Does Your Dog Really Understand The Clicker? Buffy Does!
How do our animals know when they’ve done something right? Either by the immediate delivery of a reward or the presentation of a marker signal or bridge.
A bridge is a clear signal that is given after a desired response has happened and when conditioned, it communicates to the animal that reinforcement is on its way. It bridges the gap between desired behavior and reinforcement.Using a bridge allows trainers to be more precise in capturing behavior exactly as it happens. It is also useful for situations when our animal is not directly in front of us.
Any number of stimuli can be used as a bridge, as long as it doesn’t already have another meaning associated with it. Some examples are: a clicker, a whistle, or the words “yes” or “good”. Using a clear marker signal is just another way to help us communicate with our animals and a useful tool for furthering our training.
In the related video with Buffy, she is in a free shaping exercise in order to demonstrate that she understands what the clicker means. I am clicking for any association that she has with the cardboard box, but it is her choice what she wants to do. You can tell that Buffy knows what the click sound means because she runs over to me as soon as she hears it. Watch for when I don’t click right away and she tries again until she hears the click.