Clicker training uses sound to create a language between animals and their owners. When you’re clicker training your pet, you hold the tiny plastic box in the palm of your hand and then press down the metal tongue to make the sound. The clicker is followed by a treat, which is canine equivalent of giving people money for a job well done.
Before you start clicker training, you need to teach your dog what the clicker means. To do this, have your dog in the room while you’re watching TV with a container of tasty treats in reach. Place a treat in one hand and the clicker in the other. Click once and open your hand to give your pet the treat. Go back to watching TV, then repeat the process a several times at varying intervals. When your dog starts to look at you as soon as he hears the click, you’re ready to move on to the next step.
Clicker training works best when you limit yourself to working on one behavior at a time, such as sitting or lying down. Limit the length of your session to 15 minutes or less to respect your pet’s short attention span. Start clicker training in a relatively calm environment so your dog does not become unnecessarily distracted.
Here’s the general process for clicker training:
- Give your pet the command for the behavior.
- Click once when your pet does the behavior you want him to do. It’s helpful to pretend you’re taking a picture of the behavior.
- Immediately follow the click with a tasty treat.
- Try to end the session on a high note where your dog has done the desired behavior and been rewarded with a treat.
If you don’t have a clicker or don’t want to use a device that requires a spare hand, you can use a one syllable word like “Good” or “Yes” to accomplish the same goal. Just remember to say the word at the same volume and in the same tone of voice each time to create consistency between training sessions.
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