What is a clicker and what does it do for dog training?
Dog training is a topic where opinions differ. Owners and trainers alike have their own tricks for teaching dogs something new. And that's a good thing, because dogs all have their own personalities. But even though there may not be THE perfect method in training: The basic tenets are the same. Reward is the fastest way for animals to learn. Especially food can be used as positive reinforcement. A so-called clicker helps you to reward desired behaviour at the right moment.
What is a clicker?
A clicker is a small tool. It is usually made of plastic and you can produce a "click" by pressing a button. This sound is always the same. This makes it easier for your dog to recognize when he has done something well. The click is not the reward itself. The sound just shows your dog: You have just done something for which you will be rewarded! Only then is the dog rewarded with a treat.
How does clicker training work?
In order to train your dog successfully with clickers, there are a few basics you should keep in mind:
- To begin, your dog must first be accustomed to the sound. He must learn that the click means a reward. It is best to train in an undisturbed environment to avoid distractions. Now, every time the clicker is pressed, the dog immediately gets a treat. Pay attention to the timing! If too much time passes, it is more difficult for your dog to make the connection between click and treat.
- After these first sessions, test whether your dog has already internalized the connection between sound and reward. The best way to do this is to click when the dog has turned away. If he turns around and expects a treat, he has understood the principle.
- The learning of new commands or tricks now takes place step by step. Especially with more difficult exercises, work slowly, otherwise the dog will quickly get frustrated and lose interest. Reward the dog by sound and subsequent treat even for small steps in the right direction. For example, if you want your dog to learn to give paws, click (and reward) immediately when the paw is lifted even a little. Little by little the dog understands what you want and the click comes later and later. Finally, only click when the dog completely performs the exercise.
With these simple tips you will surely succeed in training your dog to be a great partner. There are a few things you should keep in mind to ensure that your dog enjoys working with the clicker for a long time:
- Short training sessions! The exercises should be finished before the dog loses interest.
- At the beginning, every click must be followed by a reward. Gradually, you can reward less often and replace food with other positive signals.
- Always end the training positively! This also has the purpose of providing more fun for your dog. End the training session with a light command and then praise a lot.
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