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Beginners guide: Clicker training for dogs

Clicker training for dogs is about using positive reinforcement and is solely reward based learning. This mechanical device uses a short clicking noise to create new and rapid behaviors in your dog. Rewarding a dog through praise and/or a treat isn’t often quick enough for some dogs to create new skills. This kind of training is a way of communicating to your dog in a loving manner; it is a safe and effective method.

We can easily encourage bad behaviors without realizing. For example, your dog jumps up and tries places his paws on your shoulders, you then give him a cuddles. When a dog isn’t rewarded he’ll soon learn it’s boring. When a dog acts in this manner, fold your arms, turn your back to him and stand like a statue. If he walks in front of you, try this again or ask him to sit and reward appropriately.

Positives using clicker training for dogs

Clicker training for dogs should always be started off in quiet surroundings, and then gradually be built up to noisier environments. Most clicker training methods use only food as a reward and lots of it, in my opinion this is can be a very bad idea as your dog easily put on a lot of weight. For further information on training dogs with treats go to Better dog training treats suggestions.

Rewards ought to be done as much as possible with loving praise, this way your dog will not become overweight. However, initially rewarding your dog with food to help him like the idea is very good practice. To ensure your dog doesn’t put weight on lessen his daily dinners.

The clicker is only meant to identify fresh behaviors, so it should be discontinued once the new skill has been learned even complex behaviors. Complex behaviors are usually used for arts and movies etc.

If you’re undecided whether you want to use a clicker, try a retractable pen first, some pens have a top end that clicks up and down.

The clicker is like a camera; you’re trying to achieve the best shot to create positive memories. Should your dog do something positive, you’ll want him to remember that instruction, new skill or good behavior forever. In next to no time, your dog will be associating these clicks as delightful experiences, and as a result he will want to constantly please you.

The interesting thing behind this method of training is that your dog has to watch and listen for your cue. Your dog will become entirely fixed on your every move’ he is in effect totally trusting in you.clicker training for dogs

Start slowly and build up gradually, there is always so much to learn. Once your dog has become accustomed to the clicker for one type of productive behavior, it would be good to introduce more good behaviors. It is possible for your dog to learn a few commands at a time, but always move at your dogs pace.

For more information on what behaviors to introduce checkout ‘Become an expert at dog training commands‘.

When your dog has grasped a particular command, you could gradually introduce verbal statements such as saying ‘down’ and use a cue hand signal when you’re ready to wean your dog off the clicker. When introducing a command, your dog has to learn this new process of ‘click and reward’, if he doesn’t submit, then there is no click or reward.

Eventually, the hand signal with a bit size treat or cuddle will replace the clicker. Once the new behavior or skill has been learned, there is no need to carry on using the clicker.

Another technique apart from the clicker training for dogs is the pet corrector, this quickly and humanely detracts unwanted dog behavior. It is an amazing tool, is incredibly effective and is highly recommended.

Downside to clicker training for dogs

All dogs have different personalities and characters; one method of training does not fit all dogs. For example, some dogs respond more with a clicker, and some dogs respond better with a simple ‘well done’ or ‘yes’ or even just a treat.

Some owners believe that saying ‘yes’ enthusiastically can be as quick as a clicker if not quicker.

Some dogs can be very sensitive to a clicker. An alternative would be clicking a retractable pen, clicking your fingers or a gentle clap.

This could be a good starting point to test your dogs receptiveness. My dog understands now that when I clap it means NO, gradually overtime my clap evolved into a non-verbal command. I don’t have to do it very often but when I do he stands to attention, I then ask him to sit which is rewarded with a treat.

It can be difficult to use the clicker in noisy environments and it is possible a dog may become dependent on the clicker. Furthermore, clicker training for dogs or any other animal can not be used at long distances.

Clicker training for dogs takes patience, this is because a dog has to think about the prompting and then needs to be lured to the appropriate action.

With a clicker, you have to dig the device out of your pocket or go and find it, likewise with a treat, by this time the positive vibe could be lost. Furthermore, although clicker training for dogs is a great tool if you lose it, you’ll have to go out and buy another one, this then becomes expensive. This will create lost training time unless you buy a few.

About the author

Jennifer Pitts

I love pets and I love animals. I have 2 dogs and 3 cats and it's not enough for me.

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