Clicker Training in a Nutshell

 

Clicker training is a humane way of training an animal by providing reward (positive reinforcement).  The animal will benefit from this technique as clicker training lets the animal work at his/her own pace, isn’t stressful, and can actually serve as a form of enrichment. 

 

I. Obtain a clicker from your local pet store

II. Get various types of treat rewards that you know the animal will like

III. Establish classical conditioning:

IV. Establish operant conditioning: Once animal associates the click with the treat, begin clicking and rewarding for the desired behavior: (hint: to see if they associate the click with the treat, see if they look like they are expecting food after you click)

Examples:

      Shaping animal behaviors:

·         When you think the animal is going to sit, say “sit” (cue) and click (bridge) and give them a treat (reward) for sitting.  For a dog or a cat, you can shape this behavior by moving a treat over their head until they sit down.

·         When you think the animal is going to lay down, say “lay down” (cue) and click (bridge) and give them a treat (reward) for laying down

·         To get the animal to stand, use a treat as a ‘lure’ by holding it above their head---say “stand” (cue), wait for the animal to stand to get the treat, click (bridge) and give them the treat (reward) you are holding. 

 Reduce an undesirable behavior

·          Ignore an undesirable behavior (do not distract them with food – this action is essentially rewarding the undesirable behavior with a treat!).

·         If you want an animal to reduce an undesirable behavior, such as digging in the yard, try to distract the animal with another task (such as playing with a toy), click and reward the animal for redirecting the behavior to playing instead of digging. The overall idea is that the animal will increase the behavior that is being rewarded and will decrease the behavior that is not rewarded.

Why use the clicker?

The clicker captures the behavior you want at the exact moment it happens----reward can happen a little bit later.  The animal knows he/she has done the right thing when they hear the click.

 

WARNING: do not over-click the clicker for fun!  This will confuse the animal.  Only use the clicker when you are training.   

 

For more information/tips on clicker training, visit www.primatesinc.com and click on the links section. 

Document created by Amy Kerwin

 10/10/05