Clicker Training vs Treat Training

If you have a dog this question will crop up at some point, ‘Should my precious puppy be Clicker-Trained or Treat-Trained?’

These are the two most popular methods of training.

Clicker Training

This type of training has only recently been developed and is less used than Treat Training. This technique of training harnesses the power of the simple clicker.

A clicker is a mechanical device that makes a ‘click’ sound when pressed by the thumb.

The philosophy of this type of training is to reinforce desired behavior by use of a clicker, to “mark” the behavior. Ideally, when you train your pup you treat him for what he does right and ignore him when he does something undesirable.

Treat the good behavior with positive encouragement and tasty food to create a positive experience and simultaneously press your clicker. After repetition, your dog will start to associate the ‘click’ sound with receiving a treat. At this point you ditch the food treats and just use the clicker.

Make sure when you press the clicker your pup is in earshot and can make an obvious association with the command.

Why is a clicker used? It creates a predictable and instant sound – not like the human voice, which makes it easier for the pup to associate with.

However, clicker training MUST be preceded by the owner asking the pup to do something – usually called a cue or command such as “sit”. Otherwise, the pup won’t know how to respond.

Advantages of Clicker Training

  • This type of training is more economical in the long term (you don’t have to spend half your weekly budget on treats!)
  • It is almost like ‘taking a snapshot’ of good behavior
  • Pups can respond to Clicker Training in as little as two or three clicks
  • Preventing potential health and obesity issues with over-treating

Treat Training

Treat training

This type of training is more widely used than Clicker Training. Treat training involves rewarding the pup with food or play when they portray the desired behavior after the owner has stated a command. This type of training is based on the preference of your pup.

Your pup may be motivated by food or play or even just cuddles.

Bad behavior must be ignored and NOT punished.

If your dog misbehaves you must give him no reward and no punishment – even by screaming, ‘Max, Stop, bad dog, bad dog!’. This just gives him much-desired attention, not teaching him anything.

Advantages of Treat Training:

  • Is an easier technique as you can be less vigilant.
  • You get to provide food, cuddles, or play as a reward which could make a stronger bond between owner and dog.
  • Simpler technique – you don’t need a clicker.

Both strategies involve training and rewarding puppies for good behavior. Whatever type of training is up to you.

My dog Griffin was trained by Treat Training and turned out completely fine and able to respond to commands.

Different dogs respond to either training strategy. Some dogs may be very play orientated and easily distracted in which case Treat Training with play as the treat would be optimal.

Hope this helps give you a more open view of both types of training. I

f you are unsure of what technique to implement, don’t be too fussed as either can result in great results. Talk to an Animal Care professional or trainer.

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