Review of clicker designs

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Using a clicker can be a great way to work with a dog. When paired with a reward, it allows for the easy communication of correct performance of a desired behavior. Did you realize there was so much variety in the design of clickers?

Here at Agile Dog, we picked ten clickers that are being sold at retail pet stores today and ranked them in the order in which we would be likely to use them. We discuss things like feel in your hand to how the click sounds to ease of use. To our ears they all have a different sound. We even took a sound meter to the click to find out how loud they are.

#10 – Star Mark Training Quicker Clicker – Sold at Petco

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We rated this clicker at number 10, or the one we would be least likely to use if given an option. We liked the big button because you can’t accidentally miss the button as you can with all the others but that was the only feature we liked. Otherwise this clicker was awkward to use, especially when trying to use it belt-mounted as shown in some advertisement photos.

Cost: $6.99 normally. We purchased it on sale for $2.99

Pros:

  • Belt mount makes it easy to find and keep track of
  • The button is big so it’s hard to miss when you want to click
  • The round shape is nice, except for the belt mount

Cons:

  • Because of the belt clip, it doesn’t really fit your hand well
  • Clicking from your belt is really awkward
  • Despite it’s decibel rating, it sounds softer to our ears
  • The button can be hard to depress

Decibels: 54

#9 – Train Right Control Ease at Doctors Foster and Smith

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This falls close to the bottom of our list because of the dual buttons. The “top” button works just fine but the bottom button is almost impossible to use. It would seem like the buttons should have different sounds but they both sound about the same to our ears. Another issue with this clicker is the cost. It appears to only be available from the website of Doctor Fosters and Smith. The cost of the clicker is reasonable but shipping was several times the cost of the device itself. The only way this is a reasonable purchase is if you manage to buy enough other things at the website to qualify for free shipping.

Cost: $2.49 with an additional $6.50 for shipping

Pros:

  • Fits nicely in your hand
  • Top button is easy to click, even when using a finger other than your thumb
  • Button is big and easy to find

Cons:

  • The sound difference between the two buttons is hard to distinguish
  • Cannot press both buttons at once
  • Bottom button is hard to press no matter the orientation
  • The top button sticks slightly
  • Cost of shipping makes this an unreasonable purchase

Decibels: 52

#8 – BAFX Dog Training Clicker and Whistle

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This falls to number eight for several reasons. The lanyard is in an awkward position so gets in your way. The button is difficult to click with any finger other than your thumb, and we aren’t sure what purpose the whistle serves since it’s just a generic plastic whistle and not a high pitched whistle or useful for herding commands. It’s possible they expect you to use it when hiking and training your dog in case you get lost?

Cost: $6.25 for three

Pros:

  • It has a nice, sharp clicking sound
  • There’s a whistle

Cons:

  • The whistle adds no real value
  • It’s hard to click with any finger other than your thumb
  • The lanyard gets in the way
  • Seems a bit too narrow for easy holding in the hand

Decibels: 53

#7 – PetSafe Click-R

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We rated this at number seven because it’s features and benefits about equal it’s drawbacks. It has a nice elastic band underneath (not shown) which allows you to attach it to your fingers so it’s easy to keep hold of. The button is big and easy to click. However, the elastic can sometimes be a hindrance and the shape is a bit awkward. The price is slightly higher than the others. Still this is a reasonable clicker.

Cost: $7.25

Pros:

  • The elastic is nice for keeping the clicker from falling out of your hand
  • The button is sturdy, unlike some we rated higher
  • The button is big and easy to find and click

Cons:

  • This is quieter than many of the other clickers
  • If you don’t like the clicker attached to your finger, the elastic can get in the way
  • The overall shape is a bit awkward for your hand

Decibels: 48

#6 – The Company of Animals Clix Multi-Clicker

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This is a middle of the road clicker. It has a nice feature that allows you do increase or decrease the volume of the click so you get two different sounds. The sounds are very clearly different from each other. It is big and easy to use even for big fingers. We didn’t really care for the quieter setting and our tester got her fingernail caught in the clicker when she put her finger too far forward.

