Dog Clicker Training: Obedience Is Only A Click Away
Do you think that hearing a clicking sound is enticing to dogs? Of course, the answer is no. To them, it is just another noise that they can simply ignore. But in clicker training, this clicking sound is the key element to encouraging your dog to obey a command and learn tricks. But how is this possible?
Since the clicking sound alone will not get your dog's attention, the first thing that you need to do is associate the 'click' with a treat of any kind. This means, teaching your dog to understand that when he hears a click, something good will happen. Establishing this cause and effect relationship should always be the first phase in any clicker training. This is the most basic and most important foundation of this dog training method.
So in the beginning, you will not incorporate any action commands just yet. So set aside first the stay, come, sit, stand, and other commands. That part will come later on. What you need to focus on at this point is to make your dog crave to hear the clicking sound. If your dog knows that a click is always followed by a treat, he will start craving to hear that click again. So basically, this is much like a psychological conditioning.
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To start the training, wait for your dog to get busy with something. It could be playing, walking, or inspecting something that he finds strange. Then produce a noise with your clicker device and make sure that you dog can hear it. Immediately after sounding a click, give the dog a treat. You can start with dog delicious dog foods and gourmets. If you know your dog's favorite, it is better to start with that.
Then repeat this process for about 15 to 20 times per training session. Do this on different situations when the dog is doing different kinds of things. This way, you will be teaching your dog to respond to the click whatever it is that he is doing. After a while, your dog will start to realize that the click is a signal to a delicious treat that is about to come. You will know that you have already established this if your dog becomes excited and enthusiastically comes to you when you sound a click.
Once that you have achieved this cause and effect mental conditioning, your dog will no longer be content with just waiting for the clicking sound, instead, he will try to earn it. So the next phase in your clicker training is to teach your dog how he can earn a click. This is when you will introduce the verbal and signal commands such as sit, come, down, and others. Each time that your dog correctly obeys an action command, sound the click immediately and give him a treat. This way, your dog will learn that by accomplishing a task correctly, he will earn a click, and thus a treat.
But always remember that clicker training only serves as a bridge and it is not permanent. As your dog begins progress with his training, you will start to gradually withdraw the use of a clicker and make your dog understand that doing a task correctly will earn him treat, instead of earning a click which leads to a treat.
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Roger A. Caras