A how-to guide for clicker training

A how-to guide for clicker training

The great thing about clicker training is that it doesn’t matter about the complexity of dog tricks or even the age of your dog; from teaching them sit to opening a door, as long as your dog has motivation, clicker training will work!

So, what is a clicker?

It’s a cheap (couple of bucks) plastic tool that as the name suggests, make a fast ‘click’ sound at the push of a button.

Why are they used in dog training?

Once the dog has conditioned (learnt to associate) the click with a reward, they are used to mark correct behaviours with a consistent sound that never changes. They can even be used to signal a reward of little steps a desired behaviour they offer – we call this ‘shaping’. Shaping behaviour is actually how clickers work best!

How do I do it?

The steps:

  1. After clicker conditioning, start with something simple (e.g. sit/shake/paw) – even something your dog already knows.
  2. Timing is crucial! Click at the precise moment your dog shows a correct behaviour or a step towards it.
  3. Immediately (within 1 – 3 seconds max) follow this with a treat. This keeps their drive and motivation strong!
  4. Click and repeat for each correct behaviour.
  5. Once you’re finished, make it clear to your dog that the training is over. You can do this with a release word like “free” and/or grabbing a toy to play with.

Top tips:

–  Have your treats in a training pouch or in your pocket, not in your hand. You want their focus away from the treats.

– To avoid your dog losing interest, keep training sessions short, say 5 repetitions.

What does it look like?

When trying to teach “touch” (e.g. for your dog to touch an object), start by holding your hand out – straight like a ruler – presenting the back of it roughly 30cm away from their face. Your hand in this case is the target object, so as soon as they touch their nose to the back of your hand, click and reward.

Mastering “touch” or want to know how to transfer your success to another skill?

Fun fact Ethical Dog Services founder Emilia, is a qualified dog behaviorist/trainer has taught a dog to bring her a tissue then put in the bin after it’s used! If you want to learn more about clicker or obedience training, give us a call on 0403 433 399 or contact us via our website.

Written by Jacqui Domanski 07/10/20



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