Clicker training is fast becoming an extremely popular way of train dogs. Professional trainers and owners alike utilize this system based on positive reinforcement to train dogs in the most efficient and enjoyable way possible. Dogs can be taught to do simple commands like sit or stay, and even more complex tricks as the training progresses. The clicker is used to isolate desirable behavior by marking it with a click. Clicks are far easier for dogs to pick up than verbal commands, they are more consistent.
When your dog understands the basic principle of clicker training, it is far easier to teach your dog how to behave in a much more detailed manner. Because clicker training is much easier for dogs to understand, your dog will learn lessons much more quickly than if you were to simply rely on verbal commands. Remember that dogs have very short attentions spans, and they get bored quite easily, so keep training sessions down to 15 minutes at a time. You can have many sessions in a day though.
Clicker and Treats
Clicker training requires that you have a clicker and some treats to motivate your dog. Clickers are readily available at any pet store. You’d be surprised at the variety of treats available at pet stores just for that purpose.
The first thing you need to do is to establish the correlation between the clicker and the treat. Tie your dog securely; you need to do this so that your dog will not rush to you once he knows you have treats. Make sure you have your dog’s attention, then click the clicker and give your dog a treat; repeat this process several times, taking care to reward your dog after every click. Show the dog the treat only after you have clicked, that way your dog will not think that clicks are only for immediately visible food. With patience, your dog will quickly learn that a click is followed by a treat, once your dog knows this, the real training can begin.
The “sit” command is always the ideal starting point, it’s easy to learn and it has a practical use in life. With your dog still securely tied, stand in front of the dog and hold a treat where he can see it. Once your dog sits, click the clicker and give him a treat. Your dog will be confused at first but after enough repetitions, he’ll get it. Your dog may try to stay seated to get more treats, should he do so, simply step back, he will stand up. Once the dog gets that he needs to sit to earn a click, you’re ready to add a voice command.
Repeat the process, but this time keep the treat hidden from your dog, in a clear and authoritative voice tell your dog to sit. Once he obeys click and hand him the treat. You’ll be surprised at how quickly he picks it up.
Stand, Stay, Lie Down
Stand works in pretty much the same way as sit. With your dog in the sitting position, give the stand command and reward him accordingly. The stay command is a bit more complicated. Give the sit command, once your dog is seated, tell you dog to stay, then count to five in your head. If your dog gets up before the count of five, show your dog that you are displeased. Should your dog last the full five seconds, give your dog a click and a treat. Once your dog has done it successfully a few times, increase the interval, eventually your objective is to have your dog stay put until you have given the stand command.
Once your dog has learned the commands sit, stay and stand, train your dog using combinations of the three. Try to vary the order but keep the sessions short. Always be generous with praise and affection when your dog gets it right. Remember that dogs aim to please, and positive reinforcement is the key to effective training.
Lie down should be the next command you teach. Show the dog the treat then hold it on the ground in front of your dog, eventually the dog will lie down, when that happens click and reward. After a few successful tries, add the “lie down” command.
Click Train to Reward Good Behavior
At this point in your dogs training, your dog understands fully that a click is a reward for good behavior. You can add hand signals to verbal commands and click and reward your dog for anything he does right. With a bit of imagination, you can teach your dog how to do many things. If you do it right, clicker training can be a really fun and rewarding experience for both you and your dog.