How To Clicker Train Your Dog

A clicker is a small box with a metal strip inside of it. When you press on the metal piece it will make a distinct clicking sound. Just pressing the clicker and pointing it at your dog will not do anything. It works by pairing it with something that your dog likes. Clickers are most often paired with food. So the first step when you clicker train your dog is to "charge" the clicker so that it has some meaning for your dog.

You would start the training by clicking it and then quickly rewarding your dog with a treat.

By repeated clicking and treating your dog starts to associate the sound of the with the treat. Within a short period of time, your dog will think of the treat when they hear the sound. Now the sound will have meaning to your dog. You can now use the it to shape your dog's behavior.

A quick study of Ivan pavlov will explain how clickers work. Ivan Pavlov was a Russian scientist studying the digestive system. What he discovered was that when he paired the sound of a bell with some meat powder the dogs would start to drool at the sound of the bell.

Pavlov became interested in this reflex which is now known as classical conditioning. Classical condition is what you start doing in the beginning with the clicker. You are not rewarding any behavior all; you are pairing the food with the sound of the clicker – classical conditioning. Once your dog has paired the sound of the clicker with the food you can now start to use it to shape behavior. This is where we begin to study BF Skinner.

BF Skinner studied behavior and came up with the term "operant conditioning." He states that "Operant conditioning forms an association between behavior and differentiation."

Simply put, Skinner suggested that if the consequences of behavior are positive, then the behavior is more likely to be repeated. On the other hand, if the consequences of behavior are negative, it is more likely that the behavior will be repeated less and eventually will stop.

Simply put, Skinner suggested that if the consequences of behavior are positive, then the behavior is more likely to be repeated. On the other hand, if the consequences of behavior are negative, it is more likely that the behavior will be repeated less and eventually will stop.

Skinner went on to train pigeons during World War Two. Small cameras were attached to the pigeons so the pigeons could fly into enemy territory and pictures could be taken.

Skinner's training method has been used to train many different types of animals; dolphins, chickens, horses, and killer whales just to name a few. Incredibly, Skinner's training techniques did not catch on with dog trainers until the early 90's.

Most dog training methods came from the military and relied on heavy negative reinforcement and harsh training techniques.

If you have ever been to Sea World or any place that trains dolphins and killer whales you'll see the trainers using whistles. The whistle is like the clicker. They have paired the sound of the whistle with a tasty piece of fish. Now they can shape the killer whale's behavior by using the whistle.

You can do the same with your dog. Once your dog associates the sound of the clicker with the treat you can start to train new behaviors. Clicker training is fun, fast and effective.

Source by Eric Letendre

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