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Clicker Dog Training

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Clicker Dog Training!

What is clicker dog training?

Clicker dog training is but one of many different dog training techniques that are out there today. It is a positive dog training technique that involves using only praise and positive reinforcement. Dogs thrive on positive reinforcement and encouragement. Positive reinforcement such as acting excited and petting your dog when he does the right behaviour help with your dog training efforts. Experts have found that positive dog training is more effective than a system of punishment. It is a very effective dog training method in any dog discipline, be it obedience, agility, tracking or others.

The clicker is also called a "reward marker". It is used to mark the exact moment that the dog does a desirable behaviour. The click must ALWAYS be followed by a treat, even when you click at the wrong moment. In other words, the "click" tells the dog that "what you just did, was perfect, good dog". The dog quickly learns that when he hears the click, he will receive a treat. He now starts working for the click. If you do not treat after every click, the clicker looses its power. The dog will offer different behaviours, just to get that click. He will soon learn that certain behaviours will result in a click.

At  first you take a treat in your one hand, clicker in the other, and you lure your dog into the position you want him, for instance a sit. You don't say a word. The very moment he comes into position, you click and then give a treat. After about 20 - 30 repetitions you start giving the command, still luring the dog into position. The dog will now start to associate the command with the click and thus with the treat. You will soon be able to stop the luring and just give the command - dog goes into position - click and treat.

After a while you start clicking only for fast behaviours as when the dog does a fast sit or a fast down. Or you can click only for the more correct behaviours - a nice straight sit and not a skew sit. So he will learn that a skew sit will not result in a reward. With clicker training the only "punishment" is not clicking and not treating. If your dog does the wrong behaviour - just don't click and treat. If he repeatedly does the wrong behaviour, you progressed too fast. Take a few steps back or break the exercise down into smaller parts and putting it back together (chaining) when he understands each seperate part.

Just a few important points to remember with using the clicker:

  1. Do NOT use the clicker to call the dog.
  2. Click once and treat. I found that many people, when they start, will click a few times before they treat.
  3. Although your training will go much faster than when using other methods, do not be in a hurry.
  4. When your dog performs a certain behaviour exceptionally well, do not click twice, but give a bonus of a few treats.
  5. Remember also to still praise your dog - the click does not replace praise!
  6. Also, still follow the secrets of dog training!

This is just a short introduction to clicker training. You will find more detailed, step by step descriptions on the Article page or you can follow the links on the left.
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