For those of us who are enduring a blizzard in the New England area today and need a fun activity for your dog, try some clicker training! New to the Clicker? The clicker is a small handheld device that makes a distinct “click” sound when you press it. Repeated pairing of the clicker sound with a reinforcer such as a treat makes the sound become what is called a conditioned reinforcer. This simply means you have taught your dog that the sound of the click means food or some other reward is coming. The clicker is a wonderful way of letting your dog know that what she did at the exact moment the click was heard is what earned her the reward.
You may also say a verbal marker like “yes”, which like the click is paired with a reinforcer to help your dog know what she did at the exact moment she heard “yes” earned her a reward.
While both markers are used, most professional trainers, will agree that the clicker most accurately pinpoints behaviors.
Some Clicker Tips:
- Prepare yourself with a handful of small soft treats.
- Practice the click on your child or friend as timing is key!
- Click during the desired behavior, not after it is completed. The timing of the click is crucial. Your pet will most likely stop the behavior when she hears the click, reward with a treat!
- Click when your dog does anything you like. Begin with something easy like a sit, down, paw raise.
- If your dog performs the behavior perfectly then follow with a Jackpot, which is several treats at once! Be enthusiastic!
- Keep your training sessions short, several 5 minute sessions are better than 30 minutes of repetition.
- Fix bad behaviors by clicking each good behavior, like when your pup potties in the correct place!