What is Priming the Clicker?

In positive reinforcement dog training, the use of a marker is common and very effective.  A marker is a way we indicate to the animal that what they just did is desirable. It can be a word such as “Yes!” or a sound.

The sound can be generated in a variety of ways.  The most frequently used sound marker in dog training is a clicker.  There are many styles of clickers but ultimately the function remains the same; to produce a unique “click” sound when pressed.

The marker is also a promise of a reward.  Once the marker has been heard, a reward will follow.  It’s their paycheck as we like to put it!

In order for the animal to understand that a reward will follow the maker, we must first establish this association through a process typically called “priming the clicker”.

The association is established relatively quickly.  Should you find a clicker annoying or too much to deal with, any word will suffice but understand that using words during training can delay the learning process slightly.

Here’s a short video demonstrating how to prime your clicker (or chosen marker).


Repeat this entire exercise 5 times on the starting day in at least 3 different locations, such as the kitchen, the back yard, and the living room.

Check back in a few days for the next section and video on priming the clicker!




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