What's The Deal With The Clicker?

I’ve been asked by a number of clients  why use a clicker.  When training our dogs, we use our voices to express our approval when Rover has followed a command on cue. We usually say, “good boy,” or “yes.” Then we give Rover a treat for a job well done. But what many dog owners don’t realize is that “good boy,” or “yes” are simply sounds that Rover has realized over time to mean a reward whether it's a scratch behind the ears or a  treat. For you psychology buffs out there, it is a conditioned reinforcer followed by an unconditioned reinforcer. Those words that we use that are just sounds to the dog are what we dog trainers call a marker. That is the purpose of a clicker. Just a sound or a marker and you use it in place of “good boy” or “yes.” The difference between a clicker and a word is that the clicker sound never changes. For example, “Good boy” could lack energy when you have a poor night’s sleep or the words or tones could change with different handlers. The clicker is also extremely precise. You can “mark” Rover the split second his butt touches the ground when you ask him to sit or the second he does that wonderful roll over trick you taught him. I personally love using a clicker with my own dogs. If you are a serious dog training enthusiast and you want Rover to do some complex things, such as ring a bell to go out or bring your shoes to you, the clicker is a ideal.