Clicker Training

12 Jan

There are lots of different training techniques out there, but i find that clicker training works really well. Juts like reward based training, it involves giving your dog some kind of treat (food, a toy, praise etc) in order to reinforce the behavior. What using a clicker does, it let the dog know exactly what it is being rewarded for. Dogs don’t rationalize  and so unless they are rewarded straight away, they don’t know what they are getting the treat for. As long as the clicker is used at the right moment, it allows a dog to understand exactly what it is, that it has done right.

 

In order to begin clicker training with your dog, first you need to teach your dog to associate the sound of the clicker, with whatever treat you are using. In my case, i used food. You would spend a while with your dog, without giving any commands, just using the clicker and giving the reward. To check that your dog has understood and now associates the two things together, you can wait until your dog becomes focused on something else, or moves away a little, click and then wait and see if the dog expects food. This process shouldn’t take long (i think Maya learnt it after about 5 clicks).

Then you are ready to use your clicker in training. When giving a command, you wait until the dog gets into the position wanted, and as soon as it does, click, then reward. So for example, if you give the command sit, you need to use your clicker as soon as the dog sits back on its hind legs, bum on the ground.

To begin with, you will want to give your dog a reward after every click, but eventually you will be able to use fewer rewards. The dog will understand that because you have used the clicker, the reward will come soon, even if it is not straight away. After all, you don’t want your dog to depend completely on getting lots of treats for its whole life.

 

Clicker training has worked out very well with me. I was unsure of using this method initially, thinking that i would be able to just use rewards. Whilst rewards only does work, i found that using a clicker makes the learning process much quicker. Maya is able to pin point exactly what it is that she has done right, and therefore understands much more quickly what she needs to continue doing. For a video of Maya’s clicker training in action, see the next post.

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