Clicker Training Part I – Intro and Loading the Clicker

According to Karen Pryor: ”Clicker training” is an animal training method based on behavioural psychology that relies on marking desirable behaviour and rewarding it. Desirable behaviour is usually marked by using a “clicker,” a mechanical device that makes a short, distinct “click” sound which tells the animal exactly when they’re doing the right thing. This clear form of communication, combined with positive reinforcement, is an effective, safe, and humane way to teach any animal any behaviour that it is physically and mentally capable of doing.

Your dog learns that the clicker is valuable to him/her because of its association with the arrival of a reward. We teach the dog about the association just by clicking and rewarding many times until the dog realizes that click = reward. This is called loading or charging.

A cool thing about clicker training is that the dog quickly becomes a willing participant in the training process.  It’s a two-way conversation and it’s amazing to watch.

Over the next few blogs, we’re going to go through some of the different ways to use a clicker in training. When we’re talking about clicker training, you’ll notice that we use the short form C&T= click and treat. The “T” doesn’t always need to be a treat, it can be a fun toy or a pet on the head from you, but especially as you start training, it’s really important to use a “T” that the dog really, really likes a lot.

When you decide to start using a clicker in training, it’s really important to load or charge the clicker. Here’s a step by step to get you started!

Charging the clicker instructions

  1. Shut yourself and your dog in a quiet room alone together.  Make sure you have somewhere to sit and a table on which to put a small container of treats.  Keep the clicker in your hand.
  2. Press the click and immediately throw the dog a treat (C&T).  Wait until he has lost interest and repeat.
  3. C&T randomly for several minutes.  Each time you repeat the C&T make sure the dog is doing something different from the last time.  You do not want him to associate the C&T with any of his actions, or with any specific pattern in time, at this stage.  You are focusing on the link between the click and the treat.
  4. C&T at least 20 times and then put the clicker and treats away.
  5. Wait at least two hours and repeat the session.

You’ll find very quickly that your dog starts to anticipate a reward after hearing a click, and that’s it.  You can get started on training!

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