Training your dog with a clicker

clickerWe were watching “It’s Me or the Dog” on Animal Planet this morning, and Victoria was demonstrating the use of a clicker to train a dog.  If you’re not familiar with it, the idea is to use a clicker to signal the dog that he is doing something right.  Here is a short video showing how the clicker works – beware they are trying to sell you something!

To start out, Victoria simply clicked and gave the dog a treat, clicked and gave the dog a treat, several times until the dog realized that the clicking sound meant something good was coming.  Then, she would have the dog sit.  As soon as his butt hit the ground, she clicked and gave the dog a treat.  When she told him to lay down, she clicked and gave him  a treat as soon as he did so.

Of course, since this was a 1/2-hour show, the dog appeared to learn the  system in a matter of minutes.  So, my question is:  has anyone tried this method?  Does it work well?  Is it quick for the dog to learn?  Can it be used in a household with multiple dogs or does that just confuse the dogs?  Is there anything magical about the “official” clicker or can any distinctive sound be used?  (My thought was to use a different sound for each dog, but I’m not sure how I’d keep up with that.)  And finally, what advantage does the clicker give you over simply giving the dog a treat when he performs well?

Please comment below and let us all know your experiences with clicker training.  I know some people absolutely swear by the technique.  I haven’t heard anything negative about it, and I’m just wondering what the downsides are.

Until next time,

Good day, and good dog!

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11 thoughts on “Training your dog with a clicker”

  1. For me, using a clicker is not a nice idea. When you come to think of it, the dog will always look forward for a treat when he’s always trained by the use of clicker. Maybe, it will be more useful if we can train a dog by talking to them and let them feel that we want them to do something.

  2. Karen Pryor has a great website to learn more about clicker training and to purchase items needed (like the clicker!)

    Sheila
    connemaraterrier.com

  3. I think that clicker training is very useful, but the association of good things (treats) with action can be achieved without the clicker. The problem lies in situations where you are without the physical item. The dog has such a strong association with the clicker, that they are unable to perform without it in some cases. As often as you’ve lost your keys, the TV remote, or your wallet, what are the odds that you will be in a situation where you need the clicker, but you are without it? Why not just bypass the clicker altogether and just form the association without it?

  4. My puppy is 3 months old (got her at 5 weeks) and she has been trained with the clicker. She has caught on very quickly and has learned “come”, sit, and down almost perfectly. The clicker has also been very helpful in potty training. She is not completely house broken yet, but she is and outdoor dog. My boys (13 and 10) enjoy helping to train her and enjoy watching her learn the new behaivors. I will continue using the clicker to train her to do super dog tricks. FYI…I am an beginner clicker user. This is the first animal I have attempted to train, but I will definately use it again. I have seen clickers used for the animal shows at multiple zoos, so I knew they worked.
    Karen

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