Tips to teach your pet new tricks with a clicker

Snapshot: Clicker training is a positive reinforcement training that has an additional benefit of a clicker. This training is given to developing the personality of your dog so that they behave as expected. If you want to communicate with your dog, you should know how to use clickers for dog training and we would discuss the same here.

Clicker training is an amazing way to communicate with your pet easily. The training is science-based and is highly effective. Clicker training is easier to learn as compared to traditional command-based pieces of training. You can clicker train dogs of any age. Puppies are very fond of it. It is a simple form of positive reinforcement that helps you to train your dog. The clicks work faster than the speech. With a clicker, dog owners can train their dogs on their own. When the dog learns about the positive effects of the click sound, it works as an accustomed reinforcer. Clickers are readily available at all the leading pet stores in your vicinity and they are inexpensive.

Definition of clicker training

The clicker is a way to capture a moment. It is a small and simple mechanical noisemaker, which is used during positive reinforcement training. The technique of using a clicker is based on the science of animal learning. 

As per science, the behaviors that are instantly rewarded are repeated in the future. Dog owners pay attention to what their dog is doing wrong and take good behavior for granted. Clicker training focuses on what your dog is doing right and marks the moment. 

You can have an unbelievable effect just by telling your dog what to do instead of whatnot. Your dog would certainly choose the right behavior and perform them in the future. 

The clicker tells your dog which behavior would be rewarded. Just by making the clicking sound, you can tell your dog what they did correctly.

What does the click sound mean?

Clicker marks the moment when your dog did a correct move. There is no magic in the particular noise but it tells our dog to perform the good move again. Your dog makes the move just to get rewarded. 

Instead of the clicker, you can use any substitute thing as long as it is different from the other ways of communication. You can blow a whistle, cluck your tongue or even snap your finger. If you are training a hearing-impaired dog, you can gentle tap on your shoulder or use a light. 

The click sound is meaningless if it is not paired up with a reward. In simple words, the sound of the click indicates that a reward is on its way. The best incentive for a dog is generally an edible treat. 

The most crucial part of the click sound is consistency and timing. The click should be able to capture the right moment and a reward should follow soon after.

How does the clicker help in training?

Every dog owner plans a positive reinforcement training for their dog where the dog is rewarded after portraying a pleasing behavior. For example, when you want to teach your dog to lie down, you should make sure that if he lies down he would be rewarded. 

Your dog should know that he would get rewarded only for lying down and not for getting up. The click captures the moment when you are going to reward your dog. It helps to bridge the gap within the time frame until your dog gets the reward. 

With the click sound, your dog gets to know what action was correct. Praises are not clear as the click sound. You often communicate with your dog by praising him, but there is no reward every time. Using a clicker clears the confusion about when the reward would come and when not. 

It has been broadly observed that clicker-trained dog love their training. They want to get trained and work hard to earn a click. A combination of click and reward training helps your dog to learn new behaviors. 

When you lookout for the clickable moments, you fully focus on your dog’s good behavior instead of concentrating on the mistakes. Clicker training helps you to communicate seamlessly with your dog and the bond between both of you grows unconditionally. It even makes the training a lot more fun.

How to start with clicker training your dog?

Here are some of the things that you should do when you start with clicker training:

Choose a calm setting – When you want to introduce a clicker to the training, you should start it in a calm setting. Take your dog to a quiet area where there are no distractions. The best time to do this training is when your dog is hungry. Do not forget to carry your dog’s favorite treats and the clicker.

  • Introduce the clicker to your dog – Initially, your dog would not be accustomed to the functionality of the clicker. Once you reach the quiet space, introduce the clicker by pressing it. Soon after pressing the clicker, offer a treat to your dog. Repeat this click and treat combination about 8-10 times. By now, your dog would know what the clicker meant.
  • Start testing – After the introduction, make sure you test your dog. You can perform the test by clicking on the clicker when your dog is busy somewhere else. If your dog responds to the clicker sound and looks at you instantly, you can move ahead with the training. 
  • If he still does not pay attention, then you should continue the click and treat combinations for some rounds. Your dog should be aware that the click is directly related to the treat.
  • Make the clicks for basic commands – Initially, teach the basic commands like come, look, leave, sit, drop, etc. using the clicker. Just when your dog performs the expected action, press the clicker. Follow it up with praise and a treat. 

If you do not click on the right time, your dog can get confused and they would be unsure about what action is granted a treated. Accuracy is the best thing about the clicker.

How to move on to advanced training with the clicker?

The clicker is effective for advanced training as well. When your dog has learned all the basic commands, you can move on to the advanced level of the training. Just keep clicking for the small steps and work towards the final behavior. 

With the clicker training, you do not have to use your hands except for delivering the reward. A clicker is a valuable tool that will help you during all levels of training. When you create training for the obedience program, you should use the clicker for marvelous results.

 A common mistake that most dog owners make is they forget to praise. When you have trained your dog to respond to the clicker, he follows the action to get praises from you. You should not ignore the need for affection, praise, and love among the dogs. 

If your dog does get driven by the food rewards, then clicker training might not be much effective. When you are practicing the advanced movements with your dog using the clicker, make sure you pay complete attention. 

Eye-hand coordination is required to make the clicker sound at the right time. If you fail to do it, you will end up confusing the dog and that would lead to degraded training quality.

Tips for getting started with the clicker

Here are some of the tips that will help you to get started with the clicker training.

  • Always make a two-toned click by pushing and releasing the spring end of the clicker. Follow it up with a treat soon after the click.
  • Keep the reward treats small and make sure you are using the favorite foods of your dog. The regular lump of the kibble might not motivate him to learn.
  • You should make the click sound when the dog is performing the desired behavior and not after completion. The timing is very crucial for the clicker training.
  • Do not feel disheartened if your dog stops performing good behavior when he hears the click sound. The click ends the behavior and you should deliver the treat immediately.
  • Start clicking when your dog does anything that you like. In the beginning, start with something easy that he would be able to do on his own. This would include behaviors like, come, touch your hand, sit, etc.
  • Always click once, that means “in-out” only once. If you want to express additional enthusiasm, simply increase the treats not the number of clicks.

With the help of the clicker, your dog would perform the exact movement that you want him to do. Always keep in mind that the timing of the click is crucial and every click needs to be followed by a reward without fail. A clicker is a remarkable tool for training and when gradually your dog learns new behaviors, you would not require it anymore. Whenever you want to capture, a behavior the clicker will help you to communicate effectively with your pet.

Photo: Melounix/Shutterstock

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