The point in clicker training?

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The point in clicker training?

Post by TerrierTerror » Wed Jul 22, 2009 7:29 pm

Forgive me if this belongs in Methods, I wasn't sure where to put it.

Now, I'm not exactly clear on the purpose of clicker training. I've seen it used, worked with people in agility class that used it and heard the aspect behind it that the dog associates the clicker with a reward, but I still don't fully understand why it's even used. I mean, wouldn't you get the same results from just rewarding a behavior with a treat and praise? I would think the dog would then grow to become dependent on getting a treat following the sound of the clicker. Even then, aren't you eventually going to start taking away the clicker as the dog progresses too?

I have a clicker (just found it the other day xD ) but I haven't factored it into Carson's training for the reason above, as I don't understand the need for it. He also seems to be scared of it.

I apologize if I confused anyone :lol:
"The great pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself too." <i>~Samuel Butler, Notebooks, 1912</i>

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Post by mum24dog » Wed Jul 22, 2009 7:42 pm

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Post by Mattie » Thu Jul 23, 2009 3:55 am

A clicker is a marker, all it says to your dog is that he has done what you wanted. You don't need to use a clicker, a pen, top of a baby food jar etc will all work just as well. You can use a special word instead or anything else. What you use doesn't matter as long as your dog learns to understand that when he hears it he knows he has done what you want. I rarely use one but do help others to use them properly.

I often see people when out trying to get their dog back with the clicker going like mad and the dog ingoring the owner and clicker, that is not the way to use them, all that does is to teach te dog to ignore the clicker and owner.

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Re: The point in clicker training?

Post by monib1969 » Thu Jan 07, 2010 7:04 pm


You do not have to use a clicker, I (we) for example use the YES to "mark" the behavior or action we like. This type of training is basic operant conditioning. if you remember learning about Pavlov's dogs inschool, it is the same principle. The dog does something we like, aka sit, we mark it, YES (or click) and reward. YES releases the dog from his position. If we want to work on duration, like downing or a longer time we use good as our duration word and we free treat. when we want to release him from the down we use our marker YES (or click, but I don't use clickers).

the reason this works,not only inthe dog world but wildlife and sea life trainers have been using this for decades, is because animals do not speak our language. so we have to bridge the gap and form a line of communication they can understand. And in a dogs mind, which is black and white no gray areas this click (sound either through clicker or voice) and treat marks a snapshot in time in his head. He remembers the sound and the treat ... aka something good. and dogs being simple black and white creatures do what gives them pleasure .. food = pleasure or with the old yank and crank style training pain = don't do it. This is why for years the only way we trained them, myself included was the old yank and crank method. You give them a command, 'heel' yank into position and bingo. If he stepped out of line a NO and correction were in order. The difference between the two being with the old yank and crank the dog would still work the same, but he worked out of fear of the correction instead of working because he truly understands the behaviors and actions and enjoys them. This marker training method not only gives you a happy dog, but gives you a dog that is able to problem solve and think for himself. Which with a working K-9 can be crucial especially when dealing with an armed suspect. You want a dog that can think his way out of a tight situation. With the old yank and crank, you had a dog that would bite as hard, go after his suspect just as fast and hard, but if forced to think outside the box, would fail. If put in a situation where he had to problem solve he couldn't do it, and would have to rely on the handler for help. Now they can problem solve. If a suspect is on a roof, our dogs will find a way up there on their own, via ladder, tree to low roof etc. Whereas before they would signal where the suspect was but wouldn't activiely find a solution to get up one the roof. The handler would have to find that route. So this training builds a thinking dog, which when you see the difference it's simply awe inspiring. It's amazing how intelligent they really are, we have barely scratched the surface, truly.

So anyway, I know I jabbered your eyes off, but this is the difference with clicker training versus other methods. Yes you can just say good dog and praise, but you need that specific marker (YES or click) to burn that moment in time into your dogs memory. this way he learns the action, it becomes ingrained into his memory and we learn to speak to one another in a way that is easy for us and crystal clear to them.

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Re: The point in clicker training?

Post by jjphoenix » Thu Jan 07, 2010 7:23 pm

i love clicker training i used to be so sceptical though. you use it to mark the exact behaviour that you want at the exact moment that it happens. once the dog knows what the click means, you can use them for everything. whats great is that you can 'capture' a behaviour that you want, say if they lie down calming when you have guests, or they do a neat trick that you think 'hey that'd be nice to have that on command' also it makes it a lot easier to teach tricks as your click is a lot more exact than your voice.
It is also great for freeshaping, say you need to muzzle train your dog. i have a dog that would harm his face, eyes and nose when anything was on his face and no amount of praise and treats would help. so i strated clicker training it. firstly i put a treat in the muzzle, when he put his head in he got a click (and the treat obviously) repeat this 3 times, then just hold the muzzle. the dog then will usually stick his face in to cheack. click then give a treat, your still marking the behaviour. you can then wait longer each time before clicking, the dog will wait for the click before moving his head. gradually move it up in seconds and there you go! a clicker does this better than anything else i find. remember to get them used to the clicker first though, click treat etc so they know what it is.
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Re: The point in clicker training?

