Clicker training is the methodology of train your dog, cat or any other animal pet to behave well in a desired action in any place using a click sound produced by a Clicker. Your pet can be trained to go to the toilet for the desired action, or do some other useful action on your command.
It is also possible to hire a dog trainer or train your dog in a dog training school, but training your dog yourself will increase the relationship of your dog with you and it will increase the chance of making you, the friend and the master of your dog.
Training your dog can be a fun too in your spare time to enjoy your life with your pet.
What Is Dog Clicker Training?
Dog clicker training is the use of a small clicker to train a dog through positive reinforcement to act in certain ways. The clicker gives a trainer a very precise way of letting an animal know when they have done a desired behavior. It is a method that enables a trainer to train or guide an animal by positive reinforcement, rather than through punishment or correction.
What a trainer does during clicker training is condition an animal to respond to the noise of a clicker. They teach the animal that the sound of a clicker means that a reward is coming. They use the conditioned reinforce (clicker noise) to mark the correct movement and back it up with a primary reward (food etc.).
Why Does a Trainer Use a Clicker at All?
A clicker is a far more precise way of marking a desired behavior. It is far faster to “click” than to say the words “good dog” for example.
With a clicker, a trainer can mark the exact second when the desired behavior is done. The idea of clicking is to catch the animal in the process of doing the behavior rather than afterwards. They then can offer the reward.
As the animal gains an understanding of what it is that the trainer is looking for, the trainer is able to use the clicker to modify or shape the animal’s behavior a little bit at a time until the complete desired result is achieved.
Important Things to Consider in the Dog Clicker Training
In the dog clicker training, the way you perform the training is called operant conditioning and differing from the classical conditioning. In this way of dog training, the dog trainer encourages the animal to behave in a certain way so that animal will feel good to behave in the desired manner.
The encouragement of dog to perform the desired target behavior is fulfilled through
- Non-verbal signals
- Verbal signals
The rewarding mechanism is very important for the dog clicker training because that is the way dog knows what is desired to do and what is not. One other important fact is that, the reward should always come along with dog doing the desired action so the dog will not be confused whether an action done was desired or not.
When every time a reward comes along, the dog knows it is a good thing to do.
In the clicker training, another important fact is that, dog trainer (in our case, you) will hardly use any aversive control or punishment. The trainer should understand, the dog does not know whats in your mind. The dog has to do a self understanding what should do.
How hard it is to convey a message to another person without telling or writing down something? Dog faces that truth in the training. So, the dog trainer should be sympathetic about the dog and should make the best effort to train the dog without any harm.
In this kind of dog training, corrective actions should also be performed in order to obtain good results. But the animals should not be scolded or make any physical harm just because the dog did not understand what is desired to do.
When the dog is not behaving as desired, what a good thing to do is do a neutral verbal sign to the animal and dog will know some desired action was not performed since the reward did not come along.
What is the Purpose of a Clicker in Dog Training?
The way clicker training happens is a simple concept of rewarding. Every animal understands the concept of reward. Also, the concept of clicker training (operant conditioning) separates the other means of dog trainings e.g. classical conditioning such a way that the dog trainer should have a very good stance in patience because small steps of the dog should be watched and rewarded.
If we go a little bit more in to the training, you have to reward the dog if the dog even progress in a tiny way in to the desired action. For an example, looking at a way of a target that he/she should go is a good sign for a start and should be rewarded to encourage more into the action.
In case of the target behavior is middle or too complex, the total behavior may divide into sub-behaviors and then can train the dog on each successive behaviors.
Clicker Training it is Simple but Powerful
When training the dog in successive sub-behaviors or behaviors, a small success is met with a click and also a reward associated for that progress. When the dog behaves on a non-targeted behavior, it will be met with a neutral deterrent and without any reward so that the dog will learn that behavior is not desired and will choose a target behavior over a non-targeted behavior.
The dog can be trained in the clicker training method if that dog has previously trained in classical conditioning too. Researches have shown that the dogs that cross over from traditional training method also produce good results.
The clicker trainer should assist the dog with specially the first few sessions which will usually require between 20 to 50 successful repetitions or successful training cycles.
After the dog has gained a good mastery of the target action, some other Non-verbal signals and verbal signals also can be added to make it more interesting for the trainer and the dog.
Is Clicker Training Effective For A Puppy?
You want your puppy to stop peeing on the carpet or maybe learn to follow you or sit? There are a number of techniques to do that, some more effective than other, but the best one is by far clicker training.
Yes, it is effective and recommended even for puppies. Actually, it can be more effective on puppies than on adult dogs as they are able to learn faster and don’t know much about the world.
Although you can use this method since the dog is very small, don’t overdo it. Keep the sessions short and have fun while you do it. Clicker training for a puppy is popular because you do not hurt the dog in any way, emotionally or physically.
The technique is the same one you use on an adult dog, the only difference being that you will need the type of treats the puppy is allowed to eat at that age.
Get the little dog used to the sound made by the clicker and to the fact that it will receive a reward then start clicking and rewarding only for action that is more specific. You can replace the treats with praise sometimes and I am sure you will enjoy that too.
A basic technique is to teach it to sit by placing a treat above its nose so you will practically force it to sit if it wants the treat. Activate the clicker before giving away the treat. Repeat the steps for several days and increase the pauses between the clicks.
You will probably be amazed at the speed clicker training works for a puppy. It is a popular method and you can easily do it yourself at home while having fun with your dog. You can use the technique even after the dog gets bigger.
Dog Clicker Training Tips
Dog clicker training is the use of a small clicker to train a dog through positive reinforcement to act in certain ways. Below are some tips that will help make your clicker training sessions more productive for both you and your dog.
- Always keep training sessions short. You are better off doing 3 sessions of 10 minutes than a one-half hour session.
- The timing of the clicker is very important. You want to click during the desired behavior not when it is complete.
- If you click, you must treat.
- Clicker training is using small steps to achieve a certain behavior. You have to start by clicking for the basic behaviors that lead to the correct one.
- Wait until the animal is correctly performing the behavior before adding the verbal cue.
- Once your dog has a good grasp of a behavior, gradually increase what you are asking your pet to do. For example, once your pet knows a “sit” only click and reward a good sit. Ignore a sloppy one.
- You should always try to have a clicker and treats handy. If you see a desired behavior you can click and reward.
- If your pet is not learning as quickly as you think it should, check the timing of your clicks. You want to be sure that you clicking at the right time. It could be that you are clicking too late.
- Have a variety of different treats available. Use very special treats for the harder tasks.
- When training any behavior it is best to start by working in a quiet environment. You want as few distractions as possible.
- Once your dog has a fairly good grasp of a desired behavior change your practice location. You want be certain that your pet understands “sit” is not only for the kitchen but, in the backyard and down the street. The more locations that you can practice in the better.
- Clicker training is all about rewarding good behavior and ignoring the bad. You do not use punishments when you are clicker training. You always use positive reinforcements.
- And lastly, always keep sessions happy and light.