Quicker training with a clicker - AmericaNowNews.com

Quicker training with a clicker

There's an animal training method that has become very popular with dog handlers. It's called "clicker training" and it's a form of operant conditioning.

To clicker train your dog, you of course need a clicker. Use the clicker to immediately mark a behavior you want him to repeat.

Your dog will begin to associate that clicking sound with what he's doing at the very moment he hears it. The clicker becomes a conditioned reinforcer, but associating the clicking sound with the desired behavior is only part of how it works.

"You also need to show your dog how if, every time he hears the clicking, he responds correctly, he'll get a reward from you, like praise or a food treat," says Pet Pro Luciano Aguilar. "The positive reinforcement that quickly follows the clicking will motivate your dog to perform whatever task you're training him to do."

The clicker tells your dog exactly what he did right and the praise or treat that follows reinforces his compliance.

"The benefit of using a clicker is that it delivers a consistent audio cue. You could clap or whistle or use a word, but the tone or volume of those audio cues could change throughout the training session and confuse your dog," Luciano explains.

The big challenge of clicker training is marking exactly when your dog has successfully performed the behavior you're trying to teach him, so timing is key.

"If I'm teaching a dog to shake hands, as soon as he brings his paw up and I take it into my hand, I let him know he's done the right thing," says Luciano. "If I click too late, the behavior I could be marking is when he pulls his paw out of my hand, not shaking. And for more complicated tasks, it can be helpful to break the behavior into smaller steps and mark each successive achievement."

Once a dog has learned a behavior with clicker training, he'll often remember it for the rest of his life. So be patient, get your timing right and see for yourself just how effective a clicker can be!

Copyright 2012 America Now. All rights reserved.

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