Originally Posted by MoochNNoodles
How does it work?
It's formally known as `operant conditioning' and it is used by associating the sound of something (ie, bell, whistle, clicker) to teach an animal to recognise a good behaviour and then receive a reward for offering that behaviour.
For example, when I taught my puppy to sit, I waited with a clicker and a treat until she sat by herself without being told (as puppies will, if you leave them long enough - to start with you need patience!!!). As soon as she did this, I clicked and gave her a treat. Then I waited until she did it again. After about three or four minutes she started associating the behaviour with the click and then the treat.
When she was really starting to offer a `sit' very consistently, knowing she would be rewarded, I added in the word command `sit' with the click and treat. After a few more minutes you move to a different environment and do it a few more times, and then start using the command before
they offer the action. So when you say `sit', they sit. Then you can stop using the clicker at all, and just reward when they do what's been taught, and then you can stop giving a treat. If they still sit when told, they've learned a behaviour through absolute positive reinforcement - a behaviour they started by offering you in the first place (no forcing involved) and a behaviour that is taught by conditioning so they never, ever forget it.
Ruby learned to sit in less than ten minutes, has never forgotten and loved her training to bits! It's a very nice way to bond with your animal. It does take some practice but it's wonderfully rewarding and fun.