Clicker training is simply a way of communicating with your dog. The special thing about clicker is that your dog understands what you are telling it. You can tell it “Put your paw on the tile” a million times without any response, but clicking the dog for touching the tile with his paw and following the click with a treat, will get the job done in no time at all! The clicker is not magic, it is simply a tool which we use to make communicating with a non-verbal animal easier. It is not a cue – it doesn’t tell the dog what to do, it simply tells the dog that what it has done, or is in the process of doing, is right, and that that particular behaviour or part of a behaviour, has earned a reward. And, because your dog likes getting rewards that particular behaviour will very likely be repeated.
Of course, there are other ways to get dogs to repeat behaviours, but dogs just seem to LOVE doing stuff for the CLICK! There is just such joy and enthusiasm when the clicker comes out and clicker games are played. I honestly think that it’s more than just the food handouts. I’m pretty convinced that it’s the fact that you and your dog are communicating on a level which is so much more than your dog following commands.
You can also use a word as a marker – “Yes” or “Good” would both work as markers so if you like the idea of using a marker as a training tool, it doesn’t have to be a clicker. I will discuss on this blog why I believe the clicker is more effective as a marker, and also possible pitfalls of using a clicker in your training.