What is Clicker Training?
Clicker Training is a science based dog training methodology that uses positive reinforcement based training and a marker to mark the exact moment we like and then reinforce it.
The process goes:
See the behaviour.
Mark the behaviour.
Reinforce the behaviour.
Clicker training strategy is based on the concept that actions that are followed by reinforcement are more likely to be increased. We use this to our advantage.
Clicker trainers see dog behaviour in 3 parts:
Antecedent - any event that prompts the behaviour.
Behaviour - action in response to the antecedent.
Consequence - outcome of behaviour
As clicker trainers, we can manipulate the antecedent and the consequence of the behaviour.
A Good Marker
Think of clicker training as a silent conversation between dog and trainer - the marker does all the talking. The marker means what you did is right and you will be reinforced.
A good marker is brief, distinct, different, neutral and easy to deliver. After every marker, a reinforcer must be delivered. Typically a clicker is used as a marker. In studies it has been shown to produce the best and fastest results. Eventually the dog creates an association that the marker/click means good things.
The clicker is not necessary though - a verbal or visual marker can also be used in its place. It's important that whatever you do pick, that you won't use your marker in everyday conversation or times when you won't reinforce it. In that case, you and your dog may never see how powerful a consistently reinforced marker can truly be!
Force free & LIMA Based Training
As clicker trainers, and as a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Professional Trainer (KPA CTP), The Wiser Canine chooses to work as a trainer who uses force free practices.
Another common term, we like to base our training around is LIMA - which means: least intrusive, minimally aversive training. We utilize positive reinforcement and humane techniques while trying to minimize force or punishment from the teaching process. Dogs are sentient beings that deserve to be treated with respect and compassion. This does also mean that if an accident happens and your dog is at immediate risk and you need to use a bit of force to stop him - we condone it and understand. But to curb natural dog tendencies through pain/ punishment on a daily basis just isn’t fun for us or our dogs and creates a dog who won’t want to work for you as much.
Dogs are dogs. When we train humanely, we both benefit from the training process. Clicker training strengthens the bond between pet parent and animal while increasing the welfare of the animals everyday life in a human based world. I would argue it also increases the human’s quality of life too.
Every dog is different.
The Wiser Canine practices with the understanding that every dog is different. Each breed of dog has their own inherent tendencies that we should know about - ex: border collies are herders, or vizslas are pointers and retrievers. Each dog, has his/her own unique personality and we ensure that we cater our training set ups to the dog you have in front of you. We will be here to guide you through the process of shaping your dog with success every step of the way.
There are many reasons for you to utilize the foundations of clicker training in everyday life with your pup or adult dog. Here are a few:
- while socializing your puppy with new people, places & things
- for physical exercise
- for mental stimulation
- for relationship bonding
- for teaching house rules humanely
- for managing behaviour issues that arise throughout your dog's life
As clicker trainers we see training & enrichment as an essential part of an animal's well being.
Looking for a private dog trainer in the Hamilton, Ontario & surrounding area? Or maybe interested in virtual sessions throughout Canada? The Wiser Canine is here to help teach you the in's and out's of positive reinforcement based dog training! Visit our services here.
Source: Karen Pryor Academy Course Notes (Chapter 1 - What is Clicker Training?) 2022.