Clickers anyone?


New Member
Up until now, I've been training my 8 month puppy with treats. I've recently come across a clicker and am interested in the pros and cons of switching to clicker training. Many people say that it is more beneficial than treating but could anyone tell me why?
Also I would like to know how to get my puppy used to the clicker, how to teach her what it means.
Also one last question, if i taught her to respond to the clicker, would i cut out treats or must i use both clicker and treats when i train?

Is just clicking and praising enough?

Will listen to all advice.

Irene and Dashka


Well-Known Member
I think whether a switching to a clicker would be of benefit to you really depends on your dog and how you like to train. Personally I find a clicker awkward (something extra to carry), but my dogs do understand a click word.

I also think whether a clicker is useful depends a bit on what behaviour you are training for...some exercises lend themselves to clicker training better than others but I know of people who use exclusively clicker being very successful in a wide range of disciplines.

Also, if just using treats is working for you it might be best to stick with what is working...if it isnt...then maybe trying something a bit different will help?

With regards still using food...clicker training works on the principle of click, reward. The reward could be verbal praise, play, food, anything your dog likes really :doghappy:


Experienced Member
How you can get your dog used to the clicker?
Sit down, with a buch of treats in a bowl (try to "hide" it from the dog, so he can't see it). Make sure, there are NO distractions, the dog can easily listen to you.
Click once, and give a treat as soon as possible. Make sure there is very little time between the click and the reward.
Repeat this, until you run out of treats.
Don't make a session too long, only about five minutes.
Do this a coouple of times during the day, make sure you keep pozitive.
Try to variate the position of the treats. So never give a treat from the same place in a row. Throw it on the ground, give it from your hand, anything really. The only point of this wghole thing is that the dog connects the sound with the reward.

If you have done this for a few days, test the dog.
If the dog is in the other part of the room, or a littlebit further away from you, clikc. If she runs to you, and looks for the treat, BINGO! :)
Rom then on, you can start some shaping games, to get her used to learning this way.

The other questions:
I don't think you should use only the clicker. There are some behaviours that I thought without a clicker (even if I use it for almost everything)... :)

And the point of the clicer is pozitive reinforcement. So if your dog likes food better, reward her with food, if she is more toy-crazy, throw a ball after clicking, or do some tugging. Tnhe only thing that is important, that after a click, the dog MUST be rewarded somehow.


Experienced Member
Clicker training is not a separate thing from treat training, the reason the clicker helps a lot is because it acts as a bridge. It marks the exact instant the dog did something you like and connects that time to the reward he is going to get. It is especially useful for shaping or anything when you are rewarding a tiny movement, like a split second of eye contact, a head turn away, etc. Just saying "good boy" takes too much time and by the time the dog gets a reward he may not know what the treat is for. That is the benefit of the clicker, it takes a picture of the moment. Someone mentioned using a verbal marker instead (like the word "yes") which you can also do. the downside to the verbal marker is that it's slower and doesn't stand out (its just one more word that we say to them). But I use both, I paired both the click and "yes" with treats so my dog responds to both, and of course use just general praise to mean good but you may not get a reward.

As for praise, it probablly wouldn't work. You want the clicker to be a very very powerful predictor of something good. If you pair the click with somethign the dog really doesn't care about, the dog isn't going to work for it. So most people use food, or some use toys if the dog is toy crazy. It just must be a reward the DOG wants and not what you want them to want.


Experienced Member
Answer to why a verbal cue or mouth click doesn't work as well.

Mainly that it is not consistent to use voice just because you are not a mechanical device so not always the same. Your voice doesn't always mean a treat either, most of the time it does not. A clicker ALWAYS means treat in 1-2 seconds.

I use a flexi wrist band for my clicker so I can drop it if needed and forget it and it's right there when needed. It is an aid in making a connection and it took one lesson on what a clicker is for all my dogs for them to get it. Some take longer but generally it gets across really fast.

The training, at least for me is exponentially faster so that's why I use it. Having gone from traditional no treat training to treats to click/treat I would never go back. Once someone uses a clicker they can't stop because it is so incredible. I do train other ways and I fade the clicker out for a specific behavior once it is solid so I use it only for new things or brush ups on long unused things.

Have fun with it. Karen Pryor's site had lots of free info and several book suggestions inlcuding Kathy Sdao. We just started a KP clicker class with an instructor here that does SAR work and love it.