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The Background and Use of Clicker Training for Dogs

Clicker Training by dogs

Clicker Training for Dogs and How Well it Works!

Presently, and throughout the 1990s a phenomenon swept through the dog-lover’s community. It was called ‘Clicker Training,‘ and was implemented to teach dogs  (along with horses and cats) that certain behaviors would be awarded, while others were not. Ms. Karen Pryor, a former dolphin trainer and author, along with a team of ‘Operant Trainers’ started giving presentations at dog shows. They displayed how the small plastic device (about half the size of a bottle-opener) could be used to train dogs to do a number of ‘tricks,’ in just a few days; tricks that would’ve taken months or even years to learn before.

Reaching the Animal Mind: Clicker Training and What It Teaches Us About All Animals
  • Scribner Book Company
  • Pryor, Karen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 288 Pages - 06/08/2010 (Publication Date) - Scribner (Publisher)
Karen Pryor, Getting Started: Clicker Training for Dogs Kit
  • Easy Training
  • Fast Training
  • Make your training effective and fun!
  • Affordable
  • Affordable

I Use Clicker Training for Dogs

I use Clicker Training for my own dogs and highly recommend it.  They seem to learn much faster with the clicker training method.

The idea of using an acoustic sound or ‘click’ to stimulate desired behaviors is called ‘operant conditioning’ and was first used with dolphins and whales as early as the 1930s. This idea evolved and was formulated for other types of animals. These animals, like their dolphin predecessors, were ‘conditioned’ to perform desired behaviors or actions.

Clicker Training is entirely based on a system of positive reinforcement with no punishment for undesired behavior. The clicker is clicked to let the dog know that he did something (i.e. sat, didn’t chew or jumped over a box, etc.) right. The system is designed to shape behavior by allowing the animal to do something for which he will then be rewarded with a click and a treat.

Clicking with Your Dog: Step-by-Step in Pictures (Karen Pryor Clicker Books)
  • Clicking With Your Dog: Step-By-Step in Pictures (Karen Pryor Clicker Books)
  • Tillman, Peggy (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 224 Pages - 09/01/2000 (Publication Date) - Sunshine Books, Inc. (Publisher)

It is NOT designed (as old training methods were) for the dog owner to physically manipulate the animal to sit, for example. Modern animal behaviorists find that animals learn more by themselves than when someone ‘shows’ them how they should react in a situation.


More About Clicker Training

If this idea is still hard to grasp, think about dolphins; or better yet, killer whales. There is no way that a trainer is going to physically manipulate a whale to jump out of the water. However, whales jump out of the water (at least partially) without conditioning. When these same whales jump out of the water, hear the ‘click’ (or some associated sound), and then receive a treat, they quickly associate jumping out of the water as a positive behavior.

EcoCity 4-Pack Dog Training Clicker with Wrist Strap
  • A brand new happy communication mode with the pet. Great for training puppies and...
  • Fits nicely in your hand, it has elastic wrist strap so you don't drop it.
  • Button presses easily and comes right back up without getting stuck, good sound, not...
  • The Clicker can not only train the dog but also the cat, bird, chicken, sheep and...

Once that connection is made, trainers gradually increase what it takes (a higher jump) for the whale to get a click and a treat. It’s the same idea for a dog. The trainer waits for the dog to sit, quickly clicks, and gives the dog a treat. Puppies have been shown to learn as fast as within one click.

It’s important when using Clicker Training that the clicker is used immediately following the desired behavior. If the trainer or owner waits even a second, then the training could take a lot longer. Or worse yet, the dog may not associate the click and treat with something he did right.

StarMark Clicker Dog Training System
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  • Scientific Method Of Training Your Pet Safely And Easily
  • Ergonomic Design Fits Comfortably In Your HandStainless Steel Clicker Element Won'T...

The clicker allows you to use something besides your voice to control your pet’s behaviors. It provides an external stimulus outside your body and provides a sound that is always the same, hence, always precise. It might be considered to be like a small remote control.

PetSafe Clik-R Trainer
  • Hand-held clicker with finger holder
  • Introduction to clicker training guide included
  • Call, chat or email with our expert US-based customer care specialists six days a...
  • PetSafe brand has been an industry leading US manufacturer of pet behavior,...

Today, Clicker Training for dogs is spreading like wildfire across many states and countries. Ms. Karen Pryor notes that in the early 1990’s there were no Clicker Trainers. Just the idea existed. But now that people are seeing the amazing results, there are people budding up everywhere buying the manuals and using the device to train their dogs.

Click to Calm: Healing the Aggressive Dog (Karen Pryor Clicker Book)
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Emma Parsons (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 181 Pages - 12/01/2004 (Publication Date) - Sunshine Books (Publisher)

Success statistics vary, but they lay somewhere between 90% and 100% percent effective. The higher statistics are a result of the dog having only one trainer who follows the guidelines exactly. When used precisely, it’s seemingly a flawless method of pet training.



To get more information about dog training or the use of clickers, please purchase one of the books recommended on this site. You will also need to buy the clicker. I’m sure you will love this clicker dog training method; it works really well!

How about you? Have you ever used Clicker Training for Dogs? Please share it with us in the comments below.

Written by Johannes


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  1. This is amazing. I am interested in how it can be used with cats too. Ever try training a cat? It can be done, but it’s nowhere as easy as training a dog (at least by my experience and those of people I know). This article is another reason why I love this website. It contains so much helpful information and it’s explained clearly and concisely. Can’t wait to go home and try this with my cat!

    • Hi Mike, let us know how it goes with your cat. I’ve never tried it with a cat, but I’ve heard of others using the clicker training for them and they catch on really fast if you include treats they like. Good luck! 🙂

  2. Wow Tammy, I didn’t realise how effective clicker training is. And it can be used on cats? That’s really interesting, I have a cat who could use a gentle coaching. How long until you saw results with your pooches? Animals are so very clever and this method of training sound’s enjoyable and gentle. I do enjoy reading your posts, always informative and pleasant to read. Thank you.

    • Thanks Lace! My dogs learn commands in 1 day with clicker training. They are food/treat driven so it takes them no time at all. Try it with your cat and let me know how it goes. 🙂

  3. I love your teachings and site. I’m going to try this clicker training method on my horse and dogs. I think it will work great for them!

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