Clicker training is an easy, yet effective method of training which gives your dog positive reinforcement. The clicker device is simply a metal strip within a small plastic casing which makes a “click” sound when it is pressed.
Using the click is much faster and more distinct than using words like “good boy”. It is also much more effective than giving treats to your dog for good behavior. In order for your dog to learn the meaning of the “click” you give a treat immediately following a “click”. He will then start connecting that sound with a positive outcome. The clicker will eventually act as a positive reinforcer for your dog.
Here is an easy way of training your dog to respond to your clicks before you begin basic and/or advanced training with him. These steps are sometimes called “loading” the clicker, which simply means you are setting the foundation for the meaning of the clicker.
- Start in a quiet area with your dog. Ideally, he should be hungry when you begin, so avoid large meals beforehand.
- Be sure to have your dog’s favorite treats readily available. A handful or so will do.
- Press the clicker and right away give a treat to your dog. Do this repeatedly 5 to 10 times.
- Test your success so far by making a “click” when your dog isn’t paying attention. If he suddenly looks at you in response to the “click”, in hopes of a treat then you are ready for the next step.
- You can now begin teaching your dog some basic commands. As soon as your dog performs the desired command or behavior, press the clicker immediately. Follow that “click” with a treat and lots of praise.
The clicker is a very useful and valuable tool throughout the process of training your dog. When you are creating a training program for your dog, whether it be obedience or skills, consider using a clicker and you will see how well it works with your dog.