The essence of clicker training is that the dog is guided, not forced, into the desired behavior. Many dogs enjoy puzzling things out, and really like this form of training. It takes a lot of patience, but is entirely non-confrontational. If you learn and understand clicker training you will not only be more effective in training dogs, but you will probably also improve your people handling skills. There is a publication called the Clicker Journal that further develops these concepts (by a variety of authors).
There are two things I really like about what happens when people learn to clicker train. First, they learn to pay more attention to their dog. I don't mean in terms of time spent with the dog. I mean in terms of actually noticing things about the dog. What does the dog like, what does the dog not like. Too often we ignore what the dog is telling us and keep on doing things based on what we think the dog should or shouldn't like, or what some other dog liked or didn't like.
The second good thing that happens is that a person really understands that when something happens matters. To clearly communicate with your dog your response must happen very soon after the behavior. And that doesn't mean after the behavior is completed. It means as soon as you recognize that the behavior is occurring or even better is about to occur.
And again this involves paying attention to your dog. There is probably no single thing that will most improve how you relate to your dog than learning to pay attention to what your dog's responses are telling you.
I think that one of the ways to start click training is not in training the pet, but in playing a game among humans -- You Don't Say! -- where the goal is to get another player to do something specific like turn a toy car upside down without saying a word.
You Don't Say - (teaching and training game)
A simple description of the click and treat training technique.
Frequently asked questions about the clicker discussion group and about clicker training
A nice article to introduce the concept of clicker training - using people as the subject
An organized training plan toward the basics of acceptable behavior and learning readiness . by Sue Ailsby
Another explanation of clicker training, and its relationship to operant conditioning.
The home page of Gary Wilkes author of "Click and Treat" I've started you on the page listing articles from the authors Columns appearing in Dog Fancy magazine "On Good Behavior"
Articles, Clicker Agility, Recommended Books, Training Videos, Equipment, Trainer Index
One of my favorite "getting started" clicker videos. The explanations are clear and the action is varied so it isn't just a "talking heads" video. Also see The How of Bow Wow DVD
Clicker training works on any animal that can choose behavior. Behavior that is rewarding gets repeated.
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