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Clicker Training Basics

Changing specific behaviors of your dog can be difficult, especially if they are a small part of a larger behavior. This is an area where clicker training can be extremely useful. Clicker training helps you to reinforce specific actions or behaviors so your dog can quickly become better trained. Grab your training treats and we can get started!

How Does Clicker Training Work?

Clicker training started to gain widespread attention a few decades ago, when it was used to train marine animals. It involves using something to “mark” the desired behavior - in this case, the clicker. Originally, whistles (that could be heard underwater) were used, and some trainers use a specific command word. The key is to mark the behavior with the specific sound, and your dog will know that a reward follows. If rewards follow, they will start to repeat the behavior.

Clicker training is very effective in changing behaviors or helping reward a certain element. If you use the command “sit,” some dogs will sit, then lay down, then speak, then roll over… They just run through all the commands they know, hoping to get the reward.

With clicker training, you click as soon as your dog’s butt hits the ground. They will then associate that specific action with the “sit” command, and ideally will better learn which commands call for which behaviors.

Getting Started

Once you have your clicker (or whatever repetitive sound you will be using), you need to get your dog to associate it with a reward. Count out several treats, click, and give them one. Click, and give them another. Click, and give them another. Very quickly, your dog will realize that the click sound means a reward is coming.

Now, move to a command they now. Issue the command and, as soon as they have executed what you want them to do, click and give them the reward. The two key elements to finding success with a clicker are to click immediately when the proper behavior is shown and to give a treat within a few seconds of clicking.

When Is Clicker Training Effective?

As long as you remember the two key elements, clicker training can complement any other type of obedience training you are working on. Commands like “down,” if your dog jumps on company are useful - after saying the command, click when all four paws are on the floor. “Speak” is a useful command to learn, as then it is easier to get your dog to stop barking, is also easier to teach with clicker training.

Clicker training is useful for a lot of dogs, and can help solve frustrating behaviors. Give it a try and see if it’s something your dog can get the hang of. Check out more great dog advice at Bio-nihilator, and grab a bottle to help clean up any accidents around the house!

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