What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the words “clicker training”?

Perhaps a small device that makes a “clicking” sound that helps you catch your dog’s attention.

If that’s what you thought then you are close, but not quite. For all those dog owners who have a furry companion with impaired hearing, you can use a penlight instead to grab. This stimulus works in the same manner.

What Does Clicker Training Help Me Achieve?

You are probably wondering why use this training technique when you can demand obedience from your dog. Using commands to order them around.

Imagine this:

Situation: It’s been a month since you got your Yorkshire Terrier. The dog’s previous owners didn’t train it well, which is why the dog had some bad habits. One of them was chewing shoes. For the past two weeks you have been using positive reinforcement to train your dog.

Use of Clicker Training: While you were watching TV with your dog, your phone rang. You get up to attend the call and see out of the corner of your eye your dog moving towards its toys, which are placed beside your shoes. The dog sniffs the shoes and reaches out a paw to touch it. After a few seconds, the dog leaves the shoe as it is and grabs the toy. What a great opportunity to click. This tells your dog that, yes, they did the right thing by choosing the toy and not the shoe and now a yummy treat is on the way.

And that’s how the clicking sound works as positive reinforcement. It should always be followed by a reward such as tasty treat. It tells your dog that they are more likely to be rewarded in the future if they follow good behavior. If your dog does not respond well to a clicker, then you can use a “marker word” such as “YES.”

Why Use Clicker Training?

Compared to jerking your dog’s collar, using a prong collar, choke chain or slip lead to “correct” your dog,  shocking them with an electric collar to “communicate”,  or spraying water or compressed air at them, clicker training is a much better force-free training method. It allows your dog to understand what you are trying to convey easily.

Here’s why:

A clicker has a distinct sound. In a normal routine, you are constantly conversing with your dog. You talk to them, sometimes you tell them “no” and often offer praise. The tenor of each word you say is quite different. While dogs are intuitive, they won’t understand you every time.

The emotion in your voice might throw them off, which will yield a different reaction. For example, when your dog is chewing on your shoes and you tell them “NO” in an angry voice they become frightened of you. You aren’t teaching them anything except that you can be scary.

On the other hand, the clicker makes a neutral sound. It conveys no emotion. This removes any stress or confusion from the equation and instead of trying to decipher your mood, your dog can focus on the task completely.

One thing you should keep in mind is that a clicker is used to mark good behavior. Do not use the clicker when your dog is misbehaving such as jumping on the couch or scratching the carpet. Often people believe that a clicker works like a “NO” or a way to get their dog’s attention. You can always train the bad behavior out of your dog by showing them what you would like them to do instead. Reward whet you like, ignore or redirect what you don’t like.

If your dog does not respond to clicker training as you thought, then hire a professional trainer. Dances with Dogs offers dog training in Miami. They provide in-person, as well as online dog training classes. To know more about their services or to schedule an appointment, call on 786-299-1552.