How to Clicker Train Your Dog

>> 11/1/09

Clicker Training is a slang term for the newly popular way of dog training has evolved over the last few years. This method has taken off recently due in great part to the efficiency in which the dog is able to interpret in an instant that they are performing the skill the way their handler wants them to. The animal will only learn from the instant it is in. Essentially, they do not have any way of knowing that you are praising them for something they just did less than a minute ago. With the invention of clicker training, the handler no longer has so cheer and say “good boy” in the instant the dog performed the skill (which at first comes by surprise). Instead, the handler has this clicker device in their hand and the instant he sees the skill being done right he clicks the clicker and the animal knows that what he is doing right then has pleased the handler. So how exactly does this work?

How does the Dog understand the Clicker?

When you typically train a dog, you use food and toys as methods of praise for the dog when he does what you want him to do. The dog tries to perform the skill that you are directing him to do and when you give him the treat he knows he did something right. Unfortunately because you give him the treat a little while later, he is not certain of exactly what it is that he did that deserved the treat. So while he is enjoying the treat, he is working harder to figure out what it is that he is doing that is making you happy.

While you cannot react fast enough to the dog’s actions to signal what they did right, the clicker can signify to the dog the instant he doesn’t the desired skill correctly. When you first introduce the clicker into the training, you will give the dog his usual award while you are clicking the clicker device. Hearing the noise while receiving his treat he will start to realize that the clicker has become a praise device. In time as the dog is performing a skill correctly, you can use the clicker to signal instants that he has succeeded his performance.

What is the Clicker?

The clicker is a simple plastic device with a metal insert that snaps back and forth as you push on the button. This action creates a sharp and loud clicking sound that can easily be heard by your dog. For example if you want your dog to sit on command and you push down on your dog’s bottom while saying sit, you will force him to sit. Once he is in the position you want him to be, you click the clicker and give him his primary treat. In time you can ask him to perform a series of skills and use the clicker to praise him for each skill he performs, saving the primary treat for the completion of the series.

When you are outside in public with your dog, try using the clicker along with your voice commands. As you are walking along the beach and your dog is wandering nearby, use your come command. When the dog returns to your side push the clicker a few times to let him know that he did a good thing by responding to your command. You can also use the clicker to attract your dog’s attention. If he wandered off and your voice command either can’t be heard or there is too much confusion going on for him to hear your call, try using the clicker. Depress the clicker buttons a few times to try to signal your dog’s attention. By using a sound that is different from the distractions around him, he will recognize he sound and start to look for the source of it. Once you have his attention again, try again to use your voice commands to get him to respond. When he reacts properly, use the clicker again as the praise tool.

As with any other training regiment, we ask that you never use anger or hitting to train a dog. Abused dogs will eventually attack. Use kindness to train your dog, it works better!

Author Resource:

David Beart is the owner of the PetYak. Our site covers pet related topics from dog information and cat training to raising tropical fish and caring for birds.

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