Best Dog Clicker
It may not be as obvious as things like food, water, and hygiene, which keep your dog alive and healthy, but training is an essential part of dog ownership; it’s not optional if you want to give your dog the best life they can have. Training your dog keeps them mentally stimulated and entertained, which is important for domesticated animals who don’t need to occupy themselves with the issue of survival. By training your dog, you also help them become better equipped to deal with all aspects of life; you can train them to be better in social situations, better at dealing with stressors, and better with communication.
You will likely find that training your dog improves your relationship with them, both because training can be a bonding experience and because the results of their training can make communication between you easier. Whether you are an experienced dog trainer or still struggling to get basic commands down with your first dog, you should know that good training tools can make all the difference in the process. One very important training tool, which almost all dog trainers find useful at times, is the dog clicker. Clicker training is one of the easiest, most straightforward ways to communicate with your dog during training. To try it out, take a look at our list of the top ten dog clickers and pick one that appeals to you.
What is a dog clicker?
Dog clickers are small handheld devices that allow you to make a short “click” sound in response to your dog’s behaviors, for training purposes. That little sound is the basis of all clicker training. Clicker training is a type of positive reinforcement training, where a reward is given after a desired behavior to train your pet to perform the behavior deliberately.
You may be wondering why the clicker is necessary, when surely your dog prefers a reward like a treat or a toy. Food, toys, and praise are what we call “primary reinforcers”, while clickers are “conditioned reinforcers”. This means that, although the dog doesn’t necessarily love the sound of the clicker, they associate it with the connection between the behavior and the primary reinforcer. In other words, when you use clicker training, your dog learns that the “click” indicates which behavior will result in them getting a treat.
A simple example can be given with the command “sit”. When training “sit” with a clicker, you wait until your dog’s bottom touches the floor, and then you click right away. After the click, you give the treat, praise, and/or any other primary reinforcers you’re using. The dog understands that the treat was the reward, not the click, but they also understand that they were rewarded for what they did at the moment of the click. Clickers are the ideal tool for this type of training because they are so quick and sharp; you could use a verbal cue as a conditioned reinforcer, but because it would take you longer to say any English word than it would to click the clicker, this isn’t as precise. Clickers can help your dog identify the very instant when they perform the desired behavior.
Originally, dog clickers started as a child’s noisemaker toy, but they have evolved quite a bit since then. Today, they all operate in more or less the same way, but they come with different features and accessories to make training even easier.
- Clicker with wrist strap - These clickers are often round and designed to fit well into the palm of your hand. The wrist strap allows you to secure the clicker to your wrist, or in some cases, your belt loops and other convenient places. This way, you’ll never be without your training tools when you need them.
- Clicker with finger strap - These clickers don’t even need to be held, as they attach directly and securely to your finger. By putting the band around your index finger, you’ll have access to pressing the button with your thumb easily at any time.
- Clicker with whistle - When training your dog outdoors, especially in a loud or public area, background noise can be a bit of an issue. Your dog may be distracted or wander off out of range of the clicker, so that they couldn’t hear you even if you tried to communicate with the “click”. A 2-in-1 clicker and whistle allows you to call to your dog from a distance and regain their attention, so that your training with them isn't interrupted.
How to Choose a Dog Clicker
There is little variation among clickers in terms of how the dog interacts with them, so you should mainly be able to choose based on what’s important to you. You may want to think about:
- Size - The size of your own hand, particularly the inside of your palm or the circumference of your finger, will determine what size of dog clicker would fit you best. You may be wearing or holding the clicker for long training sessions, so you want to make sure that you’re comfortable when using it.
- User-friendliness - Clickers aren’t complicated devices, but clicker training is very precise, so you can’t afford any mistakes. It’s important that the button you press to produce the sound is easy to locate in every way; this means it stands out visually and is raised or textured, so that you’ll never miss it.
What to Consider When Buying a Clicker
You almost can’t go wrong when buying a dog clicker (especially if you use our top ten list), but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think carefully about the purchase. A couple of things to consider are:
- Sound - These days, most clickers make very similar noises, but you should still have an idea of what you’re looking for. Clickers for training should produce sharp, clear sounds without being so harsh that they risk hurting your or your pup’s ears. Essentially, they should be loud and distinct enough to be identifiable, but soft enough that you can stand to listen to the sound repeatedly over an entire training session.
- Primary reinforcers - It’s important to remember that clicker training isn’t effective with clickers alone; without primary reinforcers, your dog wouldn’t know what to connect the identified behavior with. Before you get started on clicker training with your dog, you should make sure that you have a training plan and know what other supplies you’ll be using. This way, your dog will be able to understand and follow the training process easily, right from the get-go.
- Quality - There may not be many components to a dog clicker, but you still want them to be well-made. Clickers can last you a lifetime of training if you buy the right one, but a cheap one may fall apart after too many clicks or lose important pieces, like the button cover or the strap. A high-quality clicker will never give you these issues.
Clicker training is one of the best forms of training for communicating clearly with your dog. It makes identifying the behavior easy for them, so that they know what to do in order to get their reward. In order to use clicker training with your dog, you’ll need a few tools, with the most important one being a dog clicker. To get started yourself, take a look at our list of the best dog clickers on the market and pick one that appeals to you. You and your furry friend will be having engaging, productive training sessions in no time.
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