What the heck is that clicking noise? Well, it’s a clicker, thus the name. If you are a product of a Catholic school, you might be very familiar with this device. You probably have nightmares of large, penguin like women clicking their way through your young life. Yes, it was annoying and at times, terrifying, however, when it comes to training your dog, it will be helpful and fun.
A clicker is a small device that makes a sound that is easily distinguished and not common as a sound in nature, or one that humans normally produce. This unique sound keeps the dog that is being trained from becoming confused by accidently hearing a word used in conversation or another environmental noise. You click at the exact time when your dog does the correct action then immediately follow the click with a treat or reward.
The clicker is used to inform your dog that he did the right thing andthat a treat is coming. When your dog does the right thing after you command, like drop your Chanel purse that is dangling from his mouth, you click and reward him with a nice treat. Using the clicker system allows you to set your puppy up to succeed while you ignore or make efforts to prevent bad behavior. It is a very positive, humane system, and punishment is not part of the process.
Here are some questions often asked about the clicker training:
– “Do you need to have the clicker on your person at all times?” No. The clicker is a teaching device. Once your dog understands what you want your dog to do, you can then utilize a verbal or hand cue, and if inclined verbal praise or affection.
– “Can rewards be other things besides treats?” Sure. Actually, you should mix it up. Use the clicker and a treat when you first start teaching. When your puppy has learned the behavior you want, then switch to other rewards, such as, petting, play, toys, or lottery tickets. Remember always to ask for the wanted target behavior, such as, sit, stay, or come, before you reward your dog. These verbal reinforcements can augment the clicker training and reward giving.
– “With all these treats, isn’t my dog going to get fat?” No. If you figure treats into your dog’s daily intake and subtract from meals accordingly, your dog will be fine. The treats should be as small as a corn kernel, just a taste. Use food from his regular meals when you are training indoors, but when outdoors, use fresh treats like meat or cheese. There are many distractions outside and a tasty fresh treat will help keep your puppy’s attention. Dog’s finally honed senses will smell even the smallest of treat, and this keeps them attentive. -“What do I do if my dog doesn’t act out the command?” Simple, if your dog disobeys you, it is because he has not been properly trained yet. Do not C/T (Click and Treat), or verbally praise for any wrong actions, ignore the wrong action. Continue training because your dog has not yet learned the command and action you are teaching him to perform. He, after all, is just a dog. If he is disobeying, he has been improperly or incompletely trained, maybe the treats are not tasty enough. Try simplifying the task and attempt to make the reward equal to, or better than what is distracting your dog. Eventually your dog will understand what action should be performed when the command word is spoken.
– Conceal the treat! Do NOT show your dog the treat before pressing the clicker and making the clicking sound. If you do this, he will be responding to the treat and not the click and this will undermine your training strategy.