Your family can have an enjoyable experience in raising and training your dog if you grasp how to effectively communicate with him. Difficulties can occur with your dog because signals frequently differ from one person to another. Even if identical words are used the tone of voice may vary which causes confusion for your dog and a confused dog behaves erratically since he is not sure what is expected.
Check out this video – it’s incredible what this dog has been taught to do using clicker training techniques!
When your dog does not perform as you expect he may be reprimanded which leads to further confusion if he does not understand what he has done wrong. Aggressive behavior will result if this confusion continues.
Clicker training is an excellent way to eliminate confusion. Just about every member of the family can comprehend the principles of clicker training. Because a clicker improves communication it helps your dog understand exactly what is expected. The consistency of a clicker is something your dog can trust and, therefore, he will trust the clicker and this trust will prompt him to follow the commands of anyone using a clicker.
Clicker training focuses on rewarding correct behavior. If you don’t want your dog to bark then you reward him only when he is quiet. Your emphasis is on the behavior you want not the behavior you don’t want.
When your dog behaves as you want him to you immediately give a click with your clicker. A treat is given with the click to reinforce the task you want done.
This does not mean you allow bad behavior. You must stop bad behavior, when it occurs, but you then need to reward the behavior you want. For instance, if your dog starts to get up on your sofa you would take him off and then, when all four paws are on the floor, you would give a click with your clicker followed by a treat. Every time your dog performs the right behavior you give a click followed by a treat. It will not take long for your dog to realize that the behavior you want is followed by a click and a treat. Your dog becomes an active participant in his training as he discovers ways to please you so he can receive the treat that comes with the click. This is a great benefit in learning to clicker train your dog.
When your dog performs a task well you can add a hand signal or verbal phrase. The hand signal, word, or phrase becomes the cue your dog will follow when you want him to behave a certain way. In order for your cue to be effective it must apply to one specific task. You should not use a general cue such as “good boy” but you should pick a specific word or phrase such as “quiet,” “good quite,” or “sit.” It cannot be over emphasized that a specific cue must be associated with a specific action.
When you introduce the cue you only use the clicker and treat after you cue the task you want your dog to do. When the cue is well understood you no longer have to follow it with a click and a treat. The clicker and the treat can now be replaced with your praise and attention.
As mentioned clicker training is something that can be done by the whole family. In fact, children seem to be more open to the idea of using a clicker than adults.
If you use a clicker correctly it is a fantastic training tool. It should definitely be part of your dog training program. Clicker training, as well as other dog training programs, takes time, patience and consistency. You will find that clicker training is fun for both your dog and your family and a wonderful aid in teaching your dog tricks.