"Clicker training" is an animal training method based on behavioral psychology that relies on marking desirable behavior and rewarding it.
The trainer “clicks”, using a mechanical device that makes a short, distinct "click" sound, at the moment the behavior occurs: the dog sits, the trainer clicks. Clicking is like taking a picture of the behavior the trainer wishes to reinforce. After "taking the picture," the trainer gives the animal something it likes, usually a small piece of food but sometimes play, petting, or other rewards.
Very soon (sometimes within two or three clicks), an animal will associate the sound of the click with something it likes: the reward. Since it wishes to repeat that pleasurable experience, it will repeat the action it was doing when it heard the click.
Any behavior can be trained with any animal following these three simple steps:
- Get the behavior.
- Mark the behavior.
- Reinforce the behavior.