Clicker Training

Obedience. Handling, Toenail clipping. Foot handling. Recall. Tricks. Overcoming fear. Overcoming reactivity. Leash walking. Attention games. Fetch. Horse stable manners. Horse trailer loading...

...all these things and more can be very effectively approached with clicker training.

I’ll admit it: I’m a lazy trainer. I want to get behaviors and I want them to happen as quickly as possible. Most of all, I want the dog to want to do the behavior. I want to convey to the dog as precisely as humanly possible exactly what behavior will get rewarded. If I can do this, training is a breeze.

The clicker (or a “verbal marker”) is a behavioral selection tool or a new behavior construction tool. The clicker is to training as e-mail is to communication: a quick, accessible, reliable, consistent, almost-instant tool. We can’t use it exclusively, but it’s there as an option when we are training new behaviors. Once that particular behavior is learned, we no longer need the clicker.

It usually takes but a minute or so for a dog to understand that a click (or a verbal marker) is always immediately followed by a treat, but once he does, he’s off and running the training marathon that will endure his entire life. A dog who is clicker savvy is very conscious of his own behaviors - isn’t this what we want? He’s thinking. Problem-solving. Experimenting. And you are there giving precise feedback. The best part is that you, the trainer, are the glue that keeps the game going. Dogs love games and you can be his own personal Wii!

It’s easy to become an addict to clicker training. I am one. My dogs are addicts, too. I hope that I can help you and your dog experience the power of the clicker as well.

Young Maggie learns about the clicker and hand targeting in less than a minute!

"I was captured by Diana's keen awareness of the cues my 8 week old golden, Daisy, was giving (and I had no clue about!): Daisy and Diana could "communicate" from the first moment they met! I wanted that same awareness and Diana taught me how to be sensitive to timing and to "capturing" the behaviors I wanted by using the clicker. This was a new method for me and took some time for MY training (!) but Diana was always so patient and encouraging at every step." Janelle Powers with "Daisy", Falmouth