Post by Noobs » Fri Jan 08, 2010 9:10 am

TerrierTerror wrote:I would think the dog would then grow to become dependent on getting a treat following the sound of the clicker. Even then, aren't you eventually going to start taking away the clicker as the dog progresses too?
Yes, the dog would be dependent on getting a treat following the sound of the clicker, but that's what it's actually for. "Dependent" may be the wrong word but it's leaning toward that idea. And yes, you do eventually phase out the clicker. The purpose of the clicker, at its most basic, is to teach your dog a behavior. Once your dog has learned the behavior, you can proof it by practicing with or without the clicker, but I would use the clicker until my dog is close to 100% reliable.

For example, I did a few training sessions where I wanted my dog to put one foot inside a box. So we were in a small room for the session, with just me, him, and a box. If he looked at the box, click/treat. Look at box, click/treat. Look at box, click/treat.

So within a minute or so I wanted him to do more, so when he looked at the box, he expected a click/treat but didn't get one. So in trying to figure out what would get me to click/treat, he took a step toward the box. Click/treat. Repeated this a few times. I clicked/treated every time he stepped closer to the box. So by this time he's figured out that this box is getting him and click and treat.

In another minute or so I stopped clicking/treating for just stepping toward the box, so in trying to figure out what would get him a click/treat, he lowered his nose into the box. Click/treat. Repeat a few times.

It took a few sessions, but he was eventually stepping into the box with one foot, and I never had to actually speak. Since he can't understand english, it's no use saying "Step into the box, Murphy." :lol:

What's really awesome is when you see your dog have a "lightbulb" moment. "Click means food!" Then he tries all sorts of behaviors to see what will work. It gets the brain working, it's fun (because for a food-motivated dog, what could be better?), it's a great way for human and dog to bond, it's a confidence builder ("Hey, I'm doing it right!"), and you can teach your dog just about anything. I taught mine to jump through my arms like a hoop - took three 5-minute sessions!

So that's my experience with it anyway. If you do more reading on it I hope you become encouraged to try it with your dog. :D

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Re: The point in clicker training?

Post by Noobs » Fri Jan 08, 2010 9:14 am

TerrierTerror, here's a wonderful video that WhenHoundsFly posted of him free-shaping his dog to jump into a box using a clicker:

WhenHoundsFly, hope you don't mind. :)

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Re: The point in clicker training?

Post by mselisabs » Fri Jan 08, 2010 10:00 am

When people ask about clicker training, it's often known that you must react to the dog's correct behavior within seconds of in happening. So, you make a positive association with the clicker, so you can mark the proper behavior as it is happening - and you use the clicker because you simply cannot treat a dog fast enough. You can use words or whatever sound you'd like - but it's universal to use the clicker because it is the same noise every time - so *anyone* male, female, child, can have the same "voice" when training a dog.

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Re: The point in clicker training?

Post by sck7290 » Tue May 17, 2011 9:33 am

I'm a recent college grad, living at home with my parents. I rescued my dog and my parents were on board about doing so. My family helps out with taking my pup out during the day when I'm out of the house and such. Long story short, Here's my question: should all people in the family use clicker training? Or can just one person use it. I want to use clicker training on my 7 month old pup, but some of my other family members don't want to use it. They expressed not being interested in the idea of clicker training and concerns about being consistent with it (forgetting, etc.). Right now we're using positive reinforcement with treats and voice/ hand signal commands. From reading the different threads on clicker training, it sounds like a big part of clicker training is being consistent. I'd like to make training more fun and speed it up some. If I'm the main person in my family training my dog, is it okay for just me to use the clicker? Or do all members of my family have to use the clicker?


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Re: The point in clicker training?

Post by ladybug1802 » Tue May 17, 2011 11:01 am

It may be best to start a new thread here as this one is over a year old....but with regards clicker training it is SO important that the click is done at the right time. So if you are teaching sit, for example, the click must come as soon as the bum hits the floor. I think it should just be one person doing clicker training, because if people are not consistant, and click ata slightly different time or whatever, the dog will get really confused.

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