Is Clicker Training for Your Dog Effective?
Clicker training is a fun, easy and effective method of training that can be used with a wide variety of species: people, dolphins, dogs, cats, horses, chickens, birds, pigs, rodents and even fish, to name a few. It is used everywhere from professional athletes to special education classrooms, with children and adults, young and old, on farms and corporate retreats, and in the dog realm for everything from obedience to sports to the show ring.
Marker based training is a great form of communication between you and your dog. Think of it as snapping a picture of your dog doing something good or moving in a certain way, such as sitting, lying down, spinning, jumping, etc. Clicker training can be done by adults and children with dogs of all ages.
The basic idea behind clicker training is marking the moment in time when your dog does a behavior you want him/her to perform. For the behavior Sit, you would click while the dog bends his legs and his bottom hits the floor, and then pay him a treat immediately afterwards. The click marks the moment and bridges the time between the dog doing the behavior and receiving the reinforcement or reward.
Clicker training rewards
You’ll want to use a high value reward or primary resource such as food at first, although different dogs will work for different things in different environments. We recommend that you start with treats simply because all dogs love to eat, and since your dog has to eat anyway, why not utilize that food to train your dog and teach him manners? Treats should be very small, soft and easy to swallow.
As you follow our program you will learn how and when to vary and reduce the amount of food used while learning how to use toys, petting, praise and environmental rewards – like Squirrels! – for reinforcements. When you do it right, your dog will have good manners and do what you ask, whether you have treats with you or not.
While clicker training has become popular, it is often a very misunderstood concept, the biggest of which is that once you start using the clicker, you have to carry it with you everywhere you go. This is simply not true. Clickers are a tool used to teach or perfect behaviors. In fact, if you follow our Pawsitive Steps to Easy Dog Training, you will quickly get the behaviors you want and no longer need the clicker for them. Of course, we recommend you continue to train new behaviors, using the clicker for more fun games with your dog!
To begin clicker training, we first communicate the meaning of the clicker to the dog. This is called “Charging the Clicker.” There are a variety of things that can be used as a clicker, although the traditional clickers sold for this purpose make a distinct sound that stimulates the Amygdala in the dog’s brain, aiding in memory and retention.
Anything that makes a short distinctive sound, such as a ball point pen or Snapple cap, a short word such as “Click!” or “Yes!”, or even a tongue cluck can be used. For deaf animals and fish, a key chain flashlight works wonderfully! Remember, the clicker is just a tool to mark the moment for the dog when they do something right.
The importance of training your dog…
Training creates a bond and connection with your dog. Training reduces stress for dogs and their owners alike. Clickers are a tool that, when used appropriately, can greatly expedite training and take a lot of the guesswork away for the dog. It is humane, safe and effective.
We enjoy using clickers to help owners train their dogs, although we do not require you use a clicker. We would enjoy the opportunity to help you train your dog or overcome any problems or issues your dog has. Please contact us or sign up using one of these links for either private or family friendly training classes.