The following is a reposted from Dec. 1, 2009 originally posted on my old blog.

I recently participated in a month long study of Karen Pryors newest book Reaching The Animal Mind. One of the things the book answered for me was “WHY” is the dog more responsive to the mechanical “click” than to a spoken word. I knew it was, I have seen it time and time again amongst the dogs in class who’s owners use a mechanical click vs those who use a word paired with the reinforcer. The dogs with the mechanical clicks learn faster and work differently…more “sharply” and possibly with a bit more focus. But I couldn’t explain the “why’s” beyond the possibility that perhaps the owners timing was simply off. (it has been proven that the timing of the click Is faster than the timing of a spoken word)

This book discusses the Amygdale, the small area of the brain that is a common factor in all animals right down to the smallest/simplest of creatures. While I’m not a believer the evolution theory, I do believe all living beings follow a similar “blueprint”. The book explained that a part of this blueprint is the inclusion of the Amygdale even in living creatures who’s brain is fairly simple. Apparently the mechanical sound, triggers a response deep down in the brain (at the Amygdalia) which has a fast, lasting effect on the animal.

Here is an explaination, in Karen Pryors words, that I hope will also help explain the speed and enthusiasm that develops in the Clicker trained dog.

All animals, right down to crabs and fish, anything with a nervous system, pickup on the importance of the message in conditioned reinforcers, because of the way they work in the brain. That click, properly used, goes through theamydgala, creates chemical changes, neural changes, memory, AND a feeling ofexcitement that stays with the learner, no matter what the species. Moderntraining, using a marker, taps into a very old system that we normally only reach when we frighten the animal—and then it’s a completely different kind of message, going through another part of the amygdale and creating chemicalchanges, memory, and a feeling—a bad feeling, never quite forgotten. – K. Pryor, as written to DogRead 2009