We always talk about being animal lovers here at Acoma. We love our furry friends, our cats, and -yes- dogs! They are our constant companions and keeping them happy and healthy means a long life of joy. When it comes to puppy dogs that includes training. Last time we talked about potty training dogs, this time around we wanted to discuss another method many may be familiar with in passing, clicker training dogs.
Why Clicker Training Dogs Works
Clicker training dogs is seeing an uptick in interest as canine professional celebrities have permeated our screens. It seems a magical power, to have your dog listen and act with a click! The way clicker training works is, like other forms of training based on association. When you tell your dog to sit they learn that word ‘sit’ and associate it with what comes next. Hopefully a delicious treat! But the fact is, it isn’t your pup becoming fluent in English as much as it is they are becoming familiar with certain sounds, as well as voice and body language. For the most part dogs learn to ignore all the words spilling out. That’s where clicker training dogs comes in.
Clicker training dogs just like verbal commands works off that principle of identifying commands and sounds with rewards. The difference is in the sound. The click from a dog training clicker is uniform. It is always the same sound and tone. It isn’t affected by emotion, or illness. This makes the clicker consistent, precise, easy to identify and recognize.
The sound is also quick. The click is immediate and allows for precise rewarding of behavior. While a solid ‘Good boy’ does a lot to lift your pal’s spirits, a quick click for good behavior and treat lets them know the exact behavior that is being rewarded, thus encouraged, thus trained.
How to Clicker Train Your Dog
Now that you understand the basics of why clicker training dogs is such an easy and powerful way to go about it, you may be curious as to how you can get started training Fido to be the best dang dog he can be! Here are the simplified 5 steps to training your dog with a clicker.
After a Click, Always Treat.
When identifying the behaviors you are looking to strengthen, remember to reward your pet immediately. It is important to begin associating the click with a treat, every time, even if you accidentally click. In the beginning the click means zero to your pooch, it is first necessary to associate it with treats and rewards.
You are the Key to Treats
This is what your dog must learn. In training your dog it is important not for your dog to first see the reward and know ‘Here is my time to shine!’ but to instead understand that if they do what you ask, a treat is possible. Keep treats stored in secure, secret containers, or carry them on you while not training. There are a few methods to this. However you do it, the goal is to create the desire in your dog to listen and do as you ask, not try for a treat.
Don’t Use the Clicker Improperly
Clicker training dogs relies on the clicker being a constant, static source of engagement. It is used to follow up proper behavior and reward. Do not use the clicker to grab your dog’s attention in the first place. This misuse will trigger the wrong feedback loops for your poch.
When teaching a dog a long, complex behavior, break it up into smaller parts. Just like you would do if you were learning something dififcult and new at work, breaking the task into smaller, easier to comprehend tasks will see you learning it for good. Working on each step with your dog with clickers and treats will ensure they learn the behavior and have it locked in before moving on to the next step.
Your dog will learn behaviors but if they are not practiced routinely they may find themselves slipping. It is important to consistently train new and refresh old behaviors and commands. By adjusting and teaching new behaviors your dog will stay engaged in the training process, not to mention learn a whole bunch of fun tricks to show off!
With all those methods figured out it is now time to practice, practice, practice. Get out there and use clicker training to have the best dog around town. Remember to always reward your dog’s good behavior. You don’t necessarily need to freely hand out choice cuts of steak every time, but praise, pets, or play are all good rewards for your furry best friend.