Clicker training is a fast-growing trend among professional dog trainers and dog owners. Experts claim this method provides gentle encouragement to the dog and yields results quicker than other methods. Clicker training helps the dog pinpoint the behavior that triggers a reward, cutting learning time in half.
Conditioning the Clicker
Prior to holding a clicker training session with your dog, it's important to teach the dog to associate the click with a treat. To teach this, get the dog's attention and click, then immediately give a treat 10 to 20 times. After this, your dog will expect the treat after it hears the clicking sound.
Housebreaking with the Clicker
Using the clicker to housebreak a puppy or dog requires a bit of patience but can be done in less time than other methods. Take your dog outside to its designated potty area and wait. When your dog eliminates outside, click and then treat. In a short time, your dog will associate potty breaks with a positive experience and it will then become more appealing to use the proper areas.
Teaching Sit, Stand and Down Using the Clicker
Use the clicker to teach basic commands such as "sit," "stand" and "down" by clicking and then giving a treat each time your dog follows your commands. Clicking at the exact moment your dog obeys and then immediately giving him a treat will teach your dog which action elicits a click.
Teaching "Leave It" Using the Clicker
To use the clicker to teach your dog to obey the "leave it" command, begin by tempting your dog with a tasty treat, but do not allow him to have it. Keep the treat at your dog's level but prevent it from reaching the treat, saying "leave it." Eventually, your dog will give up and stop trying. As soon as your dog turns its head away from the temptation, click then offer a treat that is tastier than the one used to tempt. Practice this often, and increase the value of the treats you use to tempt, but always use a more appealing treat as a reward. Eventually, your dog will learn to obey the "leave it" command regardless of the situation.
Clicker Training Tips
Puppies have short attention spans, so keep training sessions short. If you find that clicker training is not working, switch to different treats. Always use tiny treats so that the dog can consume them quickly. Some dog owners choose to use clicker training sessions to feed regular meals instead of treats.
We'd love to hear about your success (or not) with clicker training. Let us know!