What’s a Clicker?
A clicker is a hand-held, mechanical noisemaker designed to give a consistent sound every time it is ‘clicked.’ To click, push down on the metal spring with your thumb and then quickly let up on the spring so that it pops open. One double-clicking sound constitutes a click.
The clicker magically speeds training simplifying your desires to your dog. Click (then treat) when your dog does the right thing. The clicker acts as an ‘acoustic pointer’ that highlights exactly what your dog did to earn the reward. During training, you will time the click so that the dog hears it during the correct behavior. Over time, your dog will learn to repeat what she was doing when hearing the click. Without the clicker, the dog can only guess which of the many behaviors she recently performed was the one that earned her the reward.
Research has shown that consequences given three seconds or more after a behavior have zero effect on that behavior. The best timing for a reward is in the instant the correct behavior is happening. While it is virtually impossible to pop a treat in your dog’s mouth at precisely the time of good behavior, one can easily click right as the dog is doing the right thing. If your dog has learned to associate a click with a treat, you can time your reward so that its effects are maximized.
Dogs love clicker training!
Clicker training is similar in some ways to receiving money for a job well done. People work hard for money, not because of money’s great intrinsic value, but for what it represents: the ability to purchase stuff we want. The sound of the click, like money, has no intrinsic value. With experience, your dog will learn that it is her actions that earn clicks and treats—and not just any actions—only those you select!