What is a clicker?
A clicker is a small plastic box with a lip, when pressed this lip creates a click sound.
There are variations that emit different sounds or change pitch however i like the bog standard box clickers.
How does it work?
The click sound is paired with a reinforcer that could
be either a food reward, or a game such as tuggy or fetch. In English that means when your dog hears the click
sound he knows he did something great and a really good reward is coming his way. Its basically a more consistent
way to say good dog.
Is it magic?
dog doesnt instantly know what the click sound means so you must charge the clicker adequately before you start.
What can you do
with clicker training?
Anything! The difference
between clicker training and traditional methods is that you can theoretically teach an animal to do pretty much anything.
Have you ever thought how they get animals to perfom in the
movies, somehow i dont think they wrap a choke chain around a whale and drag him through a hoop.
Who can you clicker
Anyone. Young animals are perfect for clicker
training as they soak up everything about their environment. Older animals can also learn clicker training, but some
take longer to catch on than others. You can even clicker train fish!!!
What do i need to start?
Grab yourself a box clicker from your nearest pet shop and a bag full of really small
(pea sized are ideal) but tasty treats. Use something your dog doesnt usually get like hot dogs or cheese, stay away
from mass produced pet shop treats, they arent yummy enough.
What do i do now?
Charge the clicker
Make sure your dog is happy to be
working and pick a quiet spot.
1) Click the box and give
him a treat.
2) Click the box again and give him another treat.
3) Click the box again and give him another treat.
4) Yep you guessed it... you need to repeat this about 20-40 times.
5) Walk away and give him time to take in what hes just learnt.
I like to check that the dog knows what the clicker means so when hes not paying direct
attention (not when hes busy smelling or sleeping etc) i click the clicker and if he looks up then bingo you can start on
the next step.
Starting the fun stuff
When teaching a dog (or cat, rat, bird etc) that is new to clicker training i like
to pick a really simple trick that he doesnt yet know. My favourite is the hand touch, rub something smelly on your hand and allow
your dog to sniff it. As his nose touches your hand CLICK & TREAT (C/T). Repeat.
Make sure your timing is spot on, you dont want to be clicking him
for licking your hand or thats what he will think you want.
Repeat lots. Once he is happily touching
your hand as soon as you put it out to him you can stop rubbing smelly stuff on your hands (phew!) and add the cue word.
1. Only make the click sound if you are going
to give the animal a reward.
2. Always reward after
a click, even if you clicked by mistake.
Only click once - dont get over enthusiastic and dont allow anyone to play with the clicker.
4. Practise your timing (away from your dog) - bounce a ball and try and click as soon as the ball
hits the ground. Its not as easy as you think!
5. Keep sessions
short and sweet. 5 minutes a session is perfect, especially for a novice.