Dog trainers often field questions about the effectiveness of using clicker when training a puppy or adult dog.
Clickers are just one of the tools that can be effective for teaching basic commands, obedience and tricks. However, they are not always appropriate, and, in many cases, a professional trainer may use other tools and methods that are more effective.
However, you may find that using a clicker when working with your pet can get you the results you seek.
What Is a Dog Training Clicker?
The term “clicker” refers to the unique sound made by these small, simplistic dog training devices. These hand-held devices, similar in size to a vehicle key fob, feature a single button that, when pushed, causes the device to emit an audible click.
Over the years, various manufacturers have tried to improve on the basic device design but, ultimately, the basic, inexpensive version doesn’t need much in the way of improvement.
Most designs feature an expandable wrist strap that keeps the device conveniently within reach.
How Do You Use a Clicker for Dog Training?
Clickers work on the principle of positive reinforcement and association with reward.
Begin by teaching your pet that one click equals one yummy treat (or another appropriate, high-value reward). Once he understands that concept, you can begin to associate it with desired behaviors.
For example, if you give the sit command and Fido complies, give him an immediate click, followed immediately by a treat. You can also give him praise and scritches. Spend a few minutes several times each day working on a particular command in this way and, before you know it, you won’t have to use the clicker or treats any long for that skill.
A clicker can also be highly effective for recall. Some pet owners keep a clicker near the front door so that, should Fido make a break for it, a click should have him bounding back to get a treat.
Is Clicker Training for You?
This little device packs a big punch as far as consistency and precision. A clicker’s sound never varies and, as long as you click immediately after the desired behavior – and then treat immediately, at least in the beginning – you can get amazing results.
That said, like any other pet training tool, clickers only work when you use the correct techniques and practice consistency. And, although it works well as a training aid for most pets, it doesn’t work for all dogs.
A professional dog trainer can show you the best ways to work with your pet to achieve your objectives. If a clicker is appropriate for your pet, your trainer will show you how to use it in your training and follow-up regimen. The rest, however, is up to you. If you don’t work with your pet on a regular basis, he may not retain the information over time.
At Innovative K9 Academy in Salt Lake City, our experienced trainers use a variety of reward-based techniques based on classical and operant conditioning. We offer dog training boot camp, puppy camps, individual and group training sessions. Contact us today to learn more about clicker training for dogs and other proven techniques.