Clicker Training For Dogs: Pros And Cons

Our guide to clicker training.

Clicker training is one of the popular training methods used by animal behaviorists, trainers, and pet owners. Clicker training has been employed widely in training dogs, from basic dog training to more complex training sessions.

In this blog post, we will discuss the basics of dog clicker training and its pros and cons. 

Clicker training uses a marker word

AT A GLANCE (SEE ON AMAZON):

What is Clicker Training?

Clicker training is a popular and effective way of teaching your pup new commands. It is a type of operant conditioning, which simply means your dog gets a response for good behavior.  

It relies on positive reinforcement, meaning you reward your pup when they do something correctly. Along with treats, your dog will come to mark the clicking noise with a positive response. This is what they now term the click-and-treat method. Due to the click-and-treat marker, your dog would learn the exact behavior with the reward.  

This type of training has been used by dog trainers in various areas of training. Clicker training is relatively easy to use and is one of the most humane ways of training your pup without using negative reinforcement or punishment. 

It’s also an incredibly fun way to bond with your dog and will strengthen the relationship between you two. So if you’re looking for an easy, effective, and enjoyable way to train your pooch, clicker training might be perfect for you!

Clickers

Clickers are small handheld devices used by an animal or dog trainer that make a small click noise every time you push a button.

The clicker acts as a marker for when the reward should come so that your pup knows what behavior it needs to repeat to receive the reward. 

It is an amazing tool that can help you and your pup bond while teaching them new tricks. Using a clicker will eventually result in your dog showing the desired behavior. 

Clicker Training and Positive Reinforcement

If you are working on using positive reinforcement in your training process, getting and using a clicker may be a great way to teach your dog good behaviors. In positive reinforcement training, you teach your dog some behaviors or tricks through a conditioned reinforcer, such as the use of a reward.

Dog trainers have been using clickers to teach various desirable behaviors. Even new dog owners have also resorted to the use of this device, along with a reward like a dog treat or dog toy, every time they need to inculcate something in their dogs, like a desired behavior.

Rewarding of treats should follow the clicking sound and marker

Pros and Cons of Clicker Training

Clicker training can be an effective and enjoyable way to bond with your pup, but it’s not without its pros and cons.

Pros of Clicker Training

One of the biggest advantages of clicker training is that it’s a positive reinforcement method. This means you reward your pup for good behavior rather than punishing them for bad behavior. As a result, this helps your pup understand what behavior you want from them quickly and easily.

With clicker training, you avoid harsh training techniques. This avoidance also results in the departure from the development of negative behaviors. In most cases, when negative training techniques are employed, the dogs develop the tendency to be aggressive or exhibit negative traits.

Clickers are also budget-friendly accessories that can definitely aid in dog training. It is an essential tool that would not hurt your pocket.

dog clicker training pros cons

Cons of Clicker Training

Training your dog with a clicker requires you to have the clicker with you most of the time. Since the clicker is used to mark the correct behavior in order to get a treat, you need to carry the clicker with you even when you have to go out with your dog in public.

When out in public places, your dog may easily get distracted by other dogs, new faces, etc. Giving the marker when your dog is easily distracted may not result in the proper training you would expect.

It is possible that clicker training may not be the best fit for your dog.  If your dog has a low food drive and doesn’t tend to be motivated by rewards, the use of a clicker may be ineffective. 

You also want to ensure that you are providing your dog with verbal praise along with a reward every time you make the click sound.  This will also help in times when you may have the clicker handy but not treats.  

Clicker training could not be working to improve our dog’s behavior the way we wanted it to because of something we failed to do. You might have failed to touch the button the moment your dogs exhibit the proper behavior. It is very important for successful clicker training that you make the click the exact moment they do the positive behavior and then reward your dog

If you are not consistently clicking at the exact moment, your dog may get confused. This will make clicker training ineffective for your dog.  

How do I Start Clicker Training with my Dog?

If you want your dog to learn new behaviors and new tricks, get a clicker now and start to cue with a click.

But, first things first…

Prepare the Treats

When you first begin clicker training, make sure you have a supply of your pup’s favorite treats. Start in a quiet area where your dog can focus and can easily hear the click. Get things out of the way to create a good start for you and your pet.

