Clicker training is one facet of positive training that uses a marker signal (also called a secondary reinforcer or bridge) to tell the dog that he did something right.
Training using a secondary reinforcer was invented more than 70 years ago by B.F. Skinner (1904-1990). Keller Breland and Marian Breland Baily (a student of Skinner’s) first coined the phrase “bridging stimulus,” which later changed to just “bridge.”
Bridges have been used with marine mammals since the 1950s and although marine mammal trainers use a whistle instead of a clicker to mark the correct behavior, the principle is the same. Click what you like, reward it, and ignore what you don’t want. The clicker imparts valuable precise information from you to the dog, something that is lacking in traditional types of training. No more punishment, no more drilling, no more blaming the dog for not doing something that we didn’t take the time to truly teach.
Clicker training is all about a change of mental attitude. Clicker trainers have learned to use their brains to train specific behaviors, rather than using pain to elicit those same behaviors. The result? Happier dogs, happier trainers, better relationships, less behavioral problems.
I use clicker training for basic obedience through competition obedience, as well as teaching the behaviors needed in the breed ring and with aggression issues.