Cost: $7.37

Pros:

  • Works great when used with your thumb
  • Fits well in the hand
  • Has two volume settings
  • Easy to click with the thumb

Cons:

  • We didn’t care for the quiet setting
  • Our tester got her fingernail stuck
  • This is a bit wide and might be harder to use with smaller hands

Decibels: 55

#5 – Generic Box Cliker (available at most pet stores)

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The one we tested is a Karen Pryor box clicker that we have had for quite some time. However, this is representative of other box clickers we have tried. You can think of it as the standard clicker that is available everywhere. The designs of this type of clicker vary greatly but in the basics they all have to look and behave like this otherwise you can’t get your fingers in the hole to make the click.

We found this easy to click and loud enough. The square shape is a bit awkward for your hand and big thumbs don’t fit in the hole very well.

Cost: $1.49

Pros:

  • Easy to click
  • Loud

Cons:

  • Square shape is awkward to hold
  • The hole for the button is too small for big thumbs
  • Easiest to miss clicking because you are trying to find the button

Decibels: 53

#4 – Petco Brand training clicker

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Petco makes it’s own brand of clicker. This is very similar in style to the ones sold by Karen Pryor. It makes a nice, firm clicking sound, fits well in the hand and has an easy to find button. However, it can be hard to click with anything other than your thumb and tends to click accidentally when stuck in a pocket.

Cost: $2.39

Pros:

  • Nice, firm click sound
  • Fits nicely in the hand
  • Has a big, easy to find button

Cons:

  • Can accidentally click in a pocket
  • Hard to click with anything other than the thumb

Decibels: 53

#3 – I-Click by Karen Pryor

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These are the clickers designed and sold by Karen Pryor, author of Don’t Shoot the Dog, the premier book on Operant Conditioning. This one is a bit smaller than the others so if you have small hands, this works well. It has a big button that is easy to find but it also is the easiest to click so tends to go off a lot if you stick it in your pocket. It’s also the quietest clicker on our list, which makes it difficult to hear if there is any background noise.

Cost: $2.00

Pros:

  • Button is easy to find and use
  • A bit small so nice for smaller hand

Cons:

  • Accidentally clicks in your pocket
  • Very quiet when there is background noise

Decibels: 43

#2 – StarMark Teardrop Clicker

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Our second place choice is made by StarMark, the same company that makes our last place choice. The reason is that this fits very well in your hand, is easy to click and usable with any finger of your hand that you want. The button is easy to find and click. The only downside is that the button protrudes a bit much and lends itself to being clicked when stuck in your pocket.

Cost: $4.90

Pros:

  • Feels good in hand
  • Big button
  • Nice, sharp click sound
  • We like the color
  • Button is easy to use with any finger

Cons:

  • This one tends to click itself when stuck in a pocket

Decibels: 51

#1 – The Clicker Company TearDrop Clicker

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Agile Dog Top Pick

Very similar in design to our second place choice, this has all the same benefits with the addition of a button that has a slightly lower profile. It’s still easy to find and click the button but it doesn’t tend to accidentally click when stuck in a pocket. Not quite as loud as the StarMark version but loud enough

Cost: $8.00 for four

Pros:

  • Higher pitched click
  • Button is more secure than the StarMark
  • Doesn’t accidentally click in the pocket
  • Comes in a wide variety of colors

Cons:

  • Not as loud as the similar StarMark clicker
  • The lower profile button could make it harder to find for some

Decibels: 48


Conclusion:

We tried a wide variety of clickers and found that we preferred the teardrop shaped ones as they fit better in our hands, tended to be easier to click and were louder than the Karen Pryor I-Click. Ease of use and sharpness of click are more important that extra features or unique functionality. It’s a reward marker and not a sports car. Gadgets and gizmos are not necessary. Also cost varies widely. Our favorites were generally less expensive than some of the others. While the I-click might serve you well, it can be hard to hear in a noisy environment. And be careful where you purchase. Our most expensive clicker was the most expensive because of shipping alone.

 

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