Clicker training is an alternative way to give your dog orders without having to bark like one yourself. You can actually train other animals like parrots and cats as well. Here’s how to do it.
Let your dog become familiar with the clicker. Push and release the clicker to make a two-toned click. After clicking, give your dog a treat, so that the dog will connect the clicking sound to a tasty reward.
Keep your practice sessions short, at least five minutes each day every other hour. Better yet, incorporate the clicking in you and your dog’s daily routine. An ideal place to do clicker training is a quiet place where your dog can hear you most clearly.
Start training your dog on simple actions that your dog does on its own. Do it as your dog performs that action, not after. For example, as your dog sits down, click twice and give your dog a treat. You can also do this for other actions like coming towards you, following a target object or touching your hand with its nose.
Don’t expect your dog to understand it immediately. Don’t get frustrated if it stops in the middle of the desirable action while clicking.
Click only once to express special approval for a certain action, and increase the number of treats you feed your dog after.
You can get rid of bad behavior by clicking to emphasize good behavior. For example, don’t click when your dog relieves in the wrong spot, but click when it does, followed by a treat. Don’t click when your dog pulls the leash, but click when it doesn’t. Avoid scolding the dog, as it will only make things harder for your dog to learn and obey.
Encourage your dog even if it makes small or accidental movements towards the right direction. For example, if you want your dog to come towards you, you must click and feed a treat every time it makes a movement to do so. This is called shaping a behavior, and soon your dog will put the pieces together and understand what kind of behavior you are asking from it.
After a while, your dog may start showing the desirable behavior spontaneously to see if it generates a click. Click during or after the desirable behavior is done, and ignore it if the cue isn’t given. You can also start pairing word signals or hand gestures to help the dog differentiate what behavior you would like to see from it.
Again, don’t scold the dog. It does not mean to disobey you, it simply means that your dog hasn’t gotten around to connecting your clicks with desirable behavior. Mixing your clicking training with scolding, shouting and leash-jerking will only mix signals and make it more difficult for you and your dog.
Clicker training means that you have to observe your dog closely for at least 15 minutes a day. It can be easier than you think. Just take it slow and steady, and soon you and your dog will have a better understanding of each other. Remember, accurate timing of clicking while your dog is doing the desirable behavior is key.