How to Use Clicker Training to Communicate With Your Dog


General information about the tool – the clicker in focus

You’ve probably already heard of it or maybe even worked with it: with the clicker. It is a popular training tool. First, let’s clear up a few basic things about this tool. You probably know the game “hit the pot” from your childhood. Clicker training also works according to this principle. Your dog gets feedback from the clicker that he has done something right. The clicker acts as a positive secondary reinforcer. That means it only has an announcing character, namely on the primary amplifier. In this case the treat.

Why is this so important when you could give your dog the treat directly? In training, the right timing when giving praise is very important so that the dog can create a link . For example, if the praise comes too late, your dog will no longer be able to associate it with his previous behavior. With the help of the clicker, you can focus on rewarding your dog exactly when you want it. Immediately afterwards you give the treat.

How the clicker works

The way the clicker works is similar to the typical clicker from childhood. You press on it somewhere and you hear a noise. There are many different clicker models, but they all have one thing in common. They have a pressure point or button, which emits a clicking sound when pressed. Depending on the clicker variant, this noise can be louder or quieter. On some models, the volume can also be adjusted. There are also clickers with a double click. However, if your dog is unsure or sensitive to noise, you should either use a quieter clicker or press the clicker in your pants or jacket pocket until your dog gets used to the noise.

The training structure

Before the actual training with the clicker can start, you must first explain to your dog what the clicker actually means. After all, the clicker has no meaning for your dog at first, neither positive nor negative. So you have to positively condition the clicker first . For this you need 10 to 15 small and very tasty treats . Choose a relaxed position from which you can work comfortably and easily. Maybe you sit on the floor with your dog. Hold the treats in one hand and the clicker in the other hand. Your environment should be low-stimulus during trainingbe so that your dog is not distracted by other things that are more interesting to him. Your dog should be in your immediate vicinity, but doesn’t have to be doing anything specific. Now you click and give your dog a treat immediately afterwards. Repeat this process until all your treats are gone.

Clicker Training
Clicker Training

It is important in this exercise to observe this order and only give the treat after the click . After all, your dog should learn that the click alone announces the treat. If your dog instead perceives your movement before or during the click, he will accept this as an announcement and no longer just the click. To avoid incorrect connections, it is best to hold the hand with the treat behind your back and only let it move forward after the click to give your dog a piece of food. If you repeat this exercise a few times, your dog will learn over time that something good comes with every click, namely the treat.

The application in everyday life

You can use the clicker in many different ways in everyday life. It is a great tool when practicing tricks. Whether it is about giving the paw, which males do or, or is, is entirely up to you and your imagination. Your dog can also help you around the house or bring the newspaper. It should be fun for both of you and not compulsory .

The clicker can also support you and your fur nose in training the basics of dog training , such as sit, down or foot. A good and extremely useful exercise is also to set the eye contact on signal. You can also use the clicker for this.

In combination with the free forms, the clicker offers the great opportunity to use your dog very well cognitively . Your dog gets creative and tries to find out which of his actions lead to the desired click + treat.

Tips and Tricks

The timing of clickers is the be-all and end-all and forms the basis for successful training. If you are unsure whether your timing is right, you can find out with the help of a dog trainer .

There is also a good exercise to check or improve your timing. Take a ping pong ball or something similar and have the clicker ready. Ideally, you have a second person handling the ping-pong ball. The table tennis ball is thrown. With every tick of the ball on the floor or on the table, you have to click the clicker. It’s not always easy, but it’s good practice. Your dog should not be present during this exercise so that it does not have the opportunity to intervene and chase the ball. In addition, he is not constantly confronted with the clicking noise.

Another aspect of clicker training is that every click means the prospect of a treat for your dog. So it’s a promise on this treat. This also applies if you ‘ve “clicked” so to speak . This can happen to anyone. You should therefore not be frustrated, panic or stop the training right away. Give your dog the promised treat for the click and continue to do your training together with joy.

If you get clicker fever, you should still include enough rest periods in your training. It is better to only train for a few minutes two or three times a day instead of half an hour at a time.

Conclusion – is the clicker right for my dog ​​and me?

The clicker is a versatile training tool. However, like any other training aid, it should suit your dog and you. So it’s no use if the interest and the fun factor are only one-sided. You can only achieve your goal together when you and your dog are enthusiastic about training together. There are many books, online videos, courses, and webinars on the subject. A dog trainer can also give you and your dog an introduction to clickers and familiarize you with the intricacies of this training variant so that the error devil cannot creep in. He guides you, supports you and your dog and helps when things don’t quite work out.

See Also: How to Train Your Dog to Give Paw

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