Dog training is a wonderful activity to do with your dog, it expands both of your minds much further than you imagine. Learning; it’s a skill that dogs love to exercise. Because they learn differently to the way we learn we need to use different techniques to get our message across to our dogs. Clicker training is one method you can use to reinforce a job well done. It’s a consistent standard of training that is fun and easy for your dog to understand.
I usually say that you have less than 1 second from the moment your dog finishes the behaviour you are training to the moment they receive the reward. You need to instantly connect the behaviour they just did and the reward in order to make the positive association of cause and effect. If there is one universal truth that dogs understand it’s cause and effect. If you are a little slower on the treat delivery or want to make your training more consistent a training clicker can help you out.
Of course you can’t expect your dog to immediately understand what the clicking sound represents. So you need to ease them into clicker training so they understand that the click is a form of praise. This is the most important step for your success. If your dog doesn’t understand that the click means “good job” you will have a hard time getting that message through to them later on down the road.
CONDITIONING YOUR DOG TO THE CLICK
This is usually really easy. But very important to get right. You want to use a very motivating treat for your dog. Something that they would go bananas over. Not the regular dog treats, really bring out something special for this! The point of that first training session with the clicker is to assign a truly amazing experience happens when they hear the click.
It should only take a few minutes to condition your dog the first time to understand the concept of the clicker. A clicker means “YES”, “GOOD JOB”, “YOU HAVE DONE WELL” basically any positive meaning you can attach to it. But it is a consistent, audible tone that your dog will listen for. Take a couple of minutes and click then reward with your amazing treats. You really want to make this a super positive experience for them, so keep the energy up, lots of clicks and lots of rewards. Keep each treat as small as you can, you don’t want your dog to fill up on treats. If they get too full to quickly they will lose interest in the training.
If you are consistent with using the clicker when training you will find that your dog will start to pick up the tricks a lot faster. Not only that but they will understand more clearly about what you desire them to do. Remember that you only want to click and reward until you a confident that your dog understands what you want, after that point, do away with the clicker and lessen the treat delivery until the dog will do the trick without requiring a click or a treat. Clicker training is part of the learning process only, once you are sure your dog has a good understanding of what you are teaching the clickers work is done.
Keep that in mind when you are training, if you don’t start lessening the treats, your dog will only perform a trick if there is certainty that they will get a treat afterwards. And that is a difficult habit to break them out of.
Just keep it simple, fun and energetic. If you and your dog are both enjoying yourselves… that means you are doing it right!
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