Conditioning the Clicker
The Clicker is a simple device that makes a cricket noise when you press the button (button clicker) or a metal blade (box clicker).
This noise is very unique and sharp, it is never heard anywhere else!
This feature enables the clicker to be a very precise maker to identify behaviors that we wish to mark and reinforce.
Before we can use it as a maker, the clicker needs to be conditioned to have the signalizing meaning of “now reward is coming”!
Be aware that the clicker is NOT a signal to perform a certain behavior, or to get the dog’s attention! It is a signal that simply marks a moment very precisely that is followed by a reinforcer.
Once the click has been established to announce that reward is forth coming, it will be used to mark the precise action that we want to reinforce.
In other words, it will act like a camera. We all know that what happened at the exact moment we heard the shutter goes off-is exactly what we will see in the picture!
The clicker as a marker will make it possible to capture the exact moment of a behavior happening- and actually provide the reward slightly delayed.
To establish the clicker as a marker:
Have treats ready, click and give him a treat!
Make sure that the click is not fused with the treat being given. Click first, then the treat follows. If the events are fused, the click will not be noticed as much as if the click truly precedes the treat. Make sure that the dog is not doing a specific behavior during this process.
For example: If he sits, because most dogs have been successful obtaining reward by sitting, make sure that he is doing something else before the next click. If you coincidentally click for the same behavior before the click is established as a marker, the click will gain signalizing meaning for that particular behavior. That is NOT what the clicker is intended to mean. The click is not intended to be a signal to sit- it is intended to announce that reward is coming.
Once you click while he is looking away- and he twitches around looking for the treat, you know that you have made the connection for him,of the click meaning that the treat is coming.
Now you can start using it as a training tool!