Dog training requires confidence. A clicker is quicker and potentially more accurate than verbal praise. All training attempts to coordinate information and motivation to enable the dog to better understand the task. The link from the behaviour (sit/down) to some motivation (food/praise) ensures a reliable performance. The clicker is the link between the behaviour and the reward (or motivation).
Praise works well to provide motivation, but it’s more difficult to provide information to the dog about ‘how’ to do the behaviour. It is the timing of the signal that tells the animal WHICH behaviour to remember. You can use sight (hand signal) or sound (voice command) as your information signal. A ‘one of a kind’ signal should be unique and consistent to allow the dog to focus on the behaviour once it sees the signal. The clicker provides you with the tool to do this successfully.
The clicker accurately identifies correct behaviour. The clicker is faster than verbal praise, and is more precise. The clicker can also work well from a distance and bridges the gap from the correct response and the time it takes to deliver a treat. A clicker also defines the end of the behaviour for the dog.
Before you commence training your dog using a clicker, you need to ‘shape’ the behaviour first. This enables you to work from one section of the command to another. Only you know what you are aiming towards. Once the dog follows all your ‘shaping’ activities, he will have the whole picture and be performing the task as you envisaged it. Clickers are very exciting training tools as they actually encourage your dog to think for himself and work out a problem.