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What is Clicker Training?

dog clicker training at Top Gun Dog Training in Huntsville, AL

We get plenty of questions about clickers and clicker training from clients, so we want to address some common ones here.

What is the purpose of the clicker?

When pressed, clickers produce a marker ( a distinct “click!” sound). Trainers pair this sound with something the dog likes, usually food, and then click! Let them know that the dog performs the desired behavior, “that was it!” Simply put, clickers let the dog know exactly which behavior is being rewarded, so they know what to repeat for us. They make communication crystal clear for humans and dogs, so nobody gets frustrated or confused during training, and we meet our goals faster!

Do I have to use a clicker?

Nope! While the clicker is a helpful tool for teaching new behaviors quickly, clicker training is not just about the clicker itself.  Any kind of distinct sound can be used with the same underlying philosophy. So instead of using the clicker, you could use a marker word like “yes!” Both approaches can achieve excellent success and results, though we recommend the clicker as we find it more recognizable to the dog and encourages more accurate timing.

Will I need to have the clicker on me all the time, forever?

Fear not; you won’t have to have the clicker attached to your wrist for the rest of your life! Clickers are used when teaching a new behavior to help the dog understand your criteria. You can also use your clicker and verbal marker (“yes!”) interchangeably with your dog so that, just in case you don’t have a clicker on hand, you can still catch and reward good behavior!


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