Lesson 6 – Clicker Training – How to know when to use a clicker.


Clicker training is a popular way of training. Clickers are useful to mark with precision exactly when your animal has done a desirable behaviour. If used correctly in this fashion they can be highly beneficial. Because of their popularity, clickers are widely available and used in training. Consequently. many people acquire clickers without doing the requisite homework. People start clicking without learning how to properly click. Lacking this understanding the clicker is misused. Part of understanding how to use the clicker also includes understanding “when” to use the clicker. This lesson touches on this subject.

3 times when it could be beneficial to use clicker training.

  1.  When you are having a challenging time marking with precision exactly when your animal has done a desirable behaviour.
  2. When you can’t deliver a reinforcer to your animal immediately after it has done a desirable behaviour.
  3.  When you want to use a sound to mark a correct behaviour and more then one person is going to be training the animal. The reason behind this is that the clicker makes a universal sound. No matter who is using it, it sounds the same. If for example you used a verbal sound instead of the clicker, the sound would change slightly between different people. This could potentially be confusing for the animal involved.

Now, imagine your animal has learnt a specific behaviour and you’re able to consistently deliver a reinforcer immediately after this. It’s possible at this stage that it might be beneficial to remove the clicker from the training. Sometimes this is exactly what I do.

3 Reasons why you might stop using the clicker once the behaviour has been learnt.

  1. Removing the clicker helps free up hands to do other tasks.
  2. The animal in this lessons video was going to be used for educational purposes in a wildlife park. In his eventual role the clicker had to be removed for presentation purposes.
  3. It is its good to practice your skills as a trainer. Removing the clicker once a behaviour has been trained helps you practice your continual communication with your animal. You might find it more challenging once the clicker has been removed (or you might find it easier). Remember even highly experienced trainers are continually practising their training skills.

Remember each animal is an individual. Each training session and situation is unique. Therefore make sure you look at your unique situation and make a decision as to what is best for you and your animal.