Frequently Asked Questions

Will I have to use a clicker forever?
No, absolutely not. Once a behaviour is on cue, you no longer use the clicker UNTIL you want to train a NEW behaviour. The clicker simply is a clear, common ‘language’ between you and your dog.

Do I have to use food forever?
No, however, when training a behaviour you have to use a reinforcer. A reinforcer is anything your dog wants including treats, toys, going outside, cuddling with you, sniffing a tree, etc. Our goal is to have our dogs working for us on or off leash, in or out of the house, and whether or not you have a clicker and a treat.

Why can’t I just use food or praise? Isn’t that still positive training?
Yes it is, but there are a few special things about the clicker that make it more effective than just a treat or praise:The clicker acts like a tiny camera in the dog’s mind. It takes of picture of the exact moment he did the right thing. When using other positive training methods, treats and praise are usually delivered after the dog has performed the behaviour making it harder to link the reinforcer with the action in his mind.With the clicker your dog will learn desirable behaviour amazingly quickly. The clicker provides a consistent, non-emotional marker so your dog always receives the same information. The clicker is also distinct from other signals in the environment.
Yes it is, but there are a few special things about the clicker that make it more effective than just a treat or praise:

The clicker acts like a tiny camera in the dog’s mind. It takes of picture of the exact moment he did the right thing. When using other positive training methods, treats and praise are usually delivered after the dog has performed the behaviour making it harder to link the reinforcer with the action in his mind. With the clicker your dog will learn desirable behaviour amazingly quickly.

The clicker provides a consistent, non-emotional marker so your dog always receives the same information. The clicker is also distinct from other signals in the environment.

My daughter wants to train the dog, can SHE use the clicker?
Absolutely, anyone can teach with a clicker. Dogs trained to listen only to a dominant voice will often not listen to children in the family. With a clicker, everyone can play a part in teaching the dog.Clicker Training is fun for everyone, including the dog!
Absolutely, anyone can teach with a clicker. Dogs trained to listen only to a dominant voice will often not listen to children in the family. With a clicker, everyone can play a part in teaching the dog. Clicker Training is fun for everyone, including the dog!

Do I always have to provide a treat after a click?
You have to provide a reinforcer each and every time. Click means the dog has earned something he wants—usually a treat or a toy.

If I don’t use a command, how will my dog know what we are working on?
Your dog is undoubtedly very smart but he is not born knowing your spoken language. In clicker training we add the cue (or command) AFTER the dog has learned to do the behaviour. In effect, we give the behaviour a name once the dog is doing it. This can be a hard concept to get used to but it is extremely effective.

There is so much to know and it is all so new. What if I make mistakes?
The good thing about clicker training is that it is a very gentle way of training. If we make mistakes, it may take a little longer to train a behaviour, but that doesn’t matter to our dogs. Our dogs are very forgiving creatures. Even if you make mistakes, you will not cause your dog, or your relationship with your dog, any harm with clicker training.

Can a dog that has been trained "traditionally" learn with a clicker?
Absolutely. “Crossover” trainers are often amazed at the change that comes over their dogs when they switch to clicker training. Previously hesitant and shy dogs become enthusiastic and creative learners. To try clicker training with a dog previously trained with traditional methods, don't begin with a behavior the dog already knows—try something completely new and fun…preferably a trick.