Mark Vette – Internationally renowned Animal Behaviourist, Educator, Author and TV personality

Fading the clicker

Do I need to use a clicker forever?

As you know, I love clicker training. But many people ask me if using a clicker means  they’ll have to ALWAYS carry it to get their dog to obey. The answer is NO! 

Why would we stop using the clicker?
A clicker and treats help dogs learn new behaviours so much more quickly, but we do  eventually want to fade them away so that your dog is responsive without the need for the  clicker or food rewards (as you won’t always be carrying them with you and want your dog to respond without the need for that incentive).

What is fading the clicker?
Fading the clicker is when we slowly and systematically remove the tools and food  rewards so that we just rely on the voice command or hand signal. You do this when you  are confident your dog is responding to the command consistently, and when you have  tested the command in a variety of different scenarios and environments.  

It’s very important that you never fade the food reward from the clicker. A click is a  promise that a food reward is coming, so you can never make a click then not deliver a  reward!  

How to fade the clicker
Instead, reduce the frequency with which you use the clicker but still use a food reward  each time. For example, start to click and reward only every second time your dog obeys,  then make it every third time, then every 5th time and so on until you no longer need the  clicker at all.  

You can always reintroduce it if you’re going to be in a really challenging or distracting  place, or if your dog is slipping backwards in some behaviours, of course!

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