Important – Conceal the treat! Do not show your puppy the treat before depressing the clicker button, and never deliver the treat prior to the clicker emitting a clicking sound. If you do this, your puppy will be responding to the treat and not the click, and this will undermineyour training strategy.
Training should begin by simply observing your BC puppy. What you are looking for is a desired behavior to reward. In other words, if your puppy is doing anything considered as an undesirable behavior, then do not reward. As long as your puppy is relaxed and behaving well, you can begin to train using this clicker response training. What you are doing here is training your puppy to associate the clicker sound with doing something good. Whenever you click, your puppy will associate the sound with an acceptable performance, and will know that he or she has a reward coming.
Timing is crucial when training your puppy. The essential technique when training your puppy with the clicker is by clicking precisely as the correct action takes place, followed by treating. It does not take long for your puppy to associate their behavior with the clicking sound, and subsequent receiving of a treat. Make sure that the treat is produced immediately following the clicking sound.
Note: Throughout this training guide, Click and Treat is sometimes written as C/T. In addition, for ease of writing, I refer to the gender of your dog in the male form, even though I know many people have female dogs. Please take no offense to this.
Crucial – Never click without treating, and never treat without clicking. This maintains the connection and continuity between clicking and treating, which is the framework for achieving your desired outcomes.
1. When your puppy is relaxed, you should stand, or kneel down at about an arm’s length away, then click and give your puppy a treat.
2. Repeat this clicking and treating about 5-15 times. Pause a few seconds between clicks to allow your puppy to resume whatever he was doing. Do not click and treat if he seems to be begging for another treat. Find times throughout the day when he is performing a desired behavior, then click and treat. This teaches your puppy to associate the click with what you want him to do, and a tasty food treat.
When you click, and your puppy’s head swings around in anticipation of a treat, then you know that your puppy has made the association between the clicking sound and a reward.
4. Repeat steps one and two the day following the introduction of clicker training. When your puppy quickly responds to the click, then you can begin using the clicker to train commands.
Teaching puppies to respond to this method can take several training sessions, but most commonly after about a dozen click and treats, they begin to connect the clicking sound with a treat. Usually, at the end of the first 5-minute session, puppies tend to swing their head around when they hear the clicker sound.
HELPFUL HINT: After some dedicated training sessions, puppies tend to stop in their tracks and instantly come to you for a treat. At this time refrain from using this clicker technique to get your dog to come to you, but instead follow the instructions for teaching the “come” command.