One of the most effective methods for controlling a dog’s behavior is clicker dog training. We all know that positive reinforcement is the key when training your dog. Many people use verbal reinforcement such as “Good boy!” when a dog performs the correct behavior, but clicker dog training is just as effective and it is quicker.

Clicker training is a conditioning method for training an animal using a clicker or small mechanical noisemaker as a marker for behavior. It doesn’t take much time to become adept at this training technique and it allows you to be able to teach your dog almost any trick you want.

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Why Clicker Training Works

The idea behind clicker dog training is that it provides a way to communicate quickly with your pet. Your dog knows immediately that it achieved the desired behavior. When you give a specific command and your dog complies, you immediately click the device to mark the correct behavior.

There is a little more to it than that, though. Your dog first needs to understand that the clicker is a positive reward for a specific behavior. The clicker device itself is very inexpensive but you also need to have some sort of treat to give for reinforcement. You don’t want it to be a big snack, just a small nibble to tell your puppy they did a good job.

Using the clicker followed by a treat, you can provide precise timing and clear communication about what specific skill is being targeted allowing you to teach more difficult skills to your dog without the use of force or punishment. Plus, your dog will retain the ability to repeat the task for a long time because they are actively participating in the learning.

Steps to Clicker Dog Training

To begin training your dog to respond to a clicker, start with these basic steps. First, your puppy needs to understand that the clicker coincides with a reward. Start out by standing in front of your dog, click the clicker, and immediately give a treat so that the sound and the treat are simultaneous.

Practice this a few times and eventually try clicking when your dog is distracted. If you have your dog’s attention right away, you will know that it has made the connection.

Next, decide what you are going to teach your dog. You can train them to sit, shake, roll over, etc. Once you’ve gotten them to perform their behavior, mark it with the clicker and a reward. It will probably take several tries to master the task and be able to repeat it on command. Clicker dog training works well because it is a strong stimulus for positive reinforcement.

You need to keep in mind that after the initial connection, you will want to hide the reward until the behavior is performed. This will stop your pet from performing only when they know there is an obvious treat.  Plus, it will also help in weight control as your dog gets older.

Limit the clicker dog training sessions to 5 or 10 minutes to keep your dog from getting bored and distracted. Eventually, you won’t have to give a treat every time.  Giving lots of praise and petting your puppy will substitute perfectly because once respect is earned, your dog will be happy just pleasing you.

After enough repetition, your dog will respond to verbal commands only. Using other rewards such as toys or praise will reinforce the idea that there won’t always be food involved.  If you say the command, click, and reward repeatedly, your dog will begin to associate the three together but ultimately, you want your puppy to listen and follow spoken cues so that you can apply what they have learned anywhere.

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