In this clicker training guide you will learn how to use a noise maker to teach your dog obedience while having fun at the same time. A clicker is a simple device that makes a "click" noise; we will teach your dog that this sound means "Good job!".
A clicker is a plastic box with a piece of metal inside, when you push the metal it "clicks!", that sound doesn't mean anything to your dog right now, so don't try it without teaching him first.
Some people may find that using a clicker is a little bit of a hassle because you have to remember to bring it with you every time you want to train your dog, and the truth is you could simply use a word or any sound with your mouth. But using the clicker has it's own advantages.
Let me tell you:
Getting started with clicker training: You will need...
You can buy any kind of clicker, I specially like these, designed by Karen Pryor. They are easy to use and the wrist band is essential.
Pet Training Clicker with Wrist Strap
You can also use any kind of treats to train your dog, however they should be very small. If you are going to buy treats make sure they are the size of pea or ones that are easy to break.
Zuke's Mini Naturals Dog Treats, Roasted Chicken Recipe, 16-Ounce
Trainers use the term "charge the clicker" to mean they need to teach the dog the meaning of it.
What is that meaning?... Great question!
Click means: Yes! That is exactly what I want you to do! you will get a treat for it. And if you do it again, you will get another treat! So, keep doing it!
Clicker training guide to "charging the clicker":
The animal must learn that the sound "click" predicts that a treat is coming.
...Does it sound familiar?
Yes! It's Classical Conditioning! (Read the article if you haven't yet).
It does not matter (yet) if your dog is doing something good or not. At this point you only want him to learn that "click" means "treat".
If you do this often enough, the sound itself will become a reward too!
Unfortunately, this does not mean that you can eventually stop giving treats altogether. If you stop giving treats after the click, your dog will learn through Extinction that the click does not predict a treat is coming anymore.
This doesn't matter though! Here is why:
My dog is afraid of the sound of the clicker!
Sometimes dogs will react poorly to a loud clicker. This is easy to solve though. Wrap it with layers of tape or cloth. This will dampen the sound a little bit and your pooch will not be afraid. Click and treat! click and treat! As your pet gets eager and happier, start removing layers, this will gradually increase the sound level but your dog should be staying happy if the treats keep coming!
Do I have to give a treat after every click?
Yes! You do. You want your canine friend to think that the click sound is the best thing in the world! You want him to do anything possible in order to make that sound happen! Don't worry though, you will cut down treats in half after the behavior is put on cue.
Continue to Clicker Training Guide Part 2: Clicker training free shaping.