Using the clicker should be accompanied by treats

Introduce the Clicker

To start, press the clicker and immediately give your pup a treat. Repeat this process five or ten times until they understand that the clicker means they get rewarded with something yummy.

Start in a Calm Setting

Now that you’ve introduced the clicker to your pup, it’s important to start teaching them new behaviors in a calm setting. This means having a quiet area with no or minimal distractions. Starting in a low-key environment will help your pup stay focused and make it easier for them to learn faster!

Click for Basic Commands

With the clicker in one hand and a treat in the other, start the cue by touching the button on your clicker to produce a click. Then, reward your dog with a treat. Repeat this click and treat step 10 times so that your dog will begin to mark the click with something they love, like a yummy treat. 

Then, choose a simple behavior that you know your dog will do right away. For example, say “sit” or “come here” in an upbeat voice. As soon as your puppy obeys, click the clicker and then pause for around half a second before reaching for a treat and giving it to your pup. You should repeat this process two or three times until your pup understands that every time they hear the clicker sound, they’ll be rewarded with a treat.

Remember that it’s important to be patient with your pup during this process. It may take some time for them to adjust and understand what you’re asking of them. Also, keep in mind that if your pup gets too excited over treats, they may become distracted. Again, patience is the key.

Train your dog with a click

Test Your Dog

When your puppy has a good understanding of how the click works, it is now time to test your dog. Testing your dog’s understanding of clicker training is an important part of the process.

To do this, try distracting your dog with a toy or something else like movement.  Then, click the clicker. Or, try pressing the clicker when your pup isn’t paying attention to you and watching to see if they respond by looking at you and searching for a treat. If your dog looks at your hand for a treat, they have already learned that the click means reward. Once your dog has learned that the click means something good is coming their way, you can start introducing new behaviors or commands.

If your dog does not turn towards you or your hand, go back to a distraction-free zone and reward their attention with a treat. 

Practice Consistently

Then, once they consistently look to you when hearing the clicking sound, begin to use the clicker for basic dog commands and other desired behaviors.

As an example, you can ask your dog to sit. The instant your dog sits, touch the button on the device to sound the click and reward them with a treat.    

Try this step with various commands such as “shake” and “lay down.” It is important to press the clicker the moment they obey and then give your dog a treat.  This will help your dog to understand what action resulted in a reward.

Advance to More Complex Dog Training

Finally, you can move on to more advanced training using the clicker. This is a great way to build on their obedience skills and bond with them at the same time. You can use the clicker to reinforce correct leash behavior, potty training, or politely greet guests. 

With each command, use the clicker to mark when they do something right and give them a treat as a reward. Be sure to always click right after the desired behavior, followed by a treat.  

You can also use the clicker to help teach new behaviors like retrieving objects or agility courses.

When your dog starts to exhibit the behavior you want him to, you could also reward him with something better, like a walk in the park or more playtime outdoors. Just always remember that, for every good behavior, treat your pet with something he loves.

clicker training reward

Where do I Get a Clicker?

Getting started with clicker training entails buying a clicker first. One of the biggest perks of clicker training is that it is a low-cost option. Getting a new clicker does not cost too much, and it is always a worthy investment.

You can find clickers at local pet stores such as PetsMart and Petco.

Amazon.com also sells a variety of clickers to choose from.  Most clickers, if not all, are small that you can always easily grasp them in your hand.

Here are our top choices for the best clickers available for purchase online.

Best Overall

HoAoOo Pet Training Clicker with Wrist Strap
  • ▼Come in 2 pack button clickers with wrist strap in 2 different colors: Blue, Black
  • ▼Can be used to train the dog basic obedience, small trick, and correct the bad behavior; Scientific method of training your pet safely and easily.
  • ▼Stop barking and dog obdeience. Train your dog quiqly just by simply pressing the clicker and command.
  • Well constructed and durable, metal clicker will not rust or break.
  • Big button for easy clicking and loud sound. Easy to use in any position.

