23 Jul Effectively Using a Clicker in Dog Training
Using a clicker can be very helpful in training your dog. We use clickers regularly in our San Antonio dog training and Austin dog training classes. Over time, it has shown to be an extremely useful training tool for dogs of all ages.
Although we use the clicker in most of our adult dog training and puppy training courses, there is no magic in the clicker itself. A clicker is simply a bridge from acceptable behavior to the reward. When trained properly, a dog learns that the moment they hear a “click,” a reward will follow.
This is beneficial because no matter how long it takes to give the reward, the pup understands the reason why they are getting the reward. You can use any sound or word to substitute a “click”. Some trainers use verbal praise, such as a “good boy” in substitution of the click. Others will use a different mechanism to make a particular noise. As for me, I choose to make the click from my mouth. It reduces the amount of stuff held in my hands and works for most of my clients. It doesn’t really matter how or what you do, as long as you do it consistently. Your dog needs to understand that the “click” or signal means a treat each and every time. Consistency is key!
While the clicker does become an instant attention-getter for most dogs, I recommend never using the clicker as a means to get your dogs attention. It sends a conflicting message to the dog and undermines the effectiveness of the training in the first place. Although it’s a common mistake amongst rookie trainers, I recommend avoiding it. The only reason I would ever do this is if I wanted to test the impact or meaningfulness of the clicker.
In a test case, I would have the dog off randomly doing something in the house or yard, then I would “click”. If the dog comes flying back to me, I know the clicker has meaning to it. It should be like a firecracker going off. If it’s not, then the clicker isn’t meaningful enough and the reward has given the dog little motivation.
A common question among dog owners is “when do I phase out the clicker?” In my experience, there will never be a point where I phase out the clicker or marker. If anything, I extend the requirements and ask for more obedience behaviors before I click or reward the dog. Initially, I will click for every behavior and reward, but soon I will focus on advanced work asking the pup to do more to perfect the behavior to receive the “click”. This works great for when I want the dog to stay in behavior longer. If I want my dog to heel for 10 seconds straight or maintain eye contact for 10 seconds straight, I will extend the time between “clicks”. Feel free to click away friends, pups are better for it!
At the end of the day, the clicker is a tool, not a magic wand. It is a tool used in conjunction with other tools here at Patriot Dog Training. If used properly, you can create an amazing communication that your dog understands. You will build a better bond through this communication. With your confidence building as an owner, you will learn that you can do anything using the correct tools. It’s important that your reward must be something that the dog loves, needs, and desires.
Remember, this is just one of many tools used to train your dog. Relying on just one tool can really reduce your ability to excel in all obedience situations. Having various other correction options allows you to have a wide array of training options to safely work within any situation. Fill your tool box with “tools” and train on!
For more coaching and training techniques, consider our group training classes, where we not only work with your dog, but also help you become better at training and communicating with your pup. As always, feel free to contact our team to inquire about our services by sending us an email, or calling the dog training professionals at 830-229-7141.