Getting Started Learning how to hold the clicker, leash and treats is a bit tricky but becomes more natural with practice. It is worth the effort because, once “loaded”, it becomes a very powerful tool to use in training. The sound, a sharp ‘click’, is paired with a treat over the course of 4 days until the dog is convinced that when he or she hears a ‘click’ a treat is sure to follow.
The clicker is more powerful than the word “yes!” because the sharp sound is processed in an ancient part of the brain -the amygdala- and so it does not require any thinking. The word “yes!” requires thinking and is not as captivating as the automatically processed click.
The Word “Yes!” is great for when a clicker is not available. “Yes!” is also great for when you are training out in public or around other dogs. The clicker cannot be used when other dogs are in hearing range because they learn that the click is irrelevant.
The clicker is used for introducing new behavior. Once you have introduced the new behavior and put it on verbal cue you can stop using the clicker and reward the dog intermittently with the word “yes!”.
Experience supports the use of the clicker for introducing new obedience behaviors and complex tasks. While it takes 4 days to load the clicker, the payoff is well worth it!
Trainer’s Tip: Brush up your clicker timing by throwing up a tennis ball and clicking at its apex!
Katie Weibel, Master Dog Trainer. Providing training for companion, service and working dogs, sharing knowledge and expertise.