First, clicker training is a positive reinforcement method. What that means is that we do not use punishment. We use only positive reinforcers. The first step is to obtain a clicker. These can be obtained from any pet supply store. Just ask for a clicker. You also want to have lot of soft training treats that can be broken into very small pieces. You can also use things like hot dogs, chicken, steak, or anything else that your dog really loves. Next, you need you decide what behaviors you want to teach you dog. For the purpose of explaining we will use SIT as the new behavior. You then watch for the dog to do that behavior. Most dogs will offer sits naturally throughout the day. When you see the rear end of the dog start to lower, click the clicker. This will “mark” the behavior or tell the dog what it did right. After you mark the behavior you give your dog a reward (treat, game of tug, attention). Keep repeating this routine until the dog is confidently repeating the behavior. This shows that the dog knows exactly what is earning the reward. You can then add the “cue” word SIT. Eventually you can add more and more distractions, duration and distance. You will get lightning fast sits all by using a clicker.
Clicker training is just one of many forms of training. However, I feel it is the most effective way to train an animal. With clicker training you will see accelerated learning. Your dog will learn things much quicker than with other methods. It allows you to mark the exact moment a behavior happens. Therefore, there is no confusion for the dog as to what you are reinforcing. In other words, the dog doesn’t have to figure out what it did right after 10 different behaviors. It will also remember what it has learned years later. Most importantly it will strengthen the bond you have with your dog. You will also be able to teach your dog behaviors you never dreamed possible. The possibilities are endless with clicker training. It allows both you and your dog to be creative. Last, it is fun for both you and the dog. Some dogs will even find clickers and bring them to you because they love clicker training so much.
You may ask, “Why not just use a word, like, Good Dog or Yes. While these can be good if you do not have a clicker around to use, a clicker is better. The clicker is a distinct sound. It tells the dog EXACTLY what behavior earned them a reward. Using words is not a quick and not as distinct. It is also proven that clickers fire neurons in the brain that using words do not fire. This means that clickers will produce quicker learning.
So let’s review the three basic steps in clicker trainer. First, get the behavior. Second, mark the behavior. Third, reinforce (reward) the behavior.
Give clicker training a try. You will not be sorry. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact Cloud K9 Academy.