Starting A New Puppy On Clicker Training Techniques

Posted on: 20 May 2015

If you have a new puppy (or even an older but disobedient dog), you might want to consider the value of clicker training. Clicker training is a method of training that involves solely positive reinforcement, and it's extremely effective in shaping a dog's behavior. In fact, it can even be used on cats! To get started with clicker training, all you really need to do is buy a clicker. These range between $5 to $10, and can be found in virtually any pet store.

Find the Right Treats and Prepare

Once you get your clicker, you should get into the habit of carrying it around with you all the time. Many people put it on a lanyard around their neck. Purchase dog treats that are very small and light in calories, because you're going to be giving your pup a lot of treats. There are usually training treats available for exactly this purpose. You can also break larger treats into smaller ones or even treat with kibble. 

"Load" the Clicker With Positive Reinforcement

The first step is to associate the clicker with something good. What you're going to do now is give your dog a treat and then click the clicker. Some dogs will be naturally frightened by the clicker the first few times; this is perfectly natural, just keep going. Do this about 10 to 20 times per session, in the span of about 5 to 10 minutes (that's the limit of most doggy attention spans). Repeat at least a few times throughout the day.

Teach Your Pup Their First "Trick"

After a few days, you should be ready to teach your pup their first trick. Most people start with "sit." Repeat, in a clear tone, the word "sit." Eventually, what's going to happen is that your dog is going to get bored and sit down. Immediately click the clicker and then hand the dog the treat. The timing is very important. A delay in the treat is fine -- a delay in the click is not. Eventually, the dog will understand that the action of sitting is good.

Clicker training works because it removes all uncertainty from the pet training process. The dog knows that "click" means good and hears the "click" every time it does something right. Otherwise, a dog may sit down but not understand why it's getting a treat for that action -- especially if it gets treats at other times. You can teach a dog almost anything with clicker training; you just need to break it into small, manageable steps. If you don't have the time or resources to train your dog on your own, look into dog obedience classes.