Video on Demand by Karen Pryor Clicker Training |

Don’t Get Burned by Blazing Clickers

Trainers in the Karen Pryor tradition have learned that when a clicker is used correctly it marks precisely the animal’s behavior that controls the reinforcer. Behavior is strengthened when the clicks becomes a reliable predictor of backup reinforcement. This is accomplished by ensuring that every click is followed by a well-established reinforcer.

However, some trainers repeatedly mark behavior without backing up the marker, a practice we call blazing clickers. Blazing clickers weaken the predictive value of the marker, resulting in slower learning, increased aggression, and, sometimes, giving up. In this Session, the science-based rationale for following every click with a backup reinforcer will be reviewed, and we will explore the faulty reasoning often used to support the practice of blazing clickers. With this information, you will be able to teach others why and how to avoid getting burned by blazing clickers.

Susan G. Friedman, PhD

Susan G. Friedman, Ph.D. is a professor emeritus in the Department of Psychology at Utah State University. Susan has co-authored chapters on behavior change in four veterinary texts, and her popular articles have been translated into 14 languages. She teaches courses and seminars on animal learning and consults with zoos around the world. Susan was appointed to the F&WS Condor Recovery Team from 2002 - 2010, after which time the team was retired due to the success of the birds in the wild. She is the Chairperson of the Scientific Advisory Committee of American Humane Association (AHA) Film and TV Unit, and a member in good standing of ABAI, ABMA, and IAABC.