Budget-Friendly

PetSafe Clik-R Dog Training Clicker
  • TRAIN YOUR PET: Clicker training is a clear way to train your pet using a click and a reward to tell your pet he's done something you like
  • COMPACT DESIGN: The Clik-R Pet Trainer is ergonomic and easy to hold while you are training your dog
  • HAND HELD COMFORT: The attached finger band provides added comfort and makes it easier to hold
  • FOR ALL AGES: Once your pet is ready to understand commands, they are ready for clicker training; use to reinforce and train dogs, cats, and other animals
  • QUALITY GUARANTEED: PetSafe brand has been a trusted global leader in pet behavior, containment and lifestyle innovations for nearly 30 years; we help keep your pet healthy, safe and happy

Also Great

OYEFLY Dog Training Clicker with Wrist Strap
  • EASY TO USE - Simple push button with distinct clicking sound. The tear drop shaped clicker is lightweight, fits and feels great in your hand. Comes with an elastic wrist band so you can leave it on your wrist or clip it to the leash or your pants.
  • EFFECTIVE - Clicker training is proven to work. Teach your puppyTRAIN ALL YOUR PETS - The clicker is not just for dogs it can be used for your cat bird and even horse. Not only train the dog but also the cat, bird, chicken, sheep a new behaviors like...
  • TRAIN ALL YOUR PETS - The clicker is not just for dogs it can be used for your cat bird and even horse. Not only train the dog but also the cat, bird, chicken, sheep and even mouse. Must-have training tool for sound-sensitive pets.
  • AVAILABLE - Package Include: 2 pack training Clicker with Wrist Strap. Colors: blue and white.
  • 100% MONEY-BACK GUARANTEE - Pets Training Clickers are backed by 100% guarantee that you are fully satisfied with your product or receive your money back.

Also Great

Diyife (4 Pcs, Multi-Color) Dog Clicker for Training
  • 【Scientific Training Methods.】The training clicker will have the clear sound after pressing the button easily. Big button for easy clicking and loud sound. Rake training method is now more and more popular, and many people call the "happy...
  • 【Simple & Safety.】Unlike the expensive electric shock dog products, our products do not contain electricity, will not give the dog and the owner of the electric shock. The shape of the water droplets in the hands of the very comfortable, the...
  • 【 Advantages of Collocation】4 different colors on package (black & yellow &red & blue) with free gift storage bag (10*16cm) to be convenient to carry and store. You can place it in car, bag and pocket to obtain it easily when you need to train...
  • 【Comfortable design.】The material of ABS plastic + stainless steel ring piece won't rust and durable, Matte surface and Anti-skid handling are easy to hold. 6 * 4 * 2 size, water droplets shape, suitable for any size of the palm and easy to...
  • 【Wide Use.】The clicker can not only train dogs, but also training cats, birds, chickens, sheep and even mice. Is your essential sensitive pet training tool. You will have a happy and trusting communication tool with your pet.

You can also find training kits that include a clicker and other positive reinforcement tools on Amazon.com.  These kits will provide you with a clicker, a guidebook on getting started with your dog training, and a variety of other items, such as a dog whistle or water bowl.  Many of these kits will also come along with a pouch to carry treats every time you use your clicker.  

AMZpets Dog Training Set, Puppy Supplies Starter Kit with Dogs Clicker, Treat Pouch Bag, Housetraining Door Bells, Ultrasonic Whistle, for Teaching Pet Commands, Bark Control, and Potty Training

Other Resources 

There are many resources available for you online to help walk you through the steps of clicker training.  You can go to YouTube.com and search for “Clicker Train Your Dog” and find many videos such as this one to help show you how to use a clicker.

There are also books you may want to purchase to give you a more in-depth look at clicker training for your dog.  Peggy Tillman has a book entitled Clicking With Your Dog that will give you a step-by-step guide in pictures.  This book, like others, will help you strengthen your bond with your dog over time while using a clicker in positive reinforcement training.  

Training your dog with a clicker

Click and Treat

If you plan on hiring a dog trainer, there might be no need for you to purchase a clicker, as most trainers are sure to have their own training tools. But if you want to pursue behavior training yourself, getting a clicker and a reward (dog treats) is a necessity.

Using a clicker, along with a reward, will help to strengthen every training process. This technique helps you send a clear message to your dog about what behavior you want to see from them. 

With all forms of dog training, you need to be consistent, patient, and positive.  When you first start to use a clicker with your dogs, be sure to work on one skill at a time while your dogs get used to the routine. You would not want them to be confused, would you?

Enjoy trying the clicker with your dog! It’s time for some clicks and treats!