There are quite a few different schools of thought on pet training, and of course there’s no single “right” way. However, many pet owners have more success with positive reinforcement rather than negative. Training with a clicker falls into this category.
The app opens right to the animated blue clicker – just tap anywhere on the screen to click. For instructions and advice, choose Training Tips on the bottom of the screen.
Clicker training is a method that focuses on positive reinforcement when the pet does something good. In other words, don’t click when your dog disobeys or does something bad. The ideal way to use this app is in very short training sessions.
For example, say you want to teach your dog the command “Sit.” With the iPhone in hand, give the command while the dog is standing. If he doesn’t respond, push his back end down into a sit, then immediately click and reward him with a treat. Repeat a few times until he sits on his own. This may not happen in the first session, but after a few sessions he’ll figure it out.
Of course, his main motivation in the beginning will be the treats. However, because the clicking noise is unlike any other noise he is likely to hear, he will begin to associate it with doing something good. It is essential to click directly following the good behavior so that the pet will put two and two together.
Clicker Training provides tips on getting rid of bad habits in older pets, and specific information on training cats. In fact, this type of training has supposedly been used on rabbits, ferrets, horses, and even fish!
I tried this app out on two dogs. One, an already well-trained lab, responded to the sound with a very curious, alert look. The other was a shitzu puppy, who didn’t respond immediately. However, part of the key to this type of training is patience and persistence. Very few animals pick up new tricks instantly.
I would prefer if the clicking sound were just a bit louder, although this may be as loud as the iPhone speakers will allow it. In a quiet room the sound level is satisfying, but add any background noise and I think there’s a risk of the pet not quite catching the click unless it’s very close.
The other option, of course, is to buy an actual clicker. However, I can see how having it as an app could work out better. The point of clicker training is to reinforce good behavior with a click, and most people are more likely to have their iPhone on hand rather than an actual clicker when their pet does something good.
Overall, if you’re looking for a quick and easy way to get a little training in with your pet, I’d say this is $0.99 well spent.
If you’d like to try before you buy, developer Kyle Davis has just released a lite version of Clicker Training.
Clicker Training requires iPhone OS 3.0 or later and is compatible with the iPhone and iPod Touch.