The Clicker is a small device that makes a clicking sound. It is a tool used in positive reinforcement training. The “click” sound is an event marker that precisely marks the behavior so that there is no confusion to the dog as to which behavior earned the reward. For this reason, the timing of the “click” is crucial. A reward (treat) is delivered immediately after every click, establishing a positive association with the click. This method allows the dog to use his natural problem solving abilities to increase responding with behaviors that get rewarded. The Clicker is phased out as the dog learns.
Verbal Marker training
A verbal marker can be used instead of a Clicker to mark behavior and bridge the time between the behavior and delivery of the reward. The word that is commonly used is “YES”. Some dogs are sound sensitive and don’t like the sound of the Clicker; some owners have difficulty with coordinating and juggling the mechanics involved with clicker training. In such instances, a verbal marker is used instead of the Clicker.
The trainer uses a handheld food treat place closed to, but not touching, the dog’s nose, and entices the dog into the desired position. The trainer moves the handheld treat and the dog’s nose and head follow the treat into the desired position. The reinforcement is the food reward and praise. The food lure is phased out after a few repetitions and the hand movement (hand signal) is used without the lure.