Clicker Training Your Puppy
Training your new dog with a clicker is hands down the easiest and most reliable way to teach them appropriate behavior. The reasons that this method works so well is due to its focus on positive force free reinforcement rather than punishment. The task of clicker training is very simple, as it requires using a simple clicking sound when the puppy behaves the right way, followed by some type of treat or reward.
Clicker training has been used for many years on a widespread list of animals including, but not limited to birds, sea animals such as whales and sea lions, bears, jungle cats, and domestic dogs and cats. For all of the animals being trained with a clicker, the process remains constant. A verbal command is given, followed by a click when the action is performed. Eventually, the click is no longer required, as the animal will simply perform the requested task. This is referred to as conditioning. You are conditioning the dog to do the things you want him to do, but avoid negative unwanted behaviors. The clicker is simply a means to help train the dog; it doesn’t perform the training on it’s own. However, it should be noted that using a clicker over other forms of traditional animal training has been proven to reduce the amount of time necessary to train the animal by about 30%.
As far as cost and acquisition is concerned, a clicker can be purchased at any pet store for a few dollars each. It is recommended that you purchase a few clickers and keep them on hand at all times during the training process. You should be prepared to teach every member of your family how to use the clicker to teach and reward positive behavior to the dog. In addition to the clicker, remember to carry a supply of treats to be given during the clicker training. The treats will help speed up the clicker training process.
This type of training can be used to teach and reward all kinds of behavior. The following is an example of how to teach your puppy to sit using the clicker training method. Teaching a dog to sit is the backbone of helping your dog understand who is in charge and how they should behave to get your attention.
Training Your Puppy To Sit With A Clicker:
- Select a cue word or phrase along with a hand motion that will go along with it. ‘SIT’ is always a good choice, for obvious reasons. Your hand motion could be an open hand with your palm facing down, or a pointer finger pointing down at the puppy.
- Give the dog the command and the hand motion at the same time. This will need to be done multiple times until the puppy actually sits down. You should be prepared to gently and calmly assist your puppy by placing his bottom on the ground.
- Once the dog sits, press the clicker and then follow the sound immediately with a food treat. The sound of the clicker alerts the puppy that he has done the correct thing. The dog will hear the cue, sit down, hear the click and receive a treat.
- Repeat this training with the dog regularly for several weeks. The puppy will not actually understand the command right off the bat and will need this done repeatedly until the connection with the verbal cue and the action is made.
- After many days of clicker training have been performed, don’t always reward the dog with the food treat. In exchange for the food treat, give the dog verbal praise and positive attention. The dog will need to learn that he must always perform the requested behaviors, even in the absence of food.
- After the conditioning has set in you will be able to command the behaviors and get the dog to perform them without the clicker OR the food treats. As long as your visual cues remain consistent, the puppy will learn very quickly to respond to your visual cue, even in the absence of the verbal cue.
Clicker training can be used to teach your dog all kinds of behavior in addition to the simple ‘SIT’ command. You can teach your puppy to lie down, go into the crate, come when called, calm down, and even to heel when walking with the use of a clicker. All of your training needs can be accomplished without ever resorting to punishment, unkind physical force or any other demoralizing behavior. When your dog behaves well he will be rewarded with affection and a food treat, and when he does not behave well, simply ignore the dog all together and the behaviors will soon disappear.
Puppies are like sponges in that you can pretty much train them to do anything you want. You can train your dog to ring a bell to notify you that they need to go potty and even train them to sit next to their full food bowl until you give them verbal permission to start eating. Always remember that the more time you spend training your puppy, the more they will enjoy learning these new things in order to please you.
A well behaved dog is a happy dog! Get out there and start clicker training today!