How To Clicker Train A Dog? 6 Easy Points You Need To Know

A-dog-owner-holding-a-clicker-in-front-of-two-dogs-laying-on-the-ground
(Photo: Melounix/ stock.adobe.com)

Clicker training is a simple and effective method that makes training straightforward and more enjoyable for both you and your four-legged friend. In the past, I had trained my dog using more traditional methods. However, after many years of use, I can now say that clicker training is the real deal.

I spent hours researching in order to provide you with an article that explains the fundamentals of how to clicker train a dog. This post will provide answers to a few key questions.

These questions are:

  • What exactly is clicker training?
  • What is the significance of the click sound?
  • What role does clicker training play?
  • What is the best way to use clicker training?
  • What are some pointers for successful clicker training?
  • What should you avoid while using a clicker?

Continue reading to learn how to implement a clicker so that you make the most of your dog’s training.

What Exactly is Clicker Training?

A dog with a clicker in its mouth
(Photo: Djakob/ stock.adobe.com)

Clicker training is a method of training your dog that uses positive reinforcement. It is based on the idea that if you praise your dog for any good behaviour, your dog is more likely to repeat that behaviour in the future.

A clicker is a small box that you hold in your palm. The clicking sound is created by pressing the metal tongue attached to the box. After your dog performs a required behaviour, you reward them with treats or their favourite toy. box

Other training methods combine rewarding good behaviour with punishing bad behaviour, whereas clicker training exclusively rewards good behaviour. Focusing solely on positive behaviour ensures that your dog does not confuse acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. As a result, this will have a significant impact on how your dog acts on a regular basis.

What Is The Significance Of The Click Sound?

The clicker’s sound is artificial, making it incredibly effective at attracting your dog’s attention. Your dog does not regularly hear this clicking sound. As a result, they will find it easier to identify the sound with good behaviour and know when they have done something well.

You might be wondering if you couldn’t just make that sound yourself. “You could,” but take it from me; having tried it, you’ll grow tired quickly. If you do decide to go this way, you should use a word or phrase that you don’t often say, such as “Good” or “Yes.”

Aside from relieving the tiredness from making the clicker sound yourself, the clicker also allows for improved timing and consistency. These components will ensure that you have a far more effective training session that will not confuse your dog.

What Role Does Clicker Training Play?

Dog laying down on the floor in front of trainer with a clicker
The furry dog has received a click after laying down and will receive a treat shortly after (Photo: makistock/ stock.adobe.com)

Some of the tricks you’ll have to teach your dog will be simple, while others will be more difficult. Some skills, such as fetch, include numerous stages, but others, such as sit, are considerably simpler.

You often reward your dog with a treat when they retrieve a toy, don’t you? Regardless, it can be difficult for your dog to understand why you are rewarding them. “Was it going to the toy, or was it returning it?”

You can use a clicker to click at the precise moment your dog does what you desire. The click immediately informs your dog that they are doing something correctly and encourages them to repeat this behaviour in the future. Furthermore, clicker training might help prevent inconsistencies in your dog’s training routine. When more than one person is training your dog, using different voice tones might cause inconsistencies impacting how your dog interprets similar commands. The clicker’s constant artificial sound, on the other hand, will eliminate any such discrepancy.

Clicker training is also convenient because it is a simple way that allows children to train their pets more easily. This benefit is especially noticeable when teaching newly adopted puppies.

After a while, your dog will realize that positive behaviour is rewarded with a click, followed by love, attention, and rewards. This exchange of positive behaviours and praise from you will enhance the bond you already have with your dog.

One of my favourite aspects of clicker training is how your dog develops a desire to please and begins to go out of its way to get clicks for positive behaviour. This added effort on the dog’s part will surely make training more exciting.

What Is The Best Way To Use Clicker Training?

Rewarding your dog with treats is a big part of learning how to clicker train a dog
(Photo: duncanandison/ stock.adobe.com)

When you start to implement clicker training, you must teach your dog what the clicker means.

The first thing you want to do is to press on the clicker and quickly reward your dog with a treat. Repeat this process 10 to 20 times, and your dog should grasp that a treat comes after a click.

Using a clicker can be a great way to teach your dog behaviours that require many baby steps.  If you want your dog to get on the bed, you may click and reward them when they glance at the bed. Then, if your dog moves in the direction of the bed, click again. Another click for a paw on the bed, followed by another for both. Your dog will have realized that there is something special about the bed at this point.

This type of training demonstrates shaping. Shaping is a practical solution for assisting your dog in performing acceptable behaviours.

You must also understand that a clicker isn’t only valuable during a set training time. You can also use it if your dog exhibits good behaviour, such as not barking when a car passes by. The click will signal to your dog that you agree with their behaviour.

What Are Some Pointers For Successful Clicker Training?

  • Always use the clicker during the intended behaviour, not after it has occurred. The timing of your click is critical in ensuring that your dog knows why they are receiving a reward.
  • Make every effort to keep your training sessions brief. Short bursts of practice will teach your dog more than extended, stretched-out periods of repetition.
  • Use clicker training in conjunction with shaping.
  • You only give your dog one click for each trick they complete. You can raise the number of treats but not the number of clicks.

What Should You Avoid While Using a Clicker for Training?

  • Understand that not all dogs will respond favourably to the clicker’s sound. If your dog dislikes the clicker, never impose it on them. Instead of the clicking sound, use a word.
  • Avoid inconsistencies that may cause your dog to become confused. These include wrong timing or partially rewarding. Training sessions will become ineffective as a result of these inconsistencies.
  • Use the clicker sparingly. Excessively using the clicker may cause your dog only to perform commands when they hear the click. Keep in mind to incorporate traditional methods as well.
  • Use the clicker for no other purpose than identifying good behaviour. Any use other than its intended purpose may cause your dog to become confused.

The Bottom Line

Clicker training is a tried-and-true method that many dog owners use to effectively train their dogs. It helps to teach your dog the many ways to earn treats and rewards. Most significantly, you can train your dog without having to worry about confusing your furry friend.

What to Do Next?

Did you know that clicker training can help with crate training your dog? With that said, go ahead and read our post on how to crate train your dog right now.

Further Reading