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Introduction to Clicker Training – Part 1, August 19, 2010

The use of marker signals, like clickers, to train animals has been in use for over 60 years so it’s hardly a new concept.  However if you haven’t clicker trained an animal before, it’s brand new to you, so here’s how you can comfortable using a clicker to train your dog.

If you have ever seen the animal acts at places like Sea World and Marine Land, you have seen how effective this sort o training can be.  Clicker training has its roots in the science of classical conditioning – think Pavlov’s Dogs.  Because it’s based in science, you will find it a fast, effective and efficient method training.  While dogs of different breeds can behave differently, no dog is immune to the principles of learning theory and it is using those principles, that we will train our dogs.

Clickers are not ‘magic’ – they are just simple tools.  Their main advantage is that they are cheap, easy to carry and use, and they produce a unique sound that can be used as a marker signal.  Owners of deaf dogs will often use a small flashlight as a marker signal and marine mammal trainers use whistles.  All these markers perform the same task; they provide the animal being trained with information.  In order to be an effective training tool, your maker signal needs to meet certain requirements.

Unique:  It’s unique signal sounds stands out from the everyday background sounds like human speech.

Consistent: It sounds the same no matter who is training the dog.

Immediate: It needs to pinpoint the exact behavior at the precise moment the dog does it.  Mechanical markers are more precise than verbal ones when you want to pinpoint a behavior.

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