23 Free Dog Clicker Training Tips
for Best Results

Free Dog Clicker Training Tips for the beginner clicker trainer. This dog training technique is fun and, actually, very easy. However, getting a few pieces of advice can help you and your pooch learn faster and better.

There are a few common mistakes that people tend to make when clicker training their dog, these are easily avoidable once you know what they are and why they can set you back. For example, getting rid of the treats too soon is a huge and very common mistake.

This list of free dog clicker training tips will help you improve your timing, another key concept when working with your dog. If you are too late clicking, your dog may have a hard time figuring out what to do.

The way you organize your training sessions can also have a huge effect on your dog's ability to learn. Most dog will tire or get bored pretty quickly and it is up to you to recognize this and be able to motivate your canine friend to go on, or take a break.

Free Dog Clicker Training Tips:
The Clicker

dog clicker training tips

1- Alternatives to the noise maker.

two clickers by DT

If you really don't want to use the clicker device you can use your tongue to make a "Click" sound instead. Make sure you can make this sound easily and follow all the tips below to have great timing!

2- Is your dog afraid of the click sound?

If your pet is afraid of the clicker, wrap it in layers of cloth or tape to muffle the sound. Then take one layer at a time as he gets used to the sound. This should happen pretty fast since treats always come after clicks!

3- The clicker is not a remote control!

Do not point it at your dog. Instead put your hand behind you back or keep it to your side and click whenever your pet is doing the right thing. Dogs are visually oriented animals, this means that they will use any body cue you give them. You want them to respond to the "sound", not your arm movement!

Free Dog Clicker Training Tips:
The Treats

4- Awesome dog treats

Regular kibble or even specially bought dog treats might not do it. Use really yummy pieces of food instead. Ideally you will start with food your dog doesn't regularly eat like bits of chicken, cheese or beef.

5- Use a variety of treats

Mix together really yummy food with regular kibble, pieces of carrot, celery or apple. This will keep your dog "hooked" hoping he will get the good one next time!

It also ensures that you are giving him some healthy treats as well. You can also use play time or any other activity your dog loves to do as a reward!

6- Size matters, but not the way you think

The size of the treat should be about half of your pinky's fingernail. If the treat is too big your dog will get full in no time…and potentially overweight! Canines don't care about the size of the food but they do care about the taste.

7- Train your dog while he is hungry

If pick to have your training sessions right after breakfast or dinner, your dog will not be motivated to work for food!

8- Give the treat AFTER the click

The brain is capable of associating two events as long as they happen within 1-2 seconds of each other. That is why timing is important when training your pet.

You have to give a treat as your pooch is doing the correct behavior. The clicker acts a "bridge" (a way to extend this 2 second rule). Instead of giving your dog food directly for his behavior, you click it! and then…you can give him a treat with some time to spare.

Note: there should be no more than a couple of seconds between the click and the treat! So, the clicker buys you some time...but not much!

Free Dog Clicker Training Tips:
Improve YOUR technique and timing

9- Play the shaping game

This is a really fun game in which you try to clicker train another person without using words. Follow the link for complete instructions.

10- Clicker train another species

Expert sign by Vladimir Neno

I realize this is one of the weirdest free dog clicker training tips, but it's true! The most popular one among dog trainers are chicken! But anything else will work too. You will notice that different species require different things. For example, cats are not as food driven as dogs are, so their responses will be slower (unless you train your cat after a fasting day). Fish are another option but instead of the clicker you might want to tap the glass or the water as the signal. You can even clicker training your kids!

11- Click the TV

While you are watching a show on TV click every time someone says the word "news" or anything relevant depending on the show. This is great muscle training to perfect your timing.

12- Videotape yourself

OK, this one is tough. Specially if you are, like me, very shy. It is not a must, but if you are OK videotaping yourself and watching for errors do it!

13- Teach clicker training to someone else

This has two advantages. 1) You spread the word! 2) Watching someone else going through the learning process will help you realize what is important when clicking.

14- Form a clicker training group

Get together with other dog parents for chat, snacks and clicks! Come up with silly competitions, clicker train each others dogs and learn from one another.

Free Dog Clicker Training Tips:
Make the best of your training sessions

15- Have a plan but be flexible

Clicker training is based on the method of free shaping a behavior. When shaping a behavior you reward your canine friend for smaller approximations to the end goal. It is important to have a plan, what are you going to click next? And after that? It is also important to be flexible. Your dog might learn faster or slower and you need to be able to adapt your plan accordingly.

16- Short and frequent training sessions

The perfect amount of time for a training session is 3-5 minutes. Have 5-10 of these sessions throughout the day depending on your schedule. This way your dog will learn faster and without getting burnt out.

17- Always end with a positive note

This is extremely important. If your dog just did the perfect behavior.

STOP!

Take a break and resume later. If you ask your dog to repeat it, he probably won't and the training session will turn frustrating…but if you take a break you will notice that he will get to that perfect behavior fast!

18- Have fun!

Never train your dog if you are in a bad mood, stressed, tired or particularly impatient.

19- Click DURING the correct behavior

If you click after it happens…it's too late. If your dog is not "getting-it" it is probably because your timing is late and you are clicking something else. Pay attention and click on time!

20- Don't click more than once

Click one time per correct behavior. You can use Jackpots as rewards (many treats in a row) but the click should be done only one time.

21- Go back a step

If your canine friend seems to be stuck on a behavior, go back to an easier version and start building on again slowly. Your pet needs reinforcement to keep going.

22- Fade the clicker away!

Use the clicker ONLY to train NEW behaviors. Once your pooch is giving you the behavior often during a training session you can add a verbal command. Then the clicker should be gone! Use a Marker Word instead to keep rewarding the behavior as needed.

23- Never use the clicker to "call" your dog

The click means you did something correct! Don't make the meaning confusing to your dog. Teach your dog a reliable recall instead.

Hope these free dog clicker training tips were useful.

If you have any free dog clicker training tips to share, you can write them in the box below.


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