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I am reading "Fired up, frantic and freaked out" by Laura VanArdendonk Baugh.

On page 23 she describes the clicking process as the following steps:

  1. Click

  2. Pause

  3. Move the treat hand

  4. Deliver

So what's with this "pause" step?

I've been doing clicker training for a while now (and I think it's working) but I am doing it on the premise that I have to deliver the treat within 3 seconds of the click in order for the dog to make the connection. And the sooner the better so: better deliver the treat immediately after the click (that's probably within one second).

My question is:

Are there any clicker training experts or preferably someone with an animal behaviourist degree out there who can tell me if this pause step in the book is a typo?

  • I admit I was tempted to write "to paws or not to paws" in the title... – Matt N. Dec 20 '15 at 12:42
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I think one of the key things you touched upon was giving the treat after the click, which means there is a pause even if it's only 500 ms or so (forward conditioning). While I can't be sure, it's possible the author specifically mentioned this step because it can be missed by many trainers who may be tempted to click and treat at the same time to ensure the dog gets the reward (simultaneous conditioning). While this is not a bad thing and will work, it's not nearly as effective at making the connection between the clicker and the treat.

The wiki article has some more information on classical conditioning and specifically notes differences when the reward is delivered in relation to the stimulus (in your case the clicker).

  • Thanks for the link! I will check it out tomorrow (can't do it right now) – Matt N. Dec 20 '15 at 14:25

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