What is Clicker Training?
Clicker Training is one of the fastest and most effective ways to teach your dog something new and reinforce existing behaviours. This method is scientifically sound and will allow you to teach your dog pretty much anything you like!
What is a Clicker?
A clicker is a small plastic, mechanical device that makes a click-click sound when pressed.
What is Clicker Training?
Clicker Training is the process of marking a behaviour and following it up with a reward. This tells the dog that whatever he did at the moment you clicked is going to earn him a reward. What gets rewarded gets repeated.
Through a number of repetitions of clicking and treating we build up a positive association of the sound of the click. Your dog will learn that whenever he hears the click-click, he is going to earn a treat. If you click you must treat even if your dog does not do what you intended.
What is the point of using the clicker?
The clicker unlike our voice, never changes. That means that regardless of what mood we're in we can still communicate with our dog without him picking up on our emotions through our voice tonality.
How do I introduce my dog to the clicker?
When you first introduce the clicker to your dog hold it behind your back. We do not want to create a fear of the sound of the click. If the clicker is too loud consider muffling it with a tea towel.
Avoid pointing it at your dog like a remote control. It won't turn your dog off or magically make him do something. We still need to cue the desired behaviour.
To begin you need to build an association of the sound of the click with a treat through multiple repetitions of clicking and treating. You can test the association by waiting for your dog to be relaxed and then clicking. Your dog should come to you in anticipation of a treat.
How do I teach new things using the clicker?
In it's most simplest form, wait for the desired behaviour to occur and the moment it does click and treat. After a number of repetitions he will realise that it is that specific action that is earning the reward.
For instance if you want to teach a dog to sit, wait for him to sit and as soon as he does click and treat. Soon enough he will sit again and you can repeat the process.
Once your dog realises that the act of sitting is earning the reward you can add a verbal cue 'sit'. Ask your dog to sit, wait for him to perform that action (dogs are pretty good at working through their repertoire of learnt behaviours to find the right one) and only mark and reward him for sitting.
He will then associate the word 'sit' with the action of sitting.
What dogs can be Clicker Trained?
All dogs can be clicker trained provided they do not already associate the sound of the click with something negative. If a dog fears the sound of the clicker then he can still be clicker trained but before using the clicker you need to desensitise him to that sound.
Buy yourself a clicker and some tasty treats for your dog and have a go. You can purchase a clicker online here: