes” or “Good.” If the dog has hearing impairments, you could gently tap its shoulder.

Of all things, without a reward, the click or other marker alone is essentially nothing. The click essentially indicates that a tip is on the way. Anything your dog values can be a reward, even though most dogs feel that food treats work best as incentives. If your dog wants to earn her treats, play tug of war with her instead of giving her a game of chicken. Timing and reliability are essential elements. Each click needs to occur at the proper time and be followed by a reward.

The Benefits of Clicker Training

A dog who displays desirable behaviour is rewarded in positive reinforcement training. Without a clicker or other marker, it might be evident to the trainer what is being rewarded, but is it obvious to the dog? How do you make a dog lie down while showing that having its tummy on the ground is rewarding? Make sure the dog lies down to accept the reward rather than stand up. If not, the dog may think that the tip comes for standing up or coming up to you. That is easy to do with food treats, but it is problematic if the reward is a tug-of-war or fetch game.

What about dogs that promptly get back up after touching the floor? You can’t get them their reward fast enough. What about more challenging behaviours, such as those committed at a distance? How can a dog be taught to jump through a hoop right before passing through it? The power of the click or other marker is handy in this situation. The click, which also fills in the amount of time until the reward is granted, indicates the moment you will reward. Your dog is very aware of what the right thing to do is.

However, why not just use praise in the same way? Though it wouldn’t be as clear, you could. You talk to your dog with credit quite a bit. It’s a beautiful way to praise your dog. Furthermore, and you wouldn’t want it to be, praise is not precisely geared to the context of training. Adoring your dog is one of the delights of dog ownership. Using a clicker or another training-specific marker removes any doubt about when the reward will come.

Clarity is advantageous, but dogs trained with a clicker also commonly like learning. They want to exert the work and training necessary to receive a click. From your dog’s perspective, learning new behaviours becomes a game when you use mark and reward training. Additionally, it lessens some of the trainer’s stress. By watching for reasonable times, you can encourage your dog to make good decisions rather than concentrate on bad ones. Like any other positive reinforcement training form, clicker training enhances communication, builds your bond with your dog, and makes training fun.

The Mechanism of Clicker Training

Before utilizing a clicker or any marker, you must first teach the dog the quality. Selecting a title and a reward is referred to as “loading the clicker.” So go ahead and treat healing right now. After around 10 to 20 trials, your dog will understand that the marker denotes the arrival of a reward. You are now ready to practice using the clicker.

Your marker can be used in lure-and-reward training, in which you entice your dog to behave in a particular way with the reward of a lure. But it also works well for modifying behaviour. The process of shaping involves building complex behaviours piece by piece. A clicker is an excellent tool for recording good behaviour. Therefore, click when you see your dog lying peacefully on a mat instead of pleading at the table. Alternatively, if your dog is lying on the floor when the doorbell rings with all four paws up, click at that moment to stop your dog from jumping up on guests. Additionally, clicker training is a great way to teach stunts.

Once your dog has mastered the new behaviour, you won’t need the marker any longer. After all, it’s merely a teaching aid. However, whenever you want to lure, shape, or capture a behaviour, the clicker or other marker will let you communicate with your dog clearly so that the behaviour you want is the behaviour you’ll get.