What is clicker training for dogs?


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Our question this week was:

Dr. Debra – what is clicker training? I hear dog people say that term occasionally but I don't know what it means.

Bill H. – Columbia Missouri


Hi – thanks for your email. Clicker training is a way train dogs that involves a device or something that makes a clicking sound. This is part of a positive or reward-based training. The idea is to train your dog to perform certain desired behaviors rather than to punish unwanted behavior. One way is to use a "secondary re-enforcer," like praise or a neutral cue that signals that the primary re-enforcer is due.

In animal training, whistles and clicks have been used as secondary re-enforcers, though you can also use your voice. Clicks made by small plastic clickers ("frogs") are probably the best and most consistent way of marking the successful accomplishment of a behavior. For more information on Clicker Training, please read Clicker Training Your Dog. This article has a step by steps instructions on how to train.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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debra-primovic Dr. Debra Primovic

Debra A. Primovic, BSN, DVM, Editor-in-Chief, is a graduate of the Ohio State University School of Nursing and the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine. Following her veterinary medical training, Dr. Primovic practiced in general small animal practices as well as veterinary emergency practices. She was staff veterinarian at the Animal Emergency Clinic of St. Louis, Missouri, one of the busiest emergency/critical care practices in the United States as well as MedVet Columbus, winner of the AAHA Hospital of the year in 2014. She also spends time in general practice at the Granville Veterinary Clinic. Dr. Primovic divides her time among veterinary emergency and general practice, editing, writing, and updating articles for PetPlace.com, and editing and indexing for veterinary publications. She loves both dogs and cats but has had extraordinary cats in her life, all of which have died over the past couple years. Special cats in her life were Kali, Sammy, Pepper and Beanie.