Clicker training is a fun and effective way of training your dog. Apart from the clicker, you don’t need special equipment. The collar your dog is wearing and the leash you use for his walks will be just fine.
The only other item you need is some tasty treats. Don’t use your dog’s kibble for training, it’s not good enough. Chop up some hot dogs or some cheese, or even some lean chicken breast. The treats you use for training must be so delicious that he will be very keen to work for them.
Let’s get started!
What the Click Means
The first thing you need to do is to teach your dog what the click means. To do this, click then immediately follow the sound with a treat. Do this again, repeatedly, for several times. This may not seem very productive, but your dog is learning that the click means that something good is on the way and this is the foundation for everything else you teach him. Take the time to repeat this training session several times a day for a week or so. Do this until you can click and then see your dog immediately react to the click with an alert expression. At this point, it’s safe to assume he knows what’s going on.
Start with the Sit Command
An easy exercise to teach your dog with the clicker is to sit. Take a treat in one hand and put it in front of his nose so he is focused on it. Move it up and backwards over his head. His nose should follow it upward, as it does, his bottom should hit the ground. At the very moment, he sits, click and give him the treat. The click has marked the behavior you want – that is, to put his bottom down on the ground.
Again, repetition is the key to good training. Practice this exercise several times in a training session. Keep your sessions short so your dog doesn’t lose interest; three 5 minute sessions a day is often more productive than one 15 minute session.
It won’t be long until he has this figured out and is responding quickly to your hand movement. Then you can add the command. When he is moving his head up and his bottom down, tell him to “sit”. Over time, he’ll connect the command with the behavior so when you say “sit”, he will do exactly that.
Another good example of clicker training your dog is to teach him to drop, when he is sitting, hold the treat in front of his nose but this time move it down towards the ground, then forward. As his nose follows it, he will lie down. It takes practice to get the movement of the treat right, so he doesn’t get up and move towards his reward. As soon as his elbows are on the ground, click and give him the treat.
Works for Obedience & Tricks
This same method can be used to teach your dog any behavior. Whether it is an obedience exercise or a trick, the click marks the behavior you want and the treat makes it more likely that he will repeat it.
Clicker training is a lot of fun, and it helps to build a great rapport with your dog. So, grab a clicker, and some treats and try it.
Guest Post: This article provided by veterinarian and invisible fence alternatives expert Susan Wright and her staff in effort to educate people on the proper care of their dogs.