Dogs like to learn new things. This fact is due to their nature. All dogs, regardless of their breed, have this feature.
Over the years, various methods and ways of teaching a dog to behave have been tried.
These methods have been effective to vary degrees. However, in recent years, one of these methods has become popular. This method is clicker training.
How to start dog clicker training?
Clicker training – why is so effective?
A clicker is a small device that makes a characteristic short sound. When used during training, it is based on the dog’s automatic reflexes. The dog knows that for every well-done task it will receive a reward. Clicking on it means a snack for your dog.
A dog can very well associate the characteristic sound of a clicker and will try to get a reward. That’s why clicker training is so effective.
History of Clicker Training
The clicker was not originally used to work with dogs. At first, it was used to train dolphins. The training of aquatic animals required a slightly different approach.
For an animal to perform a given command, it was necessary to use only the reward-based method – positive training. The dolphin could not be punished – it was leaving as soon as he did not like something.
The clicker not only allowed some kind of communication with the dolphin but was also effective over long distances. The key to learning the behavior was to make the dolphin associate a certain behavior. Each click was rewarded with a prize.
Thanks to the use of the clicker, training of water mammals have become easier and started to bring the desired results very quickly.
The advantages of learning with the clicker were also used for training other species of animals. Dogs are the best example of this.
What is a dog clicker?
A clicker is not a complicated device. Most often it is a curved metal plate, which appears as a characteristic “click” when pressed. The whole device is housed in a plastic housing. Sometimes you can buy a clicker made entirely of plastic.
In order not to lose the clicker and always have it at hand, they are also equipped with a string or elastic band. Thanks to this, the clicker can be conveniently hung on the wrist.
How to train with a clicker?
Clicker training is not complicated and the whole process is based on a few steps. However, working with clicker differs slightly from traditional methods of learning. The basis is to encourage your dog to follow the commands by frequently rewarding him with food.
Besides, the clicker training takes place without penalty – it is a positive dog training. It is very important that the dog does not associate training with something bad. Sessions are relatively short so that the dog does not become discouraged quickly.
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The most important thing is to be systematic, consistent and self-confident during the training. The dog will quickly sense that we care about everything that went on in a good atmosphere. He will certainly return the favor by making rapid progress in his training.
The rule is that we only click when the dog satisfies our request. The exception to this rule is when the training starts. Then we have to make a habit in the dog that clicking means “reward”. In the initial phase of clicker training, click more often and give your dog a treat each time. When the dog learns this, we move on to the right training.
Successful clicker training – tips
Regardless of what tricks we teach your dog, e.g. sit, sit pretty or stay, we must respect the basic rules of working with a clicker. These rules should be remembered and applied consistently because they are the basis for learning.
Basic rules of clicker training:
- We always start with simple tasks. At the beginning we can pronounce a dog’s name – when it will react – we click and reward it. You can do the learning in any place, initially trying to click on the moment when the dog will be interested in us. Thanks to this, the dog will not miss any sound and clicking will not become one of many background noises for him.
- Clicker training should develop a habit in your dog that every click is rewarded. Don’t deceive him here, so he won’t quickly become discouraged from exercise.
- It is not recommended to click too often and in a chaotic way. Click only when your dog is doing what you want him to do. This is the only way your dog will associate a click with a prize.
- To see if your dog has understood what clicker training is all about, we can do it easily. When your dog is in a short distance and doesn’t pay attention to us, click on the clicker to surprise him. A dog who already understands the meaning of this sound should immediately direct his attention to us in search of a reward.
- During the actual workout, you only need to click once. Do not click several times in succession at short intervals. This can confuse your dog and will not associate a click with proper behavior in the future.
- One of the rules that should undoubtedly be followed is that a dog should not be called up with a clicker. A dog called in this way will quickly learn that a rewarding click occurs when it is too far away from us. Wanting to hear a click, he will run away from us more and more often.
- The most important feature of clicker training is its repeatability. Regardless of the trick, we teach our dog – after clicking on it, the dog is rewarded.
Note: If we apply all the guidelines in practice, the training of your dog will certainly be successful!
Dog clicker – benefits
Training your dog with a clicker has many advantages. First of all, learning is fast and effective. Traditional training is sometimes very time-consuming. For a dog to become stable, certain behaviors need to be repeated for months or, in extreme cases, even for years. On clicker training lasts much shorter. Normally it is a few weeks.
It is also important that at some point we can stop using the clicker. If the dog has developed a habit of responding to our instructions, with full responsibility we can resign from clicking. The habit will be so strong that whenever we order a dog to do a specific thing, the dog will do it regardless of the click.
Clicker training in daily life
Clicker training also has other advantages. They will be useful in everyday life. When our quiet dog passes other dogs, ignores food lying on the ground, or walks nicely on a loose leash – such behavior is always worth rewarding!
Amplifying this behavior is very easy with a clicker. All you have to do is click at the right moment and your dog will associate that what he has just done deserves a reward. Of course, he gets it right after clicking.
Dog clicker sound
Dogs have very good hearing and sensitive ears. The sound emitted by the clicker can be very loud for the dog. Therefore, be careful not to use the clicker too close to the dog. The sound of a clicker has one big advantage – it always sounds the same. A dog can distinguish the tone of a human voice. Changing it can sometimes unnecessarily stimulate or confuse your dog. When we use a clicker, there is no problem with that. After clicking the clicker, the dog does not have to think about it – it just knows that it deserves a reward.
Good sound in good time
Also, working with the clicker allows you to select the right behavior very precisely at the right time. Verbal praise given by a person is often delayed or lasts too long.
A dog is not able to associate them with a given behavior. The clicker sound is, therefore, the ideal answer to a dog’s behavior.
Remember, however, that there are also dogs that are extremely sensitive to any violent sounds. A sudden click can cause them anxiety or even fear. In the case of such dogs, you can try to put your hand in your pocket. The click sound will be weaker.