Clicker training is fun and easy! It is scientifically proven that dogs learn faster with the use of clicker training. Unlike marker words, which depend on the human voice (which can vary), the clicker is the same consistent sound every time. The clicker always means “Yes, you did what I wanted!!!”, whereas a marker word may be used in everyday conversation, having nothing to do with the dog. When choosing food rewards to pair with the clicker, think of the 3 ‘S’ rules: soft, small and stinky!
Common clicker training questions
Q. When do I click?
A. The moment your dog does what you want. For example, if you would like your dog to sit, the moment his backside hits the ground into the ‘sit’ position, you click, then reward with a treat.
Q If a click always means a reward; will I always need food to get my dog to do what I want?
A. No! Clicker training is great for teaching new behaviors or cues or for reinforcing old cues. Once your dog knows the cue, you can fade out the clicker and just mark the behavior with a word of choice. Once this is done, you can vary your rewards. (Sometimes 1 treat, sometimes 5, sometimes none, etc).
Q. I am having difficulty with my timing. How can I improve this?
A. Practice without your dog. Grab a tennis ball and bounce it off the ground. The moment the ball hits the ground, practice clicking. This will help with your ability to catch the behavior at just the right moment.
Q. My dog seems to be afraid of the clicker, what should I do?
A. Some dogs may be apprehensive about new sounds or objects. Do not point the clicker at the dog, like a remote control. Instead, begin with the clicker in your pocket to muffle the sound. Or begin with a ballpoint pen, which gives a softer sounding click.
Put your dog on a leash, with treats hidden in an apron or in your pocket, out of your dog’s view, and clicker in hand. Without using any words or commands, wait for your dog to make eye contact, then click and reward. It is that simple! You can add the cue (word, hand signal, or both) when your dog is looking at you consistently. This intro to clicker training teaches your dog that:
- It’s beneficial to check in with you, increasing their focus.
- Offering good behaviors is rewarding, increasing the chance that the behavior will be offered again.
- Training is FUN!
After you work on this exercise, begin working on basic behaviors such as: sit, down, stay, loose-leash walking, etc. The sky is the limit with clicker training! If you are interested in learning more about clicker training, visit http://www.clickertraining.com/