Using a clicker
To click or not to click, that is the question.
One of the most common questions is “do I need a clicker to teach tricks?”. The simple answer is no, you don’t. If the idea of using a clicker puts you off training, forgot the clicker, just give training a go.
If you want to learn a bit about clickers…read on!
What is a clicker?
A clicker is a small, plastic tool that emits a click sound when you press it.
Why do I use a clicker?
Because it tells your Parrot the exact moment, they’ve done what you’re asking for and it also gives you a moment before you need to give a treat (especially if you’re working at a distance).
To Scout it means “well done, a treat is coming”. When we use something to mark a moment before we reward it, we call it a bridge. A bridge could also be the word “good”,” well done”, “yes” or whatever you want it to be.
Why can’t you just reward them straight away instead?
You can, but there’s some scenarios where this doesn’t work. If you’re working across the room from your Parrot, it may take a few seconds to reward them and your Parrot may not realise which bit they did right.
Can I just say “good” instead?
Yes, you could quite easily say good, yes, or any word, as long as you use the same word every time you train. One reason some people prefer a clicker is that it’s consistent in tone and volume.
There are beliefs that if you say “good” you could say it slightly different each time and that this can vary the impact of the bridge. Also, it’s suggested that you want a noise that is isolated only to training. So, if you say “good” to them in their day to day life, it sometimes isn’t as effective.
Sara’s philosophy is always, “give training a go”. Don’t worry about these things when getting into it as using good and yes will still work. It maybe you start by using words and if you’re really interested in training, you try a clicker or read up on them more.
Using a clicker when training:
Whenever you’re training a trick, use the clicker to tell your Parrot they’ve done the correct thing. So, if you’re teaching Target, as soon as they touch the target stick, click.
Do I have to reward my Parrot immediately after the click?
One of the reasons we use a clicker is to give yourself a moment to reward. Sometimes your hands aren’t free to hold a treat or you’re working at a distance from your Parrot. Therefore, the click gives you a moment to get to it. It tells your Parrot “that’s right, a treat is coming.” You do want to reward every click but you can take a few moments to get the treat and give it to them.
How to use a clicker:
Loading the clicker
This simply means we teach our animals that when they hear a click, they get a treat. To train this:
1) Click the clicker
2) Give them the treat
Once you start noticing them anticipating the treat (they lean towards you, you get a reaction) you know they understand the concept. From there you can just start using the clicker with training.
And always remember the golden run of using a clicker, every time you click it, you must give a treat.
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