Lesson 7/B – When to use Clicker Training


Here are some of the things we have learnt so far.

  • The clicker communicates to your animal exactly when it has done a desirable behaviour.
  • We deliver the click immediately after a desirable behaviour and immediately before the delivery of food.
  • Because of our pairing of the clicker with food it has acquired reinforcing value.
  • Reinforcement is something that occurs immediately after behaviour serving to maintain and/or increase the frequency of that behaviour in the future.
  • The CLICK is a very sharp, distinctive and universal sound.
  • It doesn’t matter wether you or someone else uses it, it sounds the same.
  • The above features make it ideal for marking behaviour.
  • Now we are going to learn about when to use clicker training.

When to use clicker training.

Communication with your animal is a continuous feedback loop. When applied correctly the clicker can really help with this feedback loop. There are also some very specific occasions when the communication ability of clickers can really come in handy. For example when your capacity to deliver food to your animal might be impaired by distance and/or physical/visual barriers. You can see some examples of this, in this lessons video. One is with Petra the Possum, where there is a significant distance and physical barrier (door) between us. We therefore employ the clicker to communicate to Petra that she has done the right thing and food is on its way. The second example is my cat. In the video, the cat is visually impaired as to what is going on. You can see that in this situation the clicker really helps me communicate to her that she has done the right thing and its time to collect her food. These are some good examples of when to use clicker training.

NOTE: This doesn’t mean that the clicker can’t and shouldn’t be used in other situations. This lesson just attempts to explain situations where I believe it has added benefit. There really isn’t any right or wrong answer as to “when to use clicker training?” Frequently the answer to this comes down to individual preference. I personally like the clicker for it’s assistance in marking with precision when an animal has done a desirable behaviour. I additionally have friends who are some of the best trainers I know who don’t like using them. Consequently, it’s often a personal preference.

Click through to lesson eight. We are going to start to go over shaping/training new behaviour using your clicker.