Clicker training first began development by Burrhus Frederic "B. F." Skinner, a Harvard psychology professor who made several scientific claims that jumpstarted the clicker training method, or rather the broader category called "Operant Conditioning."
According to the dictionary, operant conditioning is "the use of consequences to modify the occurrence and form of behavior." This means that whenever a subject performs an action, the the action will be reinforced either negatively or positively.
It was B.F Skinner's two understudies that started operant conditioning with animals. Their names were Marian and Keller Breland. While they worked for Dr. Skinner, they noticed how effective operant conditioning worked with animals. During World War Two, they started a company called "Animal Behavior Enterprises," training pigeons for use in the War. After that, they built the I.Q. Zoo, where they trained chickens to play tic-tac-toe, raccoons to play basketball, and ducks to play pianos and drums.
What does this have to do with me?
The Clicker Training Method is a method based on Operant Conditioning. All you have to do is reward your dog whenever it does the thing your are trying to teach it to do. For example, you catch your dog sitting, all you have to do is reward it then and there. Sounds pretty simple, right? But there's a problem: before you can even say "Good Boy," your dog's thoughts are elsewhere, making it difficult to make the dog quickly understand a trick. This is where the clicker comes in handy. This is just a small plastic box with a thin piece of metal on the inside. When you press the button, (or on some clickers, just press in the thin metal sheet), the device will make a sharp metallic click.
After just a few minutes of training, your dog can learn that whenever you click, it means "treat." The way to get the dog to learn this is simple: just click your clicker, and treat the dog. Do this several times, and pretty soon whenever you click, the dog will look around expectantly for a treat. Now whenever you catch your dog doing something that you want it to do, just click your clicker.
Benefits Of Using Clicker Training For Dogs
The really great thing about this method is that it is so satisfying. In only a few training sessions with the clicker, you will be able to see huge results. With clicker training, I was able to teach my dog to sit the very first day I got him. He was sitting on command at the end of the first five minute training session. Talk about results!
Another great thing about the clicker method is that anyone can train the dog, even children. Involving your children in animal training is both fun and educational. Because Clicker training is easy to use, lets your children be involved, and most importantly has huge results, it is one of the best training methods for animals today.