I hear it a lot: “Do I HAVE to use the clicker?”
While I highly suggest using the clicker, nothing says it’s a requirement to teach your dog. However, what makes the clicker a useful tool is that it:
- sounds the same every time
- carries no emotion — every click is the same
- doesn’t need “translation”
- is unique — doesn’t sound like anything else in the environment
The clicker is definitely my tool of choice, but there are times when it’s not convenient to carry the clicker. Or, what if you find yourself without the clicker (or don’t want to be burdened by carrying it with you)?
Easy peasy: Use “YIP!” instead.
What is it?
Yip is a nonsense word that I say in a high-pitched, enthusiastic voice that stands in place of the clicker. It fulfills the same criteria listed above for the clicker, so I think it’s a great stand-in for the click.
How do you use it?
Use it just like you would use the clicker. Both the clicker and the yip are called “markers.” That means they mark the exact moment the dog is doing what you want and it also means the dog earned a goodie. To teach your dog that yip = treat, simply pair the yip with the appearance of the treat. Say yip and then reach to give your dog a treat. Repeat about te
n times and your dog will understand the meaning (and value) of yip.
When do you use it?
Use it whenever you want to tell your dog he’s done something right and can expect payment! When I’m training service dogs, they sometimes accompany me to public places like the library, a restaurant, or the movies. I’d be the villain if I clicked my way through a dinner or a movie, so I leave the clicker (but not the treats!) at home. I can modulate the volume of yip so I’m not annoying fellow movie goers with the essential training the service dogs need.
You might use yip in place of the clicker when your hands are full — maybe when you’re working on trimming nails or another grooming task that takes two hands. Or maybe when you’re walking two dogs at the same time. Or, not that this would happen to you, but maybe you forgot your clicker at home (or like me: just can’t find it!). The yip stands in whenever you don’t (or can’t) have your clicker on you.
The rules are the same no matter which marker you use:
- If you yip, you must treat.
- Yip only for stuff you want your dog to do more of (in other words, don’t yip to get your dog’s attention or get him to stop doing something)
- Yip first, then treat.