Anyone who has attended my classes knows I am a devotee of the clicker; but perhaps they don’t know why. I don’t “force” students to use a clicker and many opt to not. But why do I so strongly advocate for this little tool when there are so many other things to juggle?
- It is an effective tool to bring a handlers awareness to the exact pinnacle of their dogs performance. I use the term pinnacle because each time you entice your dog to perform a behavior (with or without a cue) there is a moment that is more ideal than any other for marking the behavior. I call it the “closest approximation of the desired behavior”. This ideal moment will vary depending upon your dogs ability, level of training, environmental challenges, and so forth. But the clicker helps keep the human on their toes and watching carefully for the perfect time to click.
- The concussive nature of the noise makes a very profound impact on the animal being trained. It is consistent, sharp, adequately loud, and unmistakable. Your voice on the other hand, or any other noise you can make with your mouth, is not.
- It is a very reputable technique despite what its adversaries would claim. People who come from other scent detection schools of thought often tell me that they are not allowed to use clickers. Pish. The notion that a clicker is not a “professional” animal training tool is ludicrous. Trainers of everything from elephants to badgers use clickers. Many a closed minded trainer will dismiss this effective and powerful tool, simply because they haven’t tried them, don’t understand their use, or are afraid to appear “gimicky”. No really I just made that up. I have no idea why they are put off by this tool and I honestly don’t care. I focus on the positive here and I am positive that clickers are solid training tools for a variety of behaviors.
So that is really all I have to say about it. You can Google the pro’s and con’s and make your own decision, but after decades of training dogs and horses for SAR, scent detection, obedience and competition, I have seen MORE success and more rapid acquisition of new behaviors on command, when I used a clicker.