Clicker Training for Dogs

photoLooking for a way to train your dog? You might want to consider clicker training, which has gained popularity among dog trainers across the country. This method makes use of a clicker, a small plastic device with a metal button that makes a distinct clicking sound when pressed.

Clicker training is simple and is based on positive reinforcement. It can be used to instruct your dog to sit or bark on command, as well as to perform tricks such as playing dead, rolling over, or shaking hands. Clicker training can be employed to reinforce natural behaviors and teach new actions.

Clicker training is an operant conditioning technique; you have to get your dog to associate the sound of the clicker with a food that he especially likes. Unlike a spoken word, a click is not heard in other circumstances and sounds the same every single time. Once that has been accomplished, your dog will follow your instructions promptly whenever you use the clicker.

For example, you want to teach your dog to sit. Place a treat near his nose and slowly move it over his head or towards his tail. Your pet will look up, follow the treat with his nose and start to sit down. The moment his bottom reaches the floor, press the clicker. Reward him with the treat and plenty of praise.

Repeat the process until your dog has associated the clicking sound with the command, and you can make him sit without a treat and just by using the clicker. You can then teach him another trick, but remember to press the clicker only when he performs the correct action. Otherwise, your dog will not be able to connect the clicking sound to anything and become confused about what it means.

Your dog is a smart animal but all training processes take time and patience. Some trainers use clicker training along with negative reinforcement, but this is ineffective because punishment only creates unwanted behavior. Despite its high success rate, clicker training may not work for some dogs. If you don’t see any results with this method, you can move on to another one.

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