Why Clicker Train?
To explain why you should clicker train, it may be helpful to understand what clicker training is.
B. F. Skinner was the first to recognize the impact that operant conditioning could have on animals. He used his methods of operant conditioning to get pigeons to perform a certain behavior for food.
It was his first two students however, that really understood the impact this method could have on other animal behavior. Keller Breland and Marian Breland, along with Marian’s second husband Roy, invented and developed the first naval and marine mammal operant conditioning program, which laid the foundation for clicker training today.
Clicker training is best described as the way an animal learns from its immediate environment. Animals tend to learn from repetition that has positive consequences rather that negative ones.
Under the influence of operant conditioning, a dog learns that by behaving in a certain way or by performing a certain exercise, it can make something positive happen or avoid something negative.
While operant conditioning has been around for a very long time, it wasn’t until about fifteen years ago that it was brought into the field of dog training. Since then, it has grown with respect to the number of trainers that now use clicker training as a basis for all of their animal training.
Now we get to the question “Why clicker train?” With operant conditioning you can raise the happiest, most loving pet you have ever owned! This is simply because there isn’t any real punishment involved with the process of clicker training and your dog won’t look at you as an object of negativity!
Pros and Cons of Clicker Training
There are many good things about clicker training and only a few drawbacks. Mostly the drawbacks consist of the trainer, usually a dog owner with little to no experience in training, not fully understanding the way operant conditioning works and using the misguided information they have to train their dogs.
Other drawbacks include the use of food or toys to get your dog to complete an action. When these food or toy rewards are not available, your dog may not perform the way he was taught to.
Some good things about operant conditioning are that there never has to be a real punishment involved. You never have to yell at your dog, there is no physical punishment at all (there should never be with any type of training) and you never have to get frustrated with the training because it is done gradually, step-by-step until your dog understands. Most times you can even work the food and toy rewards out of training so that the dog actually learns to respond to you and not to a positive stimulus.
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