Written By Kayla Tardivel
Why Do We Use A Clicker?
The reasons we use clicker training are pretty straightforward. Most importantly, it is precise. It takes 90% of the guesswork away from your dog. Dogs navigate the world through associations. Intentional and accidental. Focusing on keeping associations simple (A CLICK) will help your dog learn faster and prevent frustration. Clickers allow force-free training, meaning we use no physical corrections during training.
You do not need them forever. They are only used to teach new behaviors. One more great thing about clicker training is everybody in the family can do it. If they’re old enough to know how to click the clicker at the right moment, they can take part in training.
Stigmas Around Clicker Training.
Now, sometimes in the dog training world, you will run into stigmas on different dog training methods. (Did you know there was more than one?!) Clicker training is heavily based on positive reinforcement. It is extremely successful when done consistently and correctly.
But a lot of trainers don’t see it as a training method as they believe it uses no punishment; therefore, the dog doesn’t learn. However, this is FALSE.
We punish our dogs using negative punishment. (Think of negative as TAKING AWAY, not BAD.) If our dog does the sit, we click and give a treat. If the dog doesn’t do the sit, we use a no reward marker and take away the opportunity for them to receive the treat. And then we try again.
Another example of this is, if a dog being trained on how to walk nicely on a leash approaches the fire hydrant he wants to smell without pulling, we would CLICK, give a treat, then (as a double reward) allow the dog a few minutes to sniff the hydrant. If the dog pulls and pulls towards the fire hydrant, we would stop, and walk backwards, thus TAKING AWAY the opportunity for him to smell the hydrant. As mentioned before, dogs learn through association. They will soon learn that a loose leash means they get to go sniff the fire hydrant, which eventually becomes the reward and you can remove the clicker.
Many people think this method isn’t effective, or it takes too much time, etc.. but that’s what training your dog is. If you don’t put in the work and don’t give patience, what are you even doing?
If we have the stigma of being too “soft”, we are okay with that. A stress-free training environment makes for a stress-free dog.
Happy dog = happy life!
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