Thursday, April 10, 2014

I is for Ideal Timing

I is for IDEAL TIMING. Timing of your marker (clicker or verbal) is important because it marks the behavior and gives your dog information, that yes, that is what I was asking for. The reinforcement (food, toy, etc.) comes after the click. Your dog quickly learns that the behavior they were doing when they heard the click will be reinforced. Practicing mechanical skills to improve your timing, increases your skill at delivering a clear and precise message to your dog.

Clicker mechanics

Clicker training involves several physical (mechanical) skills - watching your dog for the behavior to happen, marking the behavior with a click (i.e., knowing when to click - TIMING), and delivering a reinforcer to your dog. Lucky for us, these skills overlap and they get better with practice! For example, improving your observation skills will naturally improve your timing on when you click for behaviors. :)

When I first started clicker training, I was clumsy and my timing was off. It felt awkward and slightly embarrassing :). But practice does bring improvement and as I became comfortable, I got loads better!

Silly dog, practice is for humans

Before you start clicking away with your dog, it's a good idea to practice your skills sans dog. This will allow you to get comfortable with the mechanics and gain some coordination first :). There are plenty of clicker 'games' out there that you can play to improve your timing (and also your observation skills).

Here is a great video with two common clicker games:

Another fun game you can play requires a human friend :). Get together and decide in advance what behavior you are going to click - for example, raising two fingers like a peace sign. If your partner raises one finger or three fingers, or any other combination of figures, you don't click, but the instant she raises two fingers in a peace sign, you click.

You'll start to notice when you have played these games and practiced your timing, you have also improved your observational skills. Win-win :). Now that you have practiced your clicker mechanics to a level of comfortableness, it's time to add the dog!


  1. I have tried clicker training, and I cannot figure it out. I need to work with a trainer on it.

    1. Do you have any good trainers local to you? It can sometimes be hard at first with coordination and timing but definitely get easy as you go and gets quiet addicting because it's fun for you and your dog!

  2. I have never tried clicker training, although I've heard people have lots of success with them. There's a whole section on clickers in my Retired Racers for Dummies books, but I've never used. My big grey doesn't need much in the way of training, but he might like the game aspect of it.

    1. I'm sure he'll enjoy it! It's fun for both the dogs and us :).


  3. Perfect blog! All the most popular breed of dogs is here so, I can choose the right dog for us. Indeed, I'm planning to buy a poodle, but my friend advised me to look more on the internet. I think because of your help I can choose the breed of dog that is fit for us. When I search searched internet, I got a large dog breeds list. And I also bought a cute handsome large dog. Looking for large dog breeds for families Wondering what large dog breeds are good with kids or would be good for apartments Find out here A complete list of large dog breeds