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Clicker Training 101

Posted by Katya on December 11th, 2012

Clicker training is an effective and fun training technique used to shape a desired behavior without the need to force, intimidate, or punish dogs while they learn. Small, easy to carry clickers are used to mark and identify a desired behavior from your pet, and the “click” is often followed by a treat or praise. With repetition, your dog will soon learn to associate the sound of the click with a reward, and get a sense that he or she has achieved something you want! Many of us may have heard about how clicker training can be used to teach dogs new behaviors or tricks. But did you know that you can also use the clicker for training cats? And ferrets? And rabbits, too?! It’s a tool that can be used to teach all kinds of animals…and come to think of it, I guess clicker training can be used to train people and spouses as well!

One of the biggest advantages to clicker training is the clarity it provides. As people, we often rely so much on our words to express our meaning and when we approach training this way we often end up confusing our pets. Our pets don’t necessarily understand all our many words and because they mostly respond to energy, they challenge us to communicate beyond verbal language. The clicker is a great tool for keeping it simple. There is no confusion if you do the steps right: your pet does a behavior you like, you click, then treat or praise. It’s a very consistent and clean marker for saying “way to go!” to your furry friend. No click means we don’t like that, but without having to muddle it all up with words and thankfully, without the use of punishment in order to get our message across.

Another benefit to clicker training is that because this is a positive-reinforcement based technique, it will only foster the bond between you and your beloved pet. And don’t we all prefer that our pets not only love us but respect us, too? And don’t we want them to choose to listen to us because we are such benevolent teachers?

For a good summary on clicker training and how it might be helpful for you, click your clicker here!  For a more in-depth look into this style of training, you may want to check out Karen Pryor’s books or website. She is widely regarded as one of the top experts in regards to animal behavior and clicker training specifically. Happy clicking!

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