Dog Clicker Training
How to Train your Puppy Using a Clicker
There is no shadow of doubt that dog clicker training has become quite a fast-growing trend among dog owners and trainers eager to embrace more positive and motivational methods for training canine companions.
Considered to be more a philosophy than a training method, clicker training yields powerful results in a short time frame, and best of all, using scientifically based principles.
It's also the gentlest way we know how to shape new behaviors and prevent undesirable behaviors from reoccurring. And it works equally well on young puppies and mature dogs!
But what exactly is clicker training for dogs? And how can an average dog owner use a clicker to make his or her puppy a better companion?
Definition of Clicker Training
Dog clicker training involves the use of a noise-making device shaped like a box which produces a typical clicking sound upon depressing one end.
The noise produced by a clicker is initially pretty much insignificant to dogs, but with time, they begin to understand that it becomes a behavior marker. I will show you how this process works in a moment.
The dog clicker, therefore, becomes a way to inform the dog that certain behaviors are rewarded while others are not.
As opportunists, dogs learn pretty quickly which behaviors to repeat and which to extinguish.
How to Charge a Clicker
As explained above, the noise of a clicker is pretty insignificant to a dog initially. Using a clicker at this stage may yield little interest from your dog. He may raise his head, do a head tilt and then go back to sleep. Or if he is sensitive to noises, he may even startle slightly. To a dog's ears, that clicking noise is pretty much the same as a book falling from a table or a bird chirping in the yard.
Because dogs live in a world of associations, the dog must, therefore, be taught to associate the clicker with something that gains his interest. And because the best way to a dog's heart is through his stomach, there is no better way than pairing the clicker with food!
Charging a clicker therefore means nothing more than allowing it to have a meaning. In a similar way to a battery, it charges with energy and power!
Have you ever seen how your dog's ears prick up upon hearing the door bell, or how he gets all revved up upon hearing the noise of the fridge opening? The same applies to the clicker. So arm yourself with some soft, bite-sized dog treats and let the positive associations begin!
- Click your clicker
- Immediately deliver a treat
- Click your clicker
- Immediately deliver a treat
Repeat, repeat, repeat. You are not asking your dog to do anything fancy or particular at this stage. All you are looking for is a response to the click. In other words, you want to see signs that your dog has grasped the concept that click equals treat.
Generally, most dogs get it after ten to fifteen repetitions of clicks followed by treats. Signs that your dog has started understanding clicker training include turning his head in your direction or coming closer to you for the treat. If your dog has reached this point, congratulations! You have just classically conditioned your dog and Dr. Pavlov would be very proud of you!
Dog Clicker Training: Teaching Basic Commands
The great thing about dog clicker training is that it can be used with all types of dogs: puppies, old dogs, hyper dogs, shy dogs and virtually dogs of all breeds and sizes.
So let's say you want to teach a puppy how to "sit" or "come" when called after you have charged the clicker. This can be easily accomplished by teaching the puppy that the clicker can now be used to mark wanted behaviors.
Remember how we mentioned earlier about dogs being opportunists and more likely to repeat behaviors yielding results and extinguishing those that don't? Read on to learn how to switch gears and apply operant conditioning in these free dog clicker training tips.
Clicker Training your Dog to Sit
Your puppy by now should have learned that "click", in doggy terms means "Come and get your treat!"
Now, at this stage, we want to progress and make your puppy "think" and work for the clicks. Your really don't want to keep on delivering treats at every click like a broken vending machine delivering freebies!
Following is how to train a puppy to sit using a clicker and a training method known as "luring" in five easy steps:
- Start by taking a treat and bringing it to your puppy's nose
- Slowly, pull it up and back over your puppy's head
- As your puppy's head follows the treat, his rear will eventually touch the ground
- Click as soon as his rear touches the ground. Good timing is essential!
- Immediately deliver the treat
The above is just one method of using a clicker to teach your puppy to sit. Training your dog to sit provides additional information and techniques.
Clicker Training a Puppy to Come
The "come" command can be a life saver and it is crucial that all puppies learn it.
Start teaching it in a quiet area with little distractions and with you close by. As your puppy gets good at it, you can then add distance and distractions. You can start teaching a reliable "come" by following these steps:
- Keep your puppy in a safe place such as a fenced yard or big room
- Step about five feet away, kneel down and call your puppy's name followed by the word "come"
- Right when you get the puppy's attention and the puppy starts moving towards you, click
- Deliver the treat
Visit training your dog to come for additional information and instructions.
Benefits of Clicker Dog Training
These are just a few examples of what you can be accomplish with dog clicker training, but truth is, this is only a tiny fraction of what can be taught, and ultimately, the sky is the limit.
Some dog trainers have started using dog clicker training to solve various behavior problems. Here are some of the benefits of using a clicker:
- Clicker training significantly increases the acquisition rate for new behaviors
- Clicker training improves our ability to communicate with dogs
- Clicker training makes dogs more confident
- Clicker training strengthens the dog/human bond
- Clicker training relies on reinforcement rather than coercion and force
Research shows that dogs, and animals in general, retain learned behaviors better when there is no coercion involved.
Clicker-trained dogs are happier, more trusting and significantly more eager to learn. It therefore comes as no surprise why so many dog owners and trainers are embracing gentler training methods, with dog clicker training becoming the hottest trend in the industry.
Here is a brief dog clicker training video that talks about some of the things we just covered in this article...
You may also wish to explore the following articles:
Want to learn more?
Find this article interesting? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments, and as always, your +1's, Shares, Facebook likes and retweets are appreciated.
Search this site or click here to search the Web