Clicker Training 101- Lesson 6 – Clicker Training Your Dog


Lesson 6 - Clicker Training Your Dog

When it’s time to train your dog, think about these things:

We talked about conditioning. When you first begin clicker training, your dog is responding to classical training (the Pavlov example) which is, he will respond because he wants the reward.

But in the end, it’s operant conditioning that does the full job here. When your dog hits his marks, he’s doing so in order to get the reward. He’s not behaving out of habit, but because he wants and enjoys the reward.

Clicker training is considered much more humane than many other kinds of training. There’s no leash, no choke collar, no commands in a firm voice. You keep your voice smooth, low and controlled

In the end, however, the clicker does the talking.

You are looking to shape new behaviors. You don’t demand that the dog comply, but reward him when he does. If he doesn’t comply, you keep working until he does comply, hears the click and gets the reward.

So, let’s get into the details.

1. Stand in front of your dog with the clicker at your side in one hand and a treat in the other.

2. Don’t emphasize the clicker. Keep it to your side. It doesn’t matter what it looks like at this point. What matters is what it sounds like. Be sure you have treats available, but while the timing must be exact with the clicker, the treat can come al little late if need be.

3. Give your dog a command. Say, “sit” and wait for your dog to comply. When he does, click the clicker immediately. Ideally, you’ll click while the dog is in the process of sitting down, not after he does.

4. Getting your timing perfect can take time. In the beginning, you likely won’t be able to click while your dog is performing the command. The timing will be off. But that’s OK. Click the clicker as soon as you can, as quickly after the behavior as you can.

5. Follow the click with a treat. Again, worry about your clicker timing first, and don’t worry so much about the timing of the treat, though it should come as quickly as possible after the behavior is acknowledged with a “click”.

6. The treat is important, however, so be sure to hand your dog a treat after you click and then stand still. Don’t stop giving treats until the training is well established. We’ll go over that in a bit.

7. Try to keep your voice even. You can say “good” if you want when you give the dog a treat, but you don’t need to.

In fact, the clicker will eventually take the place of words for your dog. That is, when he hears the click he knows that you are saying, “yes” to his performing the command correctly.

8. As we mentioned before, make sure the treats are initially high-quality and desirable. Once you and your dog have worked on clicker training for a bit, you can work to reduce the quality of the treats, moving from fresh meat to packaged treats, to simple kibble. The treat will become less important to your dog, then, but he will perform in order to her the “click” confirmation of his good behavior.

9. Eventually, you’ll be able to phase the treats out altogether. Your dog will respond to hearing the click alone. Many believe this is one of the great advantages to clicker training – your dog begins to respond properly and behave in the manner you want by hearing the click and no longer demanding or expecting the treat.

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