How To Train Your Dog with a Clicker?
Since our Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Stippy was a puppy I started training with a clicker. It’s a great way of practicing positive dog training and in my experience, the dog learns very quickly and in a fun way. A great method to communicate with your dog and get an even stronger connection with him or her.
Clicker Training Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
How do I Start with clicker training?
If you want to start with clicker training you will first need a clicker device and an irresistible food reward because we want the dog’s full attention and focus.
Before you start the actual training you first let your dog get familiar with the clicker and the sound of the clicker device. If you haven’t introduced your dog to a clicker device yet it is possible that the sound of the clicker can startle your dog a bit so begin with just making the click sound and every time you make that click sound give your dog a yummy treat.
This way he or she gets familiar with the sound and associates the clicking sound with food so that means that’s the clicking sound means something positive. When your dog’s ears prick up and he or she starts to look for the treat after hearing the sound of the clicker you know he or she has made the association that the sound of the clicker means receiving a treat.
How long can I clicker train with my dog?
When your dog is used to the sound of the clicker you can begin with the training. It’s really important you keep training sessions short. Make sure you train your dog for 5 to 10 minutes at most. The introduction of the clicker and food training as described above should therefore not take longer than 10 minutes.
If you have a young puppy I recommend to train not longer than 5 minutes at the time and build the time up slowly when your puppy grows older. This has to do with the focus time of your dog. After 5 to 10 minutes of training, the focus of your dog will get less, he or she gets tired or bored, which can result in frustration on your side as well as your dog which affects the quality of a positive learning experience.
How does clicker training for dogs work?
So let’s begin with the Clicker Training Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
Your dog is used to the clicker sound and associates the sound with a yummy treat so now you can start training for specific required behaviors. For example, if you want to teach your dog to sit, let your dog see the treat in your hand and slowly move your hand, with the treat in it, above your dog’s head.
Don’t give the command “sit” yet. Just do this silently. As he or she looks up to follow the treat your dog will naturally move into a sitting position. Click at the moment your dog is sitting and give the treat to him or her. The timing of the click is very important because the click is immediately followed by a treat and your pup knows he or she has done something to make you happy.
Repeat this a couple of times without giving a command. After doing this a couple of times introduce the verbal command “sit” when you hold the treat above your dog’s head. When your dogs sit down click and give the treat. Also, repeat this a couple of times with the command “sit”.
After a while, when you say “sit” your dog will sit without you having to hold the treat above his or her head. When your dog sits down on your command, click the device and reward him or her with the treat. This way you can teach your dog everything you want in a very positive way.
A very important note, always give your dog a treat when you click. Always. Even if you clicked accidentally too soon or too late or if you clicked and your pup didn’t move the way you wanted to, always give a treat when you click no matter what. Why is that? The click itself actually doesn’t mean anything to your dog.
Your dog knows the clicking sound means getting a yummy treat so that’s why he or she knows to pay good attention to the click to get this very good treat. That’s the reason why that when you click you always give the treat.
That treat is very important to your dog, if the person who uses the clicker is inconsistent in giving a treat after a click your dog will lose interest, it will become less relevant to your dog to pay attention to you and your dog will lose his or her focus.
If your puppy or adult dog jumps up at people and you want to change this behavior clicker training can be very useful for that. There are also other methods which you can read about in my article Stop your puppy from Jumping up and More.
Clicker Training Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever | Tip:
Don’t use the clicker to get your dog’s attention. Your dog has learned to associate the clicker with earning treats. When you’d use the clicker to get his or her attention, your dog won’t understand if he or she is earning a treat for good, requested behavior.
This can result in “teaching” your dog to do more of whatever he or she was doing at the moment you clicked for your dog’s attention instead of associating the click and treat as a reward for required behavior.
It’s really best to only train for one behavior at a time otherwise your dog may get confused.
When I have a training session with my dog Stippy, besides teaching him new tricks and behaviors I keep on training the same basic commands (sit, down, turn around, fetch, etc.) just to keep him focused on the basics as well. It’s so much fun and rewarding to train with your dog in this positive way.
The connection between you and your dog will only get stronger and your dog needs to learn new things to keep him sharp and happy. Clicker training is a great way to teach your dog requested behaviors and great new tricks! Here a great book containing great 101 dog tips you can practice with your dog, for puppies I recommend reading this book with 51 puppy tricks.
This video of one of my many clicker training sessions with my Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Stippy. Because I’ve already trained with him for many years I sometimes let him do multiple tricks before I click and give him the treat to make it a bit more difficult and challenging for him.
When you and your dog are both new to clicker training I recommend clicking each time your dog shows the requested behavior and build things up from there. Have fun!