Pros and Cons of Clicker Training

If you’ve recently adopted a new dog or puppy, it’s always recommended to train them at the earliest age. But choosing a suitable training method can be overwhelming, especially for a first-time dog owner.

So if you’re still not sure what method to do, clicker training has shown to be a positive method for teaching dogs commands and tricks. But like most methods, it may also have its disadvantages. 

So to help you figure out if clicker training is the best method for your pup, we’ll break down the pros and cons below.

What is clicker training?

Clicker training is a technique that uses a clicker to apply positive reinforcement when training your dog. A clicker is a small mechanical device that gives out a clicking noise whenever you press down its switch.

The concept of this method is to use the clicker as a “mark” whenever your dog does the desired behavior, making sure you follow it with a reward such as a treat. So hearing the clicking noise will encourage your pup to repeat the ‘correct behavior’ as they know they will get a reward.

So if you continue your canine’s training on a regular basis, they’ll eventually associate the correct behavior with the command with fewer mistakes in between.

What are the advantages of clicker training?

There are reasons clicker training is still one of the methods that trainers and dog owners use to teach their dogs. So to help you decide if this is the suitable method for your pup, here are a few reasons that can make you consider it: 

Highly effective

Using a clicker will give your dog a clear signal that they’re doing the correct behavior, as it can mark the exact moment where they’re following the command. Since this will eliminate vague and confusing communication, allowing them to learn faster.

Rewarding them with treats will also motivate them to repeat their learned behavior until they finally master the command or trick. So one tip to make this method more effective is to find the right reward for your dog that will keep them interested during your sessions.

Builds confidence

Since the core technique of clicker training is positive reinforcement, this allows your pup more room to learn from their mistakes through a healthy process since there’s no punishment involved.

So once they master one trick, they won’t be afraid to learn a few more since they’ll be more confident to learn and explore new experiences.

Strengthens your bonds

Since clicker training will require consistent and repetitive sessions, this will allow you to spend some time with your pup at least once a day. So you’ll be able to get to know more of their quirks and temperament, making you form a closer bond.

Communicating positively can also make you earn your dog’s trust, which can be beneficial in your daily life.

Keeps training sessions fun

Playful and reward-motivated dogs will enjoy this method as they’ll know that they’ll get treats by doing simple behaviors. So to keep your training sessions fun and challenging, you can rotate through 2-3 commands per session to make learning more interactive for your pup.

What are the disadvantages of clicker training?

As effective clicker training is, it may also have its limitations and negative effects when taught improperly. So to help you avoid making these mistakes, here are some of its disadvantages:

Incompatible for some dogs

It can be difficult to wrap your head around, but there are dogs that don’t get motivated by rewards. So if your dog doesn’t easily get excited by treats or toys, the clicker method may not be the most effective system for them.

Since rewards are not something they’re interested in, keeping their attention will also be challenging so learning new commands will take twice as long.

Needs proper timing

Since the purpose of clicker training is to mark the exact moment your dog does the desired behavior, timing can be crucial to make this technique effective. Clicking a beat in advance or one second later a few times is forgivable, but if you keep forgetting to click altogether, you might be better off using another technique that doesn’t need any tools for training.

Encourages conditioning behaviors

Once your dog starts to get a hang of following your commands, it’s important to start weaning them off from the clicker and rewards. Ignoring this step will make them dependent on the clicker and will always expect to get a treat whenever you say the command.

So to prevent this, you can slowly transition to using voice commands until your pup can respond without using any treats or toys.

Not applicable for more advanced commands

Clicker training will take knowledge and practice to execute this technique properly. So if you’ve never trained a dog before, more complicated and advanced tricks can be difficult to teach. So always start with the basic commands first so you can eventually build your skills and experience to use the clicker correctly.

How do you train with a clicker?

Despite its shortcomings, clicker training can still be an effective method for teaching your dogs tricks as long as it’s used properly.

So to make your training successful, you’ll need to make your dog understand by introducing what the clicker does first. To do this, push the clicker and follow it with a treat for about 10-20 repetitions. Once your pup understands that a clicking sound will result in a treat, you’re ready to start your training.

If your canine has no previous experience with training, you might want to start with the most basic commands like sit or stay. Once they perform your command correctly, push the clicker and give them a treat.

But if you’re still wary about training your dog on your own, you can always enroll them with a professional dog trainer. Delaware K9 Academy offers a 2-week Bootcamp program or private lessons so your pup can get the most optimized training. So if you’re interested in learning more about our services, give us a call now.