How to use a clicker to train a dog

Do you want to learn how to use a clicker to train a dog? Clicker training has been there for many years and it is a very effective method to make your pet learn new things. A clicker is a small handheld device that is often mostly made of plastic. It has a (sometimes metal) button which makes a distinct sound when pressed.

What is clicker training?

Clicker training is the method of training your dog and rewarding him if he behaves positively. It is a How to use a clicker to train a dogscientific method of training an animal based on the fact that an animal will continue with a behavior that is rewarded.

Clicker training has been found to be very efficient may produce more effective results than traditional training. Clicker training can make it easy for you to teach your dog various tricks once it understands what the clicker is about. You will be able to communicate to your dog exactly what he is doing that earns him a reward.

How to use a clicker to train a dog

Before you start learning how to use a clicker to train a dog, there are things you need to know. These include:

You will need a clicker and some food treats. Using his favourite will make the job easier for you.  Before you start using the clicker to train your dog, first introduce the clicker to him and observe his response. Some dogs are sensitive to sounds. If your dog runs away the first time you use the clicker, the sound may be too harsh for him. You can soften the sound by wrapping a towel around the clicker.

Also, you want to make ensure that you have enough food treats. However, you should give him very a small quantity each time, because your training sessions may require lots of treats and your dog may end up overweight if you overfeed him. To avoid distractions during the training sessions, a quiet environment will be a good place to start clicker training with your dog. As your dog gets familiar with clicker training, you can start using the clickers in areas where there are distractions.

Clicker training has four basic steps

  1. Get the desired behavior from your dog
  2. Click when the desired behavior it is happening
  3. Reward your dog immediately
  4. The click signifies the exercise has ended. Let your dog enjoy his treat before you resume training.

Follow a click immediately with a treat

For your dog to understand the meaning of click, you have to give a treat immediately after each click. This will make him learn the positive effects of the clicking sound. The clicker should be used immediately when your dog performs an expected behavior. The clicking sound tells your dog that what he did will earn him a reward.

To make the clicker effective, you need to follow each click instantly with a treat, even if you clicked by mistake because it serves as a guarantee to your dog that he will get a treat immediately.

Use the clicker to teach your dog new behavior and give your dog a treat at each small step of the new behavior

The essence of using a clicker is to teach your dog new behaviors and refine the behaviors you have taught him before. Break down new behaviors into small steps, working on one step at a time. Using the clicker and rewarding immediately at each small step will help to shape a new behavior in your dog. It will continuously provide him with positive reinforcements as he is learning the new behavior. It will not only make the training sessions fun for him, but also make him more eager to perform the new behavior.

It is important to be sure your dog is good at that behavior before moving to the next step. This erases any confusion and will help your dog to learn exactly what you want him to do.  You can start with “lie down”, “stand”, “sit” and “come”.

Avoid using the clicker to get your dog’s attention

This is important when learning how to use a clicker to train a dog. The clicker is to train your dog and teach him the exact behavior that will earn him a treat. Any other use of the clicker, like using it to get your dog’s attention may send the wrong signal to him.

Dog clicker game

Dog clicker games and positive dog training have been used over the years to reinforce positive behaviors in dogs. There are different dog clicker games. One of them is playing a clicker game with a box. The goal of the game is to train a dog how to interact with his environment and achieve specific behavior.

This dog training game encourages your dog to offer his own behavior and you reward him for the behavior you like and ignore the behavior you don’t want.

How to play the dog clicker game

  • You can use any old cardboard box for this game or any other object that is not a box. You can start with a random item like a pillow, pan or book.
  • Have enough high-value dog treats and put them in your pocket or in a covering bowl and hide them.
  • You can let your dog be on a leash, or off-leash if you are sure he will stay and work with you.
  • Put the box or any object you use on the floor and get ready for the game. You will be clicking when your dog does anything that is related to the object such as a look, a sniff, a step, or a push.
  • Click your dog for behavior and toss the treat in different places around the box for your dog to move towards them. You can click again if your dog goes past the object or he steps on it. The goal is to get as much object action as possible and you can as well teach your dog that it is the box that is causing the click. So, you can toss some of the treats a little far from the box and let your dog decide whether to look, interact or move toward the box.
  • End the game by rewarding your dog with a nice jackpot of treats and fuss. Take away the object and keep it until the next game.

After some time, your dog will get the game and will start to interact with the object eagerly. This is when you can decide what you will reward. For instance, if you have been clicking and treating everything before, you can now click and treat only when your dog put his foot on the object. At this time, this is your goal – other behaviors are ignored. Once your dog understands this new game, you can change your goal again, and click and treat only when he has his two feet on the object. You can keep changing your goals to train him for specific behaviors.

Using the clicker training and game for your dog helps you and your dog understand each other more and get desired behavior.

> read more about dog obedience