Have you been wondering how to train your dog with a clicker? I know when I first heard of clicker training for dogs I was curious as to what it was all about. Rest assured, clicker training will not harm your dog, in fact, your dog will most likely enjoy being trained this way, and you will enjoy the training too.
A Brief Description of Clicker Training
The clicker training method capitalizes on positive reinforcement training for dogs. Clicker method dog training is based on the principles of behavioral science. Clicker training will allow you to clearly communicate directly to your dog. This training method relies on positive training which relies on repetition, consistency, co-operation and positive reinforcement. It is also called magazine training by some.
The clicker itself is a small handheld device which makes a distinct clicking sound when pressed. Training clickers are not expensive, so if you are going to try out this training method, buy a few of them. This way you can always have a clicker ready so you can immediately click and reward your dog’s good behavior. If you buy several, you can keep a clicker handy in the car, your living room, your kitchen, and anywhere else you usually spend time.
Research Behind the Clicker: Think Pavlov’s Dogs
Through research, they have found that animals learn by association. At first when you start to click it will mean nothing to your dog, but when the click is followed by a tasty treat; your dog will start to take notice. The more you practice using the clicker on your dog the stronger the association between the clicker and a treat will become for your dog.
Beginning the Training Process: Loading the Clicker
Once you have a dog clicker, it is time to start clicker training your dog. First, you must train your dog to respond to the clicker before moving on to more advanced training. This is often referred to as “loading” the clicker.
Follow the steps below to begin clicker training your dog:
- Collect a handful of dog treats; keep the treats with you so you can reward your dog after your dog displays the desired behavior.
- Find a quiet place to start working with your dog, somewhere where you won’t be interrupted.
- Get your dog’s attention and press the clicker. Follow the click by immediately giving your dog a treat. Repeat this process five to ten times.
- Test your dog’s progress by clicking on the clicker when your dog is not paying attention to you. If the dog stops what it is doing and looks in your direction hoping for a treat, you are ready to move on with the training.
Teaching Basic Commands with a Clicker
Now you are ready to begin training your dog to respond to basic commands, such as “stay”, “sit” and “lie down”. Do this by pressing the clicker at the exact moment your dog has performed the desired action, follow with a treat and praise.
Remember, a click on the clicker is always followed with a treat, the reward. Only click the clicker when your dog has performed a desired action, and always follow through with a treat. Make sure to give the dog enough time to eat its treat before moving on.