Although clicker training for dogs and other animals is a fairly new phenomenon, the idea behind it has existed for centuries, and until recently, it has been known as operant conditioning. Used by professionals, such as animal trainers and social scientists, clicker training was built upon the principle that you can achieve a desired behavior in animals by reinforcing that behavior with a positive action. Operant conditioning is the process of matching a behavior you desire the dog to exhibit with a positive result that is pleasing to the animal. For example, if a dog sits on command, the dog may be rewarded with a treat.|
If you have a clicker, a small device carried by a dog trainer, and click it at the same time a dog is given a treat, the dog will associate getting a treat with the sound of the clicker. As time goes on, the dog will begin to associate the clicker with positive behavior, even if no clicker is present.
What exactly does a clicker do?
Quite simply, a clicker is a tiny plastic contraption that is shaped like a box. The trainer carries the clicker. When pressed, the clicker produces a sound that resembles that of a sharp click. Because the clicker is clicked when a dog displays good behavior, the dog will eventually interpret the click as meaning Good Dog. Clickers are very effective, because the sound they emit travels much quicker than words. They are harder for the dog to ignore, because dogs can hear them quite easily, even above the sound of a crowd or other environments that the dog may normally respond to.
To help a dog associate the clicking with a reward, the trainer takes the clicker and clicks it, while giving the dog a treat. Clicker training is a great learning tool for dogs, as it built upon positive reinforcement, and helps the dog model positive behavior. As a result, the dog gets closer to perfectly modeling such behavior.
By breaking commands into small steps, it becomes easier to train your dog using a clicker. As you guide the dog through the process of achieving the desired behavior, reward the dog with a tiny click until it exhibits the behavior you desire. For instance, if you are trying to get the dog to jump through a hoop, its a good idea to keep it running in a heel position by your side. Position a stick on the path the dog is taking. Upon reaching the stick, tell the dog to jump. When the dog walks over the stick, because it didnt have to jump, click and give the dog a treat. Praise the dog immediately afterward. As time goes on, raise the stick or bar slightly higher off the ground. Click each time the dog successfully jumps over the stick. One benefit of clickers is that they allow you to reinforce positive behavior without giving the dog a treat.
When the dog begins to associate jump with the clicker, it is time to hold the hoop in an upright position. You may want to say something like Hoop to teach the dog the dog to associate the word with jumping through the hoop. Click the clicker and offer the dog a treat, and follow with praise. Once he has completed this task successfully, you may want to raise the hoop a couple inches. Then, say Jump and Hoop. When the dog has jumped through the hoop, click for each time he completes this task. Click each time the dog jumps through the hoop to positively reinforce this behavior.
Clicker training is helpful in making dogs respond to both basic and complicated directions. But the dog must receive a treat until it realizes that the clicker is his reward.
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Article Added on Thursday, April 30, 2009
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