You might have seen dog trainers on TV use a clicker, or perhaps you noticed other dog owners train their dogs with a clicker. If you’ve ever wondered what clicker training is all about and how the clicker works, you’ll get a few useful tips in this blog.
There are whole books dedicated to clicker training and it’s difficult to condense everything you need to know into a few paragraphs, but if you’re keen to learn more, join us in our two-hour ‘Introduction to Clicker Training’ seminar, Tuesday 13 January 2015.
Before you start any training
‘Charge’ the clicker (click – treat, repeat several sessions of 10-20 click and treats). Once your dog looks at you expecting a treat when he hears the click, he made the association between the clicking sound and treats, and you’re ready to start your training.
A few clicker training ‘rules’
- You must click immediately when your dog does the correct behaviour
Always treat when you click and deliver it quickly
Don’t use the clicker for anything else
Keep sessions short
Keep it fun
Release your dog when the session is finished, e.g. you could say “that’s all for now”
Keep your dog engaged – if he looks discouraged, lower your expectations and click and treat for a not-so-perfect behaviour. You can always work your way up again.
Why use a clicker?
The clicking sound is a clear, distinct marker of the correct behaviour, whereas your voice often varies in tone, inflection and loudness. Also, humans generally talk a lot, which makes it hard for the dog to distinguish when what you say is directed at him.
The click bridges the time between your dog performing the correct behaviour and you being able to give him a treat.
The click ‘tells’ your dog “Yes, what you are doing is exactly right, and a treat is coming.”
When do I use a clicker?
Use the clicker when you’re teaching your dog new behaviours. Once your dog knows it well, you don’t have to use the clicker anymore - you can use the occasional treat, play, and praise.
How does clicker training affect my dog?
Dogs trained with clicker
Are keen to train with you and it makes them happy
Become more proactive when training and often offer behaviours