Clicker Dog Training

Many people who own dogs have heard of clicker dog training but are unsure of whether this training method is suitable for their dogs. The fact is, clicker training is for just about everyone, any dogs or animals, of any age. There's no better way to raise your dog because clicker training delivers the potential for a relationship between you and your dog that is so much more than one of mere obedience. A large majority of professional dog trainers believe that by utilizing this small clicking device in training sessions, the dog actually learns faster and easier.

Clicker Dog Training
What Is Clicker Dog Training?

Clicker training is the process of training a dog using a conditioned reinforcer (usually a tiny plastic box with a metal button that makes a distinctive click sound when pressed).

This training method is simple but is different from the normal positive training method, although food rewards are used in both. Because it reinforce only wanted behavior, the clicker can be an effective tool in modifying the bad habits of your dog. When you click, the distinct "click" signals to your dog that its behavior is correct. A food treat follows, and your dog learns to work out why it has been given the reward.

Why Is Clicker Training Effective?

A click is more powerful for training than a spoken word because our reflexes are often quicker than our voice and our timing may be a little better with the clicker than with a verbal “good!” or “yes!”

One of the basic rules in training a dog a new behavior is to be consistent. Try as we might to repeat ourselves exactly, we are only human and therefore subject to verbal inconsistencies.

However, with a clicker, you can give clear information to your dog about his action up close, or from a distance, without any of your feelings about your stressful day or your unhappiness being expressed, as they often are in your voice!

Unlike our voices, the sound from the clicker is extremely precise. It always sounds the same every time it is heard; its meaning never varies and is always clear. It is always directed at your dog, and the clicker rewards behaviors that you like - develop your dog confidence - and your dog are enthusiastic about those learned behaviors as he associate them with pleasurable consequences. Puppies love it. Old dogs learn new tricks.

How Do I Begin Clicker Training My Dog?

Make sure you and your dog are somewhere calm and quiet. Have some of your dog's favorite treats ready. Hold the clicker behind you to begin with - there is no need to point it at your dog, and you should avoid clicking too near his ears!

Clicker dog training can be trained with in these three simple steps:

  1. Command your dog to sit (or any other commands) in a happy voice.

  2. As soon as he sits, click and give him a reward.

  3. Repeat and usually within two or three clicks, your dog will associate the sound of the click with something he likes: the reward. Soon, he will learn to repeat the action it was doing when he hears the command with the "click".

Useful Tips For Getting Started with Effective Clicker Dog Training:

Clicker training is one of the most modern, effective and enjoyable training method available. Based on the sound scientific principles of behavior conditioning, the clicker will allow you to communicate with your dog - and train him or her to do practically any tricks or behavior you desire.

Here are some simple but invaluable tips to help any clicker trainer get started with clicker dog training:

  1. Push and release the springy end of the clicker, making a two-toned click. Then treat. Keep the treats small. Use a delicious treat at first: little cubes of roast chicken, not a lump of kibble.

  2. Click DURING the desired behavior, not after it is completed. The timing of the click is crucial. Don't be dismayed if your pet stops the behavior when it hears the click. The click ends the behavior. Give the treat after that; the timing of the treat is not important.

  3. If you are not making progress with a particular behavior, you are probably clicking too late. Accurate timing is important. Get someone else to watch you, and perhaps to click for you, a few times.

  4. Click when your dog does something you like. Begin with something easy that your dog is likely to do on its own. Examples: sit; come toward you; touch your hand with its nose; lift a foot; touch and follow a target object such as a pencil or a spoon.

  5. Click once (in-out.) If you want to express special enthusiasm, increase the number of treats, not the number of clicks.

  6. Keep practice sessions short and interesting. Much more is learned in three sessions of five minutes each than in an hour of boring repetition. You can get dramatic results, and teach your your many new things, by fitting a few clicks a day here and there in your normal routine.

  7. Fix bad behavior by clicking good behavior. Click the puppy for relieving itself in the proper spot. Click for paws on the ground, not on the visitors. Instead of scolding for making noise, click for silence. Cure leash-pulling by clicking and treating those moments when the leash happens to go slack.

  8. Click for voluntary (or accidental) movements toward your goal. You may coax or lure the animal into a movement or position, but don't push, pull, or hold it. Let your dog discover how to do the behavior on its own. If you need a leash for safety's sake, loop it over your shoulder or tie it to your belt.

  9. Don't wait for the "whole picture" or the perfect behavior. Click and treat for small movements in the right direction. You want the dog to sit, and it starts to crouch in back: click. You want it to come when called, and it takes a few steps your way: click.

  10. Keep raising your goal. As soon as you have a good response when a dog, for example, is voluntarily lying down, coming toward you, or sitting repeatedly - start asking for more. Wait a few beats, until the dog stays down a little longer, comes a little further, sits a little faster. Then click. This is called "shaping" a behavior.

  11. When your animal has learned to do something for clicks, it will begin showing you the behavior spontaneously, trying to get you to click. Now is the time to begin offering a cue, such as a word or a hand signal. Start clicking for that behavior if it happens during or after the cue. Start ignoring that behavior when the cue wasn't given.

  12. Don't order the animal around; clicker dog training is not command-based. If your pet does not respond to a cue, it is not disobeying; it just hasn't learned the cue completely. Find more ways to cue it and click it for the desired behavior. Try working in a quieter, less distracting place for a while. If you have more than one pet, separate them for training, and let them take turns.

  13. Carry a clicker and "catch" cute behaviors like cocking the head, chasing the tail, or holding up one foot. You can click for many different behaviors, whenever you happen to notice them, without confusing your pet.

  14. If you get mad, put the clicker away. Don't mix scoldings, leash-jerking, and correction training with clicker dog training; you will lose the animal's confidence in the clicker and perhaps in you.

  15. Above all, have fun. Clicker training is a wonderful way to enrich your relationship with your dog.

Tips by Karen Pryor, author of Don't Shoot the Dog!

Recommended Reading Resource:

Clicker Training - The 4 Secrets of Becoming A Supertrainer

An amazingly practical book for new trainers who want a solid introduction to clicker dog training, as well as a good resource for the more experienced trainers.

This 216 pages book covers all the important basics and advanced topics about effective clicker training with a good balance between clicker theory and practical implementation of becoming a effective trainer.

Fascinating... easy to follow... logical... fun to read...

Clearly, a must read for anyone looking to develop their own training skills, solve ANY kind of dog problem and become a super (competent) trainer!

Click here to KICKSTART your clicker dog training TODAY!

*(This book is now required reading for all instructors at Guide Dogs for the Blind, Inc. in California.)

Additional Information on Clicker Dog Training:

Clicker Training From Wikipedia
Discover the advantages, disadvantages, methodology and examples of animal clicker training from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Return from Clicker Dog Training to Dog Training Classroom