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I don't own any pet but I was considering getting a dog pretty soon. (A Basset Hound to be exact, gosh these guys are cute.)

I'd like to teach my future companion a lot of things, from the basic "Come here" to the more advanced "Roll over".

Clicker training seemed promising as a way to teach those activities but having to carry a tool each time I want to play with him or teach him things seems unnecessarily troublesome.

As I've understood it, the main idea of clicker training is to have a distinct sound be played as a way to say "Good" to your dog. If that is the case, couldn't we replace the "clicker" by a good old fingersnap ?

Has anyone had any experience with such alternatives ?

Unrelated question : Is the basset hound a good first dog ?

Thanks in advance

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  • I'm no dog training expert but as I understood it, the key part of the clicker is the immediacy. You can almost instantaneously reward the dog as soon as they exhibit the desired behaviour. I guess it depends on your finger snapping ability.
    – Henders
    Aug 9 '17 at 9:03
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A clicker can be used just like any other marker to teach your dog the exact point it was doing something you wanted. Any consistent cue can be used such as snapping your fingers, a word such as "yes" or "good," or even hand signals such as a thumbs up. By giving the dog a reward right after the mark, he will begin to associate the mark itself as good.

A clicker specifically has the following advantages over other marks:

  • It always sounds the same. This makes it easier for the dog to recognize.
  • It has no emotion. This is also related to consistency.
  • The duration of the sound is short which makes exact marking easier.

I often just use the word "yes" because most of the time it's easier to not manage the clicker, reward, and environment at the same time. A snapping sound would also work, though you may not find snapping to be any easier to manage than a clicker. I will use a clicker if I'm looking for something very precise, such as placing a foot on a specific spot. The more clearly you indicate to your dog what he did correctly, the easier it will be for him to learn. For dogs who are scared of a clicker, you can start with a clicky-pen which is often softer but just as precise.

For duration tasks such as staying in a spot or heeling, I generally just feed the dog directly or release to a toy.

Regardless of the marker cue you use, remember that you always get what you reward, so be consistent with timing and criteria. Happy training!

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