Clicker dog training is becoming more and more popular every year. What is a clicker and what is the advantage of using it in training, we will discuss in this article.
What is a clicker?
Externally, the clicker looks like a small box or keychain, no bigger than a matchbox. Inside this box, usually made of plastic, there is a simple device that emits a specific sound – a click or a click (the name “clicker” comes from the English “click” — click). A small metal plate makes a sound when you press it with your finger through the button on the clicker body.
It’s all. There is no source of ultrasound, infrared radiation in the clicker, and it does not shock the dog. Only one sound – click.
Is one simple sound really able to help in training a dog? It turns out that he is capable, and even how.
To put it very briefly, the essence of using a clicker boils down to a method of positive reinforcement of the dog’s behavior that is desirable for you. The method of positive reinforcement was first used by dolphin trainers, using a whistle as a signal of encouragement. The experiment turned out to be successful — the training began to take place easily and quickly. Dog handlers became interested in the method, replacing the whistle with a clicker. The successes amazed even experienced trainers. Dogs learned new skills very quickly and always worked with enthusiasm. Thus began the success story of a simple, and at the same time very effective device for training dogs.
The mechanism of training a dog with a clicker
The mechanism of clicker training is very simple. The dog does what is required of her, a click sounds, the dog receives praise, a treat or something else that causes her pleasant emotions. You do not need to explain to the dog what you want to achieve from her, using violence at the same time. This is what they do, basically, in standard, classical training: team – pressure – encouragement. If there is no result, punishment follows. When using a clicker, you just watch the dog, and encourage it when it does what it needs to do. This approach forms a positive reaction in the animal to your commands. In an effort to get your praise, the dog may even take the initiative itself.
Advantages of using a clicker in dog training
The exact “translation” into the dog language
Most of the problems with dog training are not the dog’s unwillingness to obey the will of the owner, but a simple misunderstanding of the dog’s commands. The owner gets annoyed, punishes the dog, and she starts to get nervous, stressed, afraid and avoid classes.
What kind of training can we already talk about?
It’s good if you come across an experienced training instructor who will point out your mistakes, and if so, who will try to subdue the dog at all costs? Not only will you not achieve the desired result, but you may also lose contact with your dog. The clicker allows you to avoid such problems. Clicking at the moment of performing the desired action will let your dog know exactly what you expect from her. The dog lay down on command – click, encouragement. The dog will quickly draw a logical picture of what is happening in his head and will try to meet your expectations.
Higher learning rate
The click of the clicker is different from all the sounds familiar to the dog’s ear. In practice, this means that the dog will not get lost, hearing your verbal flow with an indistinct intonation and asking the questions “And now what? Is he happy? No? What exactly is he praising or scolding for?”. The clicker gives an unambiguous answer to all these questions. The dog knows exactly what it was praised for. As a result, the necessary skills are developed much faster.
Remember yourself in your school years. What did you remember better in class – what was “chewed up” and presented to you on a platter, or what did you think of yourself? Probably the last one. It’s exactly the same with dogs. Without affecting the dog in any way, we encourage her to take the initiative and think independently. The skills acquired as a result of such independent work work much more reliably than those obtained by the standard training method.
Ease of use
The clicker will not take up much space in your pocket or bag, because it is the size of an ordinary keychain. Several companies specializing in animal products are engaged in the production of the clicker, so it will not be difficult to purchase it at a very affordable price. The only problem you may encounter is the question of which clicker to buy with such a variety of them. For convenience, clickers are often equipped with a loop that fits on the wrist.
How to use the clicker correctly: 7 useful tips
Click only during the desired behavior
If the dog is walking next to you on the “Next” command, click while moving, and not when the dog is just taking the first step or has stopped.
Don’t skimp on praise
You should always start training with a supply of goodies. Do not forget to treat your pet with a treat after clicking the clicker. At first, it is especially important to form a positive attitude of the animal to the click.
Don’t forget to give commands
At the very beginning, during the initial training of the puppy, you can use the clicker to reinforce the desired actions performed without a command. But since the purpose of any training is to teach the dog to follow commands, do not delay this period. When starting to teach the dog commands, click and encourage only when the dog has completed the command. The actions of the dog performed without a command, just ignore.
Click only once
A clicker is not a ratchet. One command — one action – one click. Do not develop the dog’s skill to react only to repeatedly pressing the clicker button.
Move forward in small steps
Break down complex skills (approach to the owner, bypass and sitting on the left) into easy elementary actions. Came up on command – click. Then complicate it by adding a crawl. Click only when the dog performs a complicated action. There is no need to click for each stage of execution.
Clicker and punishment are incompatible
If you are very unhappy with the dog, remove the clicker away. Pulling the leash, forbidding commands and your dissatisfied tone can cause the dog to distrust the clicks of the clicker.
Use the clicker to wean you from unwanted actions
The clicker can be successfully used not only to teach useful skills, but also to wean you from unwanted actions. For example, your dog is constantly pulling on a leash. Do not scold and do not pull it, but catch the moment when the leash will sag and click. Regular repetition of such actions will lead to the fact that the dog will conclude that it is much more profitable for her to walk calmly than to paddle the ground with her paws.