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How to use clicker training with your dog

 by lucy on 26 Jun 2018 |
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Unlike traditional training, which relies on fear, pain or intimidation to bully pets into learning, clicker training uses positive reinforcements.

Clicker training is a popular way to train dogs by rewarding good behavior. Unlike traditional training, which relies on fear, pain or intimidation to bully pets into learning, clicker training uses positive reinforcement to shape your pet’s actions.
A clicker is a small, handheld device that—as the name implies—makes a “click” noise when pressed. Owners use the sound in place of marker words traditionally used in training, and for good reason. While praising your pet with a “yes” or “good boy” after he performs a trick certainly works, clickers make a distinctive noise. Unlike our voices, which we use constantly around our pets, the click is a sound your pet will associate only with training. Unlike our voices, too, clickers produce a constant, neutral sound. This can eliminate the confusion your pet experiences when trying to decipher the tone of your voice, helping him focus more on the task at hand.
Clicker training relies on the scientific concept that animals will continue to perform a behavior that is rewarded. To begin clicker training with your pet, click every time your dog looks at you, followed immediately with a reward. After some practice, your pet will know the sound signals a tasty treat is able to arrive and you can begin using the clicker to shape his behaviors. If you’re teaching your dog to lie down, for example, start by clicking every time he lowers his head to follow your hand when you give the “lie down” command. Once your dog has mastered this, click only when he begins to curve his body closer to the ground. Eventually, you will only use the clicker and food reward when your pet has fully executed the trick.
As with any type of training, shaping behavior using a clicker takes practice, so simply walk away and resume teaching another time if you or your dog becomes frustrated. Canines learn best in short spurts, so training beyond five or ten minutes will likely only irritate both you and your pet. Try to find a quiet location during the early stages of clicker training and reward each small step toward the desired action until your dog fully masters each new trick. If your pet is struggling with a certain trick, you can also use a food lure to speed up progress toward desired actions. When using a clicker, it’s important to remember the sound is a reward for doing something right—not a way to get your dog’s attention. Never use the clicker to call your dog, and always follow the click immediately with a treat


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