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Clicker Training Pros and Cons: Is It Really Effective?

Excellent training is an essential aspect every pet owner should never overlook.

Such training helps enhance confidence, mental stimulation, and human-animal bonds.

It would be best to start this training early, ensuring that the dog understands various instructions and commands as it grows.

However, you must choose the right training approach. One such option is clicker training, whose insights are stated below.

What is Clicker Training?

Clicker training is a dog training approach that focuses on positive reinforcement, mainly through a bridging stimulus in operant conditioning.

The idea is to identify, mark, and reward a specific desirable behavior or habit.

Often, a mechanical device is used to mark this desirable behavior. This device clicks whenever the dog is acting right.

An ideal mechanical device will be an integral part of communication.

It ensures that information reaches the dog immediately.

Its soft nature makes it humane to make the dog feel mentally and physically endowed to handle a task.

Clicker training ensures that the dog understands what behavior gets rewarded.

You could attribute this to the instant clicking that marks a specific behavior.

For example, suppose you instruct the dog to sit down. In this case, the mechanical device will click as soon as the dog gets seated.

From here, you’ll be free to reward it with the preferred treat.

This training requires that you first teach the dog what a marker is.

You’ll also need to pair this marker with a specific reward.

This way, the dog will expect a reward every time it behaves right or submits to your commands.

At the same time, you could use this marker to lure the dog into the behavior you want to inculcate.

That means clicker training is an excellent method for shaping good behavior in a dog.

Once your dog learns this trait or behavior, you’ll no longer need the marker.

Various aspects suffice when you want successful clicker training.

Most often, you’ll have to observe the following.

  • Proper timing should be a priority. That means you must click on the mechanical device as soon as you observe the desirable behavior. This move will help the dog associate a behavior with a reward.
  • Always reward good behavior. Consistent reward ensures that the dog maintains excellent behavior at all times. Remember, accidental clicking will require you to offer a reward.
  • It would help if you used healthy treats. These treats will also need to be in relatively small quantities. This move will help keep the dog healthy and less obese. It will also ensure that the dog looks forward to such treats from time to time.
  • Most experts suggest that you praise the dog after the training. Constant praise will often encourage the dog to maintain those desirable traits in the long run.
  • Slowly phase out the clicker. A steady process will ensure that the dog maintains the desirable traits you want. As long as the dog can now respond to your voice commands only, it is time to withdraw the clicker, albeit slowly.

Further, ensure that you understand how to handle the entire clicker training method.

This training happens in three main phases.

They include the following.

  • Take the time to introduce the dog to the clicker method. During this phase, you’ll also need to identify the best treats for your dog. You will also have to introduce the dog to the clicker.
  • The clicker should allow you to teach the dog new commands without an issue. It would be best to focus on one action at a time. It ensures that the dog can comfortably grasp and change its behavior. However, be gentle during this process.
  • Spice the process with vocal commands. Adding vocals will help enhance the respect between you and your dog. However, refrain from shouting at this stage. It could scare the affected dog.

Advantages of the Clicker Training Method

Various benefits come with clicker training.

Understanding some of these benefits will allow you to make logical decisions regarding the clicker training approach.

Enforces Desirable Traits: Clicker training boasts the ability to reinforce desirable traits in a dog.

This method relies on positive reinforcement to ensure that the dog maintains the behavior it gets rewarded for.

In brief, it helps create a pattern that focuses on initiating and enforcing particular habits in the dog.

That means you can shape your dog’s behavior per your preferences and the preferred behavior, all within a reasonable timeline.

Clicker training often trains specific traits.

This training is precise, making it suitable for handling complex behaviors.

Using the clicker training approach allows you to predict your dog’s behavior before the training process even ends.

Besides, the results are often consistent.

It boosts confidence: Most trainers associate clicker training with enhanced confidence.

This approach allows the dog to feel mentally and physically strong to take on different tasks.

At the same time, your pet will no longer be afraid of making mistakes, making it a daring dog.

Since this dog will not be afraid of making mistakes, it will improve its behavior and traits.

You’ll also be sure that the dog will not feel threatened by anything.

Impressive humananimal bond: Clicker training assures you of a stronger human-animal bond.

You could attribute this to the constant relationship between the dog and human being during the training.

Usually, this training allows the dog to understand what you expect from it.

It will also adjust significantly effortlessly, thanks to the rewards it gets.

Remember, the dog links the reward to a specific action.

Continuous rewards will help enhance the desirable trait while boosting the relationship between you and the dog.

Creativity and the ability to take the initiative: Clicker training is one of the best methods to improve your dog’s creativity.

This training forces the dog to try until it gets something right.

Such persistence will allow the pet to become more creative, finding a way to meet the desired goal.

Unless the dog gets the behavior or action right, it cannot get a reward.

Therefore, its persistence is thanks to its desire to get a perfect treat.

In turn, you expect the dog to be good at solving problems.

Faster Training: If you are looking forward to training bigger dogs within a relatively short time, clicker training will be the best solution.

Its positive reinforcement nature implies that the dog will take a short time to learn new habits, thanks to its rewards.

This aspect will help nip some issues in large dogs, including housebreaking or unwanted contact.

However, you can only achieve these results if you maintain enhanced consistency.

In addition, clicker training comes with a relatively unique structure.

This structure ensures that the dog understands and follows your instructions effortlessly.

Its clarity and efficiency will often give the dog a much easier time in the long run.

As long as there is a click and a reward, this process will be easier to follow.

However, ensure that you use suitable treats.

Multiple trainers: The clicker approach allows you to use various trainers when handling the dog.

Yet, you can all rely on the same clicker device.

Allowing for multiple trainers to handle the process will help foster multiple healthy behaviors simultaneously.

In addition, allowing for numerous trainers will help ease the workload of the primary trainer.

However, there must be enhanced consistency and uniformity in the training process.

This way, you can be sure of incredible as well as uniform results in the long run.

Uniformity: A clicker produces a similar sound at all times.

Such uniformity makes it much easier to distinguish among the other sounds within the environment.

Thanks to this, the dog easily understands what sound shows that it has behaved appropriately.

At the same time, such a distinct sound makes it easier for the dog to avoid distractions in the long run.

Feel free to add various conversational commands whenever necessary.

It uses positive reinforcement and treats: Positive reinforcement and treats will often make the dog more loyal to a given course.

This dog will be willing to stick to a particular habit, expecting a reward or treat at the end of the day.

Disadvantages of Using the Clicker Training Method

While it boasts various benefits, the clicker training approach has a few drawbacks.

Some of these drawbacks include the following.

Not suitable for all dogs: The clicker training method is efficient.

Yet, it does not work well with all dogs.

Some dogs will hardly respond to the positive reinforcement exerted.

At the same time, others will not have the appetite or food drive associated with practical clicker training.

Unless you identify the exact food your pet loves the most, the results will hardly be pleasant.

It requires unmatched consistency: The clicker training method requires you to be consistent and persistent.

That means any incomplete training might not give you the desired results.

For instance, it would be best not to switch from the clicker to vocal commands midway.

Further, it would be best to reward the dog every time the mechanical device clicks.

This move helps foster the habit in question.

Unfortunately, it is hard to maintain high levels of consistency for a long time.

It might force conditioning: The clicker training approach will often help cultivate conditioning.

That means your dog will rely on the clicker to perform certain activities or behave in a specific way.

This aspect will force you to carry the clicker whenever you walk with your dog.

Excessive conditioning becomes a burden instead of a solution to behavioral change.

Requires excessive practice: For excellent results, you’ll need to put in extra work.

This training requires you to be present in the dog’s life at all times.

Constant monitoring will ensure that you identify and mark excellent behavior, rewarding the dog instantly.

Unfortunately, you might not have the time or energy to do this at all times.

That means you will likely not get the results you envision if you do not have enough time and resources.

It might not change lousy behavior or training: Most experts suggest that you use the clicker training approach on puppies.

Using this method on younglings will often provide more reliable results.

However, you cannot rely on clicker training to help change some deep-seated traits in a dog. It will also be quite hard to avert the dog’s poor training effects.

It replaces neither positive reinforcement nor treats: This method relies on two main aspects: a reward and positive reinforcement.

These elements come hand in hand, disassociating them proving hard.

As such, you’ll need to have enough treats in the house.

At the same time, positive reinforcement becomes inevitable.

Final Word

In conclusion, clicker training is an excellent dog-training approach.

Its organized and straightforward structure makes it ideal for training large and stubborn animals.

Yet, the insights above will offer a more comprehensive outlook of what to expect from the employer.

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National Canine Research Association of America