When training your dog, certain tools can help the learning process. A go-to tool for many trainers is a clicker: a simple device that fits in your palm and makes a unique “click” noise when you push its button. It works to mark the moment a dog does the behavior you were asking.
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For instance, if you cue your dog to sit, you would click the moment his rear end touches the floor. Then, you’d follow up with a treat or other reward. This is the same mark-and-reward sequence as if you said “good boy!” or “yes” the moment he sits. Whether using a word or a clicker, marking tells the dog that he just did the “right” thing, and the reward encourages him to do it again and again. This is how he learns to sit, lie down, or do any other behavior. So why use an extra tool to do a job your mouth can do?
Advantages to Using a Clicker
Disadvantages to Using a Clicker
So, back to the question, “Should I train with a clicker?” It’s really up to you. Because a clicker leads to clearer communication between you and your dog, I think it is well worth the small hassle of carrying one more item. To learn all about how to introduce, train with, and teach your dog games with a clicker, check out clickertraining.com.
Kate Naito, CPDT-KA, MS, is an author and dog trainer with Doggie Academy in Brooklyn, NY.