How Does Clicker Training Work?

clicker-training-workClicker training follows a very simple 3-step process

  • Get the behavior
  • Mark the behavior
  • Reinforce the behavior

But first, let’s talk about why a clicker is used

Using a clicker means your dog knows exactly which behavior earned the reward. You can click immediately as your dog performs the action you want, then follow it with a reward. The clicker has a clear, distinctive sound, and it allows your dog to connect his (or her) behavior with the reward.

Why not just use your voice?

A click is more powerful because the noise is unique to the training. Your dog doesn’t hear the noise in any other situation, so there is no confusion as to what the sound is for.

A click can also be instantaneous – you will find you will be able to ‘click’ the clicker faster than you will be able to give a verbal response.

While humans are very verbal, dogs are not. It can be hard for them to pick out certain words amongst all the many sounds they hear you speaking each day. A click, however, is always clear. It only has one meaning – that a reward is coming.

The Process

As soon as your dog performs the desired action, click the clicker. The immediate action of following it with a reward which is usually a small treat but can be petting too. Very quickly – sometimes with just two or three clicks – your dog will start to associate the sound of the click with something it likes – the reward. Your dog will want to repeat the experience of receiving the reward, so he will repeat the action that got the reward when he hears the click.

Let’s go back to those 3 steps and recap the process:

1. Get the behavior – when your dog sits or performs any of the required actions.

2. Mark the behavior – click the clicker as soon as it happens.

3. Reinforce the behavior – give your dog a reward such as a treat.