A little boy clicker training his dog.

Food is a phenomenal tool when housetraining and teaching obedience commands. The offer of a treat after a display of good behavior helps to reinforce it. Also, punishment or scolding is replaced by ignoring unwanted behavior, ultimately teaching dogs that bad behavior has no benefit.  

Originally introduced to marine mammals with a whistle, the idea of using sound to link good behavior has proven highly effective over several decades. If you’ve ever wondered if clicker training your dog would be effective, we’ve got some tips to get started.

You’re So Smart!

Dogs are unquestionably intelligent and have enormous capacity for learning new skills. Basic obedience training keeps dogs safe from harm, but also helps them find their place in the hierarchy of your household, too. Demonstrating mastery of numerous commands gives dogs confidence and strengthens the bond between them and their owners.

Getting Started

Clicker training your dog is easy with the right clicker. You’ll find them at pet stores in various colors, shapes, and sizes. It should fit comfortably in your hand; you’ll be pressing it a lot!

Clicker training teaches your dog what you want to see more of. Sounding the clicker directly after a good behavior trains them to repeat it. It’s as easy as that!

Clicker Training Your Dog

Keep your training sessions short, even just a few minutes at a time will be effective. It’s a good idea to burn off any excess energy your dog has beforehand. After you walk or play with them, pick a quiet place where your dog can focus solely on you. In the beginning, you’ll rely on treats. Over time, replace the treats with the clicker. 

Start the training session in these ways:

  • Have a clear objective in mind, such as one simple command to work on. Don’t confuse your dog with more than one goal at a time. 
  • To reinforce the command, lure your dog with a treat. For example, if you want to teach your dog “Down”, place your hand with the treat down on the floor in front of them. Say the word and only use your clicker as soon when they’re lying down on the floor. 
  • The clicker is the sound of a future food reward. When you click, give a treat.
  • Repeat over and over until you’re both confident that they know the command.
  • Next time, start with this behavior and build on it toward another command. 
  • Move your sessions to different locations gradually. They still must be able to focus directly on the task at hand, so don’t make the leap to training at the park. However, add subtle distractions like noise or a toy. Over time they’ll get with the program and will show control in most settings.
  • Keep it interesting by introducing new skills. 

Clicker training your dog might be one of the most gratifying experiences that you’ll do together. The experience can really enrich your relationship and build more trust in the other. 

You won’t need to have your clicker forever, as your dog’s behavior will eventually sync up. Phasing out treats and the clicker sound is possible with loads of encouragement and praise. 
If you have questions about clicker training your dog, give us a call at (404) 633-6163. Our staff is always here for you at Clairmont Animal Hospital.