Clicker Training – what is it – how to do it – resource links

Photo courtesy of Linda Stebbins
Photo courtesy of Linda Stebbins

In the past couple of days we’ve heard from two Agility competitors, Susan Nelson and Linda Stebbins who both mentioned using clicker training as a core beginning for the more advanced work we see in Agility. If you’re new to dog training the phrase clicker training probably sounds like a foreign language to you, so we thought it might be good to share some resource sites with you where you can learn more about this positive training method and if you want you could start putting it to use immediately to train new puppies or old dogs new tricks!

The first site we’re listing is by the originator of the clicker method Gary Wilkes who lives here in sunny Phoenix, Arizona. An introduction taken from the website tell us that “Gary Wilkes is an internationally acclaimed behaviorist, trainer, author, columnist, teacher and lecturer. He offers a wide variety of animal related services, including behavior modification, training and behavioral instruction for animal care professionals, pet owners and professional trainers. He currently provides behavior services in the Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan area by veterinary referral and is the architect of the highly successful Coyote rehabilitation project at the Phoenix Zoo. Wilkes is most noted as the founder of “Click and Treat(R) Training”, the first practical and humane application of operant conditioning for dogs – and the hottest trend in modern dog training. He has taught his methods to US Army Delta Force Special Operations handlers, the staff at the Seeing Eye and Paws With A Cause – the most effective service dog school in the country. Wilkes has earned respect for his abilities in both the “real world” of dog training and the scientific world of behavior analysis. He has a unique ability to simplify complex principles into easily applied methods.”

By clicking on this title, Gary Wilkes – Click & Treat  you will be taken directly to his website which you will find loaded with information, training tools and other helpful links.

If you would simply like to go directly to Gary’s store to purchase training supplies pick the link that follows! Clicker Training Store – Gary Wilkes Click & Treat

A second website we found that was loaded with great information is  Karen Pryor Dog Training.With years’ worth of wisdom from Karen Pryor and a vast array of experts, our library is the largest resource of clicker training information you’ll find anywhere online.

If you simply want to see a video to get a taste of this training method you could click on ‘clicker’ in the title that follows to watch Clicker Training Basics and if that’s not enough clicking for you yet, you could also click to view How to teach your dog not to jump up!

Well that’s about all the clicks I can handle for one night, hope this helps and don’t forget to leave your comments, suggestions, additions etc. in the comment section below. We love to see you sharing with each other!

Sally Gift  Mesa, AZ

UPDATE: Please read the comment section of this article by clicking on Comments under the title, Carole Raschella wrote to provide insight about clicker training that we found enlightening . Many thanks to Carole who added the Karen Pryor Clicker Training Expos to our list as a wonderful source for the serious trainer. You may follow this link to more information by doing the infamous click here!

4 thoughts on “Clicker Training – what is it – how to do it – resource links”

  1. We started clicker training with our new pup, Nate and we are getting the hang of it. A very common error (just ask my husband) is to use the clicker as an attention getting device.

    I also purchased a Karen Pryor treat bag – absolutely the best investment that I have made. It holds lots of treats, locks open for easy treat availability for rapid rewards, and has no awkward drawstrings to tempt eager puppies.


  2. Comments continue to come in from Facebook. Here’s what followers are saying:
    Leslie Watkins ·
    Great article! I like your comments about not comparing. Each handler and dog is a unique team and go at their own pace. As a new handler I have to keep reminding myself of this. But this is the most fun activity I have ever participated in. It is such a great experience to be learning something alongside your dog and becoming team mates.

    Linda Stebbins Leslie Watkins…music to my heart! So happy to hear you and your Gordon are enjoying the agility journey. Thank you for your comments!


  3. Thank you so much for sharing your response with us Carole! This is wonderful information and exactly why we encourage folks to jump in and get involved by adding insight and viewpoints to the site via comments or email to us. I’ll be adding your comments to the article as an update and truly appreciate that you reached out to us on this topic to add your corrections! Please continue to do so!!! I’ll be adding the expo to the article for our readers as soon as I find that link!


  4. We received this fabulous email from Carole Raschella that adds better insight to the information we provided about the originators of clicker training!

    Carole wrote:
    Absolutely love your new venture. I don’t think I can recall ever seeing so much information, particularly Gordon Setter related, all in one place. We all owe you a huge thank you.

    However, I can’t let today’s article about clicker training go by without comment, because unfortunately, it’s way off the mark.

    Gary Wilkes and Karen Pryor introduced “operant conditioning” to the dog training community back in 1992, but neither he nor Karen originated it. That would be psychologist B.F. Skinner, who introduced his new theory of behavior back in the 1930s. Two years later, due to a difference in their approach, Karen and Gary went their separate ways, and presumably that was when he created his own “Click and Treat” method of training, which is not the “clicker training” method as based on Skinner’s principles.

    Karen, Bob and Marian Bailey, Morgan Specter, Alexandra Kurland and many others worked together to bring true operant conditioning to the dog community, but it applies to far more than dogs. Karen herself started with marine mammals, and the same positive reinforcement method is used in a variety of ways to assist in the treatment and development of humans as well.

    The best information on the subject and how it relates to dog training can be found at the extremely successful annual Clicker Expo, founded by Karen Pryor about fifteen years ago. It’s where I was introduced to clicker training, operant conditioning and the science behind it. It changed my life, but more than that, it changed my relationship with my dogs. And while there are many wonderful books on the subject, I like to recommend Karen’s latest, “Reaching the Animal Mind,” which is the best explanation of clicker training I’ve read to date.

    Gary Wilkes may have started out working with Karen Pryor, but to call him the originator of the clicker method is completely inaccurate and unfair to the many experts who have worked for decades to bring operant conditioning to the dog training world.

    Clicker training is far more than a training method. It’s an entire philosophy and a different way of connecting with our dogs. There is “clicker training” and “training with a clicker.” They are not the same thing.

    Please don’t think this is in any way a criticism of Gordon Setter Experts, only a comment/correction on a subject very near and dear to my heart. Thank you so much for all your hard work on behalf of all of us lucky enough to have those goofy, gorgeous Gordons in our lives.

    Liked by 1